Men's hockey

Big red disaster

FRESHMAN PATRICK POLINO SKATES past the Quinnipiac defense.

The Engineers had their last home stand of the regular season this past weekend, picking up one win and one loss. Rensselaer seized win number seven of the season against Princeton University on Friday, February 17.  The next night was the Engineers’ biggest home game of the year, Senior Night and the 40th Annual Big Red Freakout against Quinnipiac University.  While the boisterous home crowd had high hopes going into the game, they were unfortunately treated to a big red disaster.

On Friday night, RPI had a strong team performance against the Princeton Tigers, and they were able to hold on to win the game 4–3. RPI scored all four of their goals during the first two periods of action.  Senior Riley Bourbonnais found the back of the net twice for the Engineers, and freshman Jake Marrello scored the first goal of his collegiate career.  RPI junior Jared Wilson tallied what ended up being the game winner at 18:52 of the second period, with help from seniors Jimmy Devito and Parker Reno. Wilson now has a team-best of four game winning goals on the season.

Princeton put up a good fight, with freshman Jackson Cressey scoring just 39 seconds into the third period to pull the Tigers within one.  However, the Engineers held strong and didn’t allow Princeton to tie the game.  RPI was outshot 43 to 27, but sophomore goalie Chase Perry once again played well in the net, making 40 saves (one shy of his career high).

While the Engineers rolled to a victory on Friday night, the wheels fell off in epic fashion for the Big Red Freakout on Saturday.  RPI was outshot 37–24, and Perry was off his game all night. The game initially looked promising, as RPI freshman Will Reilly scored the first goal of the game less than five minutes into the first period, with assists from Bourbonnais and junior Mike Prapavessis.  However, the situation rapidly deteriorated when the Quinnipiac Bobcats responded by scoring four unanswered goals to close out the period.  The once lively atmosphere of the Houston Field House quickly became somber.

While the rest of the game went smoother for the Engineers, they were unable to climb out of the 4–1 hole they had dug for themselves. In the second period of action, each team scored once.  RPI freshman Jacob Hayhurst scored his eighth goal of the season on a powerplay at 9:28, and Quinnipiac responded with a goal from Bo Peiper at 16:28.

The Bobcats added to their lead in the third period, as the score went up 6–2 when sophomore Chase Priskie got the puck past Perry at 6:22.  Engineers sophomore Alex Rodriguez found the back of the net for the first time this season to make the score 6–3 with just under ten minutes left in the game.

With 6:20 left in regulation, chaos broke out on the ice. RPI senior Jake Wood blasted Bobcats Captain Derek Smith into the corner of the boards, so Quinnipiac’s Karlis Cukste responded by cross-checking Wood face first into the ice, directly in front of the RPI bench.  A brawl between most players on the ice ensued, and when the smoke cleared, a plethora of penalties were handed out, and Cukste was ejected.   In total, there were 85 penalty minutes assessed during the game.

The Engineers pulled Perry from the net late in the third period in an attempt to put a dent in their three-goal deficit, but it was to no avail.  Quinnipiac scored an empty net goal, and RPI lost by a final score of 7–3.  The result marks the Engineers’ third straight Big Red Freakout loss and the 14th consecutive time they have failed to beat Quinnipiac.

RPI finishes up regular season play next weekend with games at Cornell University and Colgate University.