Men's hockey suffers tough losses to conference rivals

The absence and injury of a few key players has proved fatal to a promising men’s hockey squad as the Engineers dropped their third-straight league game after a strong start to the season. This past weekend, RPI held close to No. 5 Cornell University in a 2-1 loss on Friday night, and suffered a difficult 5-3 defeat by the hands of the Colgate University Raiders on Saturday afternoon. The two losses placed Rensselaer 8-8-1 overall and 3-3-0 in the league, while Cornell improved to 7-2-1 overall and 6-2-0 in the conference, and Colgate advanced to 7-5-4 on the year and 5-3-1 in the ECAC.

Big Red seniors Blake Gallagher and Colin Greening led the rush with a goal and an assist a piece in the 2-1 romp. The win helped Cornell move up in the national rankings, jumping two spots from No. 7 last week to its current position as No. 5.

Gallagher gave the Big Red the 1-0 lead at 15:13 of the first period off a power play marker. Sophomore goaltender Allen York, who is still nursing a shoulder injury from the previous week, blocked the initial shot by Greening, but could not react in time to stop Gallagher’s attempt from the post for his team-leading 10th goal of the year.

York redeemed himself with two point-blank saves on Cornell junior Tyler Roeszler in the final minutes of the period. The Engineers skated into the locker room for the first intermission only down 1-0 to one of the top teams in the league, and keeping up in shots, 9-7.

Just under five minutes into the second period, Rensselaer would find the equalizer off junior Tyler Helfrich’s second of the year. Fellow junior Scott Halpern sent a pass up the boards to classmate Chase Polacek, who skated into the zone and connected with Helfrich in the slot. Helfrich ripped a one-timer past senior netminder Ben Scrivens inside the left post.

The tie would not last long as Greening netted the eventual game-winner seven minutes later. Greening took advantage of a 2-on-1 rush down the ice as he flipped the puck over York’s glove for his fifth mark of the year.

Despite outshooting Cornell 11-4 throughout the period and holding an 18-13 shot advantage through 40 minutes of play, Rensselaer could not pull even, heading into the third period down 2-1.

The Engineers had several opportunities to knot the game, including a ringer from freshman Brandon Pirri off the right post at 5:30 of the third, but could not solve Scrivens. The Cornell netminder made 22 saves in the win, while York made 17 stops for RPI.

Looking to bounce back after a tight game against a nationally-ranked foe, the Engineers were stunned as the Colgate Raiders brought their A-game to the Houston Field House in a rare Saturday afternoon matchup.

Junior center Joel Malchuk gave the home-standing Engineers the early lead just over two minutes into the contest. Malchuk collected a loose puck in front of Colgate’s net and flipped it past senior goaltender Charles Long for his third of the year, with the assists going to freshman Marty O’Grady and sophomore Alex Angers-Goulet. Malchuk has had a breakout junior campaign this season and has been a catalyst in many of the Engineers’ plays. “I’ve just been trying to play hard every day, whether it be in practice or games and to be consistent,” he explained. “I’ve also been put in some great opportunities by our coaching staff and am just trying to take advantage of those situations.”

A mere three minutes later, the Raiders were able to knot the game at one with a power play goal from junior Brian Day. Classmate Francois Brisebois’ shot on net was denied by York, but Day was able to quickly collect the rebound for the tally. Colgate closed the first period with one more goal from freshman Christian Long at 7:01.

After a fun-filled intermission, including a hockey tradition in The Teddy Bear Toss, Rensselaer followed up a goal from Raider freshman Kurtis Bartliff with two of their own, tying the game up at three. Sophomore Patrick Cullen cut the deficit to one at 8:09 off a slap shot from the post for his second of the year, with assists going to Polacek and sophomore Josh Rabbani. Eight minutes later, Cullen found Angers-Goulet rushing down ice, who met Helfrich at the crease as he stuffed his second goal in as many games.

Despite outshooting Colgate 13-6 in the second period and 11-6 in the third, the Engineers dropped their game in the third, allowing the Raiders to regain the lead with two more goals. Brisebois netted the game-winner at 2:17 after finishing a passing drill between linemates sophomore Nick Prockow and freshman Robbie Bourdon. Senior David McIntyre added an insurance marker in the final minutes of play, bringing the score to 5-3. York stopped 23 shots in the loss, while at the other end of the rink Long made 26 saves.

Rensselaer returns to the ice this week with two matches before taking a month-long hiatus. Today, the Engineers take on Route 7 rival Union College in a league match at 7 pm, followed by a non-conference game against last year’s national champion Boston University Friday evening at 7 pm. RPI will be looking for revenge in both contests, as Union dealt a blowing defeat last week during the overtime frame of the championship round of RPI’s own Holiday Tournament, while BU embarrassed the Engineers in the Wells Fargo Denver Cup last January.