Engineers extend unbeaten streak to four

The RPI women’s hockey team extended its unbeaten streak to four games this past weekend as the Engineers narrowly defeated the Quinnipiac University Bobcats on Friday by a score of 1-0, and tied with the Princeton University Tigers 1-1 on Saturday. Rensselaer is currently 11-10-6 overall and 8-4-4 in the league while Quinnipiac snapped its six-game winning streak and falls to 13-8-6 overall and 6-4-5 in the ECAC, and the Tigers improve to 10-9-4 overall an 8-4-4 within the conference. Junior center Kendra Dunlop netted both of RPI’s goals on the weekend, bringing her season total to seven. The win and tie place Rensselaer in a three-way tie for third place in league standings, along with Harvard University and Princeton.

The opening two periods against Quinnipiac proved to be a goaltender’s battle as neither team was able to place on the boards. Despite holding a 8-4 shot advantage in the first, Quinnipiac freshman goaltender Victoria Vigilanti was able to keep Rensselaer off the score sheet. The Bobcats had the best opportunity of the frame as senior Kallie Flor made a quick attempt from the slot, but junior netminder Sonja van der Bliek was able to make a diving glove save, just over two minutes into the game.

Period two proved to be much of the same as the first, with both van der Bliek and Vigilanti making several key stops. Rensselaer nearly placed on the boards as sophomore Jill Vandergrift converted on a pass from behind the net from freshman Taylor Horton, but was denied by Vigilanti.

It would take until 4:24 of the third period before either team was able to solve the opposing goaltender. After receiving a pass from senior Laura Gersten in the neutral zone, Dunlop skated into the offensive zone and blasted a shot through Vigilanti’s five-hole for the eventual game-winner.

Van der Bliek earned her sixth shutout of the year with 17 saves on the night, while Vigilanti shouldered the loss with 24 stops. Also of note, seniors Whitney Naslund and Allison Wright competed in their 131st games as Engineers, becoming the all-time leaders in games played for RPI women’s hockey.

With league standings on the line, the Engineers came out to fight against the Princeton Tigers. Van der Bliek backstopped Rensselaer, stopping 28 of 29 shots faced on the night.

Princeton opened the game’s scoring early on, netting the first goal just two minutes into the contest. Freshman Alex Kinney collected her first collegiate goal as she skated into the zone, and had her shot deflected off an RPI defenseman and past van der Bliek at 2:06.

Despite falling behind 6-0 in shots to start the game, Rensselaer came back to tie the match just over four minutes later with Dunlop’s second goal in as many games. Dunlop collected a pass from Gersten and skated into the Tigers’ zone, ripping a shot on freshman Rachel Weber. Although Weber stopped the initial shot, Dunlop collected her own rebound and buried her second attempt to knot the game at one.

Although neither team was able to solve the other’s goaltender for the remainder of the game, both squads had several chances through the final 40 minutes of play. Princeton freshman Corey Stearns had one of the best opportunities of the second period, but had her backhanded shot from the slot denied by van der Bliek. Naslund nearly found the go-ahead goal for the Engineers as she collected the puck from a pass from behind the net and had a point-blank chance on Weber, but could not find the back of the cage.

RPI ramped up its game in the third period, posting 13 shots to Princeton’s eight, but it wasn’t enough to find the game-winner. Sophomore Alisa Harrison nearly converted on a backhand shot off a pass from Naslund, but could not get the puck past Weber to close the third frame.

The Engineers hit the road for the upcoming weekend, facing off against North Country rivals Clarkson University on Friday at Cheel Arena at 7 pm, followed by a 4 pm match up against the St. Lawrence University Saints on Saturday.