The RPI men’s hockey team completed its regular season Saturday night with a hard-fought 1-1 tie against the Cornell University Big Red. The Engineers embarked on their final road trip of the season this past weekend with high aspirations. A pair of wins against Colgate University and Cornell would likely have assured them the fourth seed and a first-round bye in the ECAC tournament.
After a tough 3-2 loss to Colgate on Friday night, however, the hopes of a first-round bye were gone and the Engineers were just looking for a little momentum heading into the postseason as they visited hostile Lynah Rink and the Cornell Big Red.
Coach Seth Appert’s team did not have the statistics on its side heading into the contest. Not only was Cornell ranked ninth in the country entering the game, they also led the ECAC in power play scoring and penalty killing. The Big Red also arguably boasts one of the best goaltenders in the nation in senior Ben Scrivens.
If that weren’t enough, RPI also entered the game with an unsightly 3-18-2 record against Cornell in its last 23 meetings.
It appeared history was doomed to repeat itself as Cornell struck first 7:07 into the first period. Sophomore Sean Collins gathered a rebound off freshman teammate Nick D’Agostino’s shot and slid it past RPI goalie Allen York for the early 1-0 lead.
The Engineers, however, would not go quietly. Enjoying a 4-on-3 advantage later in the first period, RPI freshman sensation Jerry D’Amigo found junior forward Chase Polacek, with Polacek unleashing a shot from the point. The shot ricocheted off a Cornell defender and past Scrivens to knot the game at 1-1. With the goal, the Edina, Minn., native ranks second in the country in points with 50 and is tied for first in goals with 25.
The two teams battled to a stalemate over the next two periods. RPI’s best scoring chance came on a power play in the second period when D’Amigo let one rip from point blank range. The Cornell netminder, however, was up to the challenge and deflected the shot away.
After a plodding third period with few scoring chances, the two teams headed into overtime. During the extra frame, the RPI bench received word that St. Lawrence University had won its game against Harvard University, which meant the Engineers needed a win—and a win only—to secure the fifth seed in the upcoming playoffs. As the overtime period wound down to the final minute, Appert pulled York to give his squad an extra attacker.
The Engineers could not take advantage, however, and after a scare from a Cornell full-length shot in the waning seconds, the game ended in a 1-1 tie.
With the tie, RPI finishes the regular season in sixth place in the ECAC standings. The Engineers will welcome the Brown University Bears to the Houston Field House for a best-of-three first round playoff series next weekend. It will be the first time RPI has hosted a playoff series in Coach Appert’s tenure. RPI last hosted a playoff series in the 2005–2006 season when they were swept by then-ECAC newcomer Quinnipiac.