Union captain Nathan Gillies couldn’t deliver on his guarantee of a victory over Capital Region-rival Rensselaer on Friday.
Gillies wasn’t totally embarrassed. The Dutchmen didn’t lose.
In a very entertaining game, the Dutchmen and the Engineers skated to a 3-3 ECAC tie before a standing-room only crowd at Achilles Rink. Although the attendance was announced as a sellout of 2,504, there were several hundred fans lined around the backboards.
In an interview with The Daily Gazette of Schenectady, N.Y., earlier this week, Gillies said he was guaranteeing a win over RPI (8-12-2, 2-4-2 ECAC), which beat Union last month.
That was bold talk from a player whose team that had lost four straight.
“I think part of it was because he’s from Cambridge, Ontario,” RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. “In Canada, they still think that there’s more guarantees, but in the U.S., it’s just death and taxes.”
Gillies didn’t regret his remark.
“We should have come out with a win, but we didn’t,” Gillies said. “We worked hard. We had chances. We definitely should have won that game. All in all, they worked hard, and we worked hard.”
The Dutchmen (7-10-4, 3-4-2) played hard in the first period and had numerous excellent scoring chances. However, RPI goalie Kevin Kurk was outstanding in making 10 saves.
His best save came with 6:25 remaining in the period. Marc Neron had the puck down the left wing, and waited for Kris Goodjohn to join the play. Neron made a nice pass to Goodjohn, who put a backhander on Kurk. He kicked out his pad and stopped it.
“The kid [Goodjohn] made a nice move,” said Kurk, who had 31 saves. “I got the leg down on that one.”
Despite having all those chances, Union fell behind, 1-0, late in the period when Ryan Shields put in a rebound of a Kevin Croxton shot with 51.1 seconds left.
Union’s Max Seel kicked off a wild second period with a power-play goal at 1:51. That led to the traditional throwing of oranges on to the ice.
Joel Beal followed that with a shorthanded tally at 3:09. P.J. Byrne’s clear from the Dutchmen zone caromed hard off the backboard behind the RPI net. As Danny Eberly tried to control the puck, Goodjohn stole it. He fed it to an open Beal, who fired it past Kurk.
After the goal, Union was penalized for delay of game after a couple of oranges were tossed on the ice. Scott Basiuk scored on the two-man advantage, tying the score at 2-2.
“I was thoroughly disgusted by that,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon. “That’s zero respect not only for our own team, but zero respect for college hockey.”
RPI’s Nick Economakos fired a wrister past Kris Mayotte at 11:11 to make it 3-2. But an Economakos holding penalty at 14:26 gave the Dutchmen a power play. Beal capitalized 22 seconds later when his wrist shot from the right point deflected off Eberly and past Kurk.
“It’s good to get a point, but we’re going out to win that game,” Beal said. “We’re at home, and with our crowd behind us, we wanted to win.”
Both teams return to action next Friday. Union will host Cornell, while RPI entertains Colgate.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.