Connecticut, Rensselaer play to Tuesday stalemate

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HARTFORD, Conn. — Sixty minutes was not enough to settle the score between Connecticut and Rensselaer, nor was the extra five-minute overtime period.

A tightly contested battle all night between the two finished in a 1-1 draw.

“We’re real banged up; it’s our third game in four nights,” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “I thought it was really good to see our guys battle tonight and get a tie on the road.”

Action tilted back and forth in the first period and for most of the opening period, the best player on the ice was RPI goaltender Scott Diebold, who denied several fantastic Husky scoring chances to keep the Engineers’ heads above water. UConn had controlled the play, outshooting RPI 8-5, but neither team got on the board in the first.

RPI started off slow in the second period, but finished strong. Early into the period, Joey Ferris cashed in on a fantastic individual effort, steering the puck around an RPI defenseman and stuffing the puck past Diebold to grab 1-0 edge with 17:03 remaining in the period.

“[David] Drake did a great job getting the puck up to me,” explained Ferris. “I thought I was around the defenseman, but he got a stick on me, then I finally got around him and just put it in. But hats off to Drake for finding me quickly.”

Diebold kept the Engineers (5-7-1) in striking distance for the rest of the period, and did not allow another goal all night.

Finally, RPI caught lightning in a bottle and cashed in on a big mistake from UConn. Trevor Gurling was called for a hook with just 21 seconds remaining in the period, a call that would change the game. RPI wasted no time on the power play as Drew Melanson deflected a slick slap-pass from Matt Neal right by UConn goaltender Rob Nichols to even the score with just two seconds remaining in the second period.

UConn (2-5-4), despite giving up the late goal, was in a good position going into the final period.

The Huskies flipped their fortunes of generally being outplayed by their opponents and got the home crowd behind them as the third period progressed. The Huskies dominated the shot category 13-4, but Diebold was rock-solid and when he wasn’t, the pipe bailed him out. Evan Richardson let a bomb fly from the faceoff circle, beating Diebold glove-side, only to catch iron.

“I felt it was our best third period of the year actually,” Huskies’ coach Mike Cavanaugh said.

RPI seemingly limped into overtime being outshot 32-17 in regulation.

The Engineers came out a new team full of life for the overtime. Sensing they could steal one after heavily being outplayed for the second half of the game, they brought the pressure to the UConn end.

Nichols (24 saves) was on his game as RPI fired seven shots in the short period. The Huskies could do nothing but attempt to clear the zone and wait for the buzzer to sound. The Huskies made one last clear of the zone with 10 seconds remaining accepting the tie as the horn sounded.

“Our kids gave a pretty gutsy effort,” Cavanaugh said. “As far as the effort and the attitude, I was pretty happy with our club.”

The Huskies have a gigantic weekend ahead of them at home as Friday night, they welcome in Vermont and less than 24 hours later, will host Boston University.

RPI will take a much-needed week of rest before traveling to take on New Hampshire next Tuesday.