On Saturday, October 11, RPI women’s hockey held its regular season home opener against the University of Vermont Catamounts at the Houston Fieldhouse. After scoring twice in the second period to take a 2-1 lead into the second intermission, the Engineers allowed three Catamount goals in the first 10 minutes of the third period, and lost 4-2.
In the first period, Vermont took control, winning six out of the first seven faceoffs. Vermont also rattled off nine shots in the first 10 minutes, resulting in five saves for Engineer senior goalie Kelly O’Brien. But Rensselaer was unable to hold off the Catamount attack any longer. With 11 minutes gone by in the opening period, Catamount left wing Brittany Zuback scored, assisted by center Dayna Colang, to put the visitors up 1-0.
Almost immediately following the goal, Vermont raced back down the ice and fired three more shots on the Engineer goal, but each was saved by O’Brien. Rensselaer, then took the momentum and fired off four shots, but none found the Catamount net. With 5:18 remaining in the first period, Vermont right wing Victoria Andreakos was penalized for holding and RPI was awarded a power play. The Engineers failed to take advantage of the power play, as Vermont sealed the gaps in its defense and held RPI at bay. Three more saves by O’Brien and one by Catamount goalie Madison Litchfield, bringing her total to six, rounded out the first period, with the score remaining Vermont 1, RPI 0.
RPI increased its intensity in the second period and took control of the momentum. With less than a minute gone by, a shot by Rensselaer junior forward Mari Mankey threatened to tie the score but ricocheted off the post harmlessly. Later, after two shots were blocked by Vermont defenders and two more were saved by Litchfield, senior forward Ali Svoboda ripped a shot past Litchfield to give RPI its first goal of the afternoon. The goal was assisted by senior forward Taylor Mahoney and junior forward Alexa Gruschow.
Immediately following the goal, RPI went on the power play and commenced an offensive barrage on the Vermont goal. But the Catamounts managed to kill the power play on the merit of three saves by Litchfield. Later in the period, the Engineers launched several more shots at the Catamount goal, and after five saves by Litchfield, the sixth one found its mark off the stick of senior forward Mariana Walsh to put RPI on top 2-1. The second Rensselaer score was assisted by Mankey and sophomore forward Katie Rooney.
In the third period, Engineer spirits deflated when a Vermont power play resulted in a quick equalizer for the Catamounts 1:35 into the third period. Then, at the 2:47 mark, Gruschow was penalized for tripping and Vermont was awarded a second power play. With only 41 seconds gone by in the two-minute power play, Catamount senior forward Amanda Pelkey scored the go-ahead goal, assisted by Colang and defender Amanda Drobot.
With the game slipping away, the Engineers desperately held back a Vermont charge which included seven shots on goal, all corralled by O’Brien. Then, RPI looked for a tying goal of its own, firing three shots at Litchfield to no avail. After Vermont gathered a loose puck with 11 minutes remaining in the contest, Catamount forward Bridget Baker found Pelkey open near the Engineer net with a crossing pass and Pelkey slipped the puck past O’Brien to give Vermont a 4-2 lead.
In the waning minutes of the contest, RPI received two more power plays, but was unable to capitalize on either. Down 4-2 with a minute and a half left, Rooney was penalized for roughing, and the Catamounts used their advantage to run out the clock. The final score was Vermont 4, RPI 2. The Engineers fell to 0-3-0 on the young season while the Catamounts improved to 2-1-0. The following afternoon, the Engineers traveled to Burlington and tied the Catamounts 2-2 in the second game of the Vermont-RPI home-and-home series. RPI will travel to Durham, New Hampshire on Friday, October 17 to face the University of New Hampshire in hopes of picking up its first victory.