TROY, N.Y. — Tied 2-2 in the second period, the Rensselaer Engineers scored three consecutive special-teams goals to put away the Quinnipiac Braves, 6-3, Saturday evening.
Down 2-1, the Engineers knotted it up halfway through the second period when Nolan Graham scored his second of the game. The Braves tried to fire the puck around the far boards to clear it, but Francois Senez kept the puck in at the far point and carried it down the boards, where he fed Carson Butterwick. Butterwick then one-timed a pass out front to Graham, who one-timed it high over Quinnipiac goaltender Justin Eddy.
The Engineers then scored the aforementioned three straight specialty goals, starting with a shorthander from Andrew McPherson. Matt Murley went in hard on the forecheck and took the puck away from Eddy, waited and found McPherson streaking in and hit him for a one-timer which McPherson rifled into the net.
“That was a great shift to turn it around,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen. “I thought Matt did a great job of staying with it; he didn’t rush it … Mac came down to support him, he made a great play and that set them back a little bit. They were on the power play and they had the momentum, and we just rolled from there.”
Quinnipiac was then whistled for two simultaneous penalties, resulting in a five-on-three power play. The Engineers didn’t waste any time taking advantage as Butterwick scored 13 seconds after the play started.
Murley tried to blast a shot from the right circle, but he broke his stick and the puck trickled to the front of the net. Butterwick was there, and he redirected it past Eddy for the goal.
“I thought the backbreaker was the five-on-three power-play goal where [Murley] breaks his stick and it goes to Butterwick in front,” said Braves head coach Rand Pecknold. “Everyone is trying to react to the puck coming in and it goes in at 20 mph rather than 60 mph. But those are the breaks.”
With one man therefore out of the box, the Braves couldn’t escape the rest of the power play as Steve Munn scored to make it 5-2. Munn got the puck from Jim Henkel and found plenty of real estate in front of him from the blue line. Munn walked right in and rifled a puck off the post and into the net behind Eddy.
Chris Cerrella got a breakaway goal to make it 5-3, but Butterwick scored into an empty net to seal the 6-3 win.
“It was very frustrating,” said Pecknold about the game. “I thought we played hard and competed hard tonight. We played a thousand times better than we did against St. Lawrence and we came out of there with a tie and tonight we didn’t get some good bounces.”
The Braves did come out of the first period with the lead. They started the scoring as Brian Herbert took a rebound shot and put it off of Engineer goaltender Nathan Marsters for the 1-0 lead.
The Engineers tied it on the power play when Graham’s shot caught a piece of Eddy and then trickled over the goal line.
But Shawn Mansoff scored with 25 seconds left in the first period to give the Braves the 2-1 when he came away from the boards with the loose puck and beat Marsters from the slot.
The Engineers then took over in the second period, scoring four times on only five shots.
“That was a team thing and it came from within,” said Fridgen of the second-period outburst. “I didn’t have anything to do with it, I addressed them at the end of the first period and that’s it. I just let them work it out and they did a good job of it.”
“We played well tonight; our power play didn’t click but we played well,” said Pecknold. “Last year when we played RPI, they beat the living daylights out of us — it was 6-4, but it wasn’t that close. Our program has come a long way since then, and it’s come a long way since the St. Lawrence-Clarkson weekend. It’s great to play teams of this caliber.”
“We certainly didn’t have a stellar first period; we did a good job of regrouping in the second and kept coming at them in the third,” said Fridgen. “We won two periods out of the three, losing one and that’s a good weekend. We played five out of six periods this weekend and took three of four points.”
The Engineers (6-3-1, 1-2-1 ECAC) travel to Yale and Princeton next weekend while the Braves (9-3-2, 7-1-1 MAAC) play at Union Sunday night.