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Engineers Ride Early Goals

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 23, 2008

TROY - Getting a couple first-period goals can help any team's confidence, no matter how much it had been struggling.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute got a pair early Friday night and made them stand up, as the Engineers didn't lose control of the game each time St. Lawrence pulled within one goal and posted a 4-2 ECAC Hockey victory over the Saints.

Freshman winger Tyler Helfrich scored a pair of goals for the Engineers, whilce center sophomore defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer assisted Helfrich's first goal of the game and scored the second on a blast from the point 20 seconds later. The victory, just the second in the past 17 games for RPI (2-14-1), improved their ECACH record to 5-11-3 and moved them into a ninth place tie with Brown. The triumph marked the first time the Engineers swept the season series from SLU since the 1996-97 season.

And it gave junior goaltender Mathias Lange (5-11-2) his first win since Dec. 4.

"It feels real good, for the team and for me," said Lange, who stopped 26 shots. "We've been working hard and things obviously haven't been going well. I kept working and it's going to come at some point but I'm happy for the guys."

That Dec. 4 victory, 4-2 over Harvard, was the last time the Engineers had won at Houston Field House, going 0-7-1 since.

"Yeah, it's been a long time," said RPI coach Seth Appert. "I'm happy for our guys. They've continued to have a really good attitude. We have always been happy with our performance, or our play, or maybe our preparation but we have a lot of young men who care a lot and play with a lot of pride. And tonight they did. It was a hard-fought, well-earned victory."

Matt Angers-Goulet assisted on Helfrich's first goal and clinched the victory with an empty-net goal with 1:06 remaining.

Angers-Goulet deflected a pass near the RPI blue line and banged it off the sideboards, then had a race with SLU defenseman Matt Generous, who had one or two strides on him.

"It was just a race to the puck," Angers-Goulet said. "We were both flat-footed but he had to pivot I guess and I got to the puck first, put my arm in front of him and just poked it in."

The Engineers had won just one of their first nine ECACH home games and promised their fans an 'A-Game' effort Friday night.

The small crowd of somewhat less than the announcec 2,733 got one and the Engineers pleased them with an early 2-0 lead.

At 7:38 of the first period, Burgdoerfer avoided a check and threw the pass toward the net. It was deflected into the mid-slot, where Helfrich picked it up, made a move, and slid it past St. Lawrence goalie John Hallas.

"Just a lucky bounce," Helfrich said. "The goalie was moving quick, so I pulled it to my backhand and I just got enough on it to slide it by him."

Just 20 seconds later, Andrei Uryadov steered the puck back to Burgdoerfer at the point and the sophomore defenseman ripped a blast on which Hallas was screened ever so briefly, just long enough for Burgdoerfer's second goal of the year to zip past him as he reached for it.

"It felt good," Appert said of the rare, early, two-goal lead. "You could feel the bench elevate, the energy. I thought we had good life and momentum early in the game and nothing resulted. Tonight, we made a couple good plays."

It didn't take long for the Saints to answer back this time. On a delayed penalty, SLU freshman defenseman Bobby Torney, when he saw the extra attacker coming into the RPI zone, went farther down the slot.

When Jordan Hack steered a loose puck toward him, Torney faked Lange down and slid a backhander past him at 8:46.

Helfrich scored the second period's only goal at 13:06 and at 5:40 of the third, Generous pinched down low, took a perfect cross-ice pass from Casey Parenteau and slipped the puck into a half-open net for a 3-2 count.

"It happened real quick," Helfrich said. "Chase (Polacek) threw it in front and it hit (Scott) Halpern's skate and popped right to me and I just shoveled it in."

The Saints' Kevin DeVirgilio hit the crossbar with 15:26 remaining and Lange came up by about seven minutes later.

"Mathias didn't have to stand on his head tonight," Appert said, "but you talk about saves that impact the game ... Mathias had a big one tonight at 3-2 on one of their best players (Brock McBride)."

That came with about 4:30 remaining, as Lange slid across to close off the left goalpost and turn away McBride's short chip shot.