Union-RPI Mayor's Cup postgame report (with 3 videos)
RPI was the better team in the inaugural Mayor’s Cup game against Capital Region rival Union at the Times Union Center.
The Engineers dominated the Dutchmen for most of the game. They battled back each time the Dutchmen took leads of 1-0 and 2-1. They made the Dutchmen looked disorganized at times.
Yet, it still wasn’t enough to beat Union.
The 19th-ranked Dutchmen continued their mastery of their Route 7 rivals. They squeezed out a 3-2 victory Saturday when Matt Wilkins scored on a power-play goal with 36.8 seconds left.
“You get what you deserve,” RPI coach Seth Appert said.
The Engineers didn’t get what they deserved — a win.
After giving up an early first-period power-play goal to the Dutchmen’s Daniel Ciampini, the Engineers kept up the pressure. They ended up outshooting the Dutchmen, 16-7, in the first period. And that momentum spilled over into the second.
Ryan Haggerty tied the score 16 seconds into the period. After goalie Troy Grosenick turned aside a CJ Lee shot, Haggerty was alone on the doorstep to put home the rebound.
“It always seems like we take a penalty early and get scored against them, and we did,” Appert said. “It played out, pretty much, how you anticipate [it]. But we responded really well in that first period. Sometimes, that has set up back for 20 minutes. You saw how much we outshot them the rest of that first period. ... I thought it was a great response by our team. It shows we’re growing up.”
After falling behind, 5-1, in shots in the first period, RPI ended up outshooting Union, 16-7. Although the Engineers didn’t score, the momentum they had in the first period carried over into the second. Ryan Haggerty tied it for RPI 16 seconds into the second period. And the Engineers continued to roll, making the Dutchmen look disorganized, at times.
Even when Union took a 2-1 lead on Greg Coburn’s goal early in the third period, RPI continued to play well. Mark McGowan tied it with 4:24 left, and it appeared overtime was at hand.
But it was a controversial penalty call against Engineers defenseman Nick Bailen did in RPI. Bailen was called for interference as Matt Wilkins tried to dump the puck into the RPI zone with 1:23 to go in regulation. Bailen knocked over Wilkins. Honestly, I don’t think it was interference. However, a similar call was made against Union defenseman Sebastien Gingras on CJ Lee earlier in the third. And that was a poor call, too.
Nonetheless, RPI had to kill the penalty off. But the Dutchmen’s top-ranked power play in the country came through.
As time was winding down, center Josh Jooris got a pass from Mat Bodie and skated down the right wing into the RPI zone. As Jooris got to the faceoff dot, he spotted Wilkins going to the net.
Wilkins, who turned 22 Saturday, outraced two RPI defenders. He arrived at the same time Jooris’ pass did, and he simply redirected it past goalie Jason Kasdorf to snap the 2-2 tie.
“That’s good. It’s nice,” said Wilkins, who has scored goals in consecutive games after getting just one in his first 18. “To get [the game-winner] on my birthday is very special.”
Union was outshot, 38-20. Bennett knows his team was fortunate to escape with the victory.
“I know we didn’t have our ‘A’ game, and you’re going to have those nights,” Bennett said. “But, we stuck with it, and it was a great win.”
And a tough loss for RPI.
Attendance misses 6,000
The attendance for the game was 5,959. That’s not quite what I expected. On Thursday’s “Slap Schotts” college hockey segment, TU Center general manager Bob Belber indicated that 6,500 tickets were sold, and he was hoping for 8,000.
I have three postgame videos.
To see Bennett’s press conference, click here.
To see the Union players’ press conference, click here.
To see RPI’s reaction, click here.
My three stars of the game:
1) Matt Wilkins, Union forward — Drew the late-game penalty on Nick Bailen, and then scored the game-winning power-play goal.
2) Troy Grosenick, Union goalie — Stopped 36 shots.
3) CJ Lee, RPI forward — Had two assists.
That’s all from the TU Center. Catch my College Hockey Slap Schotts blog on Monday.
Good Night! Good Hockey!