Evans knocks out Union at Blackout
John Evans buried the Engineers’ game-winning second goal to defeat the Union Dutchmen 2‒1 in the annual Blackout game. Kyle Hallbauer netted the Engineers’ first goal, and goaltender Jack Watson saved 23 of the 24 shots he faced.
Rensselaer decided to adorn this year’s Blackout jerseys with the names of the national title winners from the 1984–85 season. The Houston Field House sold out, resulting in the largest attendance for a game since the 2017 Blackout game.
After a consistent 11-minute ebb and flow of offensive chances for each side to open the game, the Engineers struck. Hallbauer prevented a Union clearance from exiting the offensive zone. He faked a pass and, like a ventriloquist toying with strings, twirled the Dutchman that closed him down. With the humiliated Union skater disoriented, Hallbauer skipped past him, rifling the puck past goaltender Connor Murphy to put RPI ahead. The Engineers maintained their pressure on the Dutchmen, but the visitors held out until the end of the opening period.
Less than five minutes into the second period, RPI doubled their lead. Sutter Muzzatti and Evans drifted into the Union zone on an odd-man rush. The defenseman intercepted a weak pass from Muzzatti, but the Engineer tenaciously bullied the Dutchman off the puck and poked it to his teammate. Evans, one-on-one with Murphy, kept his composure to bury a shot past the Union goaltender, putting the Engineers up by two goals.
Minutes later, Evans nearly extended the RPI lead to three. Evans intercepted a pass in the Dutchman end, leaving him with acres of space in the slot. The Engineer forward coiled up for a shot, springing off his feet as his shot ricocheted off the inside of the right post. The goal horn sounded, despite the referee waving it off. After his shot rang off the iron, Evans tripped a Dutchman to earn a minor penalty. The momentum shifted in Union’s favor following the power play, and tensions continued to rise. Scuffles developed after every whistle, culminating in matching roughing minors later in the frame. The second period ended with the Engineers still in control 2‒0.
RPI continued to threaten Union with opportunities, including a Jakob Lee breakaway, but Murphy and the Dutchmen rejected any attempt. Five minutes into the final period, the Dutchmen nearly cut the lead in half. A pass across the crease opened up a gaping left side of the RPI net. Watson miraculously kept out the incoming shot, preventing a certain goal. The Engineers could not hang onto their two-goal lead, however. RPI’s Jack Agnew tied up Dutchman Ben Tupker in the crease. Union’s Mason Snell slid a pass from behind the goal onto his tied-up teammate’s stick. Tupker deflected the puck past Watson to pull the deficit back to one.
The intensity ramped up as time dwindled, but Union failed to find an equalizer, even with an extra skater in the last minute and a half; the victory provided RPI with its fifth win of the season. The two teams faced off in the second game of the home-and-home the following night in Schenectady, in which the Dutchmen embarrassed the Engineers 6‒0. The split of the home-and-home series brings the Engineers’ season record to 5‒1‒0, and an even 1‒1‒0 in the ECAC. Click here for the box score and tune in to ESPN+ to follow the Engineers this season.