The men’s hockey team saw two close games slip away this weekend as it fell into its second five-game winless streak of the season.
The Elis (8-10-3, 5-8-1 ECACHL) dropped to 10th place in the league after tough losses to Rensselaer (8-11-7, 4-6-4), 2-1, and Union (13-11-2, 6-8-0), 3-2, at home this weekend. Both games came down to the wire as the Bulldogs tried to turn things around after their last winless weekend.
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“We had a rough couple of stretches the last few weekends, and we told ourselves that we were going to go out and play hard,” forward Sean Backman ’10 said. “And that’s what we did [even though] we came up short.”
On Friday night, the Elis faced off against Rensselaer in front of a home crowd at the Whale. After a scoreless opening period, both squads heated up offensively in the second. The Engineers broke through first with a power play goal at 5:24 but kept their lead for just 65 seconds. Mark Arcobello ’10 won a face-off draw and sent the puck to teammate Tom Dignard ’10, who quickly put it away. But RPI took a 2-1 lead again a few minutes later with a goal that would later turn out to be the last of the game.
Although neither team managed to score in the third, the Elis were not quite finished trying. They outshot the Engineers 15-8 in the third and kept the pressure on the RPI blue liners, forcing them to stay on defense for the entire last two minutes of the game.
“In the third period, we decided to turn it on and try to get another goal, and we had some good chances,” captain Matt Cohen ’07 said. “But in a 60-minute game, you can’t wait for the last few minutes to try to get a goal.”
On Saturday night, the Elis dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker to Union in overtime. The two squads nearly skated to a draw, but Dutchmen forward Olivier Bouchard found the back of the net with 32 seconds remaining to get the win. Richards said that he was caught off guard by the shot, which slipped past his leg and into the goal. The loss was the Elis’ first to Union in their third-straight overtime battle.
“Friday we didn’t come together as a team that well,” forward Blair Yaworski ’08 said. “There were some issues of preparation on the mental side of the game. I thought we came out and played a better game on Saturday. We deserved to win, but things just didn’t come out the way we wanted them to in overtime — a couple of bad bounces and the puck was in our net.”
The first three periods were a back-and-forth battle between the two squads. The Dutchmen took the lead with 3:36 remaining in the opening frame, but the Elis answered back midway through the second. Will Engasser ’08 redirected a shot by Rob Page ’08 and buried it in the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.
The Bulldogs pulled ahead in the third when Backman put away a feed from Arcobello with a two-man advantage. But the Dutchmen managed to even up the score yet again on their own power play with 10 minutes remaining in regulation. Despite several near-misses on both goals, the two squads went into overtime, where the Bulldogs were on the losing side of the lucky shot that ended the game.
Richards had a solid weekend altogether, posting 25 saves against RPI and 30 against Union, including several key stops to keep the score close.
“He played well, and he did what he could,” Yaworski said. “He came up big and saved our team on a few different occasions.”
With the sting of this weekend’s losses still fresh in their memories, the Elis will look for redemption next weekend when they face No. 20 Quinnipiac and Princeton.
“It was a learning weekend,” Cohen said. “We made some strides, and we are better after the weekend as a team than we were before it. But obviously we can’t feel too good about losing two games.”