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RPI Flaws, Fatigue Plain to See

By Ben Goessling

Albany Times Union, October 14, 2007

ST. PAUL, Minn. - In a way, losses like these make second-year RPI hockey coach Seth Appert's job easier because the flaws are so easy to see.

For the second consecutive night, the Engineers had a chance to score an important win over one of college hockey's marquee programs. And for the second consecutive night, they saw that chance evaporate in a run of third-period penalties, including a checking-from-behind infraction that had Appert fuming.

In the end, the result was a 4-1 loss to second-ranked Boston College in the third-place game of the IceBreaker Invitational on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.

Coming back 18 hours after blowing a three-goal lead in a 4-3 loss to Minnesota, the Engineers showed signs of fatigue after chasing two of the nation's fastest teams. That wasn't a good enough excuse for Appert.

"When you get tired, you start to take shortcuts," he said. "That's where the commitment to what we want to be as a program gets tested. With two games against teams like this, we failed the test."

RPI did get up 1-0 on Ben Contini's goal with 7:55 remaining in the first period and finished the weekend without giving up a 5-on-5 goal. But the Engineers never controlled the game as they did on Friday, and Boston College outshot them 48-23.

The Eagles tied the game with a minute remaining in the first period, getting a 2-on-1 that led to a short-handed goal from Mike Brennan through Jordan Alford's legs. That goal, and a lengthy wave of Boston College pressure, had RPI (1-2) simply hanging on at the end of the first.

For a portion of the second period, the Engineers got back to the assertive hockey they played on Friday, matching BC shot-for-shot and keeping the score tied at one heading into the third.

But for all the big saves he made after the first goal, Alford let in another one he'd regret in the third period. With 9:05 to play and Boston College on a power play, Ben Smith whacked at a puck just outside the crease. He barely connected but got enough of it to send it through Alford's legs for a 2-1 lead.

"You just try to close up as much as you can," Alford said. "I didn't feel (the puck) because I did not get any of it."

He added, "On the winning goal, they didn't make a good play. In fact, they made a bad play, but it went in."

That - combined with another flurry of late-game penalties - put the Engineers away.

Tyler Helfrich took a slashing penalty with just over four minutes to go that led to a long 6-on-5 opportunity for Boston College (1-1) while the Engineers struggled to get possession of the puck. With players scrambling for a loose puck in front of the net, Matt Angers-Goulet earned a five-minute penalty for checking from behind with 3:28 to play.

It was the second consecutive game the Engineers ended short-handed because of a checking-from-behind call. Coupled with Helfrich's slashing penalty, it gave Boston College a 5-on-3 power play.

Nathan Gerbe made RPI pay with 2:02 remaining, burying a shot from Alford's left.