On Saturday night, fans piled into the Houston Field House for the sold-out 39th Annual Big Red Freakout! game, ready to cheer our men’s hockey team on. The first two periods drew much excitement for the crowd as the Engineers were able to clutch a two goal lead; however, Rensselaer could not hold on as the Clarkson University Golden Knights came from behind and scored four straight, bringing RPI’s record to 14-10-6 overall and 6-4-6 in the ECAC Hockey conference.
With 5:49 left in the fast-moving first period, junior forward Riley Bourbonnais took a backhanded shot and then had another chance on the rebound for Clarkson goaltender Greg Lewis to deny him with the cover-up. Bourbonnais had the opportunity to redeem himself, winning the face-off and then giving a quick pass to senior defenseman Chris Bradley, who took a shot. The rebound was picked up by Milos Bubela, who scored. The Engineers were 11-2-3 on the season when scoring first, giving the fans the boost of hope of a victory early on in the game.
During the first intermission, President Shirley Ann Jackson spoke to a reporter from RPI TV, noting “I’ve always said community is important, and communiversity, and if you just look around that’s what it is all about.” The fans, and the RPI Pep Band in particular, cheered the team on all night. Everyone went wild at 5:24 into the second period when Bubela scored again on a backhanded rebound shot off an assist from sophomore forward Kenny Gillespie who took a hard initial shot.
Up 2-0, Rensselaer’s lead looked quite promising until a little more than eight minutes into the third, when the Golden Knights took a shot to hit off the post, only to gain procession again and have another chance, scoring their first on senior goaltender Jason Kasdorf on a deflection. Within two minutes, Clarkson tied the game with a high stick side shot. Afterwards, the Golden Knights went on a power play and Terrance Amorosa scored on a one-timer glove side shot.
With just about one minute left of regulation time, the Engineers gained an extra player, pulling Kasdorf from goal. The Golden Knights took advantage of the empty net and scored their fourth and last goal of the game, guaranteeing their victory for the night.
The Engineers will travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts this Friday to play seventh-ranked Harvard University and then north to Hanover, New Hampshire to play 20th-ranked Dartmouth College Saturday night. The next home game for the men will be on February 19 against first-ranked in the nation, Quinnipiac University.