Revenge is a dish best served Savory
After losing in a shootout during last year’s Mayor’s Cup, the Engineers bring the Mayor’s Cup home to Troy after defeating Union in a similar fashion.
The Times Union Center was packed as Rensselaer faced off against Union College on Saturday night in the eighth annual Mayor’s Cup. In the nosebleeds on opposing ends of the ice were the respective pep bands, beating the drums of war.
The game remained close for most of the first period, however, RPI appeared to have much more control. In the offensive zone, the Engineers used darting diagonal passes to carve through the Dutchmen’s defense and ripped shot after shot to test Union goalie Darion Hanson.
With 12:08 left in the first period, a scuffle broke out in front of the Union goal after Union’s Gabriel Seger was called for tripping. The resulting Engineer power play consisted of constant probing of the Dutchmen, attempting to find any possible weakness to exploit at a later point in the game. If not for Hanson making several terrific saves, RPI would have had the lead. When the power play ended, RPI led Union in shots on goal 9‒1.
With 8:24 left in the period, a poorly timed RPI line change left the Dutchmen on a breakaway, forcing Engineer goaltender Owen Savory ’22 to make a huge save and deny the opportunity. About a minute later, a chain of massive hits from both squads caused the entire arena to erupt—the Times Union Center became what I imagine the Colosseum of ancient Rome would be like. After a boarding call on Union’s Ryan Sidorski and a slight skirmish by the boards, the physicality of the game intensified.
With 2:06 left in the first period, RPI forward Todd Burgess ’20 was called for tripping, giving the Dutchmen their first power play of the game. The short-handed Engineers were bombarded with shots, but Savory’s feats in shot-stopping kept the puck out of the net. The first period ended in a 0‒0 draw with RPI leading shots on goal 14‒9.
In the second period, both teams came out with an intensity unseen previously in the game. The stakes were raised; it truly felt like both teams were determined to pull out a win. Within the first several minutes of the period, RPI’s attack was relentless and it seemed that the Union defense was weakening as the game progressed.
With 13:41 left in the period, Savory miraculously saved the puck with the end of the handle of his stick, keeping the puck from burying itself in the top shelf.
After several minutes of stalemate, the RPI Pep Band began to play “Cantina Band” from Star Wars in order to give the Engineers a new hope to break the tie. With 3:52 left to play in the second period, Union’s Taylor Brierley got around an RPI defenseman and took a shot off of Savory’s mask. After making contact with the mask, the puck appeared to hover in the air and Brierley tucked it into the back of the net to give Union a one-goal lead.
20 seconds later, Union’s Brandon Estes was called for hooking. After 52 seconds elapsed in the power play, Engineer forward Zach Dubinsky ’23 slipped the puck under the left arm of Hanson on a backhand rebound to even up the game at 1‒1. As the second period came to a close, the score remained 1‒1 with RPI still leading shots on goal 27‒21.
The third period belonged to Union. The Engineers were on the back foot for most of the period, forced into their defensive zone in order to keep the Dutchmen at bay. With more saves from the RPI goaltender, the Engineers were able to withstand the extent of the Dutchmen attack. With 30 seconds left to play in regulation and the score still tied at 1‒1, both teams gave it their all.
It seemed like one of the teams would be able to break the deadlock. Position alternated several times until the siren sounded for the end of regulation with the score remaining at 1‒1 and RPI barely edging out Union on shots on goal 29‒27.
In the five minute overtime period, the Engineers managed to take four shots on frame and held Union to none before time expired. If it were not for the Mayor’s Cup award, the game would have been officially counted as a tie, but instead the teams prepared for a shootout.
RPI defenseman Cory Babichuk ’23 was the first attempt for the Engineers. His shot was saved by Hanson.
Then came Union forward Anthony Rinaldi, whose shot was saved by Savory.
RPI forward Patrick Polino ’20 prepared himself at the redline. He carefully eased the puck past Hanson; the Engineers led 1‒0 in the shootout.
Union forward Sean Harrison came next—again saved by Savory.
Rensselaer's Burgess stepped up. He propelled the puck past Hanson to put the Engineers up 2‒0.
Union forward Parker Foo, like the rest before him, failed to best Savory. This meant the next Engineer goal or Dutchman miss would give the Engineers the cup.
Rensselaer forward Chase Zieky ’20 readied himself with the potential to end it. Hanson made the pad save.
Union forward Liam Robertson was next with the game on the line. He skated towards the RPI goal, slowing down time as he got closer. He wound up and fired. The puck flew over Savory’s right shoulder and a loud ping echoed around the stadium. The shot hit the crossbar.
It was all over. Savory stood with his arms raised high as the arena went into hysteria. A flood of white RPI jerseys vaulted the boards of the bench and rushed towards their savior. The entire Engineer squad crammed against the boards in a state of euphoria.
The eighth annual Mayor’s Cup officially belonged to RPI. The captains, trophy in hand, skated around the ice as the remaining fans cheered.