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Engineers Settle for Third

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 26, 2006

TROY - It's rare when a hockey team can blow a three-goal, third-period lead, fall behind, not get a win and then feel good about itself and have its fans cheering wildly as the players leave the ice.

That happened to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Saturday, as the Engineers rallied for a 5-5 tie with Ohio State after blowing a 4-1 lead in the third period, then earned third place in the 56th annual Rensselaer Holiday Tournament with a Shootout victory.

Andrei Uryadov scored a hat trick and assisted on Paul Kerins' game-tying goal and Jake Morissette scored one goal for his fifth in six games for the 4-3-4 Engineers.

Oren Eizenman captured the Shootout victory, breaking a 4-4 Shootout tie by scoring on the last shot of the second round.

The Engineers pulled goalie Mathias Lange for an extra attacker - Kerins - with about 1:14 remaining in regulation time.

Uryadov had the puck behind the net and fed defenseman Garett Vassel streaking down the slot.

Kerins tipped Vassel's shot between the legs of OSU goalie Nick Filion with 1:08 remaining.

"Vass took a shot," Kerins said, "and it just hit the tip of my stick and deflected solidly off my skate. I think it found the 5-hole (between goalie's legs). The goalie leaned back and I saw, 'holy, geez, it went in.' It felt good."

Since the Engineers had blown the big lead, RPI head coach Seth Appert was asked if the official tie felt like a loss.

"No, it feels like a win," Appert said. "It's a win. It goes down as a tie officially but even though it's a Shootout, it's an opportunity to beat a Big 10 school. There are very few power schools in college hockey and Ohio State is one of them. For us to be able to play such a program, tie them and beat them in a Shootout is big."

"It's much better than a loss," said Eizenman, who looked up at the clock with 1:21 remaining. "A lot better."

Still, the Engineers' avoiding of a colossal defeat - its non-league status notwithstanding - can't mask a near collapse in the third period.

They were timid, confused and on their heels.

"We're very young back there," Appert said of RPI's freshmen-laden corps of defensemen.

"And Ohio State is a very talented team ... deep talent," he said. "In the third, we got a little panicky with the puck. Instead of relishing being in those tough situations, we started throwing the puck around a little bit. We were back on our heels, they got that second goal, the momentum started carrying their way, they started making some plays to the net and I think their talent kind of prevailed."

When Uryadov scored on a one-time blast past Filion off a faceoff feed from Kirk MacDonald, the Engineers had a 4-1 lead with five seconds remaining in the second period.

Uryadov, a St. Petersburg, Russia native described the goal.

"Oren said Mac should take the faceoff and he did and won it clean," said Uryadov, who now has four goals and five assists. "It was perfect, right on my stick. I didn't even have to turn."

Filion didn't move until Uryadov's blast was behind him.

The Buckeyes (4-7-3) wiped out that lead over the first 8:50 of the third period on goals by Johann Kroll, Matt McIlvane (shorthanded) and Sean Collins.

Dave Barton knocked one off an RPI skate and past goalie Mathias Lange with 3:04 remaining, things looked bleak for RPI to say the least.

Uryadov was left totally unguarded as he walked down the slot on an RPI power play late in the first period.

"Perfect pass from Kevin Broad from behind the net," Uryadov said. "Set me up for basically, an open-netter."

Uryadov, from near the goal line on the left side, just fired one at the net and it bounced off an OSU defenseman and past Filion to break a 1-1 tie at 13:38 of the second period and Morissette scored from the mid-slot 28 seconds later.

Lange, who was solid and then some over the first two periods and who charted 38 saves, said he never saw Kroll's goal, a routine shot from the right point.

"I couldn't see it and just went down and hoped it hit me," he said.

Just 1:21 later, McIlvane stole the puck at center ice and beat Lange with a nifty deke and the Buckeyes were back in it.

Despite having lost the lead, Appert said, "I thought our guys maintained a good degree of focus to pull that (the tie) out."

"I think we showed a great belief in one another and what we're trying to do," he said of the Engineers' success in tying the game. "I think we probably need to do a better job of developing that edge when we have the lead in the third period as we do when we're tied or behind."