Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Alaska Goal Rush (vs. UAA/at Alaska, Oct 16/17)

Playing in the Great White North is a challenge for three good reasons - first, the trip is long, especially for a team from the east coast, and it's tough to shake the jet lag after only a few days in state. Second, both teams are from the rough and tumble western leagues, fire tested against some of the best teams in the nation week in and week out. Finally, they both play on Olympic-sized ice, something that is usually fairly tricky for an ECAC team to deal with.

By the way, before we begin, you have to watch this:



This reeks of awesomeness. It's the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks opening video, featuring an animated polar bear that destroys the universe (including an unknown planet, a satellite near Jupiter, and the Moon) and then the city of Anchorage. BEST. INTRO. EVER.

Alaska-Anchorage
Vassel/Malchuk/Kerins
D'Amigo/Polacek/Helfrich
Cullen/Pirri/Helfrich
Lee/Angers-Goulet/Halpern

Merth/Kennedy
Bergin/Foss
Brutlag/Burgdoerfer

York

The first game was a neutral-site game against the Seawolves of Alaska-Anchorage, who had a bit of a travel of their own unless they flew up from their recently-ruined-by-a-rampaging-polar bear city on the coast.

The Seawolves came to play, and most observers thought the Engineers were off a step or two from the get-go: possibly the jet lag. UAA's Alex Gellert scored 2:44 into the game, but three minutes later was shown the door for a check from behind, giving RPI an outstanding opportunity to break out with a 5 minute powerplay. Unfortunately, nothing came of it (partially due to a penalty to Jerry D'Amigo near the end of the long advantage), and the Seawolves made it 2-0 on a 4-on-4 goal following another UAA penalty.

Things only got worse in the second period. It's always best to avoid anything even close to checking from behind after your team benefits from such a call against the other team, but C.J. Lee was tossed for just that at 6:37 of the 2nd. Like the RPI 5-minute power play, the Seawolves had only a truncated opportunity after they took a penalty of their own, and they were also unable to capitalize. However, late in the period, they were able to score at even strength to make it 3-0.

The Engineers never had more than 9 shots in a single period, and although they outshot UAA 7-4 in the third period, they could not put one past Seawolf netminder Jon Olthuis.

Alaska(-Fairbanks)
D'Amigo/Polacek/Helfrich
Cullen/Pirri/O'Grady
Angers-Goulet/Malchuk/Lee
Vassel/Kerins/Rabbani

Brutlag/Burgdoerfer
Bergin/Foss
Kennedy/Merth

York

The next night was the tournament finale against the homestanding Nanooks, who'd knocked off Michigan the previous week in Anchorage and were ranked #17 coming into the weekend. The major change in the lineup came with the return of Josh Rabbani for Scott Halpern.

The Engineers won the first period, outshooting UA 9-7 but no goals for the fourth straight period. They did, however, increase their weekend penalty kill to 7-for-7.

The 2nd period was the breakthrough. After killing an early penalty to Joel Malchuk, freshman sensation Brandon Pirri scored the first goal of his collegiate career from Bryan Brutlag and Marty O'Grady to put RPI up 1-0.

Alaska came out with an all out barrage in the third period, outshooting the Engineers 18-2. They were aided by a pair of power play opportunities, one early on off a high stick from Pirri, and late in the game with a trip by Peter Merth, who, you might remember, has a knack for taking bad penalties late that put the Engineers in a lot of trouble. This one was no different - Joe Sova scored to tie the game at one. The Engineers were a minute-and-a-half away from bumping off their second consecutive ranked team.

RPI came out ahead in shots in OT, 5-3, but couldn't get the win. Fairbanks won a shoot-out 1-0 (which featured a controversial non-goal by Tyler Helfrich, who may have gotten the puck over the line), but that shoot-out was only to determine a winner for the purposes of the tournament. The Nanooks play in the CCHA, which holds shoot-outs after ties in overtime to determine a winner, but that doesn't play into non-conference games.

I hesitated to talk about Coach Appert's positive outlook before last weekend's games. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner quoted him as saying the team would benefit from the larger ice in Fairbanks. I was skeptical - teams don't just excel on the bigger ice unless they have a lot of experience on it, and for ECAC teams, that just doesn't happen. If they'd been playing teams from smaller ice on the big ice, maybe the Engineers' speed would have won out. At any rate, I discount these 3 games (UMass last week, both games this week) on the big ice. This upcoming weekend at home will hopefully be more telling.

Other junk - Those two votes from last week in the USCHO.com poll are gone after no wins in Alaska. The Nanooks are now 3-0-1 and have moved up to 15th overall. Quinnipiac eked out an overtime victory over lowly Bentley to move to 3-0-0, but fell from 18th to 20th because... it's Bentley. #6 Cornell, #8 Yale, and #10 Princeton each stayed where they were, none of them have started their seasons yet. Harvard got 21 votes, Union fell to 8 votes after a tie and a loss at St. Cloud State, and St. Lawrence had 6 votes after a home sweep of RIT and Niagara.

It's cupcake weekend at the Field House on Friday and Saturday, as the Engineers host Sacred Heart and American International. They don't have to blow these teams out of the water to prove anything, but they could. At the very least, they do need to sweep this weekend to prove they are definitely above this level. Neither of these teams are expected to do anything in the weakest D-I conference in the nation, in fact, AIC is widely expected to finish last yet again.

RPI vs. Alaska-Anchorage
Non-Conference Game - Carlson Center (Fairbanks, AK)
10/16/09 - 8:05 pm
RESULT: Alaska-Anchorage 3, RPI 0
BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats: http://www.collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/makaren1.o16
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091016&vis=rpi&home=uaa&gender=m
RECAPS
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/10/16/MHOCK_1016090547.aspx
Troy Record:
http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2009/10/17/sports/doc4ad94e55f20a6757703662.t\
xt

Albany Times-Union:
http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=853940&category=SPORTS
Anchorage Daily News: http://www.adn.com/3530/story/976657.html
RECORD: 1-2-0 (0-0-0 ECAC)

Reale Deals
1. D Mike Bergin, 4 shots
2. F Chase Polacek, 5 shots, even
3. F Jerry D'Amigo, 3 shots

RPI at #17 Alaska
Non-Conference Game - Carlson Center (Fairbanks, AK)
10/17/09 - 10:35 pm
RESULT: RPI 1, Alaska 1 (Alaska wins SO, 1-0)
BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats: http://www.collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/makfren1.o17
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091017&vis=rpi&home=uaf&gender=m
RECAPS
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/10/18/MHOCK_1018093651.aspx
Albany Times-Union:
http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=854268&category=SPORTS
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
http://newsminer.com/news/2009/oct/18/sovas-power-play-goal-propels-alaska-goal-\
rush-tit/

RECORD: 1-2-1 (0-0-0 ECAC)

Reale Deals
1. G Allen York, 33 saves, All-Tournament Team
2. F Brandon Pirri, 1 G, 3 shots
3. D Bryan Brutlag, 1 A, 1 shot


Upcoming Games
23 Oct - Sacred Heart
24 Oct - American International
30 Oct - at Union
31 Oct - Army
06 Nov - #8 Yale (Black Friday)
--

MEN'S HOCKEY

Rensselaer lost to Alaska-Anchorage (3-0) and tied #17 Alaska (1-1) at the Brice Goal Rush in Fairbanks last weekend. Freshman Brandon Pirri (Toronto, ON) scored against the Nanooks and sophomore goalie Allen York (Wetaskiwin, AB) was named to the All-Tournament Team after stopping 57 of 62 shots over the two games.

RPI is back at the Houston Field House on Friday and Saturday against Sacred Heart and American International, respectively. Both games begin at 7pm and feature live stats at http://www.sidearmstats.com/rpi/mhockey/. The games can be seen live on a pay-per-view basis with B2 Networks at http://www.b2livetv.com/ and will be broadcast courtesy of WRPI radio on 91.5 FM or log on to www.wrpi.org and click on sports.

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