Coming off of a rough four losses in their last five games, the men’s hockey team entered Friday night’s game against number one ranked Quinnipiac University. But, regardless of their recent play, the Engineers played well, taking a 4-3 lead with 3:46 in the third period remaining when sophomore forward Viktor Liljegren collected the puck as it slid past him and flung it top shelf past Bobcats goalie Michael Garteig. Then disaster happened; Quinnipiac pulled their goalie soon after the RPI goal and tied the game up with a long shot past senior goalie Jason Kasdorf by forward Devon Toews. 15 seconds into overtime, Quinnipiac took advantage of a two-on-one breakaway with a game-winning goal by forward Soren Jonzzon.
Quinnipiac scored less than a minute into the opening period when forward Travis St. Denis deflected the puck into the RPI net off a wrist shot by defenseman Chase Priskie. Nine minutes later the top-ranked Bobcats increased their lead to two when defenseman Kevin McKernan grabbed the loose puck off a missed shot by forward Sam Anas and flicked it past Kasdorf.
Rensselaer responded with a goal of their own late in the first period when junior forward Jake Wood came free just seconds after the end of an RPI power play and drove the puck toward the Quinnipiac net. The puck deflected off of the skate of junior forward Jimmy Devito and went past Garteig to put RPI back within one.
Freshman forward Alex Rodriguez found a clear patch of ice in front of the Quinnipiac net and scored off a skillful wraparound pass by sophomore forward Kenny Gillespie to tie the game at two early in the second period. A minute and a half later, several members of each team began fighting after a huge hit away from the puck by Quinnipiac. The incident resulted in three two-minute penalties, one on both Tim and Connor Clifton of Quinnipiac and a third on RPI freshman forward Jesper Ohrvall. After the Engineers failed to take advantage of their five-on-three power play during the ensuing minute, another fight broke out. Senior forward Milos Bubela shot the puck at the Quinnipiac net, but Garteig made a tremendous diving stop to preserve the 2-2 tie. In disbelief, Bubela tried to knock the puck out of Garteig’s possession and hit the goalie in the head with his stick. Bobcat forward Tommy Schutt came to the defense of his teammate and shoved Bubela to the ice. As a result of the scrum, each of those players took two minute penalties and so did Devito.
Midway through the second period, senior center Zach Schroeder collected a loose puck in front of Garteig and managed to knock it in putting the Engineers in front 3-2. Both sophomore left wing Lou Nanne and junior right wing Riley Bourbonnais assisted by knocking the puck loose from the Quinnipiac defense.
The Bobcats tied the game at 3-3 midway through the third period on a power play goal by Tim Clifton, setting the stage for the game’s dramatic finish.
Kasdorf defended the net well in the loss, saving 37 of 42 shots that he faced as compared to 21 of 25 for Garteig.
On Senior Night against Princeton, the Engineers fell behind again when Princeton forward Ben Foster flicked a wrist shot past Kasdorf to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Rensselaer badly needed a win to keep themselves in contention for a spot in the NCAA Tournament in March. A loss in this game to a Princeton team that had only won five times all season would have meant their second 3-game losing streak in less than a month along with a certain drop in ranking. But before that could happen, the Engineers came to life. With 4:20 remaining in the second period, Devito snuck a pass to Bubela in front of the Tiger net, and Bubela stuck it home to tie the game at one.
Less than two minutes into the third period, Devito made another beautiful pass to Bubela in between two Princeton defenders. Bubela then took the puck and backhanded past the outstretched stick of Princeton goalie Colton Phinney. To his credit, Phinney held the Engineers in check most of the night, saving 39 of the 41 shots that he faced. But the two goals were enough as Jason Kasdorf saved 19 of 20 that went his way in route to a 2-1 victory to close out the regular season home schedule for RPI.
Up next for No. 17 ranked RPI are away games at Colgate University and Cornell University to end the 2015-2016 regular season.