TROY, N.Y. — The Princeton bus got stuck in the nor’easter that struck the Capital District. That delayed the game between the Tigers and the Rensselaer Engineers by 45 minutes and it seemed like the Tigers never got off the bus as Rensselaer took a 3-0 lead in the first period, made it 4-0 and then held on to defeat the Tigers, 6-4.
The Engineers raced out to a 4-0 lead, got a key goal from Conrad Barnes when when the Tigers made it 4-3 in the third period, and wound up with a split of their ECAC weekend.
“[Princeton] had to turn it up in the third period and they got some good chances,” said Engineer coach Dan Fridgen. “But I thought we settled down after they got the two quick ones and Conrad came up with a huge goal for us. We did a good job of rebounding from last night’s loss and getting the split that we certainly needed to get in league play.”
The Engineers came out flying in the first period and were rewarded 5:20 in when Alexander Valentin took a shot from the blueline that Eric Leroux never saw until it was past him and in the net.
Two more goals came as Tommy Green made a nifty play deking out the defenseman and then freezing Leroux before going top shelf and then Scott Basiuk scored on the power play from the blueline with another puck that Leroux never saw.
The lead went to 4-0 as C.J. Hanafin came down on a two-on-one break and fired it over the glove of Leroux.
The Tigers got one back before the second period ended as Dustin Sproat poked a loose puck that had rebounded off of Nathan Marsters — who returned to the net after an illness kept him out of the lineup on Friday — on the power play.
In the third period the Tigers finally got off the bus and plated two goals in a five-minute span. Mike Patton and Steve Slaton’s power-play tally made it 4-3, but Barnes answered for RPI to give the Engineers a 5-3 lead.
Grant Goeckner-Zoeller scored with an extra skater in the closing minute, but a Kirk MacDonald empty-netter sealed the win for the Engineers.
“They came out and played hard on us in the first period, got a couple of bounces and we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be in that first period,” said Tiger coach Len Quesnelle. “This team is getting better and we had to fight through some adversity and that adversity was a deficit. We came back and chipped away at it, we played a good third period but the first two periods caught up to us.”
The Tigers (4-8-0, 4-6-0 ECAC) will play Northeastern next Saturday. The Engineers (8-5-2,3-2-1 ECAC) are off until they host the Rensselaer/HSBC Holiday Hockey Tournament on Dec. 28-29. The Engineers will play Mercyhurst in one game while Colgate and Northeastern play in the other.
“We knew we had to go out and come up with a great effort tonight because Princeton’s a much improved team,” said Fridgen. “I thought we got the jump on them early and played good hockey.”