Todd Burgess tames the Tigers
Todd Burgess ’20 and the Engineers secured home ice advantage for the playoffs after netting seven goals in their victory over the Princeton Tigers.
Rensselaer and Princeton were evenly matched at the beginning of the first period, but as the period progressed, the Engineers began to control the game. After three minutes of play, Jakub Lacka ’22 attempted a wrap around, but Princeton goalie Jeremie Forget was there to make the save. With 15:48 left to play in the first period, Burgess received the puck at the blue line. He skated into the high slot and ripped a shot into the left-upper 90 to give RPI and early 1‒0 lead.
The Engineers did not give the Tigers any room to breathe, often pinching them into their defensive zone. After six minutes of play, Chase Zieky ’20 skated into the slot, grabbed the loose puck, and took a rapid snapshot that Forget was able to block. RPI continued their dominance and did not allow the Tigers to get many offensive chances. With three minutes left in the period, Burgess dropped the puck off to Mason Klee ’23 on the left wing. Forget was not able to control the rebound on the following shot, but the Princeton defense was able to clear. Two minutes later, while short-handed, the Engineers’ attacking duo of Jake Marrello ’20 and Billy Jerry ’21 were two-on-one in the Princeton end. Marrello skated in from the right wing as Jerry waited with his stick pulled back in the event of a pass. Marrello’s shot was saved by Forget. The period ended with RPI retaining their 1‒0 lead, while also leading shots on goal 14‒5.
The second period was a continuation of the previous as the Engineers maintained their grasp on the game. After five minutes of play in the second, Matt Kellenberger passed the puck back to Matthew Thom in the Princeton end. Thom was unable to properly control the puck, and as a result Marrello was able to steal the puck and slide it between the legs of Forget to give the Engineers a two-goal lead. With 12:28 remaining in the second period, RPI took a series of shots that threatened to extend their lead even further, but Princeton did not concede any of them.
With 10:38 left to play in the second period, Jake Johnson ’22 rocketed a meteoric shot from the blue line that Forget managed to catch with his glove. With eight minutes left in the second period, Burgess neutralized a Princeton puck carrier with a check, allowing the Engineers to regain possession in the offensive zone. Burgess repositioned himself to the left of the crease as Ture Linden ’22 threatened the Princeton defense. Linden passed the puck across the crease to Burgess, netting his second goal of the night with an easy finish. Two minutes later, Will Reilly ’20 turned over the puck in the RPI defensive end; Princeton’s Liam Gorman picked up the puck and sent it into the right side netting to decrease the Engineers’ lead. With 4:38 left in the period, the puck was dropped back to Kellenberger, whose shot was grabbed by Owen Savory ’22.
RPI continued to compress the Tigers in their end. With 1:11 left to play in the second frame, the puck found its way to Patrick Polino ’20 who managed to take a shot over a diving Mike Ufberg that was saved by Forget. Ten seconds later, Savory sent a pass down the ice to Polino, who quickly took a slapshot from the right wing that Forget was able to get behind. The last minute of the second period was the “Moe’s Minute,” causing the crowd in the Houston Field House to chant: “We want tacos!” With 9.6 seconds left in the period, Mike Gornall ’20 passed the puck to Ottoville Leppänen ’22. Leppänen, through on goal, slid the puck five-hole to give the Engineers a three-goal lead once again. The crowd went into a frenzy since this goal meant that everyone, for the next seven days, had the potential to receive a free taco at the Moe’s location on campus with the presentation of their ticket. The second period ended with RPI leading the game 4‒1 and shots on goal 28‒13.
After six minutes of play in the final period, Princeton’s Joey Fallon was called for tripping to give RPI a power play. Fifty seconds into the power play, Burgess drifted into the slot, received a pass from Polino, and ripped a shot into the left side of the goal past Princeton’s backup goalie Ryan Ferland to complete his hat-trick. Following tradition, several fans tossed their hats onto the ice in celebration.
Princeton was gifted a power play with 6:10 left to play when Johnson was called for interference; the Tigers also pulled their goalie for the power play, making it a six-on-two situation. Ten seconds later, forward Jake Paganelli slid the puck over to defenseman Mark Paolini in the right faceoff circle. His slap shot was saved by the very end of Savory’s right pad, popping up into the air and out of danger.
With 4:05 left to play, Pito Walton passed the puck to Gorman on the right wing. Before Gorman could get his stick on the puck, it ricocheted off of the blade of his skate towards Savory, who managed to keep the puck out of the net. The Engineers then went on the counter attack. Rory Herrman ’23 took a shot from the left wing that Ferland could not control. The rebound bounced to Zieky, unable to take a shot, and then was hit to Polino who successfully netted the goal. The Engineers now had a five-goal lead, cueing the Hawaii Five-O theme. Two minutes later, Marrello fed the puck to Burgess in the slot and his one-time finish flew past Ferland, giving him his fourth goal of the night and putting the nail in Princeton’s coffin.
The game ended 7‒1 with the Engineers edging out the Tigers on shots on goal 40‒22. RPI now sits in fifth place with 23 points, just two points behind next week’s opposition, Harvard.