The effort Union gave against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Saturday at Houston Field House was much improved. And the Dutchmen got significantly better goaltending from junior Alex Sakellaropoulos.
But it wasn’t good enough to prevent another loss to the Engineers.
RPI completed the weekend sweep of Union with a 3-2 ECAC Hockey win, marking the second straight year that the Engineers (2-0 ECACH, 3-4 overall) took the league series to win the Capital Skates Trophy again.
While Union coach Rick Bennett wasn’t happy to lose to RPI again, his mood was much better than it was on Friday, when he called the 5-1 setback at Messa Rink the worst game he has seen the team play in his 11 years with the program.
Bennett shook up the lineup. Forwards Theo Di Pauli von Treuheim, Tyler Hynes and Sebastian Vidmar and defenseman Greg Campbell were inserted. Forwards Brett Supinski, Nick Cruice and Ryan Walker and defenseman JC Brassard were scratched.
“[The effort] was much better,” Bennett said. “I just thought some of those pack of wolves [pucks] around the net just jumped over our sticks, and for them, it was in the back of our net at times. The effort was much better, and that’s what we were looking for.”
There was no question who Bennett was going to start in goal.
Sakellaropoulos was pulled after allowing three goals on 10 shots in the first period of Friday’s game. Freshman Jake Kupsky finished the game.
But Sakellaropoulos led Union on to the ice for the pregame warmup, a clear indication he was starting.
“You always want to see what a guy’s made of,” Bennett said. “He’s a junior now, so he’s never been in that situation before. It’s kind of nice to see what we have. I liked the results. That’s a positive, as well.”
Sakellaropoulos made 36 saves. He was particularly strong in the first period, when he stopped all 17 shots RPI fired on him.
Sakellaropoulos wasn’t surprised that he got the nod.
“To me, as a junior, I felt like I can handle the pressure playing back to back against RPI,” Sakellaropoulos said. “The situation I had [Friday] obviously didn’t go my way, so I wanted to prove myself to not only the coach, but the team and show them that I am capable of playing a full 60 minutes and giving the chance to win every night.”
Sakellaropoulos needed to be sharp in the second half of the first period, which he wasn’t Friday. On Saturday, the Engineers had the final 12 shots of the first.
“I thought our first [period] was important, and I thought our first was our best period,” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “But credit to ‘Sak’. I thought he was really good for them. He played like a veteran in the first period for them.”
The Engineers took advantage of breaks to take a 2-0 lead in the second period.
A miscommunication between Sakellaropoulos and defenseman Noah Henry at the side of the net led to Jake Wood forcing a turnover. Wood got the puck to Jared Wilson at the left point, and he fired a wrister over Sakellaropoulos’ glove at 3:29.
Phil Hampton’s right-point shot at 7:01 was knocked in by Union center Spencer Foo. Foo bent over in frustration after his mistake.
The Dutchmen’s struggling power play, which came in the game 3-for-33, got them within one when senior defenseman Sebastien Gingras scored at 4:03 of the third period. Mark Miller got that one back midway through the period with a power-play goal. Ryan Scarfo pulled Union within one again, scoring a 4-on-4 goal with 7:14 left.
“Last night, we were embarrassed, especially on our home ice,” said Scarfo. “We just tried to stick to Union hockey and provide a better effort, and I think we did that. But we have a lot of work to do.”
Union 0 0 2 — 2
RPI 0 2 1 — 3
First Period — None. Penalty — DeSimone, Uni (interference), 12:47.
Second Period — 1, RPI, Wilson 1 (Wood), 3:29. 2, RPI, Hampton 1 (Moore), 7:01. Penalties — Bubela, RPI (hooking), 10:14; Foo, Uni (hooking), 14:17; Miller, RPI (slashing), 19:27.
Third Period — 3, Union, Gingras 2 (Pontarelli, Wilkins), 4:03 (pp). 4, RPI, Miller 1 (Bourbonnais, Tironese), 10:31. 5, Union, Scarfo 4 (Henry, Campbell), 12:46. Penalties — Prapavessis, RPI (interference), 2:42; J. Taylor, Uni (slashing), 10:16; B. Taylor, Uni (tripping), 11:23; Melanson, RPI (embellishment), 11:23.
Shots on Goal — Union 6-13-10 — 29. RPI 17-10-12 — 39.
Power-play opportunities — Union 1 of 3; RPI 1 of 3.
Goalies — Union, Sakellaropoulos 1-2-3 (39 shots-36 saves). RPI, Kasdorf 3-4-0 (29-27).
A — 3,602. T — 2:10.
Referees — Kevin Curtis, Robert St. Lawrence. Linesmen — Dan Taggart, Ryan Knapp.
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Categories: College Sports