TROY, N.Y. – The Dartmouth men’s hockey team was in it to the very end, but eventually fell to Rensselaer, 4-2, Friday night at Houston Field House in ECAC Hockey action.
 
With the goalie off in favor of the extra attacker in the final minute, the Big Green (3-14-3, 2-10-1) desperately sought to pull even with the Engineers (9-10-4, 4-5-3). However, RPI’s goaltending and missed chances for the visitors proved to be too much to overcome in the waning moments.
 
After a scoreless first period, the teams combined for three goals in the middle frame.  The home team built a 2-0 lead with goals from Ryan Haggerty and Milos Bubela. Haggerty’s league-leading 19th came 45 seconds into the period, while the Bubela tally finished off a nice passing play at 14:07.
 
It didn’t remain a two-goal game for long as sophomore defenseman Geoff Ferguson beat RPI’s Scott Diebold on a shot from the point through traffic at 17:13. Troy Crema picked up the lone assist on the play as the first-year center won the draw back to his blueliner for the blast.
 
The Engineers built the lead back up with Matt Neal’s 10th of the season coming at 7:48 of the third.
 
The Green and White cut back into the deficit with the team’s prettiest goal of the season shortly thereafter. Freshman Grant Opperman stepped out of the penalty box and received a pass from Connor Dempsey at center ice, sending the winger in alone on Diebold. After two quick dekes in the slot, Opperman deposited his fourth of the season into an open netmouth at 11:39, making it a 3-2 game.
 
RPI sealed the game with six seconds left after the referees awarded a goal to Mike Zalewski, who they ruled was impeded on his way to an empty-net scoring opportunity.
 
Once again, sophomore James Kruger was solid in the Dartmouth crease, finishing the night with 18 saves, including 10 in the first period. At the other end of the ice, Diebold turned aside 25 in the win as the Big Green outshot its fifth straight opponent.
 
The Green were held scoreless on five power-play opportunities in the game, while their penalty killers kept the Engineers without a tally on three chances.
 
Dartmouth returns home next weekend for a pair of games at Thompson Arena against Quinnipiac and Princeton. Both contests are set for 7 p.m. starts in Hanover.