TROY, N.Y. — Rensselaer has an interesting formula for trying to beat Clarkson in the Big Red Freakout.
For the second time in three years, the Engineers fell behind the Golden Knights, only to rally with a big third period. Unlike in 2002, the Engineers didn’t need overtime to win.
Three third-period goals were more than enough to help the Engineers capture a 4-2 ECAC win over the Knights before a raucous sellout crowd of 5,159 at Houston Field House.
The victory moved the Engineers (9-6-1 ECAC, 15-11-2 overall) into a three-way tie for third place with Cornell and Dartmouth with 19 points; each team has six games left. It also gave coach Dan Fridgen his 176th career victory, tying him with Ned Harkness for second place on RPI’s all-time win list.
RPI, which killed off 10 Clarkson power plays, improved to 16-7-4 in the Freakout, including a 14-game (9-0-4) unbeaten streak.
The fun started before the game when RPI’s 1954 national championship team was honored. It ended with referee Dan Murphy, who called 24 penalties in the game, having to be separated from Clarkson coach George Roll.
In between, the Engineers fell behind, 2-0, on second-period goals by Trevor Edwards and Matt Nickerson.
“It’s typical,” Fridgen said of the Freakout. “I thought we did a good job of staying composed. It got a little wacky at times, but I thought the guys did a good job of getting those goals when we needed it.”
RPI actually started its comeback in the second period, when Kirk MacDonald scored the first of the Engineers’ three power-play goals. He tipped in a Brad Farynuk drive past goalie Dustin Traylen at 13:16.
“That first goal is always big,” said co-captain Ben Barr. “It’s tough when you know you have a full building, and everyone’s supporting you. Everyone just wants to do [well]. It just would be terrible not to at least win the game for everyone who came out.”
The Engineers came out firing in the third period. They had outshot the Knights (6-8-2, 11-12-5), 21-7, and scored two power-play goals and one into an empty net.
“There was no panic because we knew we could play much, much better,” forward Oren Eizenman said. “It all starts with our leadership. We came in between the second and third periods, and [co-captain] Baz [Scott Basiuk] and Benny, simply put, said, we’re not playing to our potential. We weren’t playing like a team.
“Forget about everything that’s going on, and focus on playing hockey like we can. That motivated us.”
Eizenman tied it at 6:36. He was at the right of the net when he tapped in a diagonal pass from Matt McNeely at the left point past Traylen.
Eizenman then set up Barr’s go-ahead goal at 8:55. Barr was at the bottom of the left circle, and didn’t have much of an angle. But Eizenman faked out Traylen, and fed a pass to Barr, who put it in.
“It was a broken play, a strange play,” Eizenman said. “Benny tried to come over to me. I picked it up in the corner, rolled up and faked a shot. I guess their goalie bit on it. I saw Benny back door. He did a great job catching the pass and putting it in.”
Kevin Broad, who a couple of minutes earlier was stopped on a shorthanded breakaway, scored into an empty net from his own zone with 29.7 seconds left.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.