TROY, N.Y. — It wasn’t beautiful, nor the stuff of highlight reels, but Vic Pereira and the Rensselaer Engineers will take it.
With 3:28 remaining in regulation, Pereira got the puck from Mikael Hammarstrom, came out from the behind the net and banked his shot off St. Cloud State defenseman Justin Fletcher.
The puck bounced between the legs of Husky goaltender Jason Montgomery and as he closed the legs, it had enough momentum to cross the goal line to give Rensselaer a 3-2 win Friday.
The fifth-ranked Huskies (8-2-1) tried to get the tying goal, but to no avail as Nathan Marsters stopped the Huskies to preserve the Engineer (5-3-2) victory.
“We just stuffed it in there and [Hammarstrom] just popped the puck loose and chipped it to me,” said Pereira. “I got a real lucky bounce and it trickled in. I was real happy because I missed a gimme earlier on in the third period.”
“It went off of one of our guys and between my legs. It was an unfortunate bounce,” said Montgomery.
“That last goal was kind of a cheesy goal but hey, we’ve also gotten cheesy goals before,” said St. Cloud head coach Craig Dahl. “All those breaks have a way of evening out and I just think we didn’t play like we’re capable of.”
“When you work hard and when you compete hard you’re going to get some bounces. I thought that we did that tonight,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen.
The Engineers came back twice from one-goal deficits. The Huskies took the lead in the first period on a four-on-four with pure speed from captain Matt Hendricks. Hendricks went from one corner to the other with Engineer defenseman Scott Basiuk all over him. But as he skated out of the last corner, his speed took over and he raced to the net alone and stuffed one past Marsters to give the Huskies the 1-0 lead.
In the second period the game got fiercer as the teams began to hit more often and chances came at a cost.
The Engineers tied the game at 1-1 with 14:16 left on the clock. Freshman Kevin Broad came out of the defensive zone and collided with Fletcher, but managed to poke the puck up to Mark Yurkewecz. Yurkewecz carried the puck into the zone, created a two-on-one and avoided a check. As he did, Ben Barr broke free and posted himself to Montgomery’s right.
Yurkewecz fed the pass and Barr had an easy tap-in with Montgomery out of position on the odd-man rush.
“We started off slow, but as the game progressed we competed harder and harder and turned up our level and did a good job of chipping away,” said Fridgen. “They’re a good hockey team, they’re fast and we were a little off-guard with their speed in the first period, but we responded real well in the second and third.”
The Huskies regained the lead on the power play. Matt Gens’ hard shot from the blue line hit Yurkewecz as he came out to block. Yurkewecz did not get enough of it; the puck changed direction and went over the shoulder of Marsters.
But the Engineers tied it up again with their own power-play goal. The Engineers fed it around the point and Alexander Valentin’s slapshot was kicked out by Montgomery. Unfortunately for St. Cloud, it went straight to Kirk MacDonald, who had the open net and fired it home.
“In the first I didn’t think we were taking the hit to make the play and a lot of it we were just standing around watching them come through the neutral zone,” said Fridgen. “The defense started closing the gap in the neutral zone and slowing them down.”
The game went into the third and each team had chances, but the only goal came from Pereira and the Engineers upset the Huskies.
“It’s a little disappointing because we played so hard 10 games in a row and to watch this, I was pretty disappointed,” said Dahl.
“You’re taking little steps along the way and we did a good job of coming back from being down a goal twice, and then when we got the one to go ahead. There was no sense of panic when they had us hemmed in with their goalie pulled,” said Fridgen. “It was an excellent team win by everybody in that locker room.”
“We were apprehensive in the first period and as the game went along we got stronger,” said Pereira. “We realized that we’re a good team as well, and we rely on hard work — and if we show up like we did tonight we’re going to be in a lot of games.”
The two teams will meet up again on Saturday evening; fans attending are asked to bring a canned item for donation to the St. Ambrose Food Pantry.