After pulling a stunning 2-2 tie with No. 13 Cornell University on Friday night, the men’s hockey team faltered in its biggest game of the season—an 8-3 loss to Colgate University in the 35th annual Big Red Freakout!. The Engineers are now 7-19-2 overall on the year, and 4-10-2 in league play with only a few weekends left in the regular season. Cornell, ranked second in the ECAC, moves to 11-6-6 overall and 8-3-5 in conference play, while Colgate rises to 15-10-3 overall and 9-6-1 in ECAC action.
Friday night’s matchup against the Cornell Big Red—which was also broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network—saw the Engineers bounce back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to force overtime. However, neither team was able to score in the five-minute sudden death frame, leaving both deadlocked in a 2-2 decision.
Cornell senior Sean Collins opened the match at 6:34 of the first period with his eighth goal of the season. Collins grabbed a rebound off a shot by senior Sean Whitney, and flipped the puck over junior RPI goaltender Bryce Merriam.
The Big Red’s second goal came off a strong individual effort by sophomore Dustin Mowrey, who weaved through the Rensselaer defense and ripped a shot that bounced off Merriam’s pad. However, junior Greg Miller was waiting on the doorstep to bury the biscuit at 15:00 of the second period.
Trailing by two goals to enter the third frame, the Engineers fought back to knot up the contest. Junior C.J. Lee beat sophomore netminder Andy Iles at 2:54 of the third off a one-timer feed from senior Alex Angers-Goulet. Senior Joel Malchuk earned the second assist on the play after winning the puck battle deep in the Cornell zone.
Less than two minutes later, freshman Ryan Haggerty made it a 2-2 match with his sixth goal of the season. Senior Patrick Cullen carried the puck into the offensive zone, and flipped Haggerty the puck near the hash marks as he stuffed the biscuit into the Cornell cage.
Despite a late Cornell penalty, the Engineers couldn’t find the go-ahead goal in the overtime frame. Merriam stopped 23 shots, while Iles made 22 stops for the Big Red.
The next evening wouldn’t end as well for Rensselaer, as Colgate senior Austin Smith netted four goals in an 8-3 rout of the Engineers. Smith, the nation’s leading scorer with 30 goals netting one in the first period, two in the second, and a single goal in the third frame.
Smith’s first of the night came as he received a pass from junior Robbie Bourdon and buried the puck from the bottom of the left face off circle at 9:37. Shortly after at 17:09, Bourdon made it a 2-0 match as his centering pass deflected off the stick of an RPI defender and over Merriam’s shoulder.
Rensselaer pulled within one early in the second period off sophomore Guy Leboeuf’s third goal of the season, with the assist going to classmate Brock Higgs. However, the Raiders responded with three goals in the frame, including the eventual game-winner.
Just over a minute and a half later, Smith scored his second of the night after capitalizing on a turnover in the RPI zone. Senior Nick Prokaw made it a 4-1 match after his shot from the far side boards slid into the net at 16:44. Smith then closed out the period with a hat trick at 18:40 after grabbing the loose puck and flipping it into an open net.
Colgate didn’t stop there, and added four more tallies in the third period. Junior Thomas Larkin made it a 6-1 contest with a power play goal at 6:07. Smith netted his fourth of the night at 7:36 after fighting off a stick check and sending the wrist shot to the back of the RPI net.
Despite replacing freshman Scott Diebold—who had already replaced Merriam earlier in the match—with Merriam once again, the Raiders still managed to hit the back of the cage once more. Bourdon made it an 8-1 match after scoring his second of the game at 14:17. Rensselaer tried to soften the loss with an unassisted goal from freshman Zach Schoeder and another from Cullen, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the five-goal deficit.
Merriam, who played just over 49 minutes of the match, made 18 stops, while Diebold, who played the remaining 11 minutes, blocked seven Raider attempts. At the other end of the rink, senior Alex Evin made 28 stops in the win.
The Engineers travel to Harvard University and Dartmouth University next weekend in some of their final ECAC matches of the season. Rensselaer takes on the Harvard Crimson on Friday at 7 pm, and then take on the Dartmouth Big Green on Saturday at 7 pm.