Rensselaer drops two-straight contests at home

JUNIOR FORWARD C.J. LEE SKATES up the ice with the puck in the Engineers’ 6-2 loss to Princeton University on Saturday at the Houston Field House.

In the penultimate weekend of regular season play for the men’s hockey team, the Engineers dropped a pair of contests at the Houston Field House, sending the team back to the bottom of the league. Rensselaer fell in a 3-1 decision to Quinnipiac University on Friday night, and posted a 6-2 loss to Princeton University on Saturday’s Senior Night. The Engineers, who have one last chance this weekend to increase their record, are currently 8-21-3 overall on the year, including a 5-12-3 ECAC mark.

Friday’s match against the Quinnipiac Bobcats saw Rensselaer jump out to a 1-0 lead in the first period. Freshman Zach Schroeder skated past a pair of defensemen into the offensive zone and beat junior goaltender Eric Hartzell at 9:10. Sophomore Matt Tinordi earned the lone assist on the play.

It didn’t take long for the Bobcats to knot the game at one as junior Reese Rolheiser scored his second of the season off a long drive from the left faceoff circle 23 seconds later. With 15.1 seconds remaining in the period, the Bobcats took the lead with the eventual game-winning goal off the power play. Junior Zack Currie scored his eighth of the season to make it a 2-1 match, with the assists going to freshman Matthew Peca and junior Loren Barron.

The Bobcats cemented their lead at 16:12 of the second period after sophomore Cory Hibbeler deflected a low shot by Barron past junior goaltender Bryce Merriam. The two teams, who combined for only 11 shots in the third and final period, were unable to hit the back of the net to end the game with Quinnipiac on top 3-1. Both Merriam and Hartzell finished with 24 saves.

The next night fared no better for the Engineers as the Princeton Tigers skated to a 6-2 victory in the final game of the regular season at the Houston Field House. Three different Princeton skaters hit the back of the net in the road victory.

The Tigers’ first of the night came off the faceoff at 11:56 of the first period. Sophomore Jack Berger won the puck back to classmate Andrew Ammon, who was situated at the top of the left circle. Ammon’s shot snuck just inside the left pipe to give the visitors a 1-0 advantage.

However, just over four minutes later senior Mike Bergin found the equalizer with his first goal of the season. After a rebound popped out to the right point, the defenseman one-timed the shot past junior goaltender Mike Condon. Sophomore Johnny Rogic and senior Josh Rabbani earned the assists on the play, which came at 16:14.

Princeton exploded with a four-goal second period to earn the lead for good. Junior Rob Kleebaum started the charge at 3:36 with his eighth of the year. Just over 1:50 later, sophomore Andrew Calof gave the visitors a 3-1 advantage with his 10th of the season off a feed from senior Marc Hagel.

Rensselaer attempted to slow Princeton’s momentum as Rabbani added his first goal of the season at 6:53 to pull the Engineers within one. Senior Justin Smith connected with Rabbani in the low slot as the one-timer beat Condon to make it a 3-2 game. Freshman Curtis Leonard earned the secondary assist on the play.

However, that would be as close at RPI would get, as the Tigers added two more goals in the second period and another in the third. Calof’s second of the game came at 10:50 of the middle frame after flipping the puck over freshman goaltender Scott Diebold. The Tigers then converted on a 5-on-3 power play opportunity to make it a 5-2 match at 15:02 with Kleebaum’s second tally of the match.

Ammon closed out scoring in the game with his fourth of the season and second of the contest at 8:11 of the third period. All three RPI goaltenders saw action in the match, with Merriam blocking six shots, Diebold stopping 10, and senior Jeremy Coupal making one save. Condon posted 24 stops for the Tigers in the win.

The Engineers’ final games of the regular season will take place on the road this weekend. RPI plays at Colgate University on Friday, and Cornell University on Saturday, with both matches starting at 7 pm.