Over Spring Break, Rensselaer’s American Collegiate Hockey Association team traveled to the Division 2 national tournament in Columbus, Ohio. Although the team did not go all the way, it was an impressive showing for a club team that is only eight years old and having their first time appearance on the national level. The final rankings of the 2016-17 season put the club hockey team at number 12 in the nation.
The tournament is organized similar to the Olympics, in that the 16 qualifying teams are divided into four groups, one from each division. The teams play three games, and whoever has the most points will advance to the next round.
“The first game was against the top-ranked team in the country, [Lindenwood University, Belleville], and they played like it,” remarked junior forward Louis Olivieri. “Losing 5-1 the first game was wakeup call for us.”
“Drained, but not discouraged, we regrouped against Northern Arizona University the next day and won 2-1 for our first National Tournament victory in club history,” noted junior goaltender Ranger Beguelin. “The mood, tempo, and execution were worlds different than the first game.”
Later that evening, Miami University of Ohio upset Linderwood, setting the stage for Rensselaer advancement. Rensselaer would need to defeat Miami the following day and hope that tiebreakers fall in their favor.
“As fate would have it, the team came out looking worse than they [did in] the first game,” said Beguelin. “By the time we were five minutes into the second period, we were down 4-0.” The team called a timeout, made a goaltending change, and began the comeback. Club hockey got on the board just a few minutes later. At the end of the third period, the team was just two goals short of tying the game at five a piece.
“I think 10 more minutes of play could have evened the score. It’s painful to think you have done something incorrectly for so long, realized your mistake and made the change, and then still not be able to make up for the damage done earlier,” reflected Beguelin.
“As a graduating member of the team, I am proud of what our class has left behind and have no doubt that you will see the RPI ACHA Hockey Team back at the National Tournament in the very short future,” remarked graduate student Adam Hennick. “A special thank you to everyone who supports our program, from RPI Athletics, RPI TV and the Houston Field House staff, along with the great people at the Student Union and E-Board who made all of this possible.”