Engineers earn first victory since early October

SENIOR CAPTAIN MIKE BERGIN RIFLES a shot on net in Friday’s ECAC home opener against Yale University. RPI fell in a 2-0 decision, but defeated Brown University the following evening.

The first goal scored by the men’s hockey team in over 200 minutes of play proved to be all it needed as the Engineers rebounded from a 2-0 loss to No. 9 Yale University on Friday to earn the 1-0 victory over Brown University on Saturday. Rensselaer, snapping an eight-game losing streak, is now 2-9-0 overall with a 1-3-0 league record, while the Yale Bulldogs improved to 4-3-1 overall and 3-1-0 in ECAC play. The Brown Bears fall to 3-3-0 overall on the season and 2-2-0 in conference play.

Friday marked the team’s first loss on Black Friday for the Engineers. Junior Yale forward Josh Balch’s goal early in the first period proved to be all the Bulldogs needed to walk away with the win.

Balch grabbed the puck off the RPI blue line and skated through the Engineers’ zone before slipping the biscuit past Rensselaer junior goaltender Bryce Merriam at 1:51 of the first. The Engineers, who posted six shots in the first period and 13 in the second, could not find the equalizer despite numerous attempts.

The Bulldogs added an insurance goal at 18:21 of the final frame off a power-play goal from sophomore Clinton Bourbonais. Although Merriam stopped an initial attempt by sophomore Kenny Agostino, Bourbonais snatched the rebound and flipped the puck into the far upper corner.

Saturday night proved to play out in RPI’s favor as the Engineers earned their first win since early October. Freshman Ryan Haggerty lit the lamp at 19:39 of the second period off a one-timer from the left circle to notch the eventual game-winner. Fellow freshman Jacob Laliberte sent the puck up to junior Nick Bailen on the point, who connected with Haggerty low in the corner. The power play goal was Haggerty’s second of the season.

Both teams had numerous chances in the third period to hit the back of the net, but Merriam stood strong in the cage to keep the Bears off the scoreboard. The Engineers had a goal waived off late in the third period after a high stick was used to deflect the puck into the net, but it proved to be no issue as Rensselaer held on for the narrow one-goal win.

Merriam finished with 22 saves for the shutout, including 10 in the first period alone. Senior goaltender Michael Clemente posted 22 stops for the Bears, including 11 in the middle stanza.

The Engineers took on No. 13 Union College in a rare Tuesday evening matchup. Rensselaer fell in a 5-1 decision to the Dutchmen, the first of three meetings against Union this season. Bailen netted the only goal for RPI, while sophomore Daniel Carr completed a hat trick for the visitors.

RPI, who played out its final home game of 2011 against the Dutchmen, are idle until November 25 when it takes on the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y. Game time is set for 7:05 pm.