TROY, N.Y. — It took him 25 games to score his first collegiate goal. His first goal was the only marker in a loss to Clarkson last Saturday evening. His second was the only score of the game on Friday evening. Conrad Barnes scored his second career goal 9:08 into the third period and gave the Rensselaer Engineers a 1-0 victory over the Princeton Tigers.
“I just got on the inside [of the defenseman] and Eric [Cavosie] put the pass where he couldn’t get his stick on the pass,” said Barnes. “We had our chances, and we didn’t get some bounces, but it was thrown to the net and we get a lucky bounce. It feels pretty good, so I can’t complain, and now I have a little confidence.”
“I just went over to give a little support,” said Cavosie. “I just took it down wide, and I was going to the net, but there wasn’t anything there and I saw Barnes in front and he buried it.”
Barnes found the five-hole of Dave Stathos after tipping Cavosie’s pass to break the scoreless deadlock in the third.
With that one goal, seven power-play kills and 23 saves from Nathan Marsters, the Engineers got back to within one point of the last home playoff spot in the ECAC, as Dartmouth tied Cornell.
“I thought we did a real good job of killing our penalties and keeping them off the board from a power play perspective,” said Engineer coach Dan Fridgen. “In the third period having a guy like Conrad, a freshman, step up for us when we needed someone to step up on a nice play by Eric and then Nathan made some real key saves in the game, it all combined to give us a victory when we really needed one.”
The Engineers didn’t escape without some tense moments. With Stathos pulled, Ethan Doyle came flying off the bench, got the puck and with an open net, missed when Marsters came over and knocked the puck away with his shoulder.
“He just missed, he just missed the wide side of the net,” said Tiger coach Len Quesnelle. “We had some tough luck around the net tonight. We had our chances.”
“That was a great save by Nate, it just caught his shoulder and any higher …,” said Fridgen. “I thought with the man advantage they had us running around a little bit.”
The Tigers (7-14-3, 6-9-2 ECAC) are tied with Yale for the last ECAC playoff spot and travel to Union on Saturday evening.
The Engineers (14-11-2, 8-7-2 ECAC) are still in sixth place and will host Yale on Saturday. They are now just one point behind Dartmouth for the last home playoff spot and with the win, broke a three-game winless streak in which Vermont tied the Engineers in the third period, St. Lawrence took the lead in the third period, and Clarkson broke a tie in the third period.
“We were getting a little bit down on ourselves,” said Cavosie about the recent third-period blues. “The bounces just weren’t coming our way and we worked on that all week. Coach just kept saying work hard and it will work out and tonight it did.”
“Lately, the third period is where we lose it, so I was just trying not to get scored on in the third period,” said Marsters.
In the end, the Engineers and Barnes won the third period and the game.
“It took him so long to get that first one, but now it looks like he broke the ice,” said Marsters.
“Conrad is pretty versatile,” said Fridgen. “He showed he can play the wing or he can go to center. He stepped right up and scored a big goal and we held them off the board when we needed to.
“It was a typical playoff game. There wasn’t much room, a lot of defensive hockey being played and it got exciting as it opened up.”