Retribution against ranked Cornell
In November, current No. 16 Cornell crushed the Engineers 11‒3 in Ithaca. Back in Troy last night, the Engineers butchered the Big Red 6‒2 after scoring five unanswered goals in the last two periods. Ture Linden ’22 and Jakub Lacka ’22 each put up two tallies on the scoreboard, Justin Addamo (Gr) scored one of the greatest goals of the season, and Jack Watson ’25 recorded 39 saves.
The first promising scoring opportunity for either team came after six minutes. On a 2-on-1 in the RPI zone, Ondrej Psenicka ripped a wrist shot right into Rensselaer goaltender Jack Watson’s glove for a save. The Engineers would come back up the ice and, thirty seconds later, Simon Kjellberg ’23 beamed a shot towards the top right corner from the left faceoff circle, but Cornell goaltender Joe Howe expertly snatched the puck with his glove to keep the game level.
The Engineers would get on the scoreboard first, less than two minutes later. RPI defenseman Lauri Sertti ’24 won the puck in the corner and played it to fellow Finn Ottoville Leppänen ’22 in the left faceoff circle. With Ture Linden poaching in front of the net, Leppänen sent it towards him. Linden received the puck on his forehand with his back to goal, spun clockwise to open himself up, and buried a shot five-hole on the unprepared Howe, putting the Engineers up 1‒0.
After keeping the puck in the Engineer zone, The Big Red’s offense was too much to handle. Cornell’s Max Andreev won the puck along the boards and patiently skated towards the slot. Andreev caught Watson while shifting his position and, with an open shooting lane, rifled a shot precisely into the top right corner to tie the game at 1‒1 with seven minutes left in the period.
The Big Red would continue the offensive pressure after RPI’s Kyle Hallbauer ’22 was handed a major penalty and game misconduct for contact to the head. On the five-minute power play, Cornell’s Ben Berard snuck between the two Engineer defensemen. Teammate Brenden Locke sent a low shot towards Watson, but Berard stuck out his stick and redirected the puck into the net, giving the Big Red the lead heading into the second period.
Cornell dominated the start of the second period, but RPI pulled back into the game as the period progressed. After ten minutes, the Engineers would equalize on a spectacular goal. John Beaton ’24 dished the puck to Justin Addamo after bringing the puck out of the defensive zone. A Cornell defenseman forced Addamo out to the wing to cut down his options. The RPI forward gained enough speed to get around the defenseman but only until getting dangerously close to the goal line. On his backhand, at a narrow, Addamo lifted a shot towards Howe. The goaltender had dropped into the butterfly, leaving a miniscule opening between his head and the post. The puck barely squeezed through the opening, bringing the Engineers back into the game.
The Engineers would score again in the period on a power play. Kjellberg cannoned a low slapshot from the high slot. Howe made the initial save, but the rebound was lost in the crease. Addamo tried to slip the puck into the goal on the doorstep but did not have any angle and shot right into Howe’s pad. A Cornell defenseman knocked Addamo down, but, when he was on the ice, he kicked the puck to his left, off of the far post and towards Jakub Lacka. All that Lacka could do was poke the puck towards the throng of red in the crease and somehow his shot passed through them all and into the back of the net to regain the Engineer lead.
Both squads struggled on offense, but with less than ten minutes remaining, some great passing from the Engineers, coupled with awful positioning from the Big Red extended the lead even further. Engineer Jake Johnson ’22 ricocheted the puck high off the boards to clear it out of the defensive zone to Lacka in the neutral zone. Linden was open at center ice from a lack of Cornell players transitioning to defense. Lacka swept the puck to his left to put Linden in on a breakaway. Linden ripped a shot top shelf past Howe to double the lead for RPI, his team-leading 12th goal of the season to tie him for the third highest goal scorer in the ECAC.
With just over five minutes remaining, Sertti hit Andreev head-first into the boards and the Cornell forward fell lifeless on the ice. After about a minute, Andreev stood up without assistance and returned to the Big Red bench. Sertti would be issued a major penalty and game misconduct for hitting from behind RPI’s second ejection of the game. The Engineers would spend the final five minutes of the contest short-handed.
The Big Red would put heavy attacking pressure on the Engineers. With three minutes remaining, Cornell pulled Howe for an extra skater. With less than a minute and a half remaining, Johnson intercepted a pass in the defensive zone. Taking a second to control the puck and line up a shot, he launched the puck down the ice from the right faceoff circle. Perfectly placed into the center of the empty net, Johnson put the Engineers up 5‒2.
Desperate to reel themselves back, the Big Red kept the net empty. Lacka intercepted a pass between the Cornell defensemen at the point. He skated into the offensive zone and passed the puck into the empty net for the Engineers’ sixth goal. That would be all for regulation.
The victory increased the Engineers’ record to 13‒17‒3 (8‒9‒0) and moved them into fifth place in the ECAC, just two points behind Cornell in fourth, the last spot that secures a first-round bye for the playoffs.