Friday, February 5, 2016

Making It Mean

It's Freakout! weekend again. We hardly need to elaborate.

But for the men, there's an important point that needs to be made. After this weekend, the next three games are Harvard on the road, Dartmouth on the road, Quinnipiac at home (as in #1 Quinnipiac). That's a tough slog for anyone. And here's RPI. 1 point out of 2nd (Harvard), 1 point ahead of 4th (Yale). Points are going to be hard to come by in the next three games after this weekend - not that they're impossible or anything, just that they're not going to be quite as forthcoming as they should be at home on Freakout! weekend against a St. Lawrence team that's winless in 6 of their last 7 on the road and a Clarkson team that was 2-6 in the eight games before their current 5-game unbeaten streak (four of which were at home, three of those against Brown, Colgate and a free-falling Cornell).

No points are easy. It's just... RPI could probably use a bit of a cushion, and now, if they're going to be a serious player for a bye.

The women have a war on their hands for a playoff spot, and if they don't have one by season's end, they'll have to stare at being swept on the season by Yale as the culprit. And the North Country is never a picnic. But they've nabbed a win over Clarkson this season and St. Lawrence is but a point ahead in the standings. We've seen results from longer odds before.

February's always a time to be a mean team to play against. Let's get mean.

By the way... Tom is currently (as of this afternoon) doing an Ask Me Anything on the college hockey Reddit. Drop by and ask him, er, anything. 


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Women's Reset (Three Weeks Out)

Quinnipiac (12-1-3) has clinched a playoff berth with six games remaining. They could clinch a home-ice series as early as Saturday.

Clarkson, Colgate, Princeton, and Harvard could all potentially clinch playoff berths this weekend.

St. Lawrence, Yale, RPI, and Cornell can neither clinch a playoff berth this weekend nor be eliminated from contention.

Dartmouth (4-9-3) could potentially be eliminated from playoff contention this weekend.

Brown (1-13-2) can finish no higher than a tie for eighth with RPI (if they were to win their final six games and RPI lose their final six). However, they would lose the ensuing tiebreaker with the Engineers (or any tiebreaker with RPI and Cornell and/or Dartmouth) and therefore are eliminated from playoff contention.

Union (0-13-3) has been fully eliminated from playoff contention with six games remaining. They cannot finish any higher than ninth.

Current ties in the standings are broken as follows:
3rd: Princeton wins the first tiebreaker with Colgate (2-0).
6th: Yale wins the first tiebreaker with St. Lawrence (2-0).

Quinnipiac
Harvard - Won, 4-0.
Princeton - Won, 3-1.
Clarkson, SLU - Ahead, 2-0.
Colgate - Tied, 1-1, would likely lead on ECAC wins.
RPI - Tied, 1-1, unknown ECAC wins difference.

Clarkson
Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, SLU - Won, 3-1.
Princeton, Yale - Ahead, 2-0.
Colgate - Tied, 2-2, unknown ECAC wins difference.

Colgate
Cornell, RPI, SLU - Won, 3-1.
Dartmouth, Yale - Ahead, 2-0.
Clarkson - Tied, 2-2, unknown ECAC wins difference.

Princeton
Dartmouth, Yale - Won, 4-0.
Colgate, RPI - Ahead, 2-0.
Harvard - Tied, 2-2, unknown ECAC wins difference.

Harvard
Colgate, Cornell, RPI, Yale - Ahead, 2-0.
Dartmouth, SLU - Tied, 2-2, would likely lead on ECAC wins.
Princeton - Tied, 2-2, unknown ECAC wins difference.

St. Lawrence
Dartmouth - Won, 3-1.
Princeton, RPI - Ahead, 2-0.
Cornell - Tied, 2-2, unknown ECAC wins difference.

Yale
RPI - Won, 4-0.
SLU - Ahead, 2-0.
Quinnipiac- Tied, 2-2, would likely lead on ECAC wins.
Dartmouth - Tied, 1-1, unknown ECAC wins difference.

RPI
Brown, Cornell - Won, 4-0.
Clarkson - Ahead, 2-0.
Quinnipiac - Tied, 1-1, unknown ECAC wins difference.

Cornell
Union - Won, 3-1.
Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale - Ahead, 2-0.
SLU - - Tied, 2-2, unknown ECAC wins difference.

Dartmouth
Brown, RPI, Union - Ahead, 2-0.
Yale - Tied, 1-1, unknown ECAC wins difference.

Brown
Union - Won, 3-1.
Cornell - Tied, 1-1, would likely lead on ECAC wins.

Union
No tiebreakers won.

Irrelevant
Quinnipiac
Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown, and Union

Clarkson, Colgate, Princeton, Harvard, SLU, and Yale
Brown and Union

RPI-Union

Men's Tiebreakers (Four Weeks Out)

The beginning of this post is mostly a repost from last year, just to get you caught up on tiebreakers.

We've reached the point of the season where we don't have to stand on our heads to figure out where teams "really" are in the standings. What you see is what you get. 14 games played each (15 for Colgate and Brown, who played each other in a league game in Belfast), 8 games left each (7 for Colgate/Brown). RPI is in 3rd in the standings.

So we're starting to get deep enough into the season when the oh-so-important tiebreakers begin to play a factor.

Here are the seven ways the ECAC uses to break ties, in order.
  1. Comparison of game results between tied teams (head to head). There are four points up for grabs in any given season between two teams, it's essentially the first to three.
  2. ECAC league wins. Another way to put this is "the team with fewer ties," since a team with the same number of points as another but more wins also has fewer ties (math tells us that both teams would have either an odd or even number of ties). This makes it easier to compare two teams that aren't currently tied in the standings. Generally, we expect that a team that has 2+ ties more than the team they're being compared to are likely to lose on this criteria if they're tied head-to-head.
  3. Comparison of results of games against the top four teams. This can get fluid depending on which team is currently occupying the top four spots and is difficult to hammer down until very late in the season.
  4. Comparison of results of games against the top eight teams. Ironically, the winner of this criteria necessarily has a worse record against the league's worst teams than the loser.
  5. Goal differential in head-to-head competition. Seems like this should be a higher-level tiebreak, but here we are.
  6. Goal differential in games against the top four teams.
  7. Goal differential in games against the top eight teams.
It's not listed on the website, but presumably the final tiebreaker if teams are hopelessly deadlocked would be the drawing of lots - basically a coin flip if it's just two teams.

If there are more than two teams tied for one spot, the tiebreakers are applied until a team is separated from the others, either up or down, and then the remaining teams then start again from the top. Let's say Clarkson, Cornell, and Yale are tied for 4th. Each has 4 points in games against each other, but Cornell has one more win than either Clarkson or Yale. Cornell is then 4th, then Clarkson and Yale are compared head to head in a tie for 5th. Conversely, if Cornell had one less win than the others, they would be 6th, and Clarkson and Yale are then compared head to head in a tie for 4th.

Current ties in the standings are broken as follows:
10th: Colgate wins the first tiebreaker over Princeton (2-0, although the Tigers do have a game in hand over the Raiders).

We're too early in the process to really get into multiple-way tiebreakers, but we'll touch on those as potential 3-way, 4-way, and more-way ties become a possibility late in the season.

Below are the current states of the first and second tiebreakers. Teams are listed above tiebreakers that they have either won, are winning (with a game remaining to be played) or are tied.

Irrelevant tiebreakers - those between teams that cannot tie in the standings - are listed at the bottom.

Quinnipiac
Dartmouth, Harvard - Won, 4-0.
Cornell, Yale, Union - Ahead, 2-0.
RPI - Tied, 1-1, would likely lead on ECAC wins.
Clarkson - Tied 1-1, unknown ECAC wins difference.

Harvard
Dartmouth, Princeton - Won, 4-0.
Brown, Colgate, Cornell, SLU - Ahead, 2-0.
RPI - Tied, 1-1, would likely lead on ECAC wins.
Union, Yale - Tied 1-1, unknown ECAC wins difference.

RPI
Union - Won, 4-0.
Brown - Won, 3-1.
Cornell, SLU - Ahead, 2-0.

Yale
Colgate, Dartmouth, SLU - Ahead, 2-0.
RPI - Tied, 2-2, would likely lead on ECAC wins.
Union - Tied, 2-2, unknown ECAC wins difference.
Clarkson, Cornell, Harvard - Tied 1-1, unknown ECAC wins difference.

Dartmouth
Princeton - Won, 4-0.
Brown, Clarkson, Colgate, Cornell, RPI, SLU - Ahead, 2-0.

St. Lawrence
Colgate - Won, 4-0.
Clarkson - Tied, 2-2, would likely lead on ECAC wins.
Cornell - Tied, 2-2, unknown ECAC wins difference.
Brown, Princeton, Union - Ahead, 2-0.
Quinnipiac - Tied, 1-1, would likely lead on ECAC wins.

Cornell
Colgate - Won, 4-0.
Clarkson, SLU - Tied, 2-2, unknown ECAC wins difference.
Brown, Princeton - Ahead, 2-0.
Union - Tied, 1-1, would likely lead on ECAC wins.
Yale - Tied, 1-1, unknown ECAC wins difference.

Clarkson
Colgate, Cornell - Tied, 2-2, unknown ECAC wins difference.
Brown, Harvard - Ahead, 2-0.
RPI - Tied, 1-1, would likely lead on ECAC wins.
Quinnipiac, Yale - Tied, 1-1, unknown ECAC wins difference.

Union
Clarkson, Dartmouth - Ahead, 2-0.
Yale - Tied, 2-2, unknown ECAC wins difference.
Harvard - Tied, 1-1, unknown ECAC wins difference.

Princeton
Brown, Clarkson, Yale - Ahead, 2-0.
RPI, Union - Tied, 1-1, would likely lead on ECAC wins.

Colgate
Princeton, Union - Ahead, 2-0.
Clarkson - Tied, 2-2, unknown ECAC wins difference.
RPI - Tied, 1-1, would likely lead on ECAC wins.

Brown
Colgate, Union - Won, 3-1.

Irrelevant
Quinnipiac-Brown
Quinnipiac-Colgate
Quinnipiac-Princeton

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Engineer Bracketology: Week 5

We've said it before - if you're going to lose, lose to a good team. After snatching victory from the jaws of (a bad) defeat on Friday, the Engineers did finally lose for the first time in nearly a month, and it was to a good team.

And lo and behold, enough good things happened elsewhere to move the Institute up into the presumed NCAA field - albeit barely, and very much being on the bubble, easily burst if there are any upsets in conference tournaments.

1. Quinnipiac*
2. St. Cloud State*
3. North Dakota
4. Michigan*
5. Boston College*
6. Providence
7. Harvard
8. Boston University
9. Omaha
10. Notre Dame
11. UMass-Lowell
12. Denver
13. Yale
14. Rensselaer
15. Dartmouth
16. Cornell
18. Minnesota State*
22. Robert Morris*
In since last week: Rensselaer
Out since last week: Cornell
Last in: Yale, Rensselaer
First out: Dartmouth, Cornell
League breakdown: 5 HEA, 4 ECAC, 4 NCHC, 1 B1G, 1 WCHA, 1 AHA

OK, so we get to bracket the Engineers into the NCAA tournament for the first time. Here's what we've come up with.

Worcester
1. Quinnipiac
2. Boston University
3. Omaha
4. Robert Morris

St. Paul
1. St. Cloud State
2. Harvard
3. Notre Dame
4. Minnesota State

Cincinnati
1. North Dakota
2. Providence
3. UMass-Lowell
4. Yale

Albany
1. Michigan
2. Boston College
3. Denver
4. Rensselaer

Rematches, anyone?

First off, a couple of explanations. Yes, there is an all-Hockey East game in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati, but this is allowed under the NCAA's rules. With five Hockey East teams in the tournament, especially with all five being 2 and 3 seeds, it's pretty much unavoidable. To preserve bracket integrity, there does have to be one Hockey East matchup. So it's the Friars and River Hawks.

The rest of the bracket is actually fairly perfect integrity-wise, with the exception of the Engineers being swapped with Yale. A perfectly made bracket would have Rensselaer in Cincinnati against North Dakota (which is awfully familiar). Our expectation is that if the committee can find a way to put an NCAA-bound Rensselaer team in Albany, they're going to try to do that. In this case, it's not that radical of a decision to do it this way. Cincinnati is a tickets problem, but there's no really good way to remedy that here. (We'll talk a little bit about ticket sales next week.)

That's not to say that there might not be situations where the Engineers might end up in a different regional - it's more that this scenario just makes it easy to make the change. Personally, I think they ought to just call Rensselaer a host and keep them there anyway, only giving primacy to Union if both teams are in the tournament, but that's apparently not what's going to happen, so this is at least second best.

Another crack at Michigan, potentially followed by either a rematch with Boston College or a student vs. teacher battle between Seth Appert and Jim Montgomery. Intriguing. Really, really difficult, but intriguing nonetheless. Albany is basically the regional of death here - three very strong teams and a nominal home team.

By the way - when we speak of conference tournament upsets (and we will be as we get closer to March), any team that wins their conference tournament that wouldn't have otherwise been in the tournament, that's considered an upset. It's why the #15 and #16 teams are currently considered out, because there's no team in the WCHA or Atlantic Hockey that would otherwise be in. And #14, where the Engineers are now, is a very tenuous spot in part because there's only one team of six in the Big Ten - that's Michigan - who would be in without the autobid.

The quality wins cliff:

16. Penn State .531
17. Cornell .529
18. Minnesota .528
19. Minnesota State .526
20. Michigan Tech .524
--
21. Minnesota-Duluth .521
22. Robert Morris .521
23. Bowling Green .520
24. Clarkson .516
25. Miami .516

Lurking just off screen: St. Lawrence (26th) and Union (27th). Especially if the Engineers sweep this weekend, we'd really, really love to see the current 24th through 27th teams move up in RPI. That's already five wins and a tie, and a sweep would make seven and a tie.

To be honest, when it comes to quality wins against moving past someone in RPI (and usually, concurrently in the PWR), you've got to pick the latter - but quality wins are very nice to have. We'll see an illustration of this with Cornell in just a second.

Quality wins
Boston College (#5, at home)
Yale (#13, at home)
Cornell (#17, at home)

Quality ties (half a quality win)
Quinnipiac (#1, on the road)
Harvard (#7, at home)

Missed opportunities
Michigan (#4, at home)
Harvard (#5, neutral ice)
UMass-Lowell (#11, on the road)
Yale (#13, on the road)
Dartmouth (#15, at home)

Remaining opportunities
Harvard (#7, on the road) - Feb 12
Dartmouth (#15, on the road) - Feb 13
Quinnipiac (#1, at home) - Feb 19
Cornell (#17, on the road) - Feb 27

Time to have a look at some of the comparisons. We start with one that took a serious blow on Monday.

Boston College (H2H win) - The Eagles' win over Harvard makes this comparison very difficult for the Engineers to win on COp/H2H without divine intervention in March. Speaking generally, it also makes upward mobility a lot more difficult, since this comparison was really the best way for Rensselaer to "negate" its guaranteed comparison loss to Alaska-Anchorage.

As outlined last week, the best case scenario for this comparison at this point before the beginning of the playoffs would see BC losing to New Hampshire on Friday, Rensselaer beating Harvard next weekend, and BC getting swept by UMass-Lowell at the end of the month. If all of that comes to pass, we're looking at a 1.500-1.500 COp, which would only be broken if BC were to play UML or UNH in the Hockey East playoffs, or if Rensselaer plays Harvard in the ECAC playoffs. That doesn't change the current dynamic at all, whereby the RPI winner wins the comparison thanks to the Engineers' H2H win.

In other words, unless something rather drastic happens, this one's only going to be flipped to the Engineers if they can catch up in RPI. So while we'll keep tabs on this one, it's looking pretty unlikely from here on out. Way to blow it, Harvard. But at least it makes rooting for BC from here on out a bit easier, since they're a quality win.

Total COp: 2.000-1.250 BC
New Hampshire: 1.000 each

UMass-Lowell (H2H loss) - No help from Arizona State (as we sort of expected) as UML crushed the Sun Devils twice - but a small amount of help from the Engineers' comeback win over Brown. That moves COp to 3.500-3.250 for UML. Every little bit.

Once again this week, we have a situation where UML can't improve their COp standing here, but the Engineers can. The River Hawks host New Hampshire on Saturday, and we'll be rooting very strongly for UNH. Should the Wildcats pick up the road win over UML, that will at worst make COp a tie, which is a net benefit for the Engineers because it would return the comparison to being a straight RPI matter. A UNH win drops UML's COp by 0.500. The worst the Engineers can do here is lose to Clarkson, which only drops their COp by 0.250. Should both happen, it's a 3.000-3.000 tie. Even a tie between UNH and UML helps the Engineers.

UML still leads on RPI, which is going to have to change if this comparison is to be flipped, but it's still relatively close. So we're continuing to root against the River Hawks for the foreseeable future no matter who they're playing. BC's win over Harvard on Monday makes it much more likely that we're rooting for the Eagles in that season-ending series between BC and UML.

Total COp: 3.500-3.250 UML
Clarkson: 1.000-0.500 UML
New Hampshire: 1.000 each

Yale (H2H split) - All that COp talk from last week is now officially irrelevant unless the Engineers and Bulldogs face each other in the playoffs. Which is the only point it'll become relevant, so it's straight RPI from now until then. Whenever we can (which we'll get to in just a second) we're rooting against Yale as long as they can potentially be caught.

Dartmouth (H2H loss) - This one came close to flipping to the Big Green, and it's still very close to doing just that. Thanks to the H2H loss, at the moment Rensselaer must win both RPI and COp in order to keep this one in the win column.

On COp, Rensselaer's worst case scenario has them getting swept at home by SLU/Clarkson and Dartmouth sweeping at Yale/Brown. If that happens, RPI is going to flip anyway, so it's not worth getting too bent out of shape over COp right now. That scenario would even out COp at 6.750 and make it a 2-0 comparison win for Dartmouth where, right now, it's 2-1 Rensselaer.

Yale and Dartmouth play each other on Friday, which means the team directly ahead of the Engineers is playing the team directly below. That's got all kinds of pitfalls, but let's look at it this way. Wins by both Rensselaer and Dartmouth wouldn't move either team ahead of Yale, but wins by St. Lawrence and Dartmouth move the Big Green ahead of the Engineers. Wins by Rensselaer and Yale move the Bulldogs up significantly in the PWR, making them more difficult to catch, but it takes some of the pressure off from Dartmouth. We'll go with Yale - especially since it helps improve them on the quality win scale.

Essentially, it's as brutally simple as just continuing to root against Dartmouth. But there's an added wrinkle that's worth keeping an eye on. Normally, we don't analyze too deeply comparisons that Rensselaer isn't a part of, but like the Engineers, Dartmouth has a comparison that they're currently losing to a team that's pretty far below them in RPI - Vermont.

Dartmouth's 2-1 comparison loss to Vermont on COp/H2H helps provide a minor bit of cushion for the Engineers at the moment, since the PWR is listed strictly in terms of the number of comparison wins. Right now, that's 45 wins for Rensselaer and 44 for Dartmouth. It would be a tie (with the Engineers ranked ahead thanks to the H2H comparison) if the Big Green were winning the comparison with the Catamounts.

So we'd like to see this one kept slanted to UVM. Dartmouth has 3 COp games remaining in their Vermont comparison - SLU, Union, and Colgate. UVM has two, both against New Hampshire. The only game out of these five that can actually help Dartmouth is their game against Union. If they beat the Dutchmen and UVM is swept by UNH, that would even up COp and flip the comparison back to the Big Green. They'd still have to beat SLU and Colgate.

Long story short - we were definitely rooting for Union to beat Dartmouth next week anyway, but that could end up having a triple effect: help get Union back up to quality win status, hurt Dartmouth's RPI, and make it very difficult for the Big Green to win their comparison with Vermont all at the same time (completely impossible if Dartmouth doesn't face Union in the ECAC playoffs).

Total COp: 7.500-6.250 Rensselaer
Yale: 0.500-0.000 Rensselaer
Brown: 1.000-0.750 Dartmouth
St. Lawrence: 1.000 each
Clarkson: 1.000-0.500 Dartmouth

Cornell (H2H win) - As predicted last week, a Cornell loss to Clarkson flipped this one to the Engineers, and their subsequent loss to SLU helped solidify it a bit. This actually illustrates how quickly a comparison can sometimes turn, since a 2-1 Cornell win is now a 3-0 Rensselaer win after just one weekend's worth of games.

RPI and COp remain close, and Cornell currently counts as a quality win for the Engineers. Ideally, we'd like to see both teams winning games, but there's certainly something of a fudge factor.

There's a serious exception on Friday - Cornell gets their shot at the Holy Grail on Friday when they play at Quinnipiac. While we'd usually like for Cornell to improve their RPI, this isn't quite the time or place. A win over the #1 team in the country would almost surely propel Cornell back up over the Engineers in PWR. It would pretty much guarantee a comparison flip on Friday night, so let's take Quinnipiac on Friday and then pull for Cornell to pick up a road split against Princeton as a consolation. If it wasn't for the tenuous nature of the Cornell/Rensselaer comparison and the fact that the Big Red are so close in PWR, we'd be rooting for Cornell, but alas, the timing's not good.

Total COp: 5.500-5.000 Rensselaer
Quinnipiac: 0.500-0.000 Rensselaer
Princeton: 1.000-0.500 Cornell
St. Lawrence: 1.000-0.500 Rensselaer
Clarkson: 0.500 each

Biggest single game to watch, by far, is UNH at UML. Nothing else is super important on its own as long as the Engineers are taking care of business themselves (which is always important).

Most interesting - eight different teams we're rooting for one night and against another this week.

The key for the cheering section:
1. Wherever there is direct COp assistance
2. For the ECAC out-of-conference
3. For improved quality win bonuses (QWB)
4. Against teams ahead of or just behind Rensselaer in the RPI or PWR
5. For non-conference opponents

Engineers Cheering Section
Friday
Quinnipiac over Cornell - 1/4
Union over Clarkson - 3
Yale over Dartmouth - 1/3/4
Brown over Harvard - 4 (not overly important, far more helpful for the ECAC standings)
Boston College over New Hampshire - 3/5 (loss at least helps on COp, but not much as mentioned above)
UMass over Boston University - 4
Northeastern over UMass-Lowell - 4

Weekend series
Bentley over Mercyhurst - 5
Sacred Heart over Robert Morris - 4
Vermont over Notre Dame - 4
Alaska-Anchorage over Northern Michigan - 5
Miami over St. Cloud State - 3/5
Minnesota splits with Penn State - 4 (they're currently tied on RPI)
Colorado College over Minnesota Duluth - 4
Bowling Green over Minnesota State - 4
Lake Superior State over Michigan Tech - 4
Alaska over Ferris State - 5

Saturday
Brown over Dartmouth - 1/4
Cornell over Princeton - 3
Union over St. Lawrence - 3
Harvard over Yale - 4
New Hampshire over UMass-Lowell - 1/4/5

Monday
Harvard over Northeastern - 2
Boston College over Boston University - 3/4/5

Tuesday
Bemidji State over Minnesota Duluth - 4
American International over UMass - not important, but probably hurts general Hockey East RPIs

Important COp/H2H games for currently relevant comparisons
Friday, February 5: New Hampshire at Boston College
Saturday, February 6: New Hampshire at UMass-Lowell; Clarkson at Rensselaer
Friday, February 12: Rensselaer at Harvard; Union at Dartmouth
Saturday, February 13: Rensselaer at Dartmouth
Friday, February 26: UMass-Lowell at Boston College
Saturday, February 27: Boston College at UMass-Lowell

Unwinnable comparisons (H2H loss, will lose COp)
Alaska-Anchorage

Clinched comparisons (H2H win, will win COp)
Western Michigan, Bentley

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Men's Hockey - at Brown/Yale (29/30 Jan)

Perhaps it was the exception that proves the rule - "first to three wins" is a common saying in hockey, especially in college hockey. Both nights this past weekend, the other team was first to three before the Engineers had scored their first. On Friday against Brown, RPI turned the tables by pumping in the next four to secure an improbable victory, 4-3, but on Saturday after falling behind 3-0, the Engineers simply could not break onto the scoreboard in a 3-0 loss.

Brown
Melanson-Schroeder-Nanne
Miller-Bubela-Wood
Ohrvall-DeVito-Liljegren
Bell-Fulton-Rodriguez

Bradley-Prapavessis
Wilson-Grant
Moore-Hampton

Kasdorf

Bradley Bell returned to the lineup for just the third time this season, dressing as a forward for the first time in his collegiate career - the Engineers otherwise keeping the same lineup intact that won the Mayor's Cup game against Union.

RPI has had their share of difficulties with Brown of late, going winless in their last three games against the Bears including a 3-3 draw in Troy in November that was controversial as Brown had a fairly clear goal waved off in overtime. On Friday, the Bears wasted no time getting themselves into a position of command, as Josh McArdle scored 2:39 into the contest to put Brown ahead 1-0 as part of a fairly dominant opening 20 minutes for the home team.

Brown extended their lead in the second period, as super freshman Tommy Marchin notched his 11th goal of the season on the power play at 5:45 of the middle frame, making it 2-0, and then going up 3-0 on a bad turnover by Meirs Moore deep in the RPI end. Alex Brink put it home to give Brown a seemingly insurmountable home lead.

But the Engineers weren't quite whipped yet, and they managed to climb back into contention in a most unlikely manner - on the power play. Despite entering the night with just 9 power play tallies on the season, RPI managed two in the final six minutes of the second period to make it a real contest again. Viktor Liljegren scored his second goal of the season just two and a half minutes after Brink's goal to get the Engineers on the board, and then a big blast by Jared Wilson on the power play made it to the back of the net to cut Brown's lead to one at 3-2.

The Engineers were strong in the third period in seeking the tying goal, and they appeared to have it early in the period when Mark Miller was initially credited with RPI's third goal of the night, but it was eventually overturned due to a lack of video evidence that the puck had fully crossed the line after a lengthy review. That kind of thing is a good way to dampen the morale of a team throwing everything they can into their comeback, but to their credit, the Engineers kept working for the tying goal, and they got it eight minutes into the period as Liljegren notched his second goal of the night to complete the comeback.

Then, just 51 seconds later, RPI nabbed the lead for the first time, with the red-hot Lou Nanne scoring his sixth of the season to make it 4-3 Engineers, a lead that Jason Kasdorf made stick with 11 saves in the final period as the shell-shocked Bears found it difficult to mount an offensive response until the final moments with the netminder pulled. Marchin very nearly tied the game in the waning moments, but a big save by Kasdorf preserved the win.

Coupled with Yale's loss to Union, the comeback win fueled a golden opportunity for the Engineers the next night: three points ahead of Yale and just one point behind idle Harvard after the Crimson's win over Princeton, a road sweep would not only put the Engineers in second place by themselves, it would give them a five point cushion over fourth.

Yale
Melanson-Schroeder-Nanne
Miller-Bubela-Wood
Ohrvall-DeVito-Liljegren
Clary-Fulton-Rodriguez

Bradley-Prapavessis
Wilson-Grant
Moore-Hampton

Kasdorf

Bell and his linemates saw very little ice-time in the second half of the Brown game - during the comeback - and he was replaced in the lineup by Lonnie Clary, the only healthy forward who made the trip to southern New England.

While RPI had a big opportunity to seize the moment and take firm control of their first-round bye destiny, the Bulldogs, who'd had an eight-game unbeaten streak snapped the previous night, certainly had other ideas. Yale took advantage of a flat first period from the Engineers to pounce quickly on the visitors, getting two first period goals from defenseman as All-ECAC blueliner Rob O'Gara scored his first goal of the year six minutes into the game to make it 1-0, and then a beautiful rip by freshman Anthony Walsh from the top of the slot eight minutes later made it 2-0.

The Engineers appeared to be pulling themselves back into contention late in the second period with some improved play, but they were unable to get any quality shots against Alex Lyon, one of the best netminders in the conference. Lyon made 18 saves in the first two periods to keep the score 2-0 heading into the third.

RPI may have been able to come back from a 3-0 deficit on Friday because they went down by three with nearly half the game remaining, and the Brown defense is frequently suspect. When Yale took a 3-0 lead seven minutes into the third period on a goal by Cody Learned, the mountain was easily twice as high, since RPI was afforded only 13 minutes to erase the gap against Yale's rock-solid defense. The Bulldogs simply stuck to their defensive plan, which was brilliant the entire night, and helped their netminder record his third shutout of the season with 29 saves.

Seth Appert is a firm believer in fighting until the end - and even down 3-0, he pulled Jason Kasdorf for the extra attacker with about three minutes left. The team continued to show heart even after hope for even a draw was gone, selling out to stop the empty-netter and continuing to push for the first goal that never came.

While a win would have made a first-round bye very, very likely, with a loss the final three byes are in firm toss-up mode, with just four points separating Harvard in 2nd from SLU in 6th. Especially with three games against nationally ranked opponents following this coming weekend - two on the road and the one at home against the #1 team in the country - the Freakout! pairing of St. Lawrence and Clarkson may be a serious determinant on whether the Engineers will need to fight through two playoff rounds to reach Lake Placid or get the luxury of playing at home for only one. A home sweep would give RPI 22 points on the year, edging them oh so close to that promised land. But lost points will be far harder to pick up again down the road.

Current ECAC Standings
1. Quinnipiac - 25 pts (11-0-3)
2. Harvard - 19 pts (8-3-3)
3. RPI - 18 pts (6-2-6)
4. Yale - 17 pts (7-4-3)
5. Dartmouth - 16 pts (8-6-0)
6. St. Lawrence - 15 pts (7-6-1)
7. Cornell - 14 pts (6-6-2)
8. Clarkson - 13 pts (5-6-3)
9. Union - 10 pts (3-7-4)
10. Princeton - 8 pts (3-9-2)
11. Colgate - 8 pts (3-10-2)
12. Brown - 7 pts (2-10-3)

#16 RPI at Brown
ECAC Game - Meehan Auditorium (Providence, RI)
1/29/16 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 4, Brown 3

RECORD: 14-7-6 (6-1-6 ECAC, 18 pts)

#16 RPI at #11 Yale
ECAC Game - Ingalls Rink (New Haven, CT)
1/30/16 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Yale 3, RPI 0

RECORD: 14-8-6 (6-2-6 ECAC, 18 pts)

Upcoming games
05 Feb - St. Lawrence
06 Feb - Clarkson (Big Red Freakout!)
12 Feb - at #7 Harvard
13 Feb - at #20 Dartmouth
19 Feb - #1 Quinnipiac

Monday, February 1, 2016

Women's Hockey - Colgate & Cornell (29/30 Jan)

First off, apologies for the lack of a recap last week - the delay of the Yale game to Tuesday combined with midweek work travel and suddenly it was Friday again and time for another pair of games.

The Engineers didn't do themselves any favors against Brown and Yale last weekend, only picking up a win against the Bears when they really needed a weekend sweep to keep ahead of the pack chasing the last playoff spot.

Fast forward to this weekend and the Engineers kept themselves afloat, albeit still in a very tenuous position, by earning another split with Colgate and Cornell. The Engineers actually led Colgate twice before eventually falling 5-3, but squeaked out a 2-1 overtime win over Cornell on Saturday for a season sweep of the Big Red.

Colgate

Horwood/Gruschow/Tomlinson
Rooney/Mankey/Wash
Grigsby/Hylwa/Thomas
Raspa/Schwalbe/Tremblay

Hansen/Godin
Behounek/Banks
Kimmerle/Renn

Selander

Shayna Tomlinson led RPI with a goal, an assist, and five shots on goal, but the Engineers fell short against #10 Colgate by a 5-3 tally at the Field House Friday night.

RPI held 1-0 and 3-2 leads during the game, but three unanswered goals for the Raiders to end the game made the difference.

Mari Mankey got the Engineers on the board at 4:01 of the opening period, taking a feed from Lauren Wash behind the net and firing it past netminder Julia Vandyk.

Colgate tied it at one just a few minutes later, when Jessie Eldridge threaded a pass through traffic in the slot to hit Nicole Gass all alone in front of Lovisa Selander for the goal.

The Raiders added a second goal at 10:43, capitalizing on a turnover at the RPI blue line to score on a 2-on-1. Olivia Zafuto notched the goal, her sixth of the season.

Tomlinson's goal knotted the game at two, 7:29 into the second. The forward tipped a point shot from Jenn Godin to beat Vandyk.

Laura Horwood put the Engineers back ahead on the power play at 13:33 after Tomlinson fed it to her on the doorstep for a quick shot and a goal.

Horwood's tally marked the end of the scoring for the Engineers, and less than a minute later Colgate had tied the game back up on a goal by Kayla Haus. They very nearly took a 4-3 lead at the end of the second, but the horn had sounded just a fraction of a second before the puck crossed the line.

The Raiders added two more goals in the third period, with Annika Zalewski (sister of former Engineer Mike Zalewski) scoring on the power play at 1:18, and Breanne Wilson converting another RPI turnover to make it 5-3 with 10:33 left in the game.

Colgate locked it down after the fifth goal, and despite back-to-back power play chances for RPI, the Engineers couldn't get another one past Vandyk who finished with 21 saves on the night. At the other end, Selander stopped 24 of 29.

Cornell

Horwood/Gruschow/Tomlinson
Rooney/Mankey/Wash
Grigsby/Hylwa/Thomas
Raspa/Schwalbe/Tremblay

Hansen/Godin
Behounek/Banks
Kimmerle/Renn

Selander

Earlier in the season, RPI earned a hard-fought 2-1 overtime win over Cornell in Ithaca. History repeated itself on Saturday as Katie Rooney scored in the second period to tie the game at one, then again in overtime to give the Engineers another 2-1 win over the Big Red.

After a scoring and penalty-free first period, Taylor Woods opened things up with a goal for the Big Red at 6:54 of the second. After getting tied up with Whitney Renn at the RPI blue line, Woods stripped the puck from the RPI defenseman along the boards and took it to the net, beating Selander for the 1-0 lead.

Rooney answered for RPI about ten minutes later. After picking off a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone, she took it into the Cornell zone and all the way around the net before firing a sharp angle shot past Paula Voorheis to tie the game.

Another scoreless period in the third and the teams headed to overtime for the second time this season. Just like the first time, the Engineers pulled out the win. While Lauren Wash scored the winner earlier in the season, this time she knocked a Cornell pass out of mid-air at the blue line to skate in 2-on-1 with Rooney. A nifty saucer pass from Wash let Rooney put the puck past Voorheis and empty the Engineers' bench as their playoff hopes were kept alive.

With six games remaining, RPI holds the eighth and final playoff spot, with Cornell trailing two points back and Dartmouth four points back. However with Cornell still having a game left against Brown and Dartmouth still to play both Brown and Union, the Engineers will need a few more points to have a real shot at holding that playoff spot.

Cornell's remaining schedule: Quinnipiac, Princeton, @Brown, @Yale, Dartmouth, Harvard
Dartmouth's remaining schedule: Yale, Brown, @Union, @RPI, @Cornell, @Colgate

The season sweep over Cornell will give the Engineers that tiebreaker if it comes down to it, but RPI's game against Dartmouth in two weeks may well be the deciding factor in whether they can hold on to a playoff spot or not.

Five of the six games remaining for the Engineers are against the top half of the league, so it will be a tough row to hoe regardless of the outcome of their game against the Big Green. Before that, RPI must hit the road to take on Clarkson (7pm Friday) and St. Lawrence (4pm Saturday).

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RPI vs. Colgate
ECAC Hockey Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/29/16 - 7pm
Colgate 5, RPI 3

BOX SCORES:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/boxscore.aspx?path=whock&id=5203
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1516/boxes/wclgren1.j29

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2016/1/29/WICE_0129163315.aspx
Colgate: http://www.gocolgateraiders.com/news/2016/1/29/WHOCKEY_0129161129.aspx
Video Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiH9A9M4pyA
Complete Game Video: http://rpitv.org/productions/1035-womens-hockey-vs-colgate

RECORD: 8-13-4 (6-7-2 ECAC)

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RPI vs. Cornell
ECAC Hockey Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/30/16 - 4pm
RPI 2, Cornell 1 (OT)

BOX SCORES:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/boxscore.aspx?path=whock&id=5204
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1516/boxes/wcorren1.j30

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2016/1/30/WICE_0130164631.aspx
Cornell: http://www.cornellbigred.com/news/2016/1/30/WICE_0130162345.aspx
Video Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGB3bXop-C8
Complete Game Video: http://rpitv.org/productions/1036-womens-hockey-vs-cornell

RECORD: 9-13-4 (7-7-2 ECAC)

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ECAC Standings (all teams have 16GP)

1. Quinnipiac - 27 pts (12-1-3)
2. Clarkson - 22 pts (9-3-4)
3t. Colgate - 21 pts (8-3-5)
3t. Princeton - 21 pts (10-5-1)
5. Harvard - 19 pts (9-6-1)
6t. St. Lawrence - 17 pts (7-6-3)
6t. Yale - 17 pts (8-7-1)
8. RPI - 16 pts (7-7-2)
9. Cornell - 14 pts (5-7-4)
10. Dartmouth - 11 pts (4-9-3)
11. Brown - 4 pts (1-13-2)
12. Union - 3 pts (0-13-3)

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Upcoming Schedule

Feb. 5 - at Clarkson (7pm)
Feb. 6 - at St. Lawrence (4pm)
Feb. 12 - Harvard (7pm)
Feb. 13 - Dartmouth (Senior Night) (4pm)

Friday, January 29, 2016

They're All Important

It's another ECAC weekend, which means its another big weekend. They just don't stop coming, do they?

The women have a crucial home weekend against Colgate and Cornell - two of the teams they're fighting with for a playoff spot (although Colgate is very much improved). They dropped a tough one on Tuesday against Yale, so this is now even more crucial than it otherwise would have been. The Tute nabbed three points on the road against the Big Red and Raiders back in October. If they can get things done at home, the future looks a lot brighter. There just aren't a lot of good opportunities to get points in the last three weeks of the season, so each and every point this weekend is precious, especially against the Big Red.

It's the same old story for the men. Friday is a game against Brown they have to win. They just have to. The Bears are in last place. First-round bye teams don't lose to last place teams, but that's exactly what (should have) happened at home when these teams faced off. Instead, RPI is now winless in three tries against Brown, and they have got to get the job done tonight. Tomorrow's the flipside. Want to stay in the top 4? Gotta get a result against Yale again. Keep that momentum going and play well against good teams the way they have been.

Reaching back for this week's pumpup. No theme here, really, just something to get the blood pumping. Unless you want to explore the idea that a hockey game has a metaphorical relation to battle and war, go ahead. No one's stopping you.