Their coach says they still need steady veteran hands to guide them, but youth was served at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Friday night, as the Engineers beat St. Lawrence University, 4-2.
Freshman Tyler Helfrich scored two goals to push his team-leading points total to 27, and sophomore defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer scored one and assisted on another to stake RPI to a 3-1 lead after two periods. The Engineers went on for its first win in six games in front of 2,733 at Houston Field House.
Seth Appert’s under-aged players continue to learn from veteran leadership — junior center Matt Angers-Goulet had an assist and out-hustled an opponent down two-thirds of the ice for an empty-net goal, and Appert and Burgdoerfer both cited the toughness of senior center Andrew Lord blocking three shots during the game’s final shift with a two-goal lead. But the younger Engineers made their presence felt, too.
“The freshmen need seniors and juniors to show them the way, with the intensity, effort, execution, preparation,” Appert said. “As good as our freshmen were, I thought the story tonight more was the leadership from our older players.”
RPI is tied for ninth place in the ECAC with 13 points at 5-11-3 (10-19-4 overall). St. Lawrence dropped to 11th place with 12 points at 5-12-2 (10-17-4 overall).
Rensselaer is technically still in the hunt for the eighth and final home-ice seed in the ECAC Hockey League playoffs in two weeks (all 12 league teams reach the playoffs). Eighth-place Colgate lost to Princeton, 7-2, but would need to lose its remaining three games, while RPI would need to win its remaining three games for the Engineers to take home-ice.
If that doesn’t happen, tonight’s game with Clarkson will be Rensselaer’s final home contest of the season. It will be senior night.
Junior goalie Mathias Lange made 26 saves, including a scrambling stick save on Brock McBride with 3:48 remaining and RPI clinging to a 3-2 lead.
With their goals, Helfrich and Angers-Goulet are tied for the team lead with eight each.
Helfrich has scored five goals and has 10 points in his last eight games. Burgdoerfer hadn’t had a point since scoring his only other goal of the season on Nov. 30, but suddenly had two points within 20 seconds in the first period.
RPI’s defensive corps consists solely of sophomores and freshmen — five of Friday’s six dressed defensemen can’t legally buy a beer. Ditto for the Engineers’ freshman line that contributed two goals Friday, with Chase Polacek (who has 11 points in his last eight games) and Scott Halpern (who has five points in his last seven games) assisting on Helfrich’s second goal.
“Obviously the seniors and the juniors are doing a good job leading us and giving us a good path to go down,” Helfrich said.
St. Lawrence 1 0 1 — 2
Rensselaer 2 1 1 — 4
First period — 1, RPI, Helfrich 7 (Burgdoerfer), 7:38. 2, RPI, Burgdoerfer 2 (Uryadov, Angers-Goulet), 7:58. 3, St. Lawrence, Torney 1 (Hack), 8:46. Penalties — Curran, SLU (interference), 16:06; Foss, RPI (tripping), 18:34.
Second period — 4, RPI, Helfrich 8 (Halpern, Polacek), 13:06. Penalties — Giffin, SLU (interference), 7:50; Uryadov, RPI (interference), 15:02; Polacek, RPI (tripping), 17:59.
Third period — 5, St. Lawrence, Generous 3 (Parenteau), 5:40. 6, RPI, Angers-Goulet 8 (unassisted), 18:54 (en). Penalties — Kennedy, RPI (interference), 9:25.
Shots on goal — St. Lawrence 7-10-11 — 28. RPI 9-7-10 — 26.
Power-play opportunities — St. Lawrence 0 of 4; RPI 0 of 2.
Goalies — St. Lawrence, Hallas 4-5-1 (25 shots-22 saves). RPI, Lange 5-11-3 (28-26).
A — 2,733. T — 2:18.
Referee — Joe Ross. Assistant referees — Brian Caie, Joe Testa.