Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Top 10 Greatest RPI Games of the 2000s

Ed Weaver did a pretty solid article about the 10 biggest news items of the decade in RPI hockey, and while we basically agree all the way around, we thought there was a little room to talk about the 10 best single games of the decade as well.

In all, there were 26 games given consideration for this list. Some good ones had to be cut - with honorable mention going to Marc Cavosie's hat trick at Walter Brown Arena in 2000, a 5-1 smackdown of Wisconsin before 10,000 fans at Kohl Center (2002), the 7-1 dismantling of Vermont in the first Black Friday (2003), the shocking 5-1 win over nationally ranked Princeton last January, Christian Morissette's only goal as an Engineer, which put RPI up 1-0 in last year's playoff series with Dartmouth, and a 4-3 win over Michigan at Joe Louis Arena in the decade's dying week - but we are left with the best of the best, the creme de la creme.

Without further ado, the top 10 RPI games of 2000-2009, starting with #10.

#10 - February 8, 2003
RPI 4, Brown 3 (OT)

Houston Field House, Troy, NY (Big Red Freakout!)

Box - Recap

With a lot to live up to coming a year after an incredible Freakout! win the previous year, the 2003 Freakout! fell short of its predecessor by a considerable margin, but still managed to produce a thrilling game which provided a much needed boost at exactly the right time.

Brown in the Freakout! is something of a traditional automatic win for RPI, but in February 2003 it seemed like there was no such thing. After tying Union on January 10th to open the 2003 segment of the ECAC regular season, the Engineers went on a dismal seven game losing streak, including a 7-1 clubbing at the hands of Clarkson in Potsdam the previous weekend and a 6-4 loss to Harvard the previous night in which Kevin Kurk and then Nathan Marsters had been torched for 5 goals in the 2nd period. Brown seemed to be the only chance the Engineers would ever have to be able to extend their Freakout! unbeaten streak.

Things got off to a good start with Kevin Croxton scored midway through the first period to start the scoring, but shortly thereafter the Bears pumped in two goals in less than a minute's time to take a 2-1 lead.

It was junior Scott Basiuk who brought the team back, tying the game back up in the last minute of the first period, and then scoring late in the second period to make it 3-2 Engineers. That lead wouldn't last long, though, as Brown's Les Haggett would score his second of the game early in the third to tie it up. The Engineers dominated the third period, but simply could not solve Brown goalie Yann Danis, who would be a Hobey Baker candidate the following season. Danis stopped all 11 shots RPI put on him in the 3rd period, and it appeared as though the Engineers' winless streak was about to hit 10 straight games.

The overtime period was much of the same - not even the Freakout! crowd, with the previous season's triumph fresh in their minds and making nose. Things were the same, that is, until the last 10 seconds of the game. With the puck behind the Brown net, junior Ryan Shields had been looking to create something, anything, so he did what any good forward behind the net would do - he tried to throw the puck into the slot and see if someone could do something with it. The puck never reached its intended destination, striking off the skate of Brown defenseman Tye Korbl, who was trying to crash Shields and the puck. As he moved in, he kicked the puck with his skate directly into the back of the net - an unlikely finish to RPI's biggest game of the year, but it gave the loud, cheering crowd the win they'd been hoping for. A little Freakout! magic come true once again.

#9 - March 13, 2009
RPI 1, Cornell 0
Lynah Rink, Ithaca, NY (Game 1 of the ECAC Quarterfinals)
Box - Recap

Allen York had arrived at RPI touted as the future leader of the Engineer defensive corps, but during much of his freshman season, there wasn't much to write home about. Posting a 2-8-0 record in limited playing time during the regular season, some started to wonder if York was going to be able to take over as the top netminder the following year after Mathias Lange's graduation.

But when the playoffs arrived, York was handed the reins earlier than many expected, and he responded beautifully, backstopping RPI to a shocking two-game sweep at Dartmouth and putting his critics in retreat. The next weekend in Ithaca, he put them to bed.

The Engineers were even bigger underdogs against the second-ranked Big Red than they had been in Hanover - no one expected them to do much of anything, especially considering the weak performance that Dartmouth had turned in. That didn't seem to stop Allen York. The freshman netminder played progressively better as the night wore on, rebounding from a 1st period mistake that almost resulted in a goal to stop an increasing number of shots in each period - 7 in the first, 10 in the second - including a big sweeping kick save - and 15 in the third - including a big glove save and another big kick save - for a total of 32 saves on 32 Cornell shots.

Meanwhile, the Engineers were having trouble finding the net themselves, on far fewer shots and opportunities. But with less than 3 minutes left in regulation, freshman Patrick Cullen finally broke onto the scoring sheet with the game's only point. He intercepted a Cornell clearing attempt, knocking it down, turning, and firing it into the back of the net past junior Ben Scrivens.

York held up the rest of the way, including a frenzied final minute, to give RPI an improbable 1-0 win. It was the first playoff win at Lynah in school history, the first league shutout in five years, and it put the Engineers on the cusp of the impossible dream - a visit to Albany as the 11 seed. It was not to be, but the Allen York era had officially begun in Troy.

#8 - November 6, 2009
RPI 5, Yale 2

Houston Field House, Troy, NY (Black Friday)

Box - Recap

This was supposed to be the season that the Engineers' unbeaten streak in Black Friday games came to an end. The Yale Bulldogs, the reigning league champions, were returning nearly all of their key players from a team that absolutely victimized the league last season. RPI was supposed to have been improved from their 11th place showing the previous year, but Yale was a legitimate national contender, already ranked sixth in the nation and receiving 1st place votes from some voters.

Any thoughts that the Engineers would be intimidated were quickly gone. From the opening faceoff, the team went right to work, and the freshman trio of Jerry D'Amigo, Brandon Pirri, and Marty O'Grady, playing together on the same line, introduced themselves to the ECAC with an exclamation point.

Junior Chase Polacek got the scoring started at 7:42, and classmate Scott Halpern added another one just 19 seconds later to put RPI up 2-0. But there was still plenty of game left to go, and expectations still weren't exceptionally high. After a penalty to senior Erik Burgdoerfer late in the period, All-ECAC forward Broc Little scored on the ensuing power play to cut the lead in half, and Little would score again in the second minute of the second period. It appeared as though the real Yale had woken up and was ready to break things open. In previous seasons, it had been the time when the real letdown would show.

But the tie didn't last long. Just a minute and a half later, D'Amigo, with some very heads-up play down low, put the puck in the net with assists from O'Grady and Pirri, to give RPI the lead again, and it was a lead they would not relinquish. Despite penalty issues late in the 2nd period, the penalty kill held up, and goals from Pirri and sophomore Patrick Cullen in the third period gave the Engineers some insurance on their way to a very convincing 5-2 win. Sophomore Allen York contributed with a 33-save night, while the Engineers put forward perhaps their most complete 60-minute team effort in years. They'd faced the Yale juggernaut, perhaps one not clicking 100% of the time but playing, for the most part, solid hockey, and punched them in the mouth.

The message was simple. The struggling Engineers from years past were just that - in the past.

#7 - October 20, 2006
RPI 2, Denver 1

Magness Arena, Denver, CO
Box - Recap

After only a single game as RPI's new bench boss, Seth Appert was already winging his way back to Denver, where he'd won a pair of national championships as an assistant to George Gwozdecky. It was in his old stomping grounds that he would earn his first ever win as a head coach, pitting a team with only one player that he'd recruited - freshman Peter Merth - against a whole team of players he'd helped land.

Before a packed crowd larger than any that could fit in an ECAC arena, on regional TV, against the 11th-ranked Pioneers, who were playing in their home opener, the Engineers had an express lane open to the penalty box and couldn't keep pace on the shot count, but they did what they needed to get the job done. RPI bent plenty over the course of 60 minutes, but never broke.

To no one's great surprise, the Pioneers got on the board first, as highly touted sophomore Brock Trotter scored on the power play at 13:21 of the first period. But already, junior Jordan Alford was showing that he was going to be keeping RPI in the game, working his way to 13 saves in the first period alone.

Eight minutes into the second, sophomore Reed Kipp took a slashing call with freshman Christian Jensen already in the box, giving a dangerous Denver power play a long 5-on-3 chance. Once again, the Engineers bent without breaking, killing both penalties and getting a long 5-on-3 opportunity of their own (a little even-up move by WCHA referee Brian Thul a year before earning the ire of RPI fans at the Icebreaker in Minnesota), and RPI responded with the tying goal. The marker came from the stick of senior captain Kirk MacDonald, scoring his first goal since returning from a redshirt season in which he had successfully undergone treatment for testicular cancer.

Five minutes into the third period, sophomore Seth Klerer scored his first of the season, one of the biggest goals he would score as an Engineer, to put RPI up 2-1 with 15 minutes left in regulation. From there, the game rested on Jordan Alford's shoulders. Alford, who had come in as a much hyped replacement for Nathan Marsters, had struggled to see ice time in his first two seasons at RPI, falling behind Andrew Martin and then Mathias Lange on the depth chart in net, but he proved his worth in Denver in one of the finest performances he would turn in during his collegiate career, making 15 saves in the final period to finish with a total of 38 saves on 39 shots, keeping the Pioneers completely off the scoresheet at even strength and paving the way for Seth Appert's first victory, a shocking upset of his former team.

Despite Denver's overpowering win the following night, the stunning win - the first ever against long-time NCAA hockey power DU - helped propel the Engineers to a 4-1-3 record to open the Appert Era in Troy. Things started getting rough that season after November came to a close, but the new coach had already put his stamp on the team. A new age was about to begin.


#6 - December 28, 2001
RPI 5, Quinnipiac 4 (2 OT)

Houston Field House, Troy, NY (RPI Holiday Tournament)

Box - Recap

The Engineers won the RPI Holiday Tournament for the only time this decade during the 2001-02 season, arguably the best full season that the team turned in during the last 10 years. While the title game was a thrilling overtime affair on its own, it didn't quite live up to the game the previous night, which featured the Engineers taking on the Quinnipiac Braves, who were bound for the NCAA Tournament later in the season.

No one expected the Engineers to struggle against the Braves, who hailed from the lowly MAAC, but from the game's outset it was apparent that Quinnipiac was ready to put up a fight. For the first two periods, QU's Ryan Olson and Ryan Morton had a response for every goal RPI put up. After freshman C.J. Hanafin scored his first collegiate goal early in the first, Olson scored on the power play to tie it. When senior Andrew McPherson landed his first goal of the season minutes later, Morton responded with a short-handed goal early in the second period. Midway through the senior Jim Vickers scored a power play goal to put RPI up 3-2, but minutes later it was Olson tying it up, shortly followed by Morton to give Quinnipiac their first lead of the night. Morton's second of the night was enough to chase sophomore Nathan Marsters from the net, after having given up 4 goals on just 18 shots.

With Kevin Kurk now between the pipes, a power play goal from junior Carson Butterwick tied things up again just before the end of the period. That was when the duel between Kurk and Quinnipiac goaltender Justin Eddy began in full.

The Engineers were the beneficiaries of two power play chances in the third period, but after their last opportunity expired with 7 minutes left in regulation, the referee swallowed the whistle, and the teams went blow for blow. RPI controlled play in the 3rd period but could not beat Eddy despite 15 shots in the frame, and the game went into overtime.

Back then, there were no shootouts in the RPI Tournament, and no ties, either. Games went on as long as it took to decide a winner. And this one went on - over 30 minutes of overtime were played in this game as Kurk and Eddy went deep into the night, neither bending an inch. RPI put 12 shots on goal in the first overtime period, but still couldn't nab the game winner. Finally, midway through the second overtime, it was senior Chris Migliore - ironically, a native of Hamden, CT - that would score the game-winning goal in what had become, at that time, the longest game in school history (and remains the longest game in Quinnipiac history), beating out the famed 1985 semifinal win over Minnesota-Duluth at the Frozen Four. Eddy had broken his stick during a sustained attacking zone sequence for RPI, and had little recourse as Migliore fired a shot in the slot that beat the netminder five-hole.

The tournament victory marked one of the high points of Kurk's career at RPI - he made 22 saves in relief to earn the victory in the game, playing almost a full game's worth of minutes. He started the next night and backstopped the team with 32 saves on 34 shots, earning Tournament MVP honors.

#5 - February 12, 2005
RPI 3, Brown 2

Houston Field House, Troy, NY (Big Red Freakout!)

Box - Recap

As noted before, Brown at the Freakout! sometimes has felt like an automatic win - the Bears have been the most frequent Freakout! opponent, appearing in eight editions, and the Engineers have won all eight. However, not all eight victories have come easily, as in #10 above and here at #5, the big win in the biggest game of the year sometimes involves an excruciating wait before the payoff. In this case, on national television, the payoff came at just about the time most Freakout! veterans would expect.

It was a game better remembered for the way it ended than the way it played out, but there were similarities with the 2003 Freakout! in the way this one was played. Sophomore Oren Eizenman scored about 15 minutes in, but Brown scored 3 minutes later to make it 1-1 after one period. Early in the 2nd, the Bears would make it 2-1, while RPI failed to get anything going in the middle frame, offering just 5 shots.

A Brown penalty late in the 2nd gave RPI the fresh ice power play in the 3rd, and senior Nick Economakos delivered just 36 seconds into the period to tie the score. Brown threw everything they had at senior goaltender Andrew Martin, exploiting a weak Engineer defense, but Martin stopped all 14 shots he faced in the period.

With time running down and the crowd on its feet, it was junior Kirk MacDonald, one of the Engineers' best scoring forwards of the decade, who took matters into his own hands. After sophomore Jake Luthi took control of the puck in the neutral zone and feathered a pass up to the big forward, MacDonald, like a man possessed, drove for the zone, unleashing a blistering shot from the top of the faceoff circle that loudly rang off the crossbar and into the net, sending the wild Freakout! crowd into a frenzy with only 9 seconds remaining on the clock. As the CSTV commentators would put it, "the crowd almost willed this team to respond." The crowd rose to their feet with about two minutes left expecting some Freakout! magic, and it happened yet again, extending RPI's unbeaten streak in the Freakout! to 15, and making the Class of 2005 the first class to win all four of its Freakout!s.

It was a shining personal peak for MacDonald, coming just weeks before a devastating diagnosis of testicular cancer, which would sideline him for a full year. For the Engineers, though, the Freakout! boost never came. They would drop the next three games and Brown would gain revenge in the playoffs, sweeping the first round series in Providence.

#4 - March 16, 2002
RPI 4, Clarkson 3

Olympic Center, Lake Placid, NY (ECAC Consolation Game)

Box - Recap

Most people wouldn't put much stock in the outcome of the consolation game - after all, both teams involved came so close to playing in the championship but ultimately missed out. In this case, though, it was a happy story with a happy ending for the Engineers and their fans, who got to see a very talented group of seniors - and one very talented junior - end their college careers with a hard-fought victory on a big stage against the school's biggest rival.

Power plays were the order of the afternoon - of the seven goals scored, six came on the man advantage, and the seventh was scored 4 seconds after the conclusion of a power play. The game got off to a fairly famliar start for RPI/Clarkson that season as the Knights picked up the first two goals about two and a half minutes apart in the first period to take a 2-0 lead. About a minute later, senior Matt Murley, playing in what he knew would be his final game as an Engineer since the team was not going to earn an at-large NCAA bid, scored to cut the lead to 2-1.

Clarkson dominated the second period, putting 14 shots on sophomore Nathan Marsters, scoring on their second power play of the period to make it 3-1 heading into the 2nd intermission. The Engineers started the 3rd on the power play, and with the fresh ice, junior and ECAC Player of the Year Marc Cavosie would score his 23rd goal of the season, and the last one he would score as an Engineer, as he would forgo his senior year to sign a professional contract that summer. The goal cut the Clarkson lead in half again, but the Engineers would get a big boost toward the finish line when Clarkson's Adam Campana knocked Murley down behind the net and then sticked him in the face. Campana was given an interference minor, a spearing major, and a game DQ, and giving the Engineers an extended power play opportunity. About two minutes later, after one more penalty for each team, junior Nolan Graham would score in a 4-on-3 opportunity to tie things up at three.

The game remained tied as the Engineers took almost complete control in the 3rd period, outshooting Clarkson 19-2 in the last 20 minutes. In the final minute of the game, Clarkson's Ian Manzano took a foolish hooking penalty, and it was Murley who would conclude his career with a big goal - a shot from the blue line with 32 seconds left that gave RPI their first lead of the afternoon, and the only one they'd need.

The victory gave the Engineers 3rd place in the ECAC Tournament, and represented the high water mark of the decade. It was their 20th win of the season, giving the senior class, led by Murley, Steve Munn, and Andrew McPherson, three 20-win seasons. They have had only one 20-win season since (2003-04, which oddly did not have any games make this list), and have not been back to the ECAC Semifinals since.

#3 - March 11, 2000
RPI 3, Dartmouth 2 (OT)
Houston Field House, Troy, NY (Game 2 of the ECAC Quarterfinals)

Box - Recap

This is a game that shouldn't have been one of the more remarkable of the decade. The Engineers were in the middle of a fight for an NCAA berth, while Dartmouth was still a season away from crawling out of their two-decade long slumber as one of the worst teams in the ECAC. This was always RPI's series to win on their way to a showdown in Lake Placid. They had the 1-0 series lead, having completely whitewashed the Big Green the previous night, 7-2.

In the second period, junior Brad Tapper, who had been leading the nation in scoring, put one in the net with a two-man advantage to give RPI a 1-0 lead, a lead the team carried into the third period. With senior Joel Laing, the consensus number one goaltender in the nation and a Hobey Baker contender, guarding the Engineer net, it seemed as though the ticket to Lake Placid was practically punched as the final 20 minutes of regulation got underway. Dartmouth had managed 18 shots on Laing during the 2nd period, but he'd turned them all back.

Then, midway through the third, the bottom dropped out, and the Big Green were not only right back in the game, they were leading. Dartmouth scored two goals in just under two minutes, and just like that, the game was in doubt. The Engineers had been cruising along toward an NCAA berth before a devastating 5-game losing streak in February, and a loss to Dartmouth in the playoffs, even if it didn't end their playoff run, would surely be the final dagger in their quest to qualify for an at-large berth.

With time running out in regulation, Laing was pulled for the extra attacker, and it was a familiar name coming through in the clutch - senior Pete Gardiner, who was one of the most prolific scorers on the team in the late 90s. Taking a feed from sophomore Matt Murley, Gardiner roofed a shot past Dartmouth's Nick Boucher (who would become a key element in the renaissance in Hanover) with only six ticks remaining on the brand new scoreboard at Houston Field House, forcing overtime with perhaps the biggest goal of his outstanding career.

The goal snapped the Engineers out of their offensive malaise, as they took control in the extra session. Midway through the first overtime period, with a 4-on-4 situation out on the ice, unheralded fourth-line freshman Carson Butterwick put one past a prone Boucher to complete the gut-punch, sending the Engineers straight to the semifinal in Lake Placid and keeping hopes for a potential at-large bid - dreams that would not be realized after a disappointing shutout at the hands of St. Lawrence in the ECAC Championship game a week later, but for one night, the Engineers had gone to the brink and become potential world killers again.

#2 - March 8, 2003

RPI 3, Union 2

Achilles Center, Schenectady, NY (Game 2 of the ECAC First Round)

Box - Recap

The rapid succession of a pit in your stomach and jubilant elation is what great games are made of, and in the third period of an all out war which we may one day look back on as the weekend where the Route 7 Rivalry began in earnest, RPI fans, in a hostile environment, got the opportunity to experience that rollercoaster ride.

The 2002-03 season was unkind to the Engineers. They struggled to a 4-15-3 record in the ECAC, including a 2-11-2 league record after the New Year. They finished in 11th place, a position which just a year earlier would have ended their season with no playoff appearance for the first time since 1982. Fortunately, concurrent with the league's decision to move the tournament to Albany, the playoff field was expanded to include all 12 teams - a move which RPI backers had ironically referred to as the "Union rule" as the Dutchmen had missed the playoffs six times in the 11 years since they had joined the league. Instead, the Engineers were the beneficiaries of the change - and Union got the chance to host their very first playoff series.

After sneaking out of Game 1 with a 2-1 victory - paired with the previous Saturday's home win over Vermont, creating the only the second 2-game win streak of the season - the Engineers returned for Game 2, hopeful of another upset over the Dutchmen, who had lost every playoff game they'd played since taking their very first one in 1994.

A rough and tumble first period produced 12 minutes worth of penalties for both teams, but no goals. An additional pair of penalties early in the 2nd gave both teams their fourth power plays of the game, but neither converted. But mere seconds after sophomore Blake Pickett was sent off on a tripping call, Union's Scott Seney scored to put the Dutchmen up 1-0. About 11 minutes later, senior Carson Butterwick tied it back up heading into the 3rd period.

Union would score again midway through the third as Kris Goodjohn scored just a few seconds into a penalty to junior Mikael Hammarstrom. A little over a minute and a half later, Pickett was called again for roughing, and the tide seemed to be turning in favor of the hosts - a 2-1 lead, a shift in momentum down the ice toward junior Nathan Marsters, and a power play to boot. Game 3 was looking more and more likely.

Then, the impossible happened. Early in the penalty kill, junior Scott Basiuk got control of the puck cleared it down the ice. Union goaltender Kris Mayotte wandered out of his crease to collect the puck near the boards, but sophomore Nick Economakos was right there to try and work it away. The two collided, and the puck squirted out to junior Ben Barr, who threw it into the empty net for a short-handed goal, tying the game up at two.

That was crazy enough. Then it happened again. On the same penalty kill.

Only 50 seconds later, Basiuk took control of the puck in the RPI zone and moved it to Economakos, who cleared the zone. Barr raced after it, and once again, Mayotte came out of his crease to try to get to it first. Mayotte tried to poke it away, but the puck hit Barr instead, who maneuvered into open ice and once again fired the puck into an empty net for a second shorty - with exactly the same scoreline, Barr from Economakos and Basiuk. Just under a minute later, Blake Pickett emerged from the penalty box. His team had been down a goal when he'd gone in. They led 3-2 when he came out. There would be no further penalties called, and Marsters made a total of 13 saves in the 3rd period as the Engineers finished the series sweep. RPI fans serenaded the Dutchmen with an "overrated" chant as they left the ice, the last time Union coach Kevin Sneddon would see Achilles Center as the coach of the Dutchmen, as he would leave a few months later to take over at Vermont.

The victory earned the Engineers a trip to Ithaca, where they would be downed in two games by a Cornell team that was bound for the Frozen Four. It had still been a very rough season, but it was a single night in Schenectady and a herculean effort by a man who would, a season later, wear the "C" for his team and several years later, a suit and tie behind the bench for the team he'd victimized, that gave RPI fans reason to be happy with their team.

#1 - February 9, 2002

RPI 4, Clarkson 3 (OT)

Houston Field House, Troy, NY (Big Red Freakout!)

Box - Recap

The night they killed the horn. Much of the time, the games you remember the most are not the ones in which your team was utterly dominant throughout, but the ones in which an improbable, sometimes seemingly impossible turnaround takes place. When it happens in the playoffs or at Freakout!, the effect only grows. In this case, the turnaround happened not only at Freakout!, and during the official celebrations for the 100th anniversary of hockey at RPI, but in such a way as to propel the Engineers all the way to Lake Placid, producing a high that would last throughout the remainder of the season.

RPI had gone into late January in complete disarray in the ECAC. After a heart-breaking loss in Schenectady (in which senior Matt Murley had scored a hat trick at just the 1:25 mark of the 2nd period, only to be followed by 3 Union goals), the Engineers sat at 2-6-2 in the ECAC. That had started to turn around in the two weekends leading up to Freakout!, which featured a 2-1-1 showing against Dartmouth and Vermont, but there was still much work to be done.

A loss in the Freakout! to arch-rival Clarkson would have been a devastating momentum killer for RPI, and for the first 45 minutes of the game, it looked like it would be nothing but that in the final ledger - a crushing loss to end the school's 10-year unbeaten streak, and worst of all, to Clarkson. In the game's third minute, the Knights took advantage of an early penalty to Murley to go up 1-0, and then scored again midway through the period.

Nine minutes into the second period, Clarkson's Kerry Ellis-Toddington would score on the power play to make it 3-0 Knights - his third point of the night - and that's about the time when hope was beginning to fade. By the end of the 2nd period, the Engineers had squandered seven power play opportunities - and had poured 18 shots onto Clarkson goalie Mike Walsh in the 2nd period alone - and were facing a big hole with just 20 minutes to play.

Murley pleaded with his team in the locker room during the 2nd intermission. "We don't lose Freakouts," he told them sternly. But even early in the 3rd period, it looked hopeless. Sophomore Ryan Shields was given five and a game-misconduct for hitting from behind, and it appeared that things were only about to get worse. But RPI buckled down and defended the long penalty kill for three minutes before getting a reprieve when Clarkson's Jay Latulippe was called for holding, negating the remainder of the penalty kill.

That's when the magic started. On the ensuing 4-on-4, junior Marc Cavosie netted his 17th goal of the season to get the crowd back into the game. At least it wasn't going to be a shutout. It would take another nine minutes - with just over four minutes left in the game - when senior Jim Henkel scored on a pass from Cavosie to make it 3-2, and suddenly, the game was interesting.

With 1:05 remaining in regulation and a faceoff coming in the Clarkson zone, Clarkson coach Mark Morris called timeout, and Dan Fridgen pulled sophomore Nathan Marsters for the extra attacker. Just seven seconds later - practically right off the faceoff, Cavosie had found the back of the net for the second time, sending the sold-out crowd into an all out frenzy.

But the period wasn't over yet. 25 seconds later, Clarkson's Matt Poapst was called for charging, putting the Engineers on a power play through the end of regulation and into the overtime period. The Field House absolutely rocked during the short overtime break, as both sides got on their feet and made more noise than had been heard in years in that building. One could barely hear themselves among the clamor.

Perhaps befitting the Engineers' dismal performance on the power play that night, RPI technically didn't convert on the man advantage. But that hardly mattered two seconds after the Poapst penalty expired, as junior Carson Butterwick, with assists from Henkel and Cavosie, blew the roof off the building as he beat Walsh over the left shoulder to give RPI the magical victory. Jubilation reigned. The horn operators blew the horn so long that one of the three horns blew out - it hasn't been as loud since. A group of students tried to storm the ice, but were denied. The team celebrated as though they'd just won some hardware.

The special 100th anniversary jerseys were supposed to be worn only once, for Freakout!, but after the win the team would wear them in each home game for the remainder of the season. They lost only once wearing them - in a game known today as "Fulton's Folly," and the Freakout! win became the third in a streak of 6 that pulled the Engineers right back into the thick of the ECAC battle and onto a path that ended in a small town nestled in the Adirondack Mountains.

2 comments:

  1. For some reason, I thought #1 was in '03, my freshman year, and I always hated myself for missing it. I did miss a good one (#10), of course, but still. #5 was the best I personally witnessed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tom, it's good to know that I have a place in RPI history, as I believe it was me who started the USCHO "Fulton's Folly" thread.

    -Ed

    ReplyDelete