In their opening exhibition match of the season, the Engineers fought tirelessly against the St. Thomas University Tommie’s of New Brunswick, Canada, at the Houston Field House last Saturday. Bereaved of victory during the five minute overtime, a consequence of the 2–2 tie at the conclusion of the third period, the RPI men endured a 3–2 loss.
Throughout the first period, RPI had its act together. Despite several missed opportunities to score, the puck spent well over half its time on the ice in the offensive zone. RPI forwards brought the puck down the ice towards the Tommies’ goal, only to shoot too wide or get blocked by the goaltender. St. Thomas played defensively the first period, often icing the puck just to remove it from their defensive zone, which caused many face-offs to take place.
The first big scare for RPI came at 10:19 into the first period when STU forward Anthony Latina snagged the puck in the neutral zone and ushered it towards RPI’s goal. Meanwhile, freshman forward Lonnie Clary came barreling into the net just as it looked like a score might be made. Though Clary received a penalty for his action, he helped RPI avoid a point.
Immediately following the faceoff at 12:31, there was a brief scare as the Tommies claimed the puck and STU forward Bryce Milson, sandwiched between two RPI defensemen, walked right up to the goal for the shot. It was skillfully blocked by senior goalie Jason Kasdorf.
Clary took another penalty at 16:31 for bodychecking Latina of STU along the Tommies’ back wall. Clary’s crashing into Latina caused the first major altercation on the ice for the evening, as Latina’s teammates expressed their displeasure against Clary by crushing him into the wall.
The first goal of the night came at 16:53 when senior forward Milos Bubela knocked the puck out from right underneath forward JC Campagna of STU after he tried shoot.
In the second period, no goals were made, and to the extent that you can say gameplay was quiet for men’s hockey, gameplay was quiet. At 11:36, senior defender Chris Bradley took a slap shot and broke his stick in half. At 17:18, sophomore defender Bradley Bell also snapped his stick in the course of performing a slap shot, yet play was not stopped. By the end of the period, RPI had attempted 19 shots, while STU had only tried for 12.
It was only in the third period that RPI’s well-maintained 1-0 lead was lost. Unlike the strategy in the previous two periods, STU took to the offensive. Following a faceoff called for icing of the puck by STU, a play went awry for the Engineers when the puck bounced off of junior forward Riley Bourbonnais’ stick in the defensive zone. Campagna was able to snatch the puck and tap it past freshman goalie Cam Hackett into the net at 3:49.
Minutes later, at 6:17, senior forward Travis Fulton dumped the puck past STU to score another point for the Engineers. Then, with only 6:09 remaining, forward Jason Cameron of STU snuck the puck into Rensselaer’s net, retying the game. The score remained tied for the rest of the period.
The game went into overtime… with a shootout looming… But when the tiebreaker shootout ensued, Milson made the winning shot with 38.5 seconds to go. Everyone thought RPI was safe when Hackett miraculously blocked Milson’s runaway shot at 47 seconds to go, but STU still had a trick up their sleeve.
Coinciding with Reunion & Homecoming Week, the match gathered many RPI alumni to the Field House who hadn’t visited in many years. Next Friday night, the RPI men will journey to Tsongas Center in Lowell, MA, where they will enter the rink against the River Hawks of the University of Massachusetts Lowell.