The first “Let’s Go Red!” chants of the hockey season were yelled on Saturday, October 4, as the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers played the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers at the Houston Field House. The RPI Pep Band played “O Canada,” then the Rensselyrics took center ice to sing the United States National Anthem. The game was full of excitement as several fights broke out, one ending with the UPEI goalie getting ejected. At the end of the game, the Engineers defeated the Panthers 5-2.
The puck was dropped and the first period of regulation began. UPEI outhustled RPI to the puck, claiming the first possession, and shocked the RPI crowd as they were the first to get on the score board with 7:22 left in the first period. However, a few minutes later, freshman center Lou Nanne scored his first collegiate goal at 18:38, assisted by senior center Zach Schroeder and senior forward captain Mark McGowan. The crowd ignited with cheers and screams for the first goal of the year. The Engineers took advantage of the momentum, scoring with 13 seconds left in the first period, when junior defenseman and captain Luke Curadi passed to sophomore forward Riley Bourbonnais as he sped up the ice and took a shot. Senior center and captain Matt Neal gathered the rebound and fired it into the net, putting the Institute ahead 2-1.
Five minutes into the second period, the Panthers committed a penalty, giving the Engineers a power play. Bourbonnais skated up the ice with the puck and found sophomore forward Jimmy DeVito, who then passed it along to RPI freshman forward Viktor Liljegren, who blazed a shot past Panther goalie Connor Wilkinson to make the score 3-1 4:32 into the second period. The goals kept coming for Rensselaer as senior defenseman and captain Curtis Leonard raced up the ice to score a goal with help from freshman forward Drew Melanson and freshman defenseman Bradley Bell, 18 minutes and 52 seconds into the second frame, putting the Engineers up 4-1.
The third period provided even more entertainment as both teams began to fight behind the UPEI net after a player fell on the puck. A few minutes later, freshman defenseman Mike Prapavessis passed to Bourbonnais, setting up Leonard very nicely for his second goal of the night at 8:10 on a power play. Bourbonnais had three assists on the night. Overall, the Engineers went two for five on the power play, and won by a final margin of 5-2.
This game marked the return of Rensselaer junior goaltender Jason Kasdorf from a 51-week absence due to shoulder surgery. Kasdorf played in net the first period and half of the second, stopping eight out of nine shots he faced. Senior goaltender Scott Diebold came in for Kasdorf during the second period, saving 14 of 15 shots on goal during the final 30 minutes. Head coach Seth Appert stated, “We have two number one goaltenders, and I believe we should have some of the best goaltending in the country [this season].”
For the night, the Panthers won more faceoffs, while the Institute had more shots on goal.
Coming off of an 8-9-5 record last season, Appert stated, “This team needs to play with a chip on their shoulder. We’re not happy with last season and we need to play that way as a group, not with running around taking penalties and being undisciplined, but a real honest hard working team that is difficult to play against as a group with our group mentality.” The Engineers look forward to utilizing this mindset as they travel to Indiana to play the University of Notre Dame on Saturday, October 10 in the Ice Breaker Tournament and either the University of Minnesota or the University of Minnesota-Duluth on Sunday, October 11.