TROY, N.Y. — Sunday hockey in Troy looked inevitable at one point in the third period. Princeton held a 2-1 lead on Rensselaer and was less than three minutes from forcing a third game in the series.
That’s when two seeing-eye shots changed it all.
Scott Basiuk tied it with a shot that got through Eric Leroux’ five-hole with 2:23 left, and then Ben Barr’s slow backhander found space between Leroux’ right skate and post 1:38 into overtime to give Rensselaer a 3-2 win and advancement to next week’s ECAC quarterfinals.
With Princeton leading 2-1 the Engineers were pressing Princeton and in one short, slow stroke, the game was tied. Basiuk took the puck as Princeton failed to clear and deked a forward who came out to meet him. He hesitated and took a soft shot. Somehow, it found its way between Leroux’ legs and the game was tied.
“I just tried to get it on net,” said Basiuk. “I couldn’t get it by him at all. I tried to fake a few times and they were telling me to fake it, and I finally got it through. I got a break. Every time I would try to shoot the puck, they would come at me, and I learned the hard way. So I thought I should fake a shot and I went around the guy.
“I was just fortunate that it went in.”
The Engineers took that momentum into the overtime where Matt McNeely took a shot from the point that Leroux saved. Unfortunately for Leroux it kicked right to Barr, who put a backhand on net and sent the Engineers to the next round.
“I just kind of got my stick on it. I never saw it go in,” said Barr. “I got a backhand on it and I got it in. I got lucky.”
Princeton had gained the 2-1 lead in the second, and with Leroux was standing on his head (a total of 41 saves on the night), the Tigers held momentum for most of the night. But in the overtime, they could not stem the tide.
“I was extremely proud of our effort tonight,” said Tiger coach Len Quesnelle. “They came out hard and our backs were against the wall. Our guys played with a sense of urgency and they played desperate. Over the course of the game we gained confidence and then towards the end of the game, RPI really took it to us.
“We never got our first line off in the overtime.”
The Engineers did start quickly in the first period. Nick Economakos scored on a 2-on-1 with Ben Barr, but after that the Tigers started to control play and eventually scored to tie the game and then take the lead in the second.
Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer scored on the power play as he took a pass and one-timed it past Nathan Marsters. Dustin Sproat then tipped a shot from Patrick Neundorfer past Marsters to give the Tigers the lead at 15:43 of the second.
Princeton wound up 2-4 on the power play while the Engineers were scoreless in five opportunities.
The Tigers end their season without a win in 2004 and on a 0-15-2 streak to finish 5-24-2. The Tigers’ last win came in December over Harvard, giving them a 5-6-2 mark in the ECAC at the time. The Tigers could not do much with their season after that.
The Engineers (21-13-2) will head to Dartmouth for a series with the Big Green.
“I have to give credit to our guys,” said Engineer coach Dan Fridgen. “You look at the last two goals of the game, that’s your leadership stepping up and making big plays when big plays need to be made. That’s the way it’s been for us all season long.
“We never really gave up hope, not even when we were trying to chip away and their goaltender was standing tall and we weren’t getting the bounces. We just kept after it and then you get a bounce and then you get another one.”