Colgate's Late Rally Falls Short in Series Opener

TROY, N.Y. (3/4/11) – The Colgate men’s hockey team battled to within one late in the third period, but #15/16 Rensselaer’s three first period goals was the difference in a 4-2 loss for the Raiders on Friday night at Houston Field House.

The Engineers take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series with the win.

Colgate (7-25-3) got two points from Austin Smith and Kurtis Bartliff as Smith had a goal and an assist, while Bartliff tallied a pair of helpers. Jeremy Price also scored for the Raiders and Nathan Sinz added an assist. Eric Mihalik pushed aside 23 shots in net for the Raiders, including 14 in the first frame.

Rensselaer (20-10-5) saw Brock Higgs score two goals, while Nick Bailen and Tyler Helfrich were credited with two assists apiece. Chase Polacek posted a goal and an assist for two points and Marty O’Grady also put the puck in the net for the Engineers. Allen York stopped 24 shots to earn the win.

Rensselaer came out and dominated the two first shifts and was rewarded with a 1-0 lead 1:15 into the game. Bryan Brutlag tipped a shot from Mike Bergin in front that was stopped by Mihalik, but the puck came out to O’Grady and he hit the open net.

The Raiders got their first great chance with a 5-on-3 advantage at the seven-minute mark and were able to get a few shots on goal, but York turned each shot away. RPI was awarded a 5-on-3 a minute after Colgate’s and capitalized to make it 2-0 with five minutes left. Smith blocked a shot and when he reached out to clear the puck, his stick broke resulting in a huge advantage for the Engineers. Helfrich found Higgs on a cross-ice pass and he went top-shelf from the right circle.

The Engineers went on their third power play of the night and Polacek made a 3-0 lead with 2:34 left in the game with a laser from the left circle. Helfrich set the ECAC Hockey scoring leader up perfectly with a pass from the opposite point.

Chris Wagner had Colgate’s best chance of the night with a 2-on-2 entrance into the offensive zone around the 11-minute mark of the second period. He beat York with a slap shot from the right circle, but rang the puck off the post and all the way to the blueline.

After a scoreless second, the Raiders got on the board 4:44 into the final period as Smith made it 3-1. Bartliff brought the puck into the zone and drew a check from two Rensselaer players, which opened the door for Sinz to put a shot on net. York pushed it aside, but Smith was alone at the opposite side and beat the sprawling goaltender into the top of the net.

Colgate got to within one with a power play goal from Price to make it 3-2 with 1:48 left in the game. Bartliff was able to chip the puck behind the net to Smith who skated to the corner and found Price sneaking into the high slot. The sophomore beat York high and to the glove side to slice the lead to one.

Rensselaer got the momentum back 39 seconds later with Higgs netting his second goal of the night. Colgate had the puck in the offensive end and tried to keep it in the zone. Unfortunately, the puck hopped over the player’s stick and Polacek scooped it up, which created a 2-on-1 the other way. He carried the play to the face off dot and slipped a pass to Higgs for the goal to earn the 4-2 win.

The Engineers had a slim advantage in shots at 27-26. Colgate had a 19 shots in the final two periods and only allowed 10 in the final 40 minutes. Each team scored on the power play with Colgate earning one tally in five opportunities, while RPI went 2-for-7 with the extra man.

NOTES: Bartliff had his first multi-point playoff performance with his two assists … Price tallied his third career goal in the playoffs … Smith now has eight career postseason points after two tonight … Bartliff committed his first penalty in 56 games with a holding call in the first period … RPI scored the fastest goal against Colgate since Dartmouth scored 57 seconds into the game on Jan. 29 at Thompson Arena … the Raiders gave up their sixth 5-on-3 goal of the season … the teams combined for nine penalties and seven power plays in the first 20 minutes … the second period was smoother with just one penalty called on each team … Colgate had an 11-5 shot advantage in the second and had 26 total shots attempted after just 10 in the first period … Sinz and Bartliff tallied their first collegiate postseason points.