@CORNELL 4, Union 1 | @CORNELL 11, Rensselaer 3
What a weekend for the Big Red at Lynah Rink! The place was humming though still not at full capacity. Things went well this weekend but we know this team has room to grow.
On Friday night, we took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Sophomore forward Kyle Penney (on a rebound off Senior forward Kyle Betts close-in shot) and Freshman forward Ondrej Psenicka, who took a backhanded pass from Junior forward Matt Stienburg as Ondrej was wide open in front of the net. Freshman goaltender Joe Howe wasn’t very busy, stopping his first shot at the 8:50 mark of the opening period.
The second period was a bit different as we had to kill off a couple of interference penalties and Howe made four saves during the two penalties. At the 7:20 mark of the second period, we made it 3-0 on a goal by Junior forward Jack Malone giving us a bit of breathing room.
A third straight interference penalty just nine seconds into the third period put Union back on the power play and the Dutchmen ended the shutout with a goal at 1:25. After we went up 3-0, the excitement on the bench slowed down and no one was talking. But, Junior defenseman Travis Mitchell put an end to the lull scoring a goal on the end of a 2-on-1 break with 8:15 remaining in the game.
We had great scoring balance with four different goal-scorers and two assists apiece by Senior forward Max Andreev and Stienburg. Betts was really solid tonight, played with confidence, and we’re very fortunate to have him back for his fifth year.
Howe made 21 saves in goal and the Union netminder stopped 18 shots. We were 0-for-1 on the power play and Union was 1-for-4.
We scored eleven goals in 59 minutes of play on Saturday evening, which is our highest offensive output since February 21, 1979, when we beat Harvard (11-3). For the first time this year, I thought our four lines were going strong with contributions from all of the guys who played with poise and followed the game plan. They just had that energy on the bench to play. Obviously, we got a couple of fortunate bounces that opened up the game but then we kept our foot on the gas pedal.
Fourteen of our 19 skaters had at least one point. Andreev had four goals himself, along with two assists! His scoring matched Ryan Hughes ’93, who last did this vs. Boston College in 1991.
Our leading goalscorer, Junior forward Ben Berard, scored first at 4:22 of the first period and the assault was on. Junior forward Ben Tupker scored at 9:07 and 48 seconds later, Andreev recorded his first goal to make it 3-0. Psenicka scored for the second straight night with a goal at 15:09 that was initially given to Andreev (which would have given him a natural hat trick) but video replay awarded the goal to Ondrej. Andreev finished out the scoring for the first period with 2:26 remaining.
In the second period, Junior forward Zach Tupker increased the lead 6-1 after taking a pass from brother Ben. As twins, they have an innate sense for each other on the ice. I thought their line played really well both nights and it doesn’t matter who we put on the other side with them; they just have that innate chemistry making it hard to play against them.
RPI scored at 7:17 (now 6-2) but that only lasted a minute, as Andreev made it 7-2. At 8:33 of the second period, Sophomore defenseman Tim Rego scored his first collegiate goal unassisted, showing our attention to the game and maintaining discipline.
Just 57 seconds into the third period, Stienburg scored off a second rebound (now 9-2). Rensselaer scored at 3:01 to make it 9-3. Andreev’s fourth goal, at 14:34, was a redirection of a Berard shot that put us into double-digits for the first time since 1999. Rego capped the scoring with 1:21 remaining in the game with his second tally off a faceoff pass from Senior forward Brenden Locke.
For their efforts on the weekend, Andreev was named ECAC Player of the Week and Rego Rookie of the Week.
Howe made 23 saves and the RPI goaltender stopped 19 shots. We were 1-for-3 on the power play and the Engineers were 0-1. Our only penalty of the game came with 5:08 remaining on a delay of game faceoff violation. The pair of wins moves us into a tie for second place with Rensselaer in the ECAC standings and 10th nationally in the USCHO Poll.
We finish the 2021 home-stand at Lynah Rink against Brown on Friday night and Yale on Saturday. The team will play their next nine games on the road, returning to Lynah Rink on January 21, 2022.