TROY, N.Y. — Junior Allen York made 38 saves and senior Chase Polacek had a goal and two assists as No. 10 RPI defeated No. 1 Yale, 5-2, before a sold out Houston Field House in the 34th Annual Bank of American Big Red Freakout! RPI improves to 17-6-3 overall and 9-5-0 in ECAC Hockey. The Bulldogs fall to 17-4-0 and 11-3-0.
The Bulldogs outshot the Engineers 40-18, but York, the most recent conference goalie of the week, stood on his head to the delight of the raucous crowd and the New York TV audience as the game was broadcast live on Time Warner Cable Sports. York made 13 saves in the first, 15 in the second and added 10 in the final period.
Denny Kearney and Kevin Peel had the Bulldog goals – both on the power play – while Ryan Rondeau (8 saves) and Nick Maricic (5) combined for 13 saves.
RPI, which scored on three of its seven man-advantages, opened a 1-0 lead at 3:34 of the first period when junior Patrick Cullen picked up a rebound of a Marty O’Grady deflection and scored inside the near post for a power play goal. Jeff Foss also earned an assist. Cullen’s goal, his fourth, came just 29 seconds after Yale goaltender Ryan Rondeau made a fine save on the same penalty kill. The period ended with the Engineers holding the 1-0 lead despite being outshot 13-6.
The Elis applied the pressure in the middle frame, keeping the puck in the RPI end for most of the first 10 minutes. In fact, the Blue did not allow a shot on net until late in the period and had a 16-3 advantage during the 20 minutes. Yale finally got one past York on its third advantage of the period when Denny Kearney, positioned in the low slot, re-directed a Jimmy Martin slap shot from the point at 12:53. It was Kearney’s 11th of the year and 40th of his career.
RPI grabbed the lead back with another power-play tally, this time with 2:32 left in the second. Josh Rabbani skated across the crease, holding the puck and waiting for commitments from the defense, and tucked it inside the near post for his third of the year.
Yale made a strong bid to tie the score early in the third period, but the puck bounced away from the stick of Yale’s Broc Little. A minute later, on a delayed penalty, freshman Brock Higgs (5th) tipped home a Foss shot from the point. The home team made it a two-goal mistake when Polacek (16th) cashed in on the penalty with a nasty wrister that went over Rondeau’s shoulder at 2:47 to make it 4-1. That goal brought in Nick Maricic, a Yale sophomore.
Bulldog defenseman Kevin Peel (3rd) cut the margin in half on a man-advantage with 2:15 left on a rising wrister from the high slot before RPI’s CJ Lee added an empty-netter with 1:13 left to put the game away.