Engineers maul the Tigers
Four different Engineers added their names to the scoresheet as Rensselaer defeated the Princeton Tigers 4‒1. The Engineers are currently in fifth place in the ECAC with a record of 4‒4‒0, and are now 7‒8‒2 on the season.
RPI controlled the tempo to start play, keeping the puck lodged in the Princeton zone. Seven minutes into the first period, the Engineers nearly scored the first goal of the contest. Defenseman Simon Kjellberg ’23 dished the puck to his linemate Kyle Hallbauer ’22 in the left faceoff circle. Hallbauer took a shot that was saved by Tiger goaltender Aidan Porter, but the puck disappeared. Porter dropped to the ice to cover the puck, which reappeared just out of his reach. A Tiger was close enough to clear it out of the crease, and the Engineers were unable to capitalize. Despite dealing with the danger, Princeton never fully found their footing afterwards.
A minute later, Engineer Ture Linden ’22 flew into the Princeton zone. Four Tigers collected in the slot, freeing up Ottoville Leppänen ’22 on the right flank to receive the puck from Linden. Leppänen patiently skated forward and buried a wrist shot into the back of the net when he saw an opening, putting RPI up 1‒0.
Princeton had an opportunity to equalize two minutes later when an incisive pass gave forward Adam Robbins a breakaway. His backhand shot was comfortably saved by goaltender Linden Marshall (Gr), and the Engineers came out unscathed.
Later in the period, defenseman Jake Johnson ’22 battled two Tigers to keep the puck in the Princeton end, inciting a hold. While the referee had his arm up for a delayed penalty, Linden had the puck behind the goal line. With most of the Engineers concentrated on the right side of the zone, the Princeton defensemen shifted over to block the passing lanes. RPI defenseman Anthony Baxter (Gr) took advantage of the shift, cutting into the barren low slot. Linden sent the puck to his open teammate and the goaltender slid across his net to cover the near post, leaving a gap for Baxter to tuck it over Porter’s glove for his first goal as an Engineer. The period would end with RPI up 2‒0.
The Engineers continued their offensive onslaught in the second period. RPI barraged Princeton with shots, tallying 15 once the period came to an end. With a little over a minute left, Princeton would snap under the attacking pressure. A pass from defenseman Mason Klee ’23 went untouched in front of goal and was corralled by Baxter at the point. Baxter slid the puck to Jack Brackett ’24, screening Porter with his back to the net. A Tiger behind him made it difficult to receive the puck, so Brackett angled his stick to deflect, and the puck leapt into the air. Unable to see the puck, Porter dropped down into the butterfly. Performing erratic pirouettes, the rubber biscuit fluttered over the goaltender’s left shoulder into the net to add another goal to the RPI lead heading into the third period. With 20 seconds remaining in the period, Princeton’s Liam Gorman was sent to the penalty box for hooking, giving the Engineers a power play to begin the final frame.
The power play was winding down and RPI desperately tried to score on the advantage. The Tigers hurled a puck against the boards to clear, but Johnson prevented it from passing the blue line. He took a snapshot from the point and forward Zach Dubnisky ’23 beat Porter with a mid-air redirection to put the Engineers up 4‒0 with 18:35 on the clock. The Tigers’ frustration was building all game, overflowing after the final RPI goal. Thirty seconds after the goal, Princeton’s Matthew Thom raised his arms high while hitting Engineer Jakub Lacka ’22 behind the Tiger goal. Thom’s right elbow drilled Lacka's head, spinning him around before he collided with the ice. The cheap check only granted Thom a minor, outraging the crowd at the Houston Field House due to the endangerment of Lacka.
The Tigers would ruin the shutout with less than five minutes in regulation. A shot from Thom went wide of goal and ricocheted to Mike Ufberg on the left flank, who took a one-time snapshot. Marshall was blinded by the throng of players in front of him and the puck sailed into the top shelf of the net.
The game finished with RPI taking the victory 4‒1. Baxter had a phenomenal game, finishing the night with a goal and two assists for a career-high three points as an Engineer. The win brought their ECAC record to 4‒4‒0 and raised them up to fifth place, tied at 12 points with St. Lawrence. Click here for RPI TV’s broadcast of the game and here for the box score.