SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — In recent history Union has dominated the “Route 7 Rivalry” against rival RPI, having gone unbeaten in the last five meetings, but it was RPI who pulled out an overtime victory in front of a loud sellout crowd at Messa Rink tonight. Chase Polacek was the hero, as he scored his second goal of the game 1:58 into the extra frame.
“I kind of just whacked at it and it went right under his (Union goaltender Corey Milan’s) pad,” said Polacek. “I just got enough wood on it. It feels good to get back at these guys.”
The first period was a quick, hard-hitting battle, with each side getting their fair share of offensive opportunities. It was the Dutchmen who got on the scoreboard first, as they capitalized on a slashing penalty by freshman Brandon Pirri when freshman Wayne Simpson scored with eight seconds left in the man-advantage. Fellow Freshman Jeremy Welsh fed Simpson the puck at the left circle, and he ripped it into the RPI net, as goaltender Allen York was caught out of position.
This lead only lasted 1:25, as Pirri avenged his penalty and tipped the puck past Union goaltender Corey Milan for his team-leading fourth goal of the season. The play was initiated by line-mate Jerry D’Amigo, who sped into the Union zone to the right of Milan. He threw the puck to a streaking Pirri, who stretched out his stick to knock the puck over the Union goaltender.
The Engineers took a 2-1 lead early in the second period when Polacek scored a power-play goal on an assist by D’Amigo, who once again created the RPI tally. D’Amigo fought for the puck behind the Union net and picked his head up to find Polacek darting down the middle of the ice, where he corralled the pass and snapped the puck into upper right corner of the Union net.
Where RPI stormed right back to tie up the game at one in the first period, it was the Dutchmen who fired back instantly to tie the game, this time 2:43 later in the second. Stephane Boileau stuffed the puck under the pads of York on a scrum to York’s right.
Boileau did not stop there, as he sparked the goal to put Union on top with 1:38 left in the period when he picked off an RPI pass in the neutral zone. As he skated into the RPI zone, he dropped the puck to Mario Valery-Trabucco, who fired a slap shot past the blocker of York.
It looked as if the Dutchmen were going to hold on for the win, but with 4:37 left, Boileau took an interference penalty that cost his team. With 18 seconds left on the power play, the Engineers tied the game up when Bryan Brutlag zipped a slap shot past Milan on a shot from the point for a power-play goal.
“It was a good shot,” said RPI coach Seth Appert. “We had great screen presence in front of the net.”
Boileau was pretty remorseful in the post-game press conference. “It hurts to do all those good things and then hurt my team in the end,” said Boileau.
Neither team was able to score after this, sending the game into overtime.
RPI got the only offensive opportunity of the extra frame and took advantage it, getting the game-winning goal 1:58 into overtime when Polacek scored on a rebound goal for his second goal of the game.
“They’re a team that’s going to bury their opportunities,” said Union goaltender Corey Milan, who made 20 saves on the night. “And they did in overtime.”
This overtime loss was Union’s second in as many games, and they have all week to think about it, as their next game isn’t until next week, when they face Brown at home to open up ECAC play. RPI extends their current unbeaten streak to four and will look to extend it to five as they head back home to face Army tomorrow night.
The next possible meeting between these heated rivals would be on November 28th at the RPI tournament, but that depends on the outcome of the first games of the tournament.