On Friday night the Rensselaer Engineers and the Quinnipiac Bobcats both extended their unbeaten streaks to six and five respectively. Jeremy Langlois scored twice for the Bobcats while, Allen York and Bryce Merriam combined for 39 saves as the two teams settled for a 3-3 tie at the TD Bank Sports Center. Eric Hartzell stopped 28 for the Bobcats.
In a game controlled by fast pace action, it was the Bobcats shooting out of the gates first. Despite not scoring a goal in the opening minutes, QU took complete control of the puck and seemed like they would never let the momentum go.
RPI got just what the doctored order at the 6:41 of the period on a greasy goal from Bryan Brutlag. After a shot from the right wing was deflected in front of the QU net, Brutlag streaked into the slot. After another tip from Brutlag the puck floated into the air and over the right shoulder of Hartzell.
“That goal was huge because I thought we were able to jump out of the gate, but made a bad decision that led to the goal.” said QU head coach Rand Pecknold. “Right after that we took a penalty and it changed the whole flow of the game.”
After a QU penalty to Zach Hansen it seemed like all the momentum was with the Engineers. After a stellar penalty kill from the Bobcats and notably from Hartzell, Quinnipiac picked up where they left off before giving up the Brutlag goal.
The Bobcats continued the momentum at the 9:35 marker of the period on a power play goal from Jeremy Langlois. After Engineer captain John Kennedy went to the box on a slashing call, the Bobcats looked to tie things up.
Quinnipiac captain Scott Zurevinski started the play after he sent a backhander behind York to set Langlois up. As Langlois took the puck behind the net, he quickly went for the wraparound on the left post. York was not quick enough to the move, allowing QU to knot the score at 1-1.
RPI was first on the board again in the second period despite dominating play by the Bobcats again. This time it was RPI’s Brock Higgs picking up his sixth goal of the season off two rebounds from Hartzell. Hartzell made two right leg pad saves on both of Higgs’ wristers. It was the third opportunity which Higgs lifted the puck to beat Hartzell high blocker side.
RPI took a two goal lead just about three minutes later after a misplay by Hartzell behind the net. Hartzell played the puck behind his net and swept it to the near corner, right onto the stick of Josh Rabbani. The puck was eventually fed to the right point where Jeff Foss rocketed it past a completely screened Hartzell.
“On all three of our goals we were sloppy and we made mistakes that lead to mistakes. It was never just one mistake it was either two or three.” Pecknold said.
Quinnipiac was able to close the gap with 1:20 left on the clock in the second after Langlois picked up his second of the game and his 15th of the season. After a breakout through the neutral zone the Bobcats had numbers as they gained the line. Russell Goodman led the way on the right wing and centered it to Langlois on the right wing.
“That was huge. It was such a momentum swing because we knew if we could get that goal going into the third so we could make that push.” Langlois said.
With 31 seconds left in the period QU’s Loren Barron was sent to the box after being called for holding. With that penalty the Engineers entered the third with 1:29 left on the man advantage.
Seconds after killing off the remainder of the penalty, Connor Jones moved in on the right wing against York. As Jones cut to the net, he slammed into York knocking both players to the ice. York, would be replaced by sophomore goaltender Bryce Merriam, who had played in just two games so far this season.
Merriam was quickly welcomed to the game after he stopped a Kellen Jones breakaway backhanded chance. Minutes later, Connor Jones had all the room he needed to snipe the rubber past Merriam. Fortunately for the Engineers, Merriam was on his game from the second his skates hit the ice. Jones spotted the top right corner and wristed a tight shot on Merriam’s glove side. Cool and collective, Merriam flashed the leather keeping the Bobcats down by one.
“Bryce did a phenomenal job in relief. Even on the one goal he gave up it was to one of their best players.” said RPI head coach Seth Appert “He is a great teammate who works hard, competes every day. You know that at some point your number is going to get called and tonight he did a really great job.”
Not to be outdone, Jones continued to look for revenge after being completely robbed by the new RPI goaltender.
After a take away in the neutral zone, Jones had his chance on a one-on-one with Merriam. This time Jones didn’t miss. Moving from right to left again, he opted to go low and slipped the puck just under Merriam’s leg pads.
With the score knotted once again it was either team’s game. Both teams fought hard for chances, but neither team could get in the back of the cage.
The final major opportunity of the game came on a power play for RPI in overtime. Quinnipiac was able to hold the Engineers 0-4 on the power play, thus ending the game in a 3-3 tie.