The Houston Field House erupted with the cheers from over four thousand students, parents, and fans as the Engineers took the ice for their home opener against Sacred Heart University Saturday night. As the lights dimmed to introduce RPI’s starting lineup, anyone sitting in the stands could just feel it; hockey was back. After shouting “RED!” during The Star Spangled Banner, the crowd was ready for the opening puck drop.
“GO GO GO YOU RED RED RED! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT YOU WHITE WHITE WHITE!” was the customary cheer as the first period got under way. To the delight of the fans in attendance, all that the Engineers could do was go, go, go. Led by Junior Ryan Haggery, RPI’s snipers showed up to play. 7:44 into the first, Haggerty opened the scoring with an offensive overload play from behind SHU’s net. An audible groan followed by a roaring cheer was heard from the stands as the goal was reviewed and then confirmed by the referee. Haggerty would score again late in the period with a laser of a shot top shelf off of a face off win by junior Jacob Laliberte. Senior Captain Matt Tinordi picked up senior Johnny Rogic’s and senior Brock Higgs’s rebound to add to the Engineers scoring in the first period. The RPI defense also looked strong in the first period allowing only three shots on goal and giving junior goalie Zack Diebold a lot of help. Late in the period, sophomore defenseman Chris Bradley made a sliding play to break up an odd man rush, the best and one of the few chances SHU got all night.
The Engineers began the second period in the same way they began the first, dominating all aspects of play. The only hiccup came early in the period when a turnover behind the net let Jeff Carroll find a wide open Drew George in the slot for an SHU goal. From that point on it was all RPI as they controlled the play. Even when on the penalty kill, the Engineers found a way to generate offense, finding their way behind the SHU defense for a breakaway. Haggerty found himself in an odd man rush with junior Curtis Leonard and Bradley mid way through the period and leftly netted third goal of the night, beating the SHU netminder in the top corner once more. Rensselaer would get called for hooking with just under a minute left to play in the period.
The Engineers continued their strong defensive play in the third, killing off the remainder of the penalty to open the period. Rogic saved a goal for the Engineers two minutes into the period with a great diving play. Later, SHU’s Jordan Minello was called for hooking 6:36 into the period giving the Engineers their fourth power play of the night. RPI’s power play looked good in its previous three chances, with strong, patient puck movement leading to high quality shots. But they hadn’t scord yet. The power play unit finally broke through as Higgs walked out into the slot and let one fly to increase the lead to 5-1. Freshman Parker Reno netted the sixth goal of the night for the Engineers with yet another shot to the top corner just before the halfway mark in the period. From there things began to get a little chippy, as physical play increased and players engaged in some extra-curriculars after the whistle. At 12:15, a gathering in RPI’s corner resulted in boarding and slashing penalties to SHU and a roughing penalty to RPI. Tucking the puck just inside the post on a wrap around late in the period was sophomore Mike Zalewski, who got the puck from sophomore Mark Miller and Bradley to give the Engineers their seventh and final goal of the night.
The win against SHU marked the 1000th win in program history for the Engineers. Coming into the weekend Rensselaer was ranked 17th in the country and after their win on Saturday they moved to 12th in the USCHO.com and USA Today national polls. The team moves to 3-1-0 with two wins over SHU and one over No. 13 Boston University. The Engineers are 6th as a team in scoring offense with 18 goals through four games. Haggerty leads the nation in goal scoring with seven tallies through four games, with two being coming on the power play and two game winners. Haggerty was recognized as the ECAC player of the Week for his excellent play. The Engineers play No. 14 New Hampshire at home on Saturday, October, 26 and then begin league play against Harvard on Black Tuesday on October 29 at the Field House.