Tigers pounce on ailing Engineers

SENIOR ASSISTANT CAPTAIN JUSTIN SMITH CARRIES the puck into the Colorado College zone before blasting a shot on net.

The men’s hockey team can’t seem to catch a break these days as the Engineers dropped a pair of 4-1 contests to second-ranked Colorado College at the Houston Field House this weekend. RPI is now 1-6-0 in its final weekend of play before the ECAC schedule starts, while the Tigers remain one of the few unbeaten teams in college hockey with a 4-0-0 record.

Junior Rylan Schwartz scored two of three goals on the weekend in the first match of the series to lead Colorado College to the eventual sweep. The first came at 9:11 of the first period as R. Schwartz buried a centering pass from junior Scott Winkler for his fourth tally of the season.

Early in the second period R. Schwartz made it a 2-0 advantage for the visitors after receiving a feed from his younger brother, sophomore Jaden Schwartz, and flipping the shot over junior goaltender Bryce Merriam’s shoulder. The eventual game-winner, which was also assisted by senior Gabe Guentzel, came at 19:46. Senior Patrick Cullen pulled the Engineers within a goal 10 seconds later after scoring off the rebound of a shot by sophomore Guy Leboeuf.

Despite the comeback from Rensselaer, the Tigers closed the game with two empty net goals after the Engineers pulled Merriam in favor of the extra skater. The first came by junior Mike Boivin at 19:31, while classmate William Rapuzzi closed the game with an unassisted tally at 19:55.

The next night proved to be no different for RPI, as the Engineers skated away in another 4-1 loss. Each Schwartz brother scored for the Tigers, as did Winkler and sophomore Andrew Krushenlynski, who had the game’s first goal.

Krushenlynski is no stranger to RPI, as his older brother Andrew ’10 was a star first baseman of the RPI baseball team. The short-handed mark came at 11:19 of the first period as Krushenlynski picked up his own rebound and flipped the biscuit off freshman goaltender Scott Diebold’s back for his first goal of the season.

Midway through the second period senior Alex Angers-Goulet was able to even the score with a short handed goal of his own at 10:31. Angers-Goulet rushed into the Tigers’ zone and ripped a slap shot on net that beat junior goaltender Joe Howe.

It didn’t take long for Colorado College to regain the lead as Winkler broke the tie at 11:22 of the middle frame. The power play goal, Winkler’s first of the season, came off a shot from the top of the left circle. Sophomore Eamonn McDermott and freshman Ian Young both assisted on the play.

R. Schwartz collected his third goal of the weekend to make it a 3-1 advantage for the visitors at 7:21 of the third period. R. Schwartz received a pass from Winkler and threaded the puck just inside the left post for his sixth goal of the season. With just over a minute and half remaining in the game, J. Schwartz added an empty net goal to eliminate all chances of a comeback for RPI.

Diebold finished with 23 saves for the Engineers, while Howe posted 20 saves for Colorado College. Following the two games, the Tigers rose in the national rankings from the No. 3 team in the country to No. 2, just behind Boston College.

The Engineers will travel to the North Country this weekend to open conference play. Friday’s puck drop against St. Lawrence University is set for 7 pm, while Rensselaer will take on Clarkson University on Saturday, also at 7 pm.