The inconsistent play of the men’s ice hockey team continued last weekend with a loss to Union 4-3 Friday night and a redeeming win over nationally ranked Rensselaer 3-2 Saturday night.
It has been a season of highs and lows for the Bobcats (6-5-2 overall, 3-3-2 ECAC) thus far according to head coach Rand Pecknold, and last weekend’s pair of home games was much of the same.
The Bobcats entered the year with high expectations, and Pecknold blames part of his team’s lackluster play on complacency.
“We overachieved last year because we played hungry. We have so many returning players this year, they just don’t want it as badly. It’s frustrating,” he said following Friday’s loss.
The Bobcats found themselves in an early hole after Union netted their first goal of the game just 65 seconds in. Mike Schreiber scored his first goal of the season to give the Dutchmen the lead, and Torren Delforte beat Bud Fisher for a power play goal with 7:33 left in the first to send the Bobcats to the locker room down 2-0 at the intermission.
Brandon Wong put a loose puck past Union goalie Corey Milan on the power-play to cut the deficit in half. Union responded with a goal just over a minute later to regain a two goal advantage.
Jean-Marc Beaudoin scored two goals in under two minutes late in the second to pull the Bobcats even. His shot on the penalty kill from a bad angle deflected off Milan and into the net for his fourth goal of the year. With 18 seconds left in the period, Wong won a faceoff in the offensive zone and played the puck to Beaudoin, who slapped a shot through traffic to tie the game.
As the period concluded, a hit after the whistle led to a scrum between all 10 players on the ice, resulting in 20 minutes of penalties and two fired up hockey teams.
“It got the guys fired up. We wanted the win, but couldn’t get the bounces,” Beaudoin said.
The physical contest had 29 penalties called between the two teams.
The Bobcats were missing three key players, including captain Jamie Bates and assistant captain Matt Sorteberg.
“Jamie would’ve been a factor tonight (Friday). It’s tough having two captains out injured, I haven’t had that happen before,” Pecknold said.
Pecknold was unable to shed much light on the status of Bates, Sorteberg or defenseman Mark Nelson following Friday’s game.
Bates returned to the lineup Saturday night against the Engineers and scored the game’s first goal on the power play with just over a minute left in the first period.
Andrei Uryadov tied the game at 1-1 with his sixth goal of the year on a two-on-one break for the Engineers.
Peter Vetri started in net for the Bobcats and made some stellar saves throughout to keep RPI at bay.
“I felt pretty good. I did some extra work with coach this week,” Vetri said. “I’m not a big kid, so coach wants me to be out cutting off angles.”
The Bobcats regained the lead less than two minutes later when Eric Lampe put a slap shot from the faceoff circle past RPI netminder Jordan Alford.
Another oddman rush for RPI evened the score when Seth Klerer scored his first goal of the year with a minute and a half left in the second period.
Despite being outshot 16-3 in the third, the Bobcats were the team that tallied the game winner.
Freshman Zach Hansen scored his first collegiate goal just 55 seconds into the third.
His shot from the blue line found its way through traffic and past Alford.
Fellow freshmen Jake Bauer and Brett Dickinson were also in the lineup, and Pecknold was impressed with his young player’s poise.
“It was a solid game from our three freshman D. They keep getting better,” he said.
Hansen credits some of the upperclassmen for the success he’s had early on.
“We have a lot of fun. The guys leading us are doing a great job, like Henningson and Meyer,” he said.
The Bobcats travel to Robert Morris next weekend, before playing in the Catamount Classic in Vermont Dec 29 and 30.