TROY, N.Y. — You’ve suited up for three and a half years, but you’ve never started a game. You’ve appeared in two games and played a total of 7:34. You’ve made five saves and allowed one goal in that time. And all of a sudden, you’re starting a game as a senior.
You are James Palmer, and you’re in net for the Rensselaer Engineers. You’ve played the first 20 minutes of the game, made 12 saves and combined with Nathan Marsters to shut out the Bowling Green Falcons, 3-0.
Ah, the life of the third-string goaltender.
“I didn’t know how to react, I was a little surprised and I was happy and a little nervous, but it all worked out, so I can’t complain at all,” said Palmer. “I’m just glad to get the chances when I get them and make the best of them.
“It feels great because we’ve been having a rough go of it lately. It’s real great that the, whole team stepped up tonight and the fans were great too because of how badly we’ve been doing lately.”
“I thought he did a great job for the 20 minutes that he was in there,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen. “You kind of hold your breath because I don’t think he’s seen starting action. He’s only played at the high school level. And it really is a little bit of a difference when you practice as opposed to when you get in a game.
“Part of my decisionmaking [to take Palmer out] was the fact that he was very, very red and he looked really, really tired, you could swear it was the end of the game. So, I said, ‘Are you okay?’ and he said he was a little tired and that’s when I decided that I had to get some relief in there. He did an outstanding job and I didn’t want to wait until he let one in because we had it going. I was purely confident in Nathan to relieve him.”
“I thought he was going to let him finish it out, but I would have liked to have seen him finish because I wasn’t really tested myself. So he could have easily shut the door; he was on fire,” said Marsters, who made 21 saves in relief.
In the end, the Engineers broke the ice in the second period on a Matt Murley goal, who got his own rebound and circled around the net to beat Tyler Masters.
The third period saw two Engineer goals, as Murley fed Marc Cavosie for a snapshot that beat Masters, and then Andrew McPherson took a Falcon giveaway to go top-shelf for the 3-0 win.
“We played real hard and we finally got some opportunities and we got some breaks. I was real happy for the team and both goaltenders,” said Fridgen. “We’re real appreciative to the fans as well. We realize that things haven’t been going too well for us and they’re out there cheering for us and sticking with us, so I know that the players appreciated their support.”
“If you don’t score, it’s tough to win,” said Falcon head coach Buddy Powers. “I thought they defended their end of the rink much better than the effort we were willing to put out to score a goal, and that was the theme of the game.”
Rensselaer (8-9-2) snapped a five-game winless streak, while Bowling Green (6-15-4) came back to action after a week off. The two teams meet again on Saturday evening.