TROY, N.Y. — There’s just something about the Big Red Freakout. The Brown Bears found out for the sixth time that the Rensselaer Engineers have the edge when it comes to this game.
Saturday, it was an overtime goal by Ryan Shields that led the Engineers to a 4-3 victory, breaking their seven-game losing and nine-game winless streaks and in the process running their unbeaten streak in Big Red Freakout games to 13 (9-0-4). Overall, the Engineers are 6-0 against Brown in the Big Red Freakout.
Last year in the Big Red Freakout, the Engineers came back to tie the game in the last 1:10 against Clarkson and Carson Butterwick won it for the Engineers in overtime. This year, Shields was the hero in an indirect way.
With time counting down in overtime, Shields sent the puck from the corner into the slot in front of Yann Danis. The puck kicked off of Tye Korbl in front and went over the shoulder of Korbl’s goaltender, Danis, with just 7.1 ticks left on the clock — and the Engineers celebrated the Big Red Freakout magic once again.
“I knew there wasn’t a lot of time left on the clock so I threw it to the net knowing that we had guys going to the net,” said Shields. “We finally got a break and you just hope to get in front and hope something like that happens.
“I saw it go in, but I couldn’t figure out how it went in. I just heard everybody cheering and then guys jumped on me.”
“Boom, it’s in the net and all heck breaks loose — it’s just fantastic, just like last year,” said assistant captain Scott Basiuk, who had two goals on the evening. “There’s something about the Freakout. You sit on the bench, you may be tired, you may be down, but you don’t worry about it. You just keep going and it’s something that will get you that point or whatever.
“It’s quite a spectacle. In my 16 or 17 years of playing hockey, I’ve never seen anything like this. The fans are pumped up and crazy; it’s one of the greatest things a player can be part of.”
“I was just looking up at the clock and I saw the red light go on, and I said, ‘Wow, am I really here?’ and you know what, everybody was just elated we got a bounce, and it went in the net at a time when we really needed a victory,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen. “It’s a testament to those guys; there’s been games like this when we’ve come up on the short end of the stick, and hopefully this bounce will send things our way.”
The Bears played catchup to get it to a 3-3 tie in the first place. In the third period, trailing, 3-2, Les Haggett scored his second of the game when he roofed one over the shoulder of Nathan Marsters early in the period.
Brown had held the lead in the first period, scoring twice in the span of 58 seconds after the Engineers had taken a 1-0 lead.
After Kevin Croxton scored a power-play goal by walking in front and snapping one over the glove of Danis, Shane Mudryk found a rebound out in front of Marsters and slid it past him. Then Haggett scored his first by poking a loose puck past Marsters as he was flying by the net.
The Engineers tied it to end the first period, though, as Basiuk found the net. From the point Basiuk ripped a shot that eluded everyone, including Danis.
Basiuk gave the Engineers the lead as the second period drew to a close. With only 1:18 left on the clock Basiuk wound up and ripped one even harder than his first goal. The shot was so hard that it richoceted back out of the net and off Danis so quickly that the goal light never came on.
“If that shot wasn’t going into the net, it was going to go right through [Danis],” said Fridgen.
“I shot it as hard as I could, the goalie didn’t see it I guess,” said Basiuk. “Vic [Periera] said he seen it coming and he moved his a** out of the way and it went right by him.”
The Engineers (9-19-2, 3-11-2 ECAC) broke a seven-game losing streak with the win, but remain in 11th place in the ECAC. The Bears (10-10-2, 8-7-1 ECAC) suffered a setback and a chance to move toward a first-round bye with the loss. The Bears remain in a fifth-place tie with Clarkson in the ECAC.
“This is a huge win for us, it gets our confidence back,” said Shields. “We’ve been working hard for a couple of weeks now and we haven’t gotten any breaks. A couple of bounces and we got a win. We’ve got six games left and now that we have some confidence hopefully we can win some more games and get rolling.”
The Engineers will host Princeton and Yale next weekend while the Bears will host Cornell and Colgate.
“You talk about it, you talk about it, sometimes it’s the simplest things, sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the difference,” said Fridgen. “I’m so happy for the guys in that locker room. They worked so hard and I couldn’t think of a better night to break out of it. It’s sort of in appreciation of the fans. Even though we’ve been struggling, they’ve stuck right behind us and we’re very appreciative of that.
“We didn’t deserve to win that hockey game — we earned it.”