ALBANY — It was deja vu at the men’s Mayor’s Cup on Saturday.
Except for the trophy presentation part.
For the second year in a row, Union’s Darion Hanson and RPI’s Owen Savory put on a magnificent goalie duel, the teams played through overtime without a winner and a minimum five-round shootout determined who would take home the trophy.
This time, RPI seniors Patrick Polino and Todd Burgess scored in the shootout, and Savory stopped four Union attempts, negating the fifth round and giving the Engineers their first Mayor’s Cup since before the current seniors were in college. Union (6-17-3) holds a 5-3 edge in the series.
The game will officially go down in the history books as a 1-1 tie, after the teams scored a goal each in the second period, but it will go down in the RPI players’ memory banks as one of the biggest wins of their careers.
“We’ve been striving for this for four years, so it’s real special for us, especially the seniors,” Burgess said.
“It’s tough to describe,” said RPI senior Will Reilly, who was scheduled to take the fifth shootout round if it had been necessary. “The rivalry with Union is so good, it doesn’t really matter if we’re having a good year or they’re having a good year. It’s always a hard game. Their goalie played outstanding, Saves played outstanding, and it was just back and forth. We came out on top, and it’s a special feeling.”
“This is such a big game to play in, win or lose,” the junior Hanson said. “This is my first time, personally, losing it, and it stings. It stings a lot.
“It was the same thing [as last year], with Owen and their team playing great. You just couldn’t get anything by him.”
Defenseman Taylor Brierley did get one by Savory, crashing the net on the rush for a wrist shot into Savory’s body that bobbled over him and in as he searched for the rebound, at 16:08 of the second period.
The 1-0 lead didn’t last long, as Zach Dubinsky scored 1:11 later with Brandon Estes in the penalty box for hooking. Hanson saved Reilly’s slap shot from the left circle, but Dubinsky flipped the rebound in for his second goal of the season.
Last year, the teams played to a 0-0 tie in which Savory made 43 saves, and the Dutchmen won it on Cole Maier’s shootout goal.
On Saturday, RPI (10-12-2) chose to go first, and after misses by Cory Babichuk and Union’s Anthony Rinaldi, Polino got the Engineers on the board, ripping one over Hanson’s shoulder. Savory stopped Sean Harrison, and Burgess slid one under Hanson for a 2-0 RPI lead with three Union shooters on deck.
“Patrick took a lot of pressure off me by getting his goal,” Burgess said. “Union’s goalie is a big goalie, so I thought I’d shoot low, and I was fortunate enough for it to go in.”
After Savory stuffed Parker Foo, RPI’s Chase Zieky was stopped, leaving the Dutchmen in a position where an RPI goal or a Union miss would end it. Freshman Liam Robertson finally got one past Savory, but it clanked off the crossbar and away, as the Engineers spilled on the ice to mob their sophomore goalie.
“I don’t think I approached it any differently, but it was definitely a flashback to the way last year’s game went,” Savory said. “We have a lot of talks during intermission and before games, and have the correct mindset in the room. Even in the third, we knew we weren’t going to sit back, we were going to take it to them. It took an overtime and a shootout, but we got the Cup, so we’re happy about that.”
“It’s really in-depth, really complex,” RPI head coach Dave Smith joked, when asked about how he chose the order of shooters. “Actually, near the end of overtime, just under a minute left, I told coach [Scott] Moser to put a list together. So he did, and at the same time, coach [Chuck] Weber was putting together a list. The first four guys were all the same, and both of them only had four guys. Then all at the same time, we said, ‘Let’s let Saves [Savory] win it or Will Reilly win it.'”
“I’d like to congratulate RPI,” Union head coach Rick Bennett said. “They played a good, solid hockey game. Their goaltender was phenomenal. Their shooters were on tonight.”
The Dutchmen were fortunate to get to the shootout, as the Engineers had them back on their heels for much of the third period and overtime.
By then, Bennett was rolling three lines instead of four.
“Let’s just say some of our other guys weren’t on pace tonight,” he said. “You know what, confidence is a two-way street. If you don’t give us confidence, you’re going to be riding that pine.
“Hanny was excellent for us. He gave us a chance to tie this game. I know it goes down in the NCAA books as a tie. We were the underdog coming in, and that’s a positive. But until we can start putting in a few goals, you’re probably going to keep getting the same results.
“I don’t think we deserved to win that game,” said Hanson, a de facto co-captain, even though he doesn’t wear a ‘C’ on his jersey. “We had kids just not show up again, and I think that’s a consistent theme and why we’re a six-win team. It’s got to change. It’s really a shame for our seniors, who had a chance to go four-and-oh, and not everyone brought it tonight.”
Union 0 1 0 0 — 1
RPI 0 1 0 0 — 1
First period — None. Penalties — Rinaldi, U (tripping), 7:52; Sidorski, U (boarding), 15:19; Burgess, RPI (tripping), 17:54.
Second period — 1, Union, Brierley 1 (Emelifeonwu, Kosack), 16:08. 2, RPI, Dubinsky 2 (Reilly, Babichuk), 17:19 (pp). Penalties — Smedsrud, U (hooking), 1:27; Estes, U (hooking), 16:27; Ferner, RPI (boarding), 18:25.
Third period — None.
Overtime — None.
Shootout — RPI 2 (Babichuk NG, Polino G, Burgess G, Zieky NG), Union 0 (Rinaldi NG, Harrison NG, Foo NG, Robertson NG).
Shots on goal — Union 9-12-6-0 — 27. RPI 14-13-2-2 — 31.
Power-play opportunities — Union 0 of 2. RPI 1 of 4.
Goalies — Union, Hanson T, 6-17-3 (31 shots-30 saves). RPI, Savory T, 6-7-2 (27-26).
A — 6,164. T — 2:40.
Referees — Kevin Graber, Tom Steinel. Linesmen — Mike Emanatian, Jason Shattie.