Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sacred Heart (Oct 23), American International (Oct 24)

There were varying opinions about what the Engineers needed to accomplish last weekend as they welcomed Atlantic Hockey doormats Sacred Heart and American International. The unanimous opinion was that the Engineers had to win both games, but the question was, by how much? Some said there needed to be blowouts. Others said "substantial" victories. My preference was that they win both games in regulation without too much of a scare. Others said two wins would just be fine. Some were happy with the result, others weren't.

Sacred Heart
Cullen/Pirri/O'Grady
D'Amigo/Polacek/Helfrich
Angers-Goulet/Malchuk/Lee
Vassel/Kerins/Rabbani

Bergin/Foss
Brutlag/Burgdoerfer
Kennedy/Merth

York

There was a bit of divergence in this matchup. It was the fifth game of the season for RPI, but only the first for Sacred Heart, which had its coach quit just weeks before the seasons started, so it was also new head coach C.J. Marottolo's first game as a head coach - he had been an assistant at Yale for a number of years.

The Engineers came out of the gate flying, dominating the early part of the game in basically all facets. Thus, it was quite the shock when a counter-attack by the Pioneers about five minutes into the game ended with the puck behind Allen York, putting SHU up 1-0.

Five minutes later, RPI's first power play brought immediate rewards as Paul Kerins scored his first goal of the season to even the score. Ultimately, the Engineers only led 7-6 in shots at the end of the first period.

The second period was all RPI, especially early on, where it appeared the game was about to turn into a laugher. Coming out strong off the opening faceoff, Chase Polacek found the net just 59 seconds into the period to put RPI up 2-1, and then, with York off on a delayed penalty, Brandon Pirri scored only 36 seconds later to make it 3-1, and the onslaught continued for most of the period, powered early on by a pair of Sacred Heart penalties practically back-to-back. The Engineers outshot SHU 13-7 during the second frame and appeared to be cruising despite no additional scoring. For the most part, they seemed to be just on the cusp of a goal numerous times during the dominated period.

The domination carried over into the third period, but began to fizzle early, assisted by Niskayuna lawyer Alex Dell, who had been mostly watching the game during the first two periods but who decided that the shiny metal thing attached to his fingers would look good up against his lips more often. There was a veritable march to the penalty box during the 3rd, some of them legitimate, some of them real headscratchers. Naturally, it was the headscratchers that let the Pioneers back into the game.

After a call against Jerry D'Amigo for tripping - a retaliatory measure taken following a blatant knee-to-knee hit against him earlier and a boarding incident right before it that wasn't called, the Pioneers cut the lead in half with about 8 minutes left to play. Then, about two minutes later, the score was tied on a delayed penalty that seemed quite bogus. Regardless of the referee hijinks, the Engineers simply were not getting the job done. You can get piped, but you can still keep the puck out of the net and the second goal especially was very week.

Salvation came, however, in overtime. 1:37 into the extra period, young Brandon Pirri came through in the clutch, scoring his second goal of the night and third of the year, powering the Engineers to avoid what would have been a depressing tie, but the loss of a 2-goal lead with under 10 minutes to play remained worrisome - slightly better than a Pyrrhic victory.

American International
D'Amigo/Pirri/O'Grady
Angers-Goulet/Malchuk/Lee
Cullen/Polacek/Rabbani
Helfrich/Kerins/Smith

Kennedy/Merth
Brutlag/Burgdoerfer
Bergin/Foss

Merriam

Coach Appert decided to jumble the lines a bit for Saturday night's game, and from the stands, it was... stimulating... to hear freshmen D'Amigo, Pirri, and Marty O'Grady introduced in the pre-game as the starting lineup. With freshman Bryce Merriam getting his first career action in net, it was definitely time for the youth movement to shine.

"I like this line," I told my cohorts. I would be repeating it many times on the night, and I got a chance to do it almost right away. O'Grady would score his first career goal from Pirri and D'Amigo just five minutes into the game to give the Engineers the 1-0 lead for the third consecutive game. RPI dominated the first period as well they should, with 15 shots in the opening period. AIC was credited with 8 shots, but everyone around me agreed that it was very generous for Merriam's save percentage.

Mike Bergin would make it 2-0 in the 2nd period with a blast from the point following a timeout by Appert, who was incensed at the team's lackadaisical approach to the period. AIC racked up a number of good chances ahead of Bergin's goal, forcing Merriam to be strong. Bergin's goal came from Pirri and D'Amigo, giving both of them two assists on the night.

Then, just as in the previous night, the young Engineers started resting on their laurels, and AIC climbed right back into the game. Freshman Adam Pleskach, who had scored the previous night against Union, scored to make it 2-1 late in the second, and then put one in 3:15 into the third period to tie the score at two - the second goal partially being a bad mistake by Merriam. As time continued to tick in the third period, the Engineers put together a number of scoring chances, but the theme of the weekend was the inability to finish.

It would get worse when Tyler Helfrich had to be helped off the ice after hurting his ankle. He would not return, forcing the Engineers to juggle their lines and double-shift their centers.

But it was when the Engineers got their 5th power play opportunity of the night late when AIC's Josh Froese put a clumsy hit on Joel Malchuk and got the gate for boarding. The home crowd, bolstered to over 4,000 thanks to family weekend, rose up and got the Engineers going on the advantage. Seconds later, Jerry D'Amigo responded with a nifty goal off a great pass from Josh Rabbani to retake the lead and send the crowd into a frenzy. "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!" was the chant (think Springer) and it resonated throughout the Field House. D'Amigo almost made it two goals (and four points) but he missed an empty net late as RPI won 3-2.

Interestingly, despite Alex Dell refereeing Saturday's game as well, the Engineers did not incur a single penalty against AIC. I can't remember the last time I saw that happen for RPI, but when you stay out of the box, good things can happen. Dell kept his whistle put away for 5 of 6 periods on the weekend, so maybe I should give him a little credit for letting the game play out.

Thus, the people who expected blowouts were disappointed, and many are pointing to RPI blowing 2-goal leads on back-to-back nights, but they did do what they had to do to win both games.

Helfrich is day-to-day with his ankle. X-rays were negative, which means he'll be back sooner rather than later. He isn't expected to play this weekend against Union and Army but he could be back in time for the ECAC opener on Black Friday against Yale.

Ah, that's right. It's Union this week. How did Union do against these same teams? Well, they had to come from behind to beat AIC. That was unremarkable. Then, on Saturday, Sacred Heart jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first period and led 5-1 with 10 minutes to play, and Union came all the way back to tie it and force overtime. Then the Pioneers won it with a goal in overtime. I called it "the greatest comeback in Union history." And they lost. Ripe for the picking? Maybe.

Other junk - Union's epic comeback only to still lose to Sacred Heart dropped them to one measly vote in the USCHO.com poll (something their retard fans are trying to lord over RPI in regards to the upcoming game... you get down with your bad self). Elsewhere, the Ivies get their seasons started this weekend with #6 Cornell (no change), #7 Yale (up one, and one voter chose the Bulldogs as the top team in the nation this week), and #11 Princeton (down one) ranked. Idle Quinnipiac moved up two to #18. Harvard (22 votes) and St. Lawrence (1 vote) also appeared.

For his two goal, two assist weekend, Brandon Pirri was named ECAC Rookie of the Week. He probably would have been Player of the Week if not for the fact that they could give him Rookie of the Week and leave it at that since he's a Freshman. Sophomore defenseman Mike Bergin was a candidate for Player of the Week.

By the way, there's something that I forgot to mention earlier - the ECAC Championships are moving out of Albany after this year. Yes, I know, we still haven't been to Albany. Hopefully this is the year, because it's the last chance. Anyway, starting in 2011, the ECAC Championships will be held in... ready for it? Atlantic City. No, you weren't reading that wrong. The championships will be moving to a location that is south of the entire league. According to my source, it wasn't necessarily that the league was dissatisfied with Albany, it's just that AC and its casinos showed the ECAC the money. Boardwalk Hall, located on THE Boardwalk from Monopoly, will be the venue.

Sacred Heart at RPI
Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/23/09 - 7:00 pm
RESULT: RPI 4, Sacred Heart 3 (OT)
BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats: http://www.collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/mrensac1.o23
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091023&vis=shu&home=rpi&gender=m
RECAPS
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/10/23/MHOCK_1023090225.aspx
Troy Record:
http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2009/10/24/sports/doc4ae27e9445484695228928.t\
xt

Albany Times-Union:
http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=856858
RECORD: 2-2-1 (0-0-0 ECAC)

Reale Deals
1. F Brandon Pirri, 2 G
2. F Chase Polacek, 1 G, 1 A
3. F Alex Angers-Goulet, 2 A

American International at RPI
Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/24/09 - 7:15 pm
RESULT: RPI 3, American International 2
BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats: http://www.collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/maicren1.o24
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091024&vis=aic&home=rpi&gender=m
RECAPS
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/10/24/MHOCK_1024091056.aspx
Troy Record:
http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2009/10/24/sports/doc4ae3ce8824bf9025123058.t\
xt

Albany Times-Union:
http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=857133
RECORD: 3-2-1 (0-0-0 ECAC)

Reale Deals
1. F Jerry D'Amigo, 1 G, 2 A
2. D Mike Bergin, 1 G, 1 A
3. F Brandon Pirri, 2 A

Upcoming Games
30 Oct - at Union
31 Oct - Army
06 Nov - #7 Yale (Black Friday)
07 Nov - Brown
13 Nov - at Clarkson

--

MEN'S HOCKEY
Rensselaer went 2-0 last week, beating Sacred Heart in overtime (4-3), before edging American International (3-2). Freshman Brandon Pirri (Toronto, ON) recorded four points on the weekend, including two goals and two assists. Classmate Bryce Merriam (Bethel Park, PA) earned a win in his first career start against the Yellow Jackets.

RPI is back on the ice this weekend when they visit Union on Friday (7pm), before hosting Army at the Houston Field House on Saturday (7pm). Live stats will be available on Friday at http://www.sidearmstats.com/union/mhockey/ as well as live video at http://www.unionathletics.com/showcase/#liveevents. Live stats on Saturday can be found at http://www.sidearmstats.com/rpi/mhockey/ and can be seen live on a pay-per-view basis with B2 Networks at http://www.b2livetv.com. Both games will be broadcast courtesy of WRPI radio on 91.5 FM or log on to www.wrpi.org and click on sports.

No comments:

Post a Comment