The men’s college hockey season is officially underway, and two rivals from the Capital Region have faced off on the ice in a showdown battle for bragging rights at the local level.
In the first respective matches of the two programs since March 2020, it was the Engineers who won by a total of 5-2 at the Messa Rink of the Achilles Center in Schenectady. The Dutch scored first, but that opening goal was followed by three in a row by the Engineers, who survived a power-play goal in the second period to win by a three-goal margin.
Union second-year forward Tyler Watkins broke the tie just six minutes into the first period. Despite second-year status, Watkins was skating in his career debut game for the Dutch, after missing his first season due to COVID-19. Watkins’ goal, however, was followed by not one, not two, but three consecutive goals from the RPI Engineers.
Dartmouth College transfer Shane Sellar scored for RPI to tie the game, his first point in what would become a season-opener three-point (two goals, one assist). Sellar’s goal would be followed by goals from Ture Linden with just 46 seconds left in the first half, and Jakub Lacka in the second. Union would respond on the power play just before the halfway point with a goal from Nic Petruolo, but RPI had yet another answer. Jake Gagnon would score with less than a minute left in the middle of the period, and Sellar’s second of the game would put him out of reach with just a few seconds left in the third.
It was a much closer game than the 5-2 margin would suggest, which is why Union and RPI were tied in the ECAC pre-season hockey coaches poll. Union allowed three goals with less than a minute to go in the first, second and third periods respectively. The former gave RPI their first lead, the latter suppressed any moment the team had after coming close to a goal, and the third put the game completely out of reach.
The Engineers, on the other hand, were opportunistic in their attack and had excellent performances from veteran defenders like Simon Kjellberg throughout the game. If goalie Linden Marshall can fill the void left by starting goalie Owen Savory, RPI could have a very strong team on their hands.
RPI engineers open their home schedule this Friday against Bowling Green, while the Union hits the road to fight non-conference opponent New Hampshire, also Friday.
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