Opposing teams may want to consider declining penalties that are assessed to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey team.
The Engineers continued their impressive streak of killing off opponents’ power plays Saturday, denying Bentley on its six power-play chances to extend the streak 21 straight penalty kills in their 3-0 non-conference win at Houston Field House.
It was an impressive way for the Engineers (1-2-1) to win their first game of the season in their home opener.
The streak started in last Saturday’s 2-2 tie at Colorado College, when the Engineers killed off all seven Tigers’ power plays. In Friday’s 2-2 tie at Northeastern, RPI was 8-for-8 on the kill.
“We’re competing, winning puck battles and getting clears,” said goalie Allen York, who made five of his 23 saves on Bentley’s power plays and recorded his third career shutout. “It’s easy when you’re not in your zone for two minutes.”
RPI killed off a pair of two-man advantages in the first period that were at least a minute in length each.
“I want to give my assistant coach, Bryan Vines, a lot of credit,” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “He does a good job teaching it, getting accountability and [getting them to] buy in.”
Still, Appert sees room for improvement.
“Our kill’s been good, but it can be better,” Appert said. “I know, numerically, it looks great. But, on ice it can be better. We’re not clearing the puck well. We’ve had a lot of chances to clear pucks, and we’re not getting them 200 feet down the ice. What it leads to is five-on-threes against, because now you’re tired, you’re stuck out there and have to haul a guy down.”
The line of center Chase Polacek, right wing Tyler Helfrich and left wing C.J. Lee got the Engineers out of their funk with two second-period power-play goals.
Lee set up Polacek, the defending ECAC Hockey Player of the Year, 30 seconds into the second. Lee backhanded the puck from the slot to Polacek in the bottom of the left circle. He fired it past goalie Branden Komm.
The game turned on Helfrich’s power-play goal midway through the period. Seconds earlier, the Falcons’ Jamie Nudy shanked a shot from the slot on a breakaway. Still, the puck sneaked through York’s pads, and slowly slid toward the goal line.
RPI defenseman Nick Bailen rushed in and cleared the puck away. The play headed down the ice. Bailen passed the puck to Polacek, who hit Helfrich in the slot. Helfrich fired it over Komm’s glove.
“We turn it over, Allen makes the big save and it’s slipping through his legs,” Appert said. “Nick Bailen made a great play by not giving up on the play. He hustled, and he hustled, and he hustled and he beat their second guy down the ice. If he doesn’t do that, it’s a 1-1 game.”
Lee, a sophomore who missed an open net on a two-on-one break in the second, scored his first collegiate goal just under two minutes into the third period on pretty tic-tac-toe passing between him, Polacek and Helfrich as they skated into the Bentley zone. Helfrich, who was in the slot, fed the puck to Lee on his left, and Lee fired it past a helpless Komm.
“It feels great. It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulder,” Lee said. “On that first one, I was gripping the stick too tight. I pretty much had an open net. I got another chance, and bared down on that one.”
Bentley 000 — 0
RPI 021 — 3
First Period — None. Penalties — Cloutier, Ben (interference), :24; Rabbani, RPI (hooking), 6:04; Brutlag, RPI (hitting from behind), 6:57; Helfrich, RPI (interference), 15:22; Bergin, RPI (cross-checking), 16:23; Breton, Ben (hooking), 19:51.
Second Period — 1, RPI, Polacek 2 (Lee, Helfrich), :30 (pp). 2, RPI, Helfrich 2 (Polacek, Bailen), 9:16 (pp). Penalties — Trottier, Ben (charging), 3:30; Cloutier, Ben (hooking), 8:41; Williams, Ben (hooking), 13:47; Bergin, RPI (interference), 19:15.
Third Period — 3, RPI, Lee 1 (Helfrich, Polacek), 1:50. Penalties — Campanelli, Ben (holding), 7:04; Brutlag, RPI (cross-checking), 18:57.
Shots on Goal — Bentley 8-8-7 — 23. RPI 6-10-8 — 24.
Power-play opportunities — Bentley 0 of 6; RPI 2 of 6.
Goalies — Bentley, Komm 0-1-0 (24 shots-21 saves). RPI, York 1-1-2 (23-23).
A — 2,839. T — 2:00.
Referees — Chip McDonald, Scott Whittemore. Linesmen — C.J. Hanafin, Martin Hughes.
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