02.22.2016 - RPI Unable to Convert in SECHL; ACHA Playoffs Next

LITTLE FALLS, NJ – Rensselaer boarded the bus Friday afternoon for their 8:10PM Super East Collegiate Hockey League (SECHL) quarterfinal match-up against Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Being their first season as a member of the SECHL, the Engineers had secured a fifth-seed playoff berth and were eager to prove themselves in what is, debatably, the strongest conference within the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).

With two losses this season to CCSU, RPI understood the physical style of play the Blue Devils enjoyed, as well as their short-comings in the defensive zone. The Engineers had nearly doubled Central Connecticut in shots over their two meetings this season (90-49), yet were only able to find the back of the net six times. An RPI trip to the semi-finals would depend on their ability to capitalize on their scoring opportunities.

The Rensselaer penalty kill was tested three times in the first period, and emerged successful each time. Despite their 13 shots, the Engineers were unable to break the 0 – 0 tie as the first period came to a close. RPI began the second period on the man-advantage, and were able to capitalize just over a minute into the period. Junior Kyle DeVault’s often lengthy shifts finally paid off, allowing him to jam home a rebound from a Teo Camadella shot with 18:57 remaining in the period. The Blue Devils gave the Engineers two more powerplay opportunities in the first half of the period, but the CCSU netminder, Zachary Gosselin, was able to make several impressive saves to keep the RPI lead to just one. With 2:09 remaining in the second, Central Connecticut’s Kyle Leyerzapf found teammate Aaron August in the high slot, allowing him to knot the score at one entering the third period.

The high-pressure that RPI had been applying throughout the first two-thirds of the game seemed to have disappeared in the third. After several minutes of inability to set up sustained pressure in the CCSU zone, the Blue Devils’ Ross Burton capitalized on a failed RPI clear to give CCSU the lead with 12 minutes remaining in the game. A CCSU penalty allowed the Engineers to gain much needed momentum, and Rensselaer finally found the back of the net with 1:30 remaining in the third. However, the goal was called back due to the net having moved a few inches about the same time the puck crossed the goal line. Following an RPI timeout, the Engineers pulled netminder Liam McBain for a sixth player and were able to create several scoring chances. However, Gosselin maintained his excellent play in net and CCSU’s August was able to pick up an empty-net goal.

Despite out-shooting the Blue Devils by a count of 52 – 23, RPI was unable to find their scoring touch, concluding their first SECHL playoff appearance by a score of 3 – 1.

Rensselaer travels to the Danbury Ice Arena in Danbury, CT, next Saturday (2/27) to face-off against the fifth-ranked Huskies of Northeastern University in the first round of the ACHA Northeast regional playoffs. The last time these two teams were on the same sheet of ice was during the first round of the North East Collegiate Hockey Association (NECHA) playoffs in 2013, which resulted in a hard-fought 4 – 3 Rensselaer loss. The puck drops at 7:30PM.

JH 19