SCHENECTADY — So much for the Union College women’s hockey team making history. And so much for RPI’s 39-game winless streak.
The Engineers ruined the Dutchwomen’s chance at starting 3-0 for the first time in their Division I history, and they won for the first time since the 2018-19 season by earning a 4-0 victory in the ECAC Hockey opener for both teams Friday at Messa Rink.
Union (0-1 ECACH, 2-1 overall) were poised to do something no other Dutchwomen team had done since the program started its Division I life in 2003-04. And it appeared Union would be able to accomplish that feat against an RPI team that hadn’t won a game since beating Cornell 2-0 in Game 2 of the ECACH tournament quarterfinals on March 2, 2019. Since then, RPI (1-0, 1-4) went 0-38-1, which included losses in their last 31 games. The Engineers didn’t play last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the Engineers’ four losses this season, on the road at Mercyhurst and Vermont, two have come in overtime. Their worst defeat was a 4-1 decision to Vermont last Saturday.
“It’s great. I’m really proud of the team, RPI head coach Bryan Vines said. “We had a great week of practice this week leading up to [the game]. We’ve been really processed-focused. We’re trying not to focus on outcomes and results. I thought we’ve done a really good job week-to-week with that.”
RPI junior goalie Amanda Rampado stopped all 30 shots she faced for her first collegiate win, following an 0-11 record as a freshman two seasons ago.
“Of course, it was a challenge back then,” Rampado said. “But I know coming back this year, we’re a young team, but we’re all excited. We’re looking forward to get things moving this season, and we’re proving to everyone that we can come here and make a statement after not playing last year.”
Meanwhile, the Dutchwomen were hoping to not only start 3-0 for the first time, but begin to take their first strides towards their goal of making the program’s first ECACH tournament appearance. Instead, they gave up two first-period goals by sophomore right winger Riena Jahnke and senior defenseman Delaney Weiss 5:24 apart and were playing catch up.
“I thought they were better,” Union head coach Josh Sciba said. “I thought we started the game pretty well. We created some chances off the puck. When some of those chances didn’t go in, some of the frustration started to creep in a little bit. I give [RPI] credit. When they scored those two goals, [it was] a great job off the rush. It was something we talked about before the game.
“I thought our energy kind of dwindled throughout the game, and they capitalized on some of our mistakes.”
As Union’s game sagged, RPI gained more and more confidence. Freshman forward Mika Jahnke made it 3-0 midway through the second period. Junior left winger Julia Blitz scored RPI’s final goal with 2:04 remaining in the game.
The Engineers celebrated around Rampado, but it was subdued. They acted like it was just another victory.
“We’re excited for the future,” Riena Jahnke said. “We were very happy about this win, but we’ve got them again tomorrow and we don’t want to get overly confident and not bring our best foot forward.”
The teams meet again at 3 p.m. Saturday at Houston Field House. Union senior center and team captain Cassidy Michalicka vows the Dutchwomen will be ready.
“I’m not worried about the record. I’m not worried about this group,” Michalicka said. “I’m worried about playing our game, and we didn’t do that today. Tomorrow, we’re going to come out better, and we’re going to win that game.”
RPI 2 1 1 — 4
Union 0 0 0 — 0
First Period — 1, RPI, R. Jahnke 2 (Friis-Hansen), 5:11. 2, RPI, Weiss 1 (Severson, Friis-Hansen), 10:35, Penalties — R. Jahnke, RPI (tripping), 2:48; Merlo, Uni (tripping), 10:45; Bukvic, RPI (cross-checking), 14:56; Friday, Uni (tripping), 18:10; McLeod, Uni (tripping), 19:27.
Second Period — 3, RPI, M. Jahnke 1 (McCutcheon, Friis-Hansen), 9:14, Penalties — King, Uni (roughing), 5:10.
Third Period — 4, Blitz 1 (Weiss), 17:56, Penalties — Friis-Hansen, RPI (body checking), 3:03; Smith, Uni (tripping), 12:27; Bukvic, RPI (roughing), 15:13.
Shots on Goal — RPI 7-11-12 — 30. Union 14-10-6 — 30.
Power-play opportunities — RPI 0 of 5; Union 0 of 4.
Goalies — RPI, Rampado 1-4-0 (30 shots-30 saves). Union, Rinzel 2-1-0 (30-26).
A — 178. T — 1:54.
Referees — Ryan Chauvin, Will O’Malley. Linesmen — Kevin Spraker, Mark Silva.