The Engineers walked out of the tunnel on Saturday to a Houston Field House turned red by the sellout crowd of 4,820. RPI fans were ready for the 37th annual Big Red Freakout as the stands were filled with school spirit. Fans supported the team in any way they could, whether it be by wearing red or donning body and face paint in school colors. The Engineers in the crowd quickly repurposed the seat cushions into giant clappers and the pep band was as big and loud as ever. It was going to be tough for Brown University to play in a building full of so much Red.
The Engineers’ play did nothing but reinforce that sentiment. It took only 34 seconds for sophomore forward Mike Zalewski to find the back of the net. Junior Ryan Haggerty forced a turnover deep in Brown’s zone leading to the Zalewski goal. Haggerty and senior Brock Higgs were credited with assists on the play. Shortly after, junior Luke Curadi let a shot go from the point that rang off the cross bar. The Engineers kept the pressure on all period with a strong fore-check, pestering Brown defensemen as they tried to break out of their own zone. At the 14 minute mark, RPI senior captain Matt Tinordi found himself open in the high slot and made no mistake netting the puck in the top right corner for Rensselaer’s second goal of the period. Tinordi was set up by sophomore Travis Fulton and senior Bo Dolan. Late in the period, the Engineers were issued two penalties leading to a five-on-three opportunity for Brown. With just under three minutes left to play in the period, Brown was able find a goal. As RPI gained one man back from the penalty box, Brown was still on the power play. Another puck found its way into the Engineers’ net, but was immediately waved off for goaltender interference. Brown was able to argue their way into an official review on the play, but were not satisfied when the initial call of no goal was confirmed. The first period came to a close with RPI setting a tone that would last the rest of the game.
The second period brought the Engineers’ third goal when Dolan and sophomore Mark McGowan set up Tinordi for his second goal of the night. The rest of the action in the game wouldn’t come until late in the third period. Down two goals, Brown pulled their goalie with 2:51 left to play. After a whistle resulting in a face off in neutral ice, Brown was forced to put their goalie back in the game. A streaking McGowan tipped in a puck that was thrown toward the front of the net by junior Zach Schroeder at 17:36 to put the Engineers up 4-1. With less than a minute and a half left to play, Zalewski was pushed into Brown’s goalie by the Brown defense, a play that was going to result in a penalty to Brown. Before the whistle could blow, the Brown netminder jumped on top of Zalewski starting a scrum resulting in six minutes of penalties for Brown and 4 for RPI. The game would come to a close, the Engineers victorious, 4-1.
The win over Brown was a big win for RPI at home as they dropped their game versus Yale 3-2 in overtime the night before. RPI sits seventh in the ECAC standings with a 6-7-3 conference record and 15 points. The Engineers trail first place by 11 points.
There was more Engineers hockey this weekend as past players competed in an alumni game. The 1963-64 team was recognized in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the team’s trip to the Frozen Four. Jerry Knightly, a member of the 1963—64 team was also honored this weekend as he was chosen to be the seventh inductee into the Hockey Ring of Honor. When asked to comment on Knightly, Rensselaer Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton said that Knightly “…epitomizes what it means to be a student-athlete and the way he played and competed on the ice truly set him apart as a deserving member of our Ring of Honor!” Knightly joined the other members of the Hockey Ring of Honor as he had his named raised into the rafters at the Houston Field House Friday night.
The Engineers are away this weekend playing Colgate and Cornell. Engineers’ hockey returns to the field house February 21, when they take on St. Lawrence University Friday night, and Clarkson University on Saturday the 22nd.