Rensselaer came into its game against RIT having scored just 11 goals in 12 games, five in the its last seven, and been shutout five times, which is why the Engineers were 2-10. However, thanks to a major power play, RPI won its third game of the season, 2-0, with both goals coming on that power play.
“Our offensive struggles have been obvious this year,” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “But that was not tonight. We scored two, but we created a lot. We had a lot of two-on-ones, had a couple of breakaways, missed a couple of empty nets. Madolora made five or six huge saves. Even though we only scored two, I thought we were very good offensively tonight.”
“I thought it was a good game,” RIT coach Wayne Wilson said. “The difference was they were able to capitalize on the five-minute major power play and we weren’t. I thought Shane [Madolora] played well, and their goalie played well. I though we competed hard.”
Scott Diebold, from nearby Buffalo, made 25 saves for the shutout, in just his third start this season, lowering his goals against average to 1.35.
“I thought both goaltenders were outstanding,” Appert said. “Scotty is going to be a really, really good college goalie. I thought it might be a little extra motivation, since he is only an hour from home and had extra family members here.”
“My family was here, some friends; it was nice to play in front of them,” Diebold said. “But it was definitely nice to get a ‘W’ for the boys.”
After a scoreless first period, RPI took advantage of a major power play thanks to a hitting from behind penalty and game misconduct by Brad McGowan in the first minute of the second period. Rensselaer scored twice in a 1:10 span to take a 2-0 lead.
Nick Bailen scored the first one from the top of the right faceoff circle. He sidestepped to the right in order to get away from a defender, then took a wrist shot through the open lane and a screen in front to elude Madolora on the far side.
Ryan Haggerty scored next, but most of the work was by Brock Higgs. Higgs skated the puck down the left side, around the corner, and while heading behind the net, passed it in front to Haggerty. All Haggerty had to do was redirect the puck past Madolora.
“Not only did we score two, we created a lot of other chances,” Appert said. “Certainly, special teams was a critical factory. Our penalty kill was outstanding. We’ve seen signs of life on our power play.”
It was RPI’s first two-goal lead all season. It was also their only power play on the night, as they stopped all of RIT’s six power plays.
After the major penalty expired, RIT took a minor, and Bailen had a clean breakaway while short-handed, but Madolora held his ground, making the save.
Early in the third period, Adam Mitchell nearly got the Tigers on the board, but his shot went off the crossbar. A short while later, an RIT backhander went just wide. Later in the period, Daniel Spivak fired one off the crossbar.
“I thought their goalie made a couple of key saves as well,” Wilson said. “We needed to get a goal to get the fans into it and get some momentum going, and they were able to shut us down.”
Meanwhile, RPI tried to get the clinching goal. Their best opportunities were foiled by their own inability to get good wood on shots from in close.
Madolora wound up with 28 saves.
RIT wore their its uniform — black — which is appropriate on this Black Friday, but any good luck charm failed to materialize.
Rensselaer (1-4-0, 3-10-0) returns to league play next week, traveling to Princeton and Quinnipiac.
RIT (4-2-2, 5-4-2) also hits the road next weekend for conference games, playing a pair at Connecticut.