TROY, NY - RPI broke open a 1-1 game with a pair of second period goals as the Engineers (18-16-4, 10-9-3) earned a 4-1 victory over the Brown men's hockey team (9-18-4, 6-12-4) Saturday night in game two of the best-of-three first round series of the ECAC Hockey Tournament. With the series now tied at one game a piece, the Bears and Engineers will face off tomorrow night in the third and deciding game, set to begin at 7:00 p.m.
The Bears came out with a sense of urgency, seeing the first three quality scoring chances of the game. Junior David Brownschidle (Lawrenceville, NJ) was denied from the bottom of the right faceoff circle just 1:48 in. Then at 5:32, junior Harry Zolnierczyk (Toronto, ONT) attempted a wrap-around bid, which almost had RPI's Allen York beat, but he was able to make the stick-save to keep the game scoreless.
Senior Devin Timberlake (Port Alberni, BC) had the third chance less than two minutes later but York made a beautiful kick-save on Timberlake's blast from just inside the left point that appeared to have been headed for the far corner.
With 8:12 remaining in the period, Brown took its first penalty, and just like Friday night, RPI capitalized on the early power play to grab a 1-0 lead 64 seconds later. Jerry D'Amigo carried the puck in along the left wing and sent it on net where Paul Kerins deflected it up and over sophomore Mike Clemente's (Great Falls, VA) right shoulder.
As the goal was scored, Brown was whistled for a second infraction and this time, RPI failed to connect for a single shot. Just 13 seconds after successfully killing the penalty on senior Sean McMonagle (Oakville, ONT), Brown had tied the score at 1-1. McMonagle started the play as he came out of the box on the right side, tipping a pass over RPI and into the neutral zone. Zolnierczyk raced towards the puck and skated into the zone on a two-on-one break with senior Aaron Volpatti (Revelstoke, BC) on his left. From the right faceoff circle, Zolnierczyk faked a shot, opting instead to cross the puck to Volpatti, who one-timed his shot from the bottom of the left circle, beating York near side at 15:05.
After getting outshot, 10-7, in the first period, RPI was all over Brown during the second period, building a 20-18 advantage in shots for the game and 13-8 for the period. Patrick Cullen gave the Engineers a 2-1 lead with 5:39 left in the period, beating Clemente stick-side on a wrap-around attempt. Cullen had the puck for what seemed like an eternity, skating in along the left wing, heading behind the net and around the other side, before wristing a shot to the far corner.
Just 1:35 later, Brandon Pirri extended the lead to 3-1 for RPI with his 11th goal of the year, scored with both teams skating four players. After Brown freshman Chris Zaires (Aberdeen, NJ) just missed pushing a bouncing puck over the line, RPI skated out of the zone and Pirri's shot from the top of the left circle clanged off the far post and into the net at 15:56.
The advantage could have easily been much larger for the Engineers, if not for two spectacular defensive plays by the Bears and RPI hitting two posts in the period. With the score still 1-1 and 7:25 remaining in the period, RPI was racing in on a two-on-one break. Junior Jeremy Russell (St. Albert, ALB) went to play the puck-carrier, lying down on the ice to take away the pass. However, Pirri made a move around Russell and sent a pass over to Chase Polacek on his right. Sophomore Jack Maclellan (Calgary, ALB) came out of nowhere on the back-check to take away the shot and keep the game tied.
Then, less than a minute later, Clemente made a save on Bryan Brutlag's shot from the right faceoff circle. The rebound popped right out to Kerins on the doorstep, but Clemente was back in position to make the save on his point-blank attempt.
Polacek increased RPI's lead to 4-1 midway through the third period, connecting on another Engineers' power play. After making a save on Kerins, Clemente ended up in no-man's land, leaving the net partially open. The rebound bounced out to Polacek at the bottom of the left face-off circle and he lifted the puck into the open net at 10:09. Clemente attempted to slide over to make the diving save, but was a split second too late, as Polacek was too quick with the shot.
Clemente finished with 29 saves, while York made 23 for the Engineers. The Bears and Engineers will face off tomorrow night in game three at 7:00 p.m. The winner of that game will advance to the ECAC Quarterfinals to be hosted next weekend.
RENSSELAER 1 2 1 x - 4
First Period - R, Kerins (D'Amigo, Pirri), PP,
12:52; B, Volpatti (Zolnierczyk, McMonagle), 15:05. Penalties -B,
2-4; R, 0-0.
Second Period - R, Cullen (Merth), 14:21; R, Pirri (unassisted), 4x4, 15:56. Penalties - B, 3-6; R, 4-8.
Third Period - R, Polacek (D'Amigo, Kerins), PP, 10:09. Penalties - B, 5-10; R, 5-18.
B, Mike Clemente (60:00) - 6-11-12-x - 29; R, Allen York (60:00) - 9-8-6-x - 23.
Pictured: Aaron Volpatti ’10. Photo by DSPics.net