POTSDAM, N.Y. — The Rensselaer Engineers did something that they have not done in 20 years on Saturday night. They finished a weekend sweep in the North Country with a 4-3 win over Clarkson. The Engineers have not swept a North Country weekend since the 1985 NCAA Championship season.
The Engineers scored four goals in four different ways to earn the way. The Engineers scored at even-strength, four-on-four, shorthanded and on the power play.
“It’s a seven-goal weekend for us and with Andrew (Martin) playing real solid and with everyone pitching in we came up with two “W’s”,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen. “We did a good job of getting after them and hunting them down on the forecheck. We did a good job of keeping things simple and getting it out of the zone because they can be real aggressive. We also had timely scoring and I am real happy for the guys in the locker room because they have their confidence back. We played six solid periods of hockey where we won every period this weekend.”
The Engineers had to come back to win tonight after falling behind 1-0 in the first period. Clarkson capitlized on its second power-play opportunity when Mike Grenzy found the puck at the top of the faceoff circle and wristed a shot that beat Engineer goalie Andrew Martin over the left shoulder.
The Engineers would come back to tie the game on a four-on-four situation. Vic Pereira scored his second of the weekend when came out from behind the net, and with a man draped all over him, put a weak shot on net that surprised Knight goaltender Dustin Traylen. Traylen couldn’t stop the slow bouncing puck and the game was tied, 1-1.
The Knights retook the lead in the second period on the power play. Jay Latulippe received a cross-ice pass across the slot from Mike Sullivan and one-timed it over Martin’s left shoulder.
The Engineers would tie it once again, this time on the power play. Matt McNeely’s point shot was redirected by Kirk MacDonald past Traylen.
As the second period expired, and with Clarkson on the power play, Nick Economakos came up ice, took a shot on Traylen, then took the rebound behind the net. As he came out from Traylen’s left, he took a quick snap shot and it once again surprised Traylen as it went over his left shoulder giving the Engineers a 3-2 heading into the third period.
In the third period the Engineers clamped down and didn’t allow Clarkson to get many opportunities. The Engineers would take a two-goal lead midway through the third period. Andrew Lord took the puck behind the net and put a quick pass out front. Cody Wojdyla snapped the one-timer past Traylen.
The Knights continued to struggle to get offensive opportunities against the Engineers, but found some when a power play came with 3:39 remaining in the third. The Knights pulled Traylen for a six-on-four skating advantage and Jeff Genovy got the Knights within one goal. As Latulippe centered the puck, it bounced off of a few players before bouncing past Martin.
The momentum was squarely in the Knight’s favor when Traylen took perhaps the stupidest penalty that a player could take. Engineer Kevin Broad was forechecking and planted himself in front of Traylen with 1:47 remaining in the third. Broad goaded Traylen a little and Traylen took a left-handed swipe that connected with Broad’s head. Peter Feola saw it and called the roughing penalty on him. That set the Knights down a man.
From there the Engineers closed out the game and took home their first North Country sweep since 1985.
“I thought we were a very selfish hockey team tonight,” said Clarkson head coach George Roll. “We found ways to beat ourselves and we’re not going to go very far if we continue to play this way. There’s no excuse for it. Until we realize that we’re not going to win games playing this way it’s going to be a long season.”
The Knights (7-15-2, 3-8-1 ECACHL) sit in 11th place in the ECACHL and head on the road next week to take on the top two teams in the league, Colgate and Cornell.
“We just don’t have the mental toughness to work through adversity and we take too many selfish penalties that hurt us,” said Roll. “We have a tough stretch coming up and there’s no easy nights left at all. If we go into next weekend the way we played tonight it’s going to be another long weekend.”
Meanwhile the Engineers (11-14-2, 4-9-1 ECACHL) move into 9th place in the league and sit one point shy of moving into 8th place. The Engineers also broke a five-game losing streak this weekend and will head to Vermont and Dartmouth next weekend.
“That third period was probably the best period of hockey that I have seen us play this season,” said Fridgen. “We were moving our feet, doing the little things that we needed to do. That’s not just one or two guys, that was all four lines. We had a solid game from Martin as well and that’s pretty much the difference on the weekend, he was solid for us all weekend. And it’s built up confidence in the guys and they fed off of that.”