Spectator-filled Field House to host first-round rematch
The Engineers scored five unanswered goals, four in the third period, for a 6‒3 comeback victory against Dartmouth. ECAC Player of the Week Ture Linden ’22 and Justin Addamo (Gr) both netted two goals, while Linden and Ottoville Leppänen ’22 earned three points each. Rensselaer finished sixth in the ECAC and will replay the Big Green in a best-of-three series this upcoming weekend for the first round of the ECAC playoffs.
Rensselaer and Dartmouth started the game evenly matched, but several turnovers in the neutral zone set up chances for the Big Green. More than five minutes in, a Dartmouth defenseman took a shot through a screen that failed to reach goaltender Jack Watson ’25, but the Engineers cleared the puck straight to Dartmouth’s Tanner Palocsik. He drew an Engineer out to the wing to free up his teammate Jack Cameron in the high slot. Palocsik teed up Cameron for a one-timer and his slap shot cannoned past Watson and into the top left corner, putting the Big Green up 1‒0.
After Dartmouth’s goal, the Engineers controlled the game much better, pinning the Big Green in their zone. After nearly a minute of non-stop pressure from RPI, Shane Sellar (Gr) sent a shot goalwards from the blue line. On the doorstep, Jake Gagnon ’24 redirected the puck, lifting it over goaltender Clay Stevenson’s right pad. The puck snuck into the net for Gagnon’s first career goal, equalizing the game at 1‒1.
Two minutes later, the Big Green would fire back. Alone in the RPI zone at the end of his shift, Dartmouth forward Steven Townley skated into the right faceoff circle. It seemed as though Watson had not shifted over enough to cut down the angle, leaving a gap in the top right corner for Townley to aim at. He buried a shot over Watson’s left shoulder to put the Big Green back out in front. Despite the scoreline, the Engineers seemed in the driver’s seat as they outshot Dartmouth 10‒5. The first period ended with Dartmouth holding onto a 2‒1 lead.
Dartmouth added another to their tally less than four minutes into the second period. The Big Green were on a power play after Kyle Hallbauer ’22 was sent to the box for interference. Mark Gallant tipped a shot from Ian Pierce, getting enough height on it to beat Watson to put Dartmouth up by two goals. Following the goal, Coach Dave Smith switched out Watson for Linden Marshall (Gr).
The Engineers immediately responded. Linden received the puck in the right faceoff circle with a clear shot on goal. His first shot was saved, so he sliced the rebound towards the crease so a teammate could follow up with a shot. The puck hit off the hand of a Dartmouth defenseman in the crease and into the net, bringing the Big Green’s lead down to one.
The Engineers' confidence emerged after their second goal. The Engineers had several opportunities to score before the end of the period, including one where Leppänen beat out icing and passed the puck to TJ Walsh ’23 on the doorstep, whose shot was saved. The period came to a close with Dartmouth still leading 3‒2 but RPI dominating shots 20‒9.
RPI killed off a penalty at the start of the period, preventing Dartmouth from gaining any momentum. After enduring that power play, the Engineers were given one of their own. Immediately, a shot from Leppänen rang off the post. In the dying seconds of the power play, Addamo positioned himself on the doorstep facing towards the goaltender. Stevenson saved a shot from Zach Dubinsky ’23 and the puck rebounded to the left of the net. A defenseman skated in front of Addamo to cut him off, but the Engineer reached his arms over the Dartmouth player to get his stick to the puck. Addamo then used his strength to shoot, as Coach Smith put it, “a one-handed, backhand slap shot” to tie the game at 3‒3.
The Big Green were short-handed minutes later. On the power play, the Engineers expertly passed the puck around the zone to open up space. Walsh dished the puck off to Leppänen behind the goal line, who found Linden in front of goal on the opposite side. The cross-crease pass left Linden with an open goal to shoot at, and he buried his 15th goal of the season to put the Engineers out in front.
With three minutes remaining and still down a goal, Dartmouth pulled Stevenson out of the net. After winning a faceoff in the defensive zone, RPI cleared the puck down the ice. Jakub Lacka ’22 won the puck in the left faceoff circle after a foot race with a Dartmouth skater, but his subsequent shot missed the empty net. Linden passed the puck off of the end boards to put the puck back in a dangerous position. Leppänen crashed the net and as he angled his blades in the crease to stop, the puck hit off of his skate and into the empty net to put the Engineers up by two. A minute later, Addamo scored another empty-net goal for RPI with a backhand chip from the defensive zone. The game ended with a score of 6‒3, with RPI tripling the Big Green in shots. The win secured sixth place in the ECAC for the Engineers, regardless of the outcomes of any games the following night. Click here for the RPI TV broadcast and here for the box score.
Coach Smith called their performance their “most complete game in all areas.” On the last episode of RPI Red Army’s podcast “Talkin’ Neers,” Smith talked about how the team would approach “every game as if it's the most important game of the year.” The Engineers did exactly that.
RPI fell 5‒1 against the Harvard Crimson Saturday night, with Linden tallying his 32nd point of the season, the most since Ryan Haggerty ’14 in the 2013-2014 season. With the ECAC season officially finished, the Engineers will face the penultimate team in the league, Dartmouth.
The best-of-three series, to determine which team will move on to the ECAC playoffs to face either Harvard or Cornell, will be played at the Houston Field House next Friday and Saturday at 7 pm, as well as on Sunday at 4 pm if necessary. External spectators are permitted to attend the games. RPI’s new spectator policy places a 1,205 capacity cap on the Field House; however, according to Associate Athletic Director Kevin Beattie ’05, the cap will not be in effect for these games since most students will be home on break. Click here to view the RPI Athletics’ requirements for spectators and information on ticket sales.