23 Nov Airo AV Announced Engineers fall short vs. Crimson
The RPI hockey team found itself in an up-tempo game with the high-octane Harvard offense Friday night and, for 40 minutes anyway, the Engineers had the better of the play despite trailing 4-3 heading into the third period.
When the final 20 minutes began, the Crimson quickly established why they are unbeaten and ranked 10th in this week’s college hockey poll as Harvard struck twice early in the period and RPI could offer little response in dropping its ECAC contest 6-3 at Houston Field House.
“There are no surprises in that game, their skill level capitalized on a few of our mistakes, we didn’t capitalize on all of our chances and we had a lot,” RPI coach Dave Smith said.
RPI (4-6-1, 2-4-1) outshot Harvard 16-3 in the second period and tied the game 3-3 on Todd Burgess’ goal at 6 minutes, 6 seconds of the second and the Engineers had a chance to take the lead with a five-on-three power play at 13:32 that was interrupted when Burgess was sent off for slashing at 14:55.
On the ensuing Crimson power play, Casey Dornbach scored the second of his three goals in the game for Harvard (6-0-0, 6-0-0) at 16:03 to give the Crimson a 4-3 lead.
“It is a tie game, we are on the power play, five-on-three, we don’t score,” Smith said. “We take a penalty, they come back and score. Big momentum shift right then. I thought we handled the speed, I thought we handled a lot of things well. They don’t need as many chances with some of their skill guys to score.”
Dornbach completed the hat trick at 3:05 of the third and Frederic Gregoire scored an insurance goal for the Crimson at 7:17 to put Harvard up 6-3.
RPI outshot Harvard 40-25 in the game.
Harvard came into the game with 27 goals scored in its first five games and took an early 2-0 lead in the first on Henry Bowlby’s goal 54 seconds in and on Dornbach’s penalty shot goal at 2:26 before RPI battled back.
Freshman Cory Babichuk scored the first goal of his RPI career at 5:02 of the first on a wrist shot from the point to help RPI pick up some momentum.
“A lot of help from my teammates out there, I think it was (Mike) Gornall driving low generates a lot down low and then a good pass from my D-partner (Brady) Ferner and a lot of traffic in front,” Babichuk said.
RPI kept up the pressure and tied the game at 2 when Jake Marrello sent a centering pass from behind the net and into the slot where Chase Zieky was waiting and the senior did the rest, firing the puck by Harvard goaltender Mitchell Gibson at 10:12 to tie the game.
“I liked our game. We were watching them to start and we get down 2-0,” Smith said. “Then we start outworking them, start outhitting them, really being physical from that point on. It was unfortunate we were down one going into the third. It is important for us to identify what we are good at and build on that. We aren’t talking about major fixes. Harvard is a good hockey team, RPI is a good hockey team.”
Following the game, RPI dressed and boarded a bus to go to Buffalo and prepare for Saturday’s nonleague game against Canisius at the Harborcenter.
Sean Martin, a local freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to the Times Union.