Engineers send Dutchwomen packing

RPI women’s hockey closed the semester off with a strong drive to the finish, sweeping the Union College Dutchwomen in a home-and-home series. The Engineers kept the Dutchwomen off the boards Saturday afternoon at Messa Rink in a 2-0 win, while Sunday saw RPI completely shutout Union on the weekend 5-0 at home. The two wins bring Rensselaer up to 7-8-4 overall and 4-2-2 in the ECAC, while Union dropped to 2-13-1 overall and a league-worst 0-7-1.

Sophomore wing Alisa Harrison led RPI’s drive Saturday, netting a goal and adding an assist in the 2-0 victory, her first two of four points on the weekend. Senior Whitney Naslund also added a goal and an assist in the game, while classmate Allison Wright rounded out the score sheet with one assist.

Both RPI and Union skated through a scoreless first period that saw junior Engineer Sonja van der Bliek stop a total of three shots, while Union freshman netminder Alana Marcinko blocked nine. Freshman Taylor Horton nearly placed Rensselaer on the boards as her shot on goal was blocked, and was denied the rebound attempt by Marcinko’s fast-acting play.

Rensselaer ramped up its game in the second, blasting 13 shots on net and slipping the eventual game-winner past Marcinko midway through the frame. Naslund collected a pass from linemate Harrison before backhanding a shot over Marcinko, nabbing her team-leading ninth goal of the year at 9:06.

Despite holding a 22-5 shot advantage through the first two periods of play, it would take the Engineers until 8:11 of the final period to find the back of the cage again. On the power play, Harrison redirected a rebound off Wright’s stick to net her fifth goal of the season.

Union nearly cut the deficit to one toward the final minutes of play, but luckily for the Engineers, the goal was waved off. Dutchwomen sophomore Emilie Arsenault rushed into the offensive zone, ripping a point-blank shot on van der Bliek. Although the goaltender was able to initially make the save, she lost her balance and fell on the ice, sending the puck into the net. After discussions between the officials and both benches, it was ruled a no-goal, preserving van der Bliek’s shutout.

Earning her sixth victory of the season, van der Bliek made a mere 10 saves, while Marcinko stopped 34.

Riding off momentum from the prior day’s win and backed by the support of a home crowd, the Engineers finished the weekend sweep at the Houston Field House with a 5-0 blowout of the Dutchwomen.

Rensselaer quickly matched Friday afternoon’s score in the opening eight minutes of play with two goals a mere three minutes apart. Wright nabbed the game-winner with her sixth goal of the year, and first of three points on the day at 5:07 of the first. Naslund sent the puck over to Harrison on the far circle. Although Marcinko was able to make the save, she could not control the rebound as it jutted out to Wright in the slot, who blasted the puck past the rookie.

With Rensselaer’s top-line on the board, the equally capable second-liners were prepared to make an impact as well. Senior wing Allysen Weidner dug the puck out of the corner to freshman Clare Padmore, who was positioned just below the goal line. Carrying the puck up the ice, Padmore dropped the biscuit to junior center Kendra Dunlop, who buried her own rebound at 7:51 for her fifth of the year.

The second period proved to be as exciting as the first, as the Engineers added two more goals to ramp the lead up to 4-0 and held a commanding 15-4 advantage in shots on net.

In what proved to be a near whole-team effort, three more Engineers added points in the frame. Sophomore Jill Vandegrift gave Rensselaer the 3-0 advantage at 5:49 when she found a loose puck and rifled it past Marcinko, with assists going to junior Sydney O’Keefe and sophomore Katie Daniels. Naslund then netted her team-leading 10th goal of the year at 18:34 off the man advantage as she received a pass from sophomore defenseman Amanda Castignetti and picked the upper right pocket of the net.

The final 20 minutes of play saw Rensselaer add only one more goal at 12:01 from Harrison, her sixth goal of the year. Wright and freshman Janessa Haller earned assists on the play. Even though the Dutchwomen held their only lead of the game in shots—8 to 6—in the third period, van der Bliek stood tall in net, garnering her fourth shutout of the season. Van der Bliek finished the night with 15 saves while Marcinko posted 26 stops on the day.

With the fall semester nearing its end, the Engineers remain idle until January 8 when league play starts up again. RPI will host North Country rival St. Lawrence University on January 8 at 7 pm, followed by a 4 pm match against Clarkson University on January 9.