Men's hockey tames No. 8 Bulldogs

After a rough overtime loss to Brown University on Friday night, the men’s hockey team rebounded with a stunning 4-0 shutout of No. 8 Yale University on Saturday at Ingalls Rink. Saturday’s win also marked an Engineers sweep of one of the best teams not only in the league, but also the nation, following RPI’s 3-2 victory over Yale in early November. Rensselaer improved to 14-12-2 overall and 7-6-1 in league play on the weekend, while Brown rose to 7-12-1 and 5-7-1 within the conference and Yale dropped to 12-6-3 overall and 8-4-2 in the ECAC. In addition, junior Chase Polacek netted his 100th collegiate point in the matchup against the Bulldogs, becoming the 60th Engineer to do so.

RPI started the weekend with less-than-desirable results in Providence, giving up Brown’s first win over the Engineers since the 2004–2005 season. Despite rallying from a two-goal deficit to force overtime, the Engineers could not cap off the coming back, giving up a goal just under 50 seconds into the extra frame.

After falling behind by two goals in the second period, RPI was able to narrow the margin with a power play tally from senior Paul Kerins, his ninth of the year. Kerins grabbed his own rebound and blasted it past Brown freshman netminder Mike Clemente to pull RPI within one; Polacek and freshman Brandon Pirri earned assists on the play as well. Unfortunately for RPI, the Bears bounced back with a shorthanded tally, pulling ahead 3-1 by the end of the second frame.

The third period proved to be all-RPI as the Engineers posted two more goals on the board to knot the game at three—including Kerin’s second of the night.

Polacek netted his 17th goal of the year at 4:31 while on the power play, bringing RPI within one goal of the Bears. After Brown failed to clear the puck out of its own zone, Polacek grabbed the puck near the circle and beat Clemente as he slid to the opposite side of the net. Fellow junior Bryan Brutlag nearly tied the game a minute later with a breakaway opportunity, but was denied by Clemente, keeping the score 3-2. Closing out the period with five minutes remaining in regulation, Kerins posted his 10th of the year from sophomore Alex Angers-Goulet and Mike Bergin.

With overtime in sight, the Engineers made a fatal error as two skaters took penalties in the final seconds of regulation, granting Brown a five-on-three advantage. The Bears made the most of this opportunity to net the game-winner. With senior Sean McMonagle and sophomore Jeff Buvinow passing the puck into the offensive zone, senior Aaron Volpatti camped out in front of Rensselaer’s net, waiting for a pass. Finally getting the puck from Buvinow, Volpatti waited for sophomore goaltender Allen York to get out of position before flipping the puck to the back of the cage for the game-winner.

With Friday’s loss burned into their minds, the Engineers came back to fight for the win on Saturday against the nationally-ranked Bulldogs. York collected his first shutout of the season and second of his career in the 4-0 victory, while Polacek, D’Amigo, and Pirri each recorded multiple points during the night. This is only the second loss the Bulldogs have suffered at home this season.

Brutlag, moved up to the forward lines of late, notched the game’s first goal and what would prove to be the game-winner at 8:16 of the first period. Brutlag snagged a pass from Pirri and snuck a low wrist shot past Yale freshman goaltender Nick Maricic for his fifth of the season.

After holding the Bulldogs to only five shots on net in the first period, Yale stepped up its game, outshooting RPI 12-4. Despite the increase, Yale could not solve York, and Rensselaer took a 2-0 lead off Polacek’s 18th goal of the year. The Hobey Baker candidate skated into the zone alone and blasted a low shot under Maricic at 18:23 to increase the Engineers’ lead.

Rensselaer closed out scoring in the third with two goals to open the third period of play. D’Amigo notched his eighth goal of the season off a shorthanded tally when a fault by a Yale defenseman to block a shot careened the puck back to D’Amigo, who was able to deflect the shot past Maricic. Just over two minutes later, Pirri ended his goal-scoring drought with his eighth marker of the season with a power play goal.

Though both goaltenders finished with 22 saves on the night, York came away with the win. Following the match, Polacek and Pirri were awarded with league honors, with Polacek earning the ECAC Player of the Week award, and Pirri getting Rookie of the Week honors.

Rensselaer returns to the Houston Field House for a weekend packed with special events and ceremonies. Friday’s match against St. Lawrence University at 7 pm is also the Hannah’s Hope hockey game, in which proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Hannah’s Hope Fund, which provides research money for Giant Axonal Neuropathy. Saturday’s match up against Clarkson University marks the 25th anniversary of the Engineers’ 1985 National Championship title. Members of the 1985 squad will be on hand for a ceremony during the game. Puck drop is at 7 pm.