The Engineers faced off against two conference foes this past weekend as Princeton University and Quinnipiac University traveled to Troy. Friday, RPI took on the Tigers of Princeton at the Houston Field House in front of a crowd of 2,836 fans. The puck dropped for the first period at 7 pm after the Rusty Pipes a cappella group sang the “Star Spangled Banner.”
It didn’t take long for the game to grab the attention of everyone in the stands as the first shot from Princeton rang off the post. Shortly after, 2:27 into the game, Princeton took its first penalty for boarding, setting up the Engineers for their first power play. The Engineers controlled the zone, moving the puck around with crisp tape to tape passing for much of the one-man advantage. While the power play didn’t deliver any goals, it did set a tone of fast, tough play that the Engineers would continue all night. Rensselaer’s energy and pressure paid off as a strong hustle play to keep the puck in the offensive end led to the Engineers’ first goal, 8:45 into the period. Senior defenseman Curtis Leonard worked hard to get the puck back deep into the corner where freshman forward Drew Melanson was able to take over and find junior forward Mark Miller at the face off dot for the goal. Princeton looked to answer shortly in a good scoring opportunity with the Tigers in front of the net with the puck. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Rensselaer junior goalie Jason Kasdorf was ready to make a big pad save moving side to side to keep Princeton off the board. Despite being shut down, Princeton continued to try to respond and found the back of the net at 9:43 as the net was being knocked off its moorings. After review, no goal was ruled as the puck did not cross the goal line before the net came off. The Engineers’ speed forced Princeton to take its second penalty for tripping just over midway through the period, and it would be the Engineers’ speed on the one-man advantage that would lead to RPI’s second goal. As the Engineers dumped the puck into the offensive zone, it appeared as though it would be a routine icing but the Engineers hustled and beat the Tigers to the puck. Once again, Rensselaer found themselves with the puck in the corner, seemingly to the surprise of the Tigers, and senior forward Jacob Laliberte moved the puck to freshman defenseman Jared Wilson in the high slot who blew a one timer past the Princeton net minder for the Engineers second tally. Junior forward Milos Bubela was credited with the secondary assist on the goal. The Engineers and Tigers traded penalties and chances for the rest of the period which ended with Kasdorf stifling another Princeton scoring opportunity.
The second period was not as eventful as the first, as neither team could break through the oppositions’ defense even though Rensselaer continued to outshoot the Tigers more than 2-1. Rensselaer once again found a hole in the Princeton defense halfway through the period. Sophomore forward Riley Bourbonnais was able to find Miller from behind the net as Miller was leaking into the slot setting up Miller’s second goal of the night and the Engineers’ third of the game. Less than a minute later, Rensselaer was called for tripping, resulting in a Princeton power play. The Tigers found some room and generated shots including a one-time blast that beat Kasdorf but was ruled no goal despite appearing to find the twine. However, the play did not have the chance to be reviewed as the puck bounced back into play and Princeton maintained control of the puck. Shortly after, the Tigers definitively scored with eight minutes left to play bringing the score to 3-1 in favor of the Engineers. The Tigers failed to make another goal for the next six minutes or so and in a last ditch effort, pulled their goalie with 1:20 left to play to no avail. The strong showing for the Engineers ended in a 3-1 win in a game that saw Rensselaer generate 35 shots and Kasdorf make 24 saves.
The Engineers returned to the Houston Field House on Saturday to take on the Bobcats of Quinnipiac University in a matchup of the top two teams in the Eastern College Athletic Conference. The Engineers once again started the game with a lot of speed and energy and it showed early in the first period. Just over five minutes in, an area pass from Melanson was chased down by freshman defender Garett Wilson who won the race against Quinnipiac and carried the puck into the zone. Freshman forward Lou Nanne matched his speed and streaked down the center of the ice toward the goal and was rewarded with a beautiful pass from Wilson that Nanne deflected into the net. After the goal, the Bobcats began to take over the game in a four minute stretch in which RPI was assessed three penalties. Playing a man down (or two men down at times) for that long of a period, in addition to struggling in the faceoff circle, forced the Engineers to yield the first goal to Quinnipiac with three and a half minutes left in the first period. The Engineers would get an opportunity for their own man advantage just 21 seconds after the goal, but an aggressive Bobcat penalty kill led to Rensselaer spending the majority of the power play retrieving the puck from their own zone.
The second period was scoreless but was plagued by penalties from both sides. By the end of the second, nine penalties had been called in the game by an officiating crew that seemed to put their arm up every few minutes. The third period started tied 1-1 with a one goal edge in shots for the Bobcats as they totaled 14 shots after two periods while the Engineers generated 13. The tie was broken 5:42 into the period as Quinnipiac was, once again, able to find the back of the net. The Engineers failed to respond despite two power play opportunities. Just as in the rest of the game, the aggressive penalty kill from Quinnipiac shut down the Rensselaer power play except for a great scoring chance that saw freshman defender Mike Prapavessis of RPI display great patience as he waited for the right moment to blast the puck past the Quinnipiac goalie. However, the Engineers found themselves on the other end of a reviewed goal that was called back as it was determined the net was dislodged before the puck crossed the goal line. Down 2-1, Kasdorf headed to the bench with just over a minute to play. The extra attacker would not prove to be the offensive spark the Engineers needed as the Bobcats scored an empty net goal with 30 seconds left to play.
After splitting the weekend with one win and one loss, the Engineers have eight points with a 4-2-0 record, giving them a share of the lead in the ECAC alongside Quinnipiac who also has eight points from four wins. The Engineers now begin a six game road stretch two of which are ECAC matchups. Rensselaer returns to the Houston Field house December 13 to face off against Boston University in the last home game before the end of the semester. Rensselaer plays eight games over winter break, half of which are at the Field House. The eighth game is January 24 against Union College at the Times Union Center for the annual Mayor’s Cup. RPI plays Brown University in the first home game of the second semester on Friday, February 13. Saturday, February 14, Rensselaer will take on Dartmouth University in the 38th annual Big Red Freakout!