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Helfrich's First Goal a Game Winner for RPI

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, October 21, 2007

TROY - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ended its frustration against Sacred Heart University on Saturday night.

The Engineers needed overtime, and a slight bit of good fortune, if not controversy, scoring a 1-0 decision on freshman winger Tyler Helfrich's first career goal with 1:56 remaining in the extra session.

Helfrich lifted his stick high over the crossbar to chop in a rebound of a Jake Morissette shot, but by the time he actually made contact with the puck - neatly batting it off the glove of Pioneers goaltender Stefan Drew into the net - Helfrich's stick was below the crossbar, making the goal a good one under college rules.

The Pioneers argued without vehemence and referee Alex Dell spoke briefly with his linesmen but there was no real chance the goal would be disallowed.

"We saw it on tape and (Helfrich's stick) was under the crossbar," said RPI head coach Seth Appert. "Where his stick started from, he started from, it was above, but not when he made contact with the puck."

"Give Alex Dell credit," Appert said. "There's a referee working hard to get the call right. He was right there in position on the goal line."

Drew and Sacred Heart coach Shaun Hannah didn't dispute the goal.

"It was hard for me to tell," Drew said. "It just kind of hit off the wrist part of my glove."

"I don't know," Hannah said when asked. "What I saw was, we thought we were going to break out (of the defensive zone) with the puck and we left two RPI soldiers standing in front."

Even though the goal was pretty much accepted, some of the Engineers gave the young rookie a hard time; 'tainted goal', 'controversial goal'.

"It was a real nice goal, no garbage at all," he told reporters.

"I waited a half a second until it came down," Helfrich said. "I didn't want any controversy ... I knew I could chop it in."

"It feels great," Helfrich said of the game-winner. "I got the (first-goal monkey) off my shoulders. Hopefully, it'll open the floodgates."

The upstart Pioneers from the lower Atlantic Hockey conference had posted one-goal victories - 4-3, 5-4 - at Houston Field House, with Bear Trapp scoring the game-winner two seasons ago, setting it up last season.

Saturday night, the Engineers stayed out of the penalty box and kept Trapp - as well as the rest of the 0-2-0 Pioneers - off the score sheet.

Senior goalie Jordan Alford stopped all 26 shots for his second shutout of the season and the defensive play on both sides was sharp.

"In the past you saw more of how our two teams want to play, get up and go," Appert said. "With how poorly we played defensively against them last year, that (defense) was a part of our main focus. And their defense against Colgate (a 6-2 loss last week), that was their main focus."

Erik Boisvert had set up Trapp for a possible game-winner 1:20 into overtime but the big right winger fanned from the mid right circle. The play seemed to escape Trapp's memory.

"I didn't have any shots, any chance in overtime," he said.

"It's a lot of fun to come here and be Public Enemy No. 1," he said. "It's great college hockey atmosphere. It sucks that we didn't get it done tonight."

Less than one-half minute after Boisvert's pass went under Trapp's stick, RPI's Jonathan Ornelas slid one into the crease that handcuffed Drew. When the rebound slid out to Ornelas as he passed by the net left to right, the senior left winger fired it into Drew's pads.

"It was bouncing on me," Ornelas said. "I wanted to go top shelf on it but by the time I got it settled, he (Drew) had it covered."

With a bit less than three minutes remaining in the second period, the Pioneers got the Engineers running around in their own end.

Two shots that appeared to have Alford beaten sailed wide, he had to make two tough saves - including a brilliant one on which he just got his arm out to deny Alexandre Parent's rebound bid - and his defensemen blocked four other shots.

"Yeah, that was tough but (Christian) Jensen knocked it down a little for me," Alford said of the sophomore defenseman. "Then Jensen blocked three shots."

"The guys did a great job keeping (most Sacred Heart shots) wide," Alford said. "They're making my life easy for me."

The Engineers battle rival Union Friday night in the first round of the Governor's Cup tournament at the Times Union Center after Colgate and St. Lawrence battle in the first game at 4 p.m.