TROY, NY − RPI's Saturday night matchup with Clarkson can be broken up into two parts: the part that Clarkson won, the part RPI won.
"They had the first half of the game, I thought we had the second half of the game," said RPI Head Coach Dave Smith following Saturday's game. "They found two goals in the first half, we found one in the second half. That's the story of the game. We are a much more mature team. We made some real changes at that point and our guys executed perfectly. I can't tell you what those changes are, but they changed the game."
Ultimately, RPI fell 2-1 to the nationally ranked and ECAC rival Clarkson. Though a loss, a lot of positives can be taken away, including freshman Tristin Ashbrook's first career goal.
"It feels really good. I give a lot of credit to my teammates for being able to set me up in that position and it feels good to get one," said Ashbrook. "Tonight was a fun inner conference game and it felt good to get one."
Ashbrook's goal came 16:47 into the second period. Ashbrook took a quick pass from behind the net from Kyle Hallbauer and stuffed it into the back of the net before Clarkson goalie Frank Marrotte could go from post to post. Mike Gornall was scored the secondary assist.
Clarkson scored both their goals in the first period, taking an early lead on the night. Haralds Egle beat RPI goalie Owen Savory just 1:30 into the game. Egle picked up a juicy rebound that Savory kicked out off the original shot from the point by Greg Moro. Clarkson scored again 11 minutes later off of a rebound from the other side of the point. This time Clarkson captain Devin Brosseau converted on the rebound.
After that period, Savory stood his ground and finished with 23 saves on 25 shots. He is now fifth in the ECAC with a 2.36 goals against average while his save percentage rises to 9.17, sixth best in ECAC.
"We want to play to the same standard all the time and other teams are going to score. Clarkson earned their two goals and we would do some things differently," said Smith. "No matter what happens, good or bad, we play at our standard − for us it is about playing at our standard and I think that is what Owen did tonight."
In the third RPI's chances continue to grow, but nothing was coming. At 1:39 left, RPI pulled Savory for the extra attacker. The Engineer attack pushed, with chances coming off of Jake Marello, Will Reilly, Gornall and Ashbrooks' stick in the dying minutes. Marrotte stood tall and suffocated the Engineer attack.
"We had really good looks," said Smith. "I thought our execution with desperation was done to perfection there. We didn't find the back of the net. That's frustrating but we put so much emphasis on the process it would be hypocritical to say we did anything wrong. We did a lot right, we didn't score."
RPI's loss means another split weekend. Now 4-4 this season, the Engineers are just six wins away from tying last year's total.
"There was a lot of different story lines from that game," said Smith. "We talked as a group that the way we play from minute one has to stay consist, and that's how we won the game last night and how we came back in the game tonight. They had some fortunate rebounds, good for them. We didn't have the same offensive fortune tonight. We had numerous good chances, we pressed hard, we had good legs, but we didn't win that game. Proud of all that went into it."
RPI travels next weekend. Friday night they will visit Princeton and Saturday they go to Quinnipiac. Both teams have yet to win a ECAC game.