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Lack of Offense Hampers RPI in Loss to Harvard

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 5, 2008

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's hockey defeats are starting to resemble one another. The Engineers' 3-1 defeat at Harvard on Tuesday night was typical of so many others of the recent past.

A lack of offense, a march to the penalty box and generally finding a way to lose, factors RPI backers have seen often.

Freshman winger Josh Rabbani scored a power play goal with 4:52 remaining in the game to pull the Engineers within 2-1.

On a power play and with an extra attacker on the ice for the Engineers, a clear giveaway of the puck led to an empty-net goal by Pier-Olivier Michaud with 35 seconds remaining.

Rensselaer senior goalie Mathias Lange played well enough to win again but remained winless at 0-4-1, despite 33 saves.

"It was a hard-fought game, very physical," said Rensselaer coach Seth Appert. "Lot of penalties, both teams competed very hard and both teams had their (scoring) chances."

"Their best players made a few more big plays in key situations than ours did."

Trailing 1-0, the Engineers had five successive power plays in the second period - including a 5-on-3 for 1:19 - but could not find the net.

In the third period, Rensselaer took five penalties within the first 11:39, seriously hampering their comeback effort.

Appert was asked if the lack of success on the many second-period power plays adversely affected the Engineers psychologically the rest of the way.

"I don't think so," he said. "We reacted pretty well and kept working hard to draw (more penalties). On the 5-on-3 we moved the puck around and had some great looks, we just didn't finish."

"And for some reason, we found ourselves in the box a lot in the third."

Rensselaer defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer had a shorthanded breakaway with 7:37 remaining but was turned away.

"He made a good move but (freshman goalie) Matt Hoyle made a great save," Appert said.

Rabbani scored on what Appert called "a broken power play."

Rabbani raced down the slot and beat Hoyle through the five hole.

After posting a 7.1 percent power play efficiency rating in 170 chances (12 goals) last season, the Engineers are 2-of-38 this season, a 5.3 percent norm.

"We had some good chances to tie it (after Rabbani's goal)," Appert said. "Pucks in the crease, goes open down low but we couldn't get it."

Harvard's first goal came just 4:15 into the game, when a loose puck was knocked around a couple times and onto the stick of Ian Tallet, who flipped it past Lange.

At 6:48 of the second, with the Engineers two men down, defenseman Alex Biega shot one through traffic to make the count 2-0 just as RPI's Jeff Foss was coming out of the penalty box.

The two teams meet again on Friday night, RPI's annual Black Friday promotion, then the Engineers host Dartmouth on Saturday.