RPI men’s hockey holds off Vermont, 3-2

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BURLINGTON, Vt. – Senior Ottoville Leppanen recorded a goal and an assist to lead the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) men’s hockey team to a 3-2 victory over the University of Vermont, on Thursday afternoon at Gutterson Fieldhouse. With the win, the Engineers improve to 9-11-2 overall, while the Catamounts drop to 3-12-2.

Vermont scored on the first chance of the game, when freshman Jesper Tarkiainen stuck home a rebound after Luke Mountain drove the net out of the right corner. The marker, which came at 2:28 of the first, was the first of Tarkiainen’s career.

The Engineers then battled their way back over the remainder of the opening frame, scoring twice to take a 2-1 lead.

At 15:36, senior captain Ture Linden buried a centering feed from Leppanen to tie the game at 1-1. Junior Ryan Mahshie claimed the secondary helper on the play.

Four minutes later, junior defenseman Simon Kjellberg snapped home his fourth goal of the season from just inside the left circle to give the visitors a 2-1 advantage. Senior Jakub Lacka found junior Rory Herrman breaking into the zone, before he slid the puck across to the left side for Kjellberg’s one-time finish.

Leppanen pushed the RPI lead to 3-1 at 4:43 of the second period, when he corralled a rebound behind the Vermont net and banked a shot off the back of Catamounts netminder Gabe Carriere and into the net. The tally, which was Leppanen’s fifth goal of the year drew assists from Mahshie and sophomore Jack Agnew.

Rensselaer freshman goaltender Jack Watson helped withstand a late period push from the hosts and wound up stopping all 12 shots he faced in the middle stanza.

The Engineers had chances to extend their lead in the third, but could find a way past Carriere for a fourth time.

Vermont did pull to within one on a power play tally by Joe Leahy at 16:34 of the period. His shot from between the circles beat Watson to make it a 3-2 game. Vermont then lifted Carriere for an extra skater with 1:40 remaining, but RPI was able to hold on, allowing just one shot on target.

Watson (1-1) finished with 29 saves to earn his first collegiate victory between the pipes. Carriere (3-4-2) had 24 stops at the other end of the ice. The Catamounts finished 1 for 2 on the power play, while the Engineers went without a man advantage opportunity for the first time since November 1, 2014 – a 2-1 win over then-No. 2 Union College at the Houston Field House.

RPI now has back-to-back wins in Burlington for the first time since 2002.

The Engineers are back on the ice on Sunday, when they visit Army West Point for a 2pm puck drop. Vermont travels to Holy Cross on Tuesday (7pm).

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