Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Marty O'Grady Won A Car

But... I'm sure he'll probably throw it back. I think it's a General Motors product.

RPI faces Michigan State for the Great Lakes Invitational title tomorrow night in Detroit. It'll be live on FSN Detroit at 7:30, don't miss it.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Confluence of RPI Hockey History

RPI defeated Michigan 6-4 on March 12, 1954 in Colorado Springs, CO in the 1954 Frozen Four. It was their first meeting, and the Engineers would go on to win their first national championship.

The Engineers won their 2nd national championship at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on March 30, 1985.

You've gotta lose your mind in Detroit Rock City.

PS: Check out my holiday tournament previews at College Hockey News - Part I, Part II. I did take Michigan in tomorrow's game... the Engineers can win this game. If they do, I won't be as surprised as a lot of people will be.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Midseason ECAC Power Rankings

Did you miss us? Of course not. I'm sure you all had a happy holiday, so we'll dispense with the small talk and get down to business.

Here's how we see the ECAC, *rightnow*.

1. Union - It's only taken 19 seasons, but the kid brothers have finally started to grow up. The Dutch have been living on the edge all season - as evidenced by their 8 overtime games so far already - but they've been ridiculously good. Remember that awesome overtime goal Chase Polacek scored in Schenectady? Yeah, that was their last loss. They're unbeaten in nine in a row since then (10 if you count the exhibition with the USNDPT, which they probably will if you ask their fans), although two were uninspiring ties with Brown and Lake Superior State and two were those jaw-droppers in Troy that we really don't want to dwell on. They're the last unbeaten team in the ECAC. Live it up while it lasts, boys. You've earned it. No excuses for blowing it in the playoffs this year.

2. Quinnipiac - Raise your hand if you thought Quinnipiac was going to be this good this year. All of you with your hands in the air are terrible liars. Defense was supposed to be the Bobcats' sticking point before the season started, but Dan Clarke has been lights out in net and the Q's scored goals in bunches. That means, more often than not, they're scoring more goals than they are allowing. Confucius says that's a good way to win hockey games. If not for their slip ups late in the first half - most notably a loss to Brown and a tie with Holy Cross - the Bobcats would be in the top spot. They're still in first place in the ECAC by points and they're still going to be a force to be reckoned with in the second half if they can keep things moving the way they had been at the end of November (when they were 12-1-0).

3. Yale - Remember when we whooped these guys on Black Friday? That's their only loss in the ECAC so far (which makes those 2 big points for the Tute). In fact, they only have three losses all year and that is by far their worst - one goal losses to Vermont and UMass don't look nearly as bad. The Bulldogs are still everything they were made out to be at the beginning of the season and they look to be strong contenders for both the Ivy League title and the ECAC title as expected. In fact, they're pretty much where people expected they would probably be at this time in the season - so why are they third in these rankings? Quinnipiac and Union have just been that much more impressive.

4. Cornell - Our friends in Pyongyang will probably view this as a loogie in the face, considering that they're ranked 4th in the nation in the last USCHO.com poll before the holiday break. That's too bad, because that ranking is badly overrated. True, the Big Red are an impressive 7-2-2, but who have they beaten? Niagara. Dartmouth. Harvard. Princeton. Brown. The only truly impressive wins on their record are a home win over Colgate and a road win in Troy - and they looked positively pedestrian in that game compared to the lofty heights that the poll voters have placed them at. They aren't horrible, obviously, and they're still contenders, but they're at best 4th in the ECAC right now.

5. RPI - Self-serving placement? Not as much as you might think. Although things haven't been 100% peachy since the win over Clarkson put the Engineers at 3-0 in the ECAC, things haven't been 100% lousy either. The Engineers do rank fifth in the league in KRACH, which is one of the better mathematical ranking systems out there in terms of comparing each team in the league to each other. They've got good wins over UNH, Yale, and BU - yeah, BU's rough this year, but not everyone goes to Boston and comes out with a win. Injuries have put this team behind the 8-ball as we've constantly mentioned here. So while they're now back in familiar lower-half-of-the-standings territory right now, the building blocks are certainly there for moving forward, and those games in hand are going to be rather useful.

6. Colgate - The Raiders started off slow out-of-conference, then burst to the top at the start of the ECAC schedule, trying to keep pace with Quinnipiac, but they've come down a little since they lost that pace with a tie against Yale. Since then, they're 2-4, including a stinko 7-6 loss at Canisius right before Christmas (although that could be a throwaway game similar to RPI's Niagara game). The only truly impressive game in that stretch was in Troy - but that was probably RPI's worst overall effort so far this season, at least in conference. I'm sure we could probably swap the Raiders with the Engineers on these rankings, especially in light of the head-to-head win and the fact that Colgate is literally directly below RPI in KRACH, but... nah.

7. St. Lawrence - This ranking, I think, doesn't really do the Saints true justice, but it's just about right compared to other teams in the league - there's a big gap between seventh and eighth, but SLU has the chops to be there in the end, for sure. They've been inconsistent, though. We saw them throw everything but the kitchen sink at RPI and only come away with two quick goals in the third period. They got nailed to the wall by Maine and shut out by Vermont. Like Cornell, the question with SLU is, who have they beaten? Army. RIT. Niagara. Sacred Heart. Clarkson twice (they lost once, too). Princeton. Harvard. That's racking up the wins, but it's not making that 8-7-2 record look exceptionally mighty. But I believe in them. They're where they need to be in the standings to make a run with some solid wins.

8. Brown - Yeah, Brown. Eighth. Hard to believe, but it's real. I'm not sold on the Bears being a good hockey team, but they've learned to play their system the right way and they've got five wins in a row after starting off the season 0-7-1 (with the one being a game that made Union look odd). Their big win is over Quinnipiac, but other than the Bobcats, they haven't really beaten anyone during their streak - UConn, Princeton, Harvard, and AIC are the unlucky four. Still, as bad as the bottom of the league has been to date, that five game streak is enough to put them at eighth. I highly doubt they'll be able to climb much higher than that, though.

9. Princeton - What. The. Heck. That's all you can really say about the Tigers so far this year. Lots of people thought Princeton was primed for a first-round bye. They were in the NCAA tournament with an at-large bid last year and brought back practically everyone from that team. But somewhere in it all, their defense decided to go to pot while their offense went into hibernation. Call it the reverse Quinnipiac effect, considering the Bobcats are where we thought Princeton would be, and the Tigers are where we thought the Q would be. Their last game was a win over UMass-Lowell, and that was their most impressive win of the season - they've lost against every other team of substance, and sometimes it was by a lot. They still have the potential, obviously, but they've put themselves behind early and it's going to be a pain to climb out.

10. Clarkson - Any RPI fan will tell you that Clarkson sucks, and this year it just happens to be literally true the way it was for the Engineers for the last few years. There's not been much to crow about - a nonconference win over St. Lawrence, wins over Niagara and RIT, and their lone win of the ECAC schedule so far, over Dartmouth. Yeah. Things are not kosher in Potsdam. Part of it might stem from the troubles of this summer, considering they were expecting to have another two defensemen on their roster. Oops. Not surprisingly, defense has been the issue, and the Knights are really struggling with it. This team definitely reminds me of RPI the last few years - lots of potential, but things just are not jelling the way they need to in order to make things work and it's devastating because of it.

11. Dartmouth - They should have been last considering how putrid their season has been, but they've been outclassed on that. A three-game win streak in late November has provided their only wins of the year - St. Lawrence, Providence, and Harvard. We never thought that little upset RPI provided in Hanover last year was an indication that the Big Green were bad, but it appears we might have been mistaken. Defense has been hard to come by, as they've given up at least 2 goals in every single game they've played this year. You spot teams a couple of goals, and they'll get some more if they have motivated talent. That's basically been the case here.

12. Harvard - Geez. This is a complete mess. They didn't have quite as lofty expectations as Princeton, but they were expected to at least vie for a first-round bye and they've fallen so much farther than their erstwhile intellectual superiors (did I just take a potshot? I believe I did). One win over Dartmouth is their entire victory slate for the 2009 end of the 2009-10 season unless they can beat Quinnipiac in Potsdam on Tuesday. Yeah, I'm not holding my breath either. Kyle Richter was let back into Harvard despite his previous realization that grade inflation wasn't enough for him (so he cheated on a few tests, nothing major), and that was supposed to bolster their defense, but he's been terrible. They brought in arguably the best freshman class in the league, but they've been stagnant - even 1st round draft pick Louis Leblanc, although he's only one man. The Crimson have done Dartmouth one better, giving up at least three goals in every game, and three is usually enough to win most times.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Men's Hockey - Union (Dec 9), at BU (Dec 11)

This was a week of high highs and low lows, ultimate heartache followed by unbridled joy. At the end of the odd week, the team seemed to be reinvented yet again, dropping the league game in devastating fashion 5-4 to Union, then going on to take down the reigning champions, Boston University, 5-3 on the road in non-conference play.




Originally scheduled to start at 7pm as usual, the opening puck drop was pushed back to 7:15 after Union's bus broke down in Schenectady. Leave it to Union...

Anyway, once the game got going, a few familiar sights were in order. First, the referee's arms were consistently in the air, and second, the Engineers managed to get down two skaters as Paul Kerins negated an RPI power play with a hooking penalty, then Brandon Pirri was called for interference (a penalty the referees couldn't seem to get right on either side all night), leading to a 4-on-3 that shortly became a lengthy 5-on-3, and given the Engineers' record on 5-on-3 penalty kills, basically everyone expected what was coming next. Union senior Mario Valery-Trabucco snapped up a loose puck in front and put it home for the 1-0 lead.

The Engineers killed the ensuing 5-on-4, and then a minute later got their second power play opportunity, capitalizing when Marty O'Grady took a nice feed from Pirri to tie the score at one with his third goal of the season.

The first period was fast-paced - both teams had a good number of shots - but the Engineers took control of flow during the second period (despite losing the shot battle). RPI took the lead early in the period when Jerry D'Amigo hit Alex Angers-Goulet with a beautiful pass that AAG blasted past Keith Kincaid to put the Engineers up 2-1. RPI had another two penalties to kill in the interim, but they escaped the period unscathed - including a flurry at the end of the second period after a lousy interference call against Scott Halpern in which Allen York stood on his head to keep the puck out of the net.

Chase Polacek scored his 11th goal of the season early in the third to give the Engineers a crucial insurance goal, but that 2-goal lead would vanish in a hurry thanks to Mario Valery-Trabucco. Just two minutes after the Polacek goal, Valery-Trabucco brought the puck into the zone and deftly maneuvered around Peter Merth to find some open ice, then blasted a high shot over York's shoulder to cut the RPI lead to one. Two minutes after that, he completed the hat-trick with an odd shot from a strange angle that York, in all honesty, should have had, but the shot was in and just like that, it was 3-3.

The Engineers didn't back down at that point, though. Midway through the period, another lousy interference call went against Union this time, and Polacek converted for his second goal of the night, putting RPI up 4-3.

Union pushed hard for the tying goal, eventually forcing the Engineers to ice the puck late, and Seth Appert deftly called timeout with the lead to give his defenders a breather. It worked at first, and with 1:10 left to play, it was Union's turn to call timeout with a faceoff on the RPI side of the neutral zone. Union won the faceoff, and Kincaid was pulled for the extra attacker. About 20 seconds later, Jason Walters, who had beaten York for the game-winner in the RPI Tournament, scored to tie the game at four, sucking the air out of Houston Field House.

In another 32 seconds, you could hear a pin drop. The Engineers were playing for overtime. Union was playing to win. Mike Schreiber put one past York to make it 5-4. As an RPI fan, I can't recall a turn of events that was more of a stab in the chest. Walters would take a penalty with six seconds left, and the Engineers seemed to understand just how dire a situation they suddenly faced, and a flurry at the end of the game with York on the bench almost resulted in a second consecutive last-second goal against Union, but it was not to be.

The Engineers were 70 seconds away from handing Union their first ECAC loss and putting themselves right back in the thick of the ECAC race. Once that 70 seconds had elapsed, they had lost in regulation,were below .500 both in the ECAC and overall, and out two important home points.

Paul Kerins was apparently pretty rattled. After the final whistle, he decided to wrestle John Simpson, grabbing hold of his facemask and tearing Simpson's helmet from his head. He was assessed a 5-minute major at the 20:00 mark and was handed a game disqualification, which meant he would be suspended for the BU game, making what was already a bad situation worse.

Boston University



Kerins was not the only Engineer out of the lineup Friday in Boston. Jerry D'Amigo tweaked his MCL in the Union game (against the same team that originally injured him), and with the National Junior camp looming, Appert scratched him for the non-conference matchup despite D'Amigo's insistence that he was ready to go. Jerry's definitely a gamer, but Appert sat him for his own good. If he'd hurt himself further against BU and missed out on the national team, it would have been a bad situation.

The beneficiaries were Justin Smith and Kevin Beauregard, who got a chance to crack the lineup again. Also out was Allen York - there have been some concerns about whether he is fully healed from his upper body injury, which may have been a cracked rib rather than a sore shoulder as originally reported. Thus, freshman Bryce Merriam was given his fourth start.

Normally it seems like a lineup like this against the defending national champions might raise red flags right away, especially after such a devastating loss. That wasn't going to be the case, though.

RPI got an early power play, and Seth Appert, who had been tinkering with a five-forward power play unit since Bergin went down with an injury, decided to go all in with five scorers to try and beat sophomore Kieran Millan, who backstopped the Terriers to the title last season. Unfortunately, it backfired almost immediately, as Kevin Shattenkirk poked the puck out of the zone to Chris Connolly, who went 2-on-1 shorthanded the other direction and scored to give BU the early 1-0 lead.

After the Engineers killed a too many men penalty (getting caught the second time after getting away with it once), Angers-Goulet scored his second goal of the week in largely the same fashion as his first one, this time taking great pass from Brandon Pirri and rifling it past Millan on the Engineers' first official shot on goal of the game to tie it at one.

Just 19 seconds later, the Engineers took the lead as BU came out lax for the center-ice faceoff. The exchange was actually fairly weak - an awkward pass from Beauregard to Bryan Brutlag down low was followed by a light shot that Millan badly misplayed as it seemed to glide into the net, not even reaching the back, but it got over the line and that's all that really mattered, giving RPI a 2-1 lead on two shots. The Terriers worked hard for the tying goal in the first (the first three goals coming in the first six minutes), and BU led in shots 16-5 after one period, but the Engineers led on the scoreboard.

Early in the second, Brutlag was sent off for holding and the Terriers capitalized. They had been blasting away on the power play all night, and Zach Cohen delivered, tying the score at 2. Five minutes later, the Engineers went on their second power play of the night as Eric Gryba was sent off for holding (and then tossed a dime for complaining, incidentally pushing him to #1 all time in penalty minutes at BU), and it looked like a good chance for RPI to get back into the lead.

Second power play, same as the first. Another clearance by BU past the five forwards, another odd-man rush, this one basically a 2-on-none that Shattenkirk buried on his own to put BU up 3-2 midway through the game, the second shorthanded goal of the night for the Terriers. As the remainder of the period wore on, the Engineers were staying out of the box, and it was BU's turn to take a few penalties in succession, but as the first two power plays showed, it was more of a boon than a problem for the defending champs. RPI gave up a couple more odd-man rushes on their own power plays, but Merriam was up to the task these times. The Engineers actually won the shot battle in the second, 9-8, but yet again, the period was won by the team with fewer shots.

The third period began to unfold in a manner which seemed to indicate that RPI wasn't going to score again. Appert retooled the power play to utilize the standard defensive contingent for the final period, and that helped stop the turnovers, but the lone power play opportunity didn't produce a goal.

Midway through the period, the tying goal came from an unexpected source - Erik Burgdoerfer - but the goal was generated by Joel Malchuk, who sacrificed his body for the goal. Malchuk made a quick dish along the boards and was absolutely obliterated for his effort. The referee's arm went up for what was probably going to be a boarding call, but Burgdoerfer flicked a quick wrister over Millan's shoulder to tie the score.

Four minutes later, it was another unexpected source scoring what would prove to be the game winning goal - Christian Jensen. With six minutes left in the game, Jensen abandoned the blue line to scoop up a loose puck and deposited it in the net to give the Engineers a 4-3 advantage.

A very untimely penalty by Jeff Foss with about three-and-a-half minutes left provided for some tough play late, but the penalty kill held up to finish off a 5-for-6 night on the kill. The Terriers pulled Millan for the extra attacker, but Tyler Helfrich got the puck out of the zone and behind the defense. He casually skated the puck all the way over the goal line, sealing the big bounce-back win for RPI.

BU is having a very difficult year - they have only 4 wins all season just one year removed from being on top of the college hockey world. By that metric, the Engineers win was not all that impressive. But they're still the champs. It was still a road game. RPI was still without some key players. They made adjustments and bounced back from a tough loss and bounced back from giving up the lead in the second period. The win snapped a four game slide. And more than anything, it's a big win heading into the winter break, a positive note to end the first half of the season on instead of going in stewing about losing to Union and having a long losing streak. All good things.

It's two weeks off, then it's off to Detroit for the Great Lakes Invitational, essentially the Beanpot of Christmas tournaments. The yearly tournament is comprised of Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, and a single invitee. The Engineers are that invitee for the second time in program history, the first coming in 1986 as they lost in the championship game. It'll take place at a true hockey mecca, Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings, the CCHA Final Four, and the 1985 Frozen Four, where 25 years ago, the Engineers won their second national championship. It's home for captain John Kennedy (Saginaw), and, oh yeah, the Frozen Four is in Detroit this year (albeit at Ford Field).

It's another traditionally tough team lined up for RPI as they have the Michigan Wolverines in the first round. Michigan is probably the most consistently good team in the nation (they haven't missed the NCAA tournament since 1990 - that's a longer streak than RPI's streak of NOT going to the tournament, which is long), but they haven't been consistently great (only two national titles during that stretch despite 10 Frozen Fours). They have been having a horrible season by their standards, though. They have an almost identical record to RPI at 9-9-0, and nine losses is more than half of total losses for the season for the Wolverines in each season since their streak started. They're currently unranked for the first time since the mid-90s. They could be ripe for the picking, and especially if the Engineers get some of their hurt personnel back, they could have a shot at making the title game.

The team is at .500, but they still have room to grow, there's no doubt. They've shown consistently that they are never out of a game, but now they need to have more finishes like the BU game and less like the two Union games. It's all about finishing, and many of these recent losses haven't been individually problematic. Some of it has been bad puck luck, some of it has been bad timing. We'll see if they can pick up the pace in the second half.

See you in the Motor City! Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and a dignified winter solstice.

Other junk - Ranked teams in the ECAC this week are #4 Cornell (up one despite being idle), #8 Quinnipiac (down one after tying Holy Cross and beating American International), #9 Yale (down one despite being idle), and #18 Union (up two after stealing one from RPI). Again, Colgate (7 points, idle) was the only other ECAC team to earn votes. Non-conference opponents past and present include #13 Michigan State, #15 UMass, #16 New Hampshire, #17 Alaska, and Michigan (23 votes).

Chase Polacek's point-scoring streak is now at 13 after registering 2 goals and 2 assists in last week's games. He has 10 goals and 12 assists during his current stretch. With 26 total points, Polacek is now 2nd in the nation in scoring, trailing only Michigan State's Corey Tropp (27). His 12 goals are tied for 7th nationally (Tropp's 16 leads), and his 14 assists have him tied for 8th (James Marcou of UMass is 1st with 21). Brandon Pirri's 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists) is 5th in the nation among freshmen.

The Engineers' homestand ended with the Union loss at a pathetically dismal 1-4-0. They will not be back at Houston Field House until January 22-23 (Dartmouth/Harvard) and there are only six home games left on the entire schedule (they are 6-5-0 at home, 3-4-1 away from home). Seven of the next nine games are outside of Troy.

Sophomore Christian Morissette has apparently left the Engineers. He was not listed on the team roster released this week and has been removed from the roster on the RPI website. He did not appear in any games this season. If Morissette has indeed left, he finishes at RPI with a career line of 8 games and 1 goal, all in his freshman year.

With Morissette's departure and first points of the season from Jensen and Beauregard, the only skaters on the team with no points are defenseman Mark Zarbo (1 game) and forward Jordan Watts (3 games).

Speaking of Watts, there's no confirmation of this, but he may be nursing an injury. As evidence, Watts was with C.J. Lee standing on the RPI bench during the recent Skate With the Engineers event, and the appearance of Kevin Beauregard, widely presumed to be the last man on the forward depth chart in the BU game with D'Amigo and Kerins both unavailable.

F Jerry D'Amigo (MCL sprain) - sat out against BU
F C.J. Lee (wrist) - has missed eight of the last nine
F Jordan Watts (lower body?) - ?
D Mike Bergin (concussion) - has missed eight straight games
G Allen York (upper body) - sat out against BU, may have hampered recent appearances

ECAC Standings
1. Quinnipiac - 14 pts
2. Cornell - 13 pts
3. Union - 11 pts (7 games)
4. Colgate - 11 pts (9 games)
5. Yale - 10 pts
6. St. Lawrence - 9 pts
7. Brown - 7 pts
8. RPI - 6 pts
9. Princeton - 5 pts
10. Harvard - 4 pts (8 games, -10 GD)
11. Clarkson - 4 pts (8 games, -12 GD)
12. Dartmouth - 2 pts

By Winning Pct. (points/possible)
1. Union .786 (11/14)
2. Quinnipiac .778 (14/18)
3. Cornell .722 (13/18)
4. Yale .714 (10/14)
5. Colgate .611 (11/18)
6. St. Lawrence .562 (9/16)
7. Brown .438 (7/16)
8. RPI .429 (6/14)
9. Princeton .278 (5/18)
T-10. Clarkson and Harvard .250 (4/16)
12. Dartmouth .143 (2/14)

#20 Union at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
12/9/09 - 7:15 pm
RESULT: Union 5, RPI 4

RECORD: 8-9-1 (3-4-0 ECAC, 6 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Chase Polacek, 2 G, 1 A
2. F Brandon Pirri, 3 A
3. F Tyler Helfrich, 2 A

RPI at Boston University
Non-Conference Game - Agganis Arena (Boston, MA)
12/11/09 - 7:00 pm
RESULT: RPI 5, Boston University 3

RECORD: 9-9-1 (3-4-0 ECAC, 6 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Alex Angers-Goulet, 1 G, 1 A
2. D Christian Jensen, 1 G, +1
3. D Erik Burgdoerfer, 1 G, +2

Upcoming Games
29 Dec - vs. Michigan (Detroit, MI)
30 Dec - vs. #13 Michigan State OR Michigan Tech (Detroit, MI)
08 Jan - at #8 Quinnipiac
10 Jan - at Princeton
16 Jan - at #18 Union

RPI went 1-1-0 last week, falling to Union, 5-4, before defeating Boston University, 5-3, at Agganis Arena. Senior Christian Jensen (Watchung, NJ) had the game-winning goal against the defending national champion Terriers.

The Engineers head into the holiday break with a record of 9-9-1, including a 3-4-0 ECAC Hockey mark. RPI returns to action on December 29 against Michigan in the 45th Annual Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit (7:30pm). The Engineers face either Michigan Tech or Michigan State the following day in the consolation/championship game (4pm/7:30pm).

Ticket information for the event can be found at http://www.collegehockeyatthejoe.com/gli.aspx. Both games will be broadcast live courtesy of WRPI radio on 91.5 FM or log on to www.wrpi.org and click on sports.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Taking Down the Champs

Yeah, so BU is having a rough year, and they certainly let the Engineers right back into last night's game in the third period with their very tentative play. This certainly isn't the same team that won the national championship last year. Still, you don't get a chance to beat the reigning champs all that often - RPI hadn't done it since 1993, and last night was only the 7th time in school history that they've done it - so let's celebrate with a goofy looking photoshop.

Christian Jensen's 1st goal of the year put the Engineers ahead for good in the 3rd period.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Battle in Beantown

Lee and Bergin still out with their nagging injuries. Jerry D'Amigo tweaked his MCL against Union (the same team he initially hurt it against... what is it with Union and Jerry's knee?) and Appert is sitting him despite protestations from the man - he'll miss tonight and more than likely GLI, since he'll probably be on the US National Junior Team. Also out is Paul Kerins, who will sit due to his antics at the end of Wednesday's game. Hashed up lineup? Probably.

Will the Engineers get back to .500 before Christmas? BU may be the defending national champions, but they aren't exactly in a position to retain that title in Detroit - and by that I mean, they have 4 wins all year.

Oh yeah. Go check out Gross Misconduct Hockey's assessment on tonight's game.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


There's only one way to visualize what just happened tonight in Troy.

Into the Flood Again

Here we are, three hours from puck drop and I'm having a hard time getting psyched up for this game. I chalk this up to a few factors - 1) it's Wednesday, 2) it's snowing, 3) it's only Union.

But, it's still a huge game for the Engineers, so I suppose I ought to try. Give this a go.

If I would, could you?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Women's Hockey - Union Home-and-Home

This weekend marked the annual home-and-home series between RPI and Union, a series which has given the Engineers a little trouble the past few seasons despite Union regularly occupying the cellar of the ECAC standings. Last season the game in Schenectady needed a late RPI power play goal to secure the win, while the season before the Engineers surrendered a point at Messa Rink (one of only two points earned by Union that season), tying the Dutchwomen 4-4 despite outshooting them 52-17.

RPI had no such difficulty this season, nor did they give anyone reason to doubt they were the better team as they shutout Union on consecutive afternoons, picking up four important ECAC points in the process. The margin was a (relatively) close 2-0 on Saturday, while Sunday's game was a dominant 5-0 victory for the Engineers



Le Donne/Haller

van der Bliek

It was an uneventful first half of the game over in Schenectady, with no scoring in the first period or in the early part of the second, and only a couple penalties each way. As is fairly typical in Union games, the Dutchwomen only managed a handful of shots in the first half, with none that really tested Sonja van der Bliek. Through the first two periods Union recorded only 5 shots on goal to RPI's 22.

Midway through that second frame, Whitney Naslund broke the stalemate and picked up her 9th of the season from Alisa Harrison to give RPI a 1-0 lead near the midpoint of the period. The Engineers took several penalties in the latter half of the second but Union was unable to manage any sustained pressure, and the score remained 1-0 for the better part of 20 minutes.

Midway through the third RPI got a power play opportunity as Union was sent off on a holding the stick call, and it took just 22 seconds with the advantage for Alisa Harrison to score a goal of her own, with assists going to Naslund and Allison Wright. Union brought some pressure late in regulation but nothing of significance and the buzzer sounded with the score still 2-0.

Some assorted notes about Saturday's game - the scoreboard at Messa Rink was broken, leading to confusion about the game clock, penalties, and scoring. The public address guys had to announce the game time at regular intervals so the teams (and broadcasters) knew how much was left on the clock. RPI's top line of Wright, Harrison, and Naslund accounted for all of RPI's points, going 0-1-1, 1-1-2, and 1-1-2 respectively. The win also marked the first on a Saturday for the Engineers since the exhibition season opener against Bluewater on September 26.



Le Donne/Vadner

van der Bliek

Unlike Saturday's game, where Union played strong, and with energy, Sunday's game was really no contest from the get-go. Allison Wright tallied what would stand as the game winning goal at 5:07 of the first and it was all RPI from there. Kendra Dunlop doubled RPI's score a little less than three minutes later with a power play goal en route to outshooting the Dutchwomen 10-3 in the period.

Jill Vandegrift and Whitney Naslund notched goals in the second to again double RPI's lead to 4-0, and Alisa Harrison picked up the Engineers' fifth at 12:01 of the final frame to give the band the first legitimate excuse to play Hawaii 5-0 in quite a long time.

Unlike in Saturday's totally top-line dominated affair, 11 players tallied points in Sunday's game, with Allison Wright leading the charge with a 1-2-3 line. Harrison and Naslund had a goal and assist apiece while 8 others each picked up a point. Sonja van der Bliek was strong in net to earn her second shutout of the weekend, turning away several good Union opportunities as the Dutchwomen had their only flurry of good shots on the power play late in the third. The third period saw RPI outshot by Union (8-6), a feat not accomplished since January of 2006 when Union outshot RPI 6-5 in the second period of an otherwise uneventful 5-1 RPI win.

Whether RPI's weekend inconsistencies stemmed from games on Saturday or simply the second game of the weekend, they broke the pattern decisively this weekend with two convincing wins over Union. And they did so in games that have given both RPI teams fits in seasons past - those that come against opponents we "should" beat.

Rossli Chace did not dress this weekend after suffering a broken leg in practice the week prior.

RPI is now idle for a full month before hosting Clarkson and St. Lawrence at the Field House on January 8th and 9th.


RPI @ Union
ECAC Hockey Game - Messa Rink (Schenectady, NY)
12/5/09 - 2:00pm
RPI 2, Union 0

College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wrenuni1.d05
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091205&vis=rpi&home=uc&gender=w

RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/12/5/WICE_1205090855.aspx
UC: http://www.unionathletics.com/news/2009/12/5/WICE_1205094606.aspx

RECORD: 6-8-4 (3-2-2 ECAC Hockey, 8 points)


Union @ RPI
ECAC Hockey Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
12/6/09 - 12:00pm
RPI 5, Union 0

College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wrenuni1.d06
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091206&vis=uc&home=rpi&gender=w

RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/12/6/WICE_1206092422.aspx
UC: http://www.unionathletics.com/news/2009/12/6/WICE_1206090422.aspx

RECORD: 7-8-4 (4-2-2 ECAC Hockey, 10 points)


ECAC Standings (as of 12/6/09):
             GP    Pts    ECAC      All
Clarkson 9 16 8-1-0 14-4-1
Cornell 10 16 7-1-2 8-4-2
Harvard 9 12 6-3-0 7-3-2
Quinnipiac 10 12 4-2-4 7-6-5
Princeton 10 11 5-4-1 7-6-1
RPI 8 10 4-2-2 7-8-4
SLU 9 10 4-3-2 7-5-5
Dartmouth 9 9 4-4-1 5-4-1
Colgate 10 7 2-5-3 4-12-3
Yale 10 5 2-7-1 3-8-2
Brown 10 3 0-7-3 1-10-3
Union 8 1 0-7-1 2-13-1

Upcoming Games

Jan. 8 - St. Lawrence
Jan. 9 - Clarkson
Jan. 15 - at Brown
Jan. 16 - at Yale



The Engineers went 2-0 last week, sweeping a home-and-home series with Union College, 2-0 and 5-0. Senior Allison Wright (Oakville, ON) recorded four points (1 goals, 3 assists) in the two games, including three (1 goal, 2 assists) in the home win on Sunday. Rensselaer (7-8-4; 4-2-2 ECACH) returns to the ice on January 8 & 9, when it hosts North Country-rivals St. Lawrence and Clarkson, respectively.

Live Stats for both games will be available at http://www.sidearmstats.com/rpi/whockey/index.htm and can be seen live on a pay-per-view basis through the B2 Networks at https://www.b2livetv.com/login.asp.

Men's Hockey - Cornell and Colgate (Dec 4 and 5)

This was supposed to be a big weekend from the very outset of the season, but once it arrived it became apparent that this would probably be the most difficult home weekend of the year as well. The Big Red entered ranked 7th in the country, while Colgate had rattled off an impressive run of wins at the beginning of the ECAC season. With the Engineers on a rough losing streak, they needed to take some points, this weekend, but it was not to be as RPI was swept at home for the first time this season, losing 2-1 on Friday and 5-3 on Saturday.




After the Union game the previous week, the assumption had been that Jerry D'Amigo would be out with an MCL sprain for two weeks, after which he was likely to miss the Great Lakes Invitational with the USA National Junior team, meaning he was lost to the Engineers for the entire month of December. But all week long leading up to the big home weekend, the word was that D'Amigo was suddenly feeling fine, testing his knee, and eventually practicing. Then on Friday. All week he talked about how much he wanted to play. Then the word came on Friday. Jerry D'Amigo was good to go. The legend continues to grow.

The combination of Cornell's excellent power play and RPI's poor penalty kill meant one thing - staying out of the box was paramount if the Engineers were going to have an opportunity to win. That was a bit rough in the first period, as the Engineers took a pair of penalties. The first penalty was killed off without much of a problem, and after RPI had a power play of their own that went nowhere.

The second penalty of the period was a lazy interference penalty to senior Garett Vassel, and Cornell capitalized. After defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer lost his stick, the Engineers were practically down to 3 defenders - Blake Gallagher, one head of the Big Red's two-headed scoring monster, put the puck in the net to make it 1-0.

Fortunately the Engineers were able to stay out of the box for the most part after Gallagher's goal, denying Cornell their power play life blood and keeping RPI in the game. Five minutes into the second period, Tyler Helfrich scored a goal, only his second of the season (he missed 7 games with an ankle injury), from Chase Polacek and Scott Halpern, to tie the score at one.

For several minutes after the Helfrich goal, the Engineers pushed for the go-ahead goal, but they could not solve senior goaltender Ben Scrivens, who didn't give up too many rebounds. However, Cornell would get the key tie-breaking goal 12 minutes into the period. The Big Red gained the zone with a 2-on-1 as Colin Greening, the other head of the scoring monster, wound up and fired a big shot that went over Allen York's shoulder and in - really, a nifty goal-scorer's goal. It put Cornell up 2-1, but RPI didn't back down. They kept pushing, but again, weren't able to find away to get Scrivens to cough up many rebounds. The Engineers outshot Cornell 11-4 in the second period.

The third period turned into a battle for puck control as Cornell went into their usual lockdown mode with a third period lead. RPI got a few chances during the period, but not many good ones. Easily, the best opportunity came five minutes into the period when D'Amigo hit Brandon Pirri with a nice pass near the net, and Pirri, with an open shot, rang it off the post.

Ultimately, two power play opportunities still were not enough to get the job done for RPI, but they didn't give up too many chances themselves, either. A penalty to Joel Malchuk slowed down the attack, but Cornell didn't score - only three penalties all night meant the Engineers were largely successful in their goal of staying out of the box, but 2-1 was the final tally. It was a game the Engineers were very much in from start to finish, and they did play well enough to win. Sometimes, you can do that and still not get anything out of it. Cornell may be partially going on reputation on the national scene, but they're still a very good team.




Coming off a Friday loss, the Saturday game with Colgate became even more important for RPI, especially since it had been the second consecutive loss - not to mention that home points are supposed to be money in the bank compared to road points.

The most obvious thing right off the bat - Appert shook up the lines for this one, completely breaking up the People's Line, pairing Helfrich and Pirri, Polacek and D'Amigo, and O'Grady with Angers-Goulet. The stated reason was concern over Colgate's All-ECAC scorer, David McIntyre, and stopping him is very important to stopping the Raiders.

Two minutes in, it looked like the Engineers might have been off to the start they needed as junior Joel Malchuk collected his third goal of the season off a nice pass from O'Grady to make it 1-0 RPI.

But that was where the fast start ended. Minutes later, with Pirri in the box on a slash, Colgate junior Brian Day scored to tie things up, and just two minutes after that, Christian Long made it 2-1 Colgate. Just like that, the Engineers were behind again. Colgate dominated play in the first frame, outshooting RPI 16-5.

A Bryan Brutlag giveaway early in the second period made it 3-1 Colgate when Kurtis Bartliff went in alone against York and put it home. Things were not looking good for the men of Troy, but they refused to quit. Two power-play goals in the second drew things square as Patrick Cullen scored his second goal of the season about two-and-a-half minutes after Bartliff's goal to bring RPI within one, and then eight minutes later a power play tally from Helfrich tied it up. It was 3-3 heading into the second intermission, and things looked decent, given that RPI had turned around the shot totals, 13-6.

But it was not to be. Appert would later describe the third, especially the first goal given up in the period as "embarassing." Colgate's Robbie Brisebois broke the tie 2:17 into the third when he took the puck - unmolested - from the slot, behind the net, and ripped a quick shot into the back of the net. RPI would continue working to tie the game for a second time, but not even a power play opportunity would be enough to pull the Engineers back into it. Pirri was robbed with about six minutes left, and a minute later he missed an open net. McIntyre (who the Angers-Goulet line had contained all game) made his presence felt with two minutes left, giving the Raiders their 2-goal edge back and basically sealing the deal.

It was the first two-loss weekend of the year for the Engineers, who fell back to the .500 mark for the first time in over a month. After winning their first three ECAC games of the season, the Engineers have now lost three in a row (at SLU being the first), making this Wednesday's matchup with Union (the last undefeated team in the ECAC at 3-0-3) of the utmost importance. It could be the fulcrum upon which the entire season revolves - a win and RPI is right back in the hunt. A loss, and they're facing a tough go of it in January. Fortunately, it's at home. Both games this year with Union have been all out wars, but this is the first one that counts in the standings. Union's been living on the edge - they've already played an unbelievable eight overtime games, and they are on an 8-game unbeaten streak dating back to that night in Schenectady when Chase Polacek silenced Dutchmen fans with his overtime winner. Union is 4-0-4 since then.

Other junk - With one win in the last six games, the Engineers have finally dropped off the national radar completely, taking no votes for the first time since ECAC play opened. Ranked league teams this week are #5 Cornell (up two after beating RPI and tying Union, with one first place vote), #7 Quinnipiac (down three after being swept by Yale and Brown), #8 Yale (up two after sweeping Quinnipiac and Princeton), and #20 Union (ranked for the first time this year after beating Colgate and tying Cornell). Colgate (7 votes) was the only other team to receive votes this week. Past opponents ranked this week include #15 UMass, #16 Alaska, and #19 New Hampshire.

Chase Polacek now has an eleven game point-scoring streak going back to the first Union game (8 goals, 10 assists). His 22 total points have him tied for 7th nationally. His 10 goals are tied for 13th in the nation, and 12 assists is tied for 14th. He's shaping up to be one of the most rounded attackers in the country, the only player in the Top 30 in goals, assists, power play goals, and shorthanded goals.

Friday's game against reigning national champions Boston University will be live on NESN, so if you can't make it to the game, check it out on TV. You can watch the Union game for free streaming live on the internet at RPI TV's Ustream channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/rpi-tv-channel-6-stream---live-football-and-hockey. They have all of RPI's home games streaming for free (techincally not on the up and up, since B2 wants you to have to pay for it, but apparently the Institute isn't getting anything from the money you pay to B2, so don't feel bad about ripping them off, eh?).

F Jerry D'Amigo (MCL sprain) - played against Cornell/Colgate, probable this week
F C.J. Lee (wrist) - has missed six of the last seven
D Mike Bergin (concussion) - has missed six straight games
G Allen York (upper body) - has played in three straight

ECAC Standings
1. Quinnipiac - 14 pts
2. Cornell - 13 pts
3. Colgate - 11 pts
4. Yale - 10 pts
5. Union - 9 pts (6 games)
6. St. Lawrence - 9 pts (8 games)
7. Brown - 7 pts
8. RPI - 6 pts
9. Princeton - 5 pts
10. Harvard - 4 pts (8 games, -10 GD)
11. Clarkson - 4 pts (8 games, -12 GD)
12. Dartmouth - 2 pts

By Winning Pct. (points/possible)
1. Quinnipiac .778 (14/18)
2. Union .750 (9/12)
3. Cornell .722 (13/18)
4. Yale .714 (10/14)
5. Colgate .611 (11/18)
6. St. Lawrence .562 (9/16)
7. RPI .500 (6/12)
8. Brown .438 (7/16)
9. Princeton .278 (5/18)
T-10. Clarkson and Harvard .250 (4/16)
12. Dartmouth .143 (2/14)

#7 Cornell at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
12/4/09 - 7:00 pm
RESULT: Cornell 2, RPI 1
College Hockey Stats: http://www.collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/mcorren1.d04
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091204&vis=cor&home=rpi&gender=m
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/12/4/MHOCK_1204095154.aspx
Troy Record: http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2009/12/05/sports/doc4b19f794c3990140798497.txt
Albany Times-Union: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=874167&category=RENSSELAER
Elmira Star-Gazette: http://www.stargazette.com/article/20091204/SPORTS03/912040393/Gallagher+leads+Cornell+past+RPI
Post-game Press Conference: http://www.youtube.com/user/RPIathletics#p/u/0/dnWoshsSOoU
Full replay, streaming: http://www.rpitv.org/productions/2009/12/04/RPI-Men-s-Hockey-vs-Cornell
RECORD: 8-7-1 (3-2-0 ECAC, 6 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Scott Halpern, 1 A, 4 shots
2. F Jerry D'Amigo, playing
3. F Tyler Helfrich, 1 G

Colgate at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
12/5/09 - 7:00 pm
RESULT: Colgate 5, RPI 3
College Hockey Stats: http://www.collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/mclgren1.d05
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091205&vis=col&home=rpi&gender=m
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/12/5/MHOCK_1205094304.aspx?path=hockey
Troy Record: http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2009/12/06/sports/doc4b1b49fb682c0920001360.txt
Albany Times-Union: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=874494&category=SPORTS
Madison County Courier: http://www.madisoncountycourier.com/hamilton-new-york/colgate-skates-by-rensselaer-5-3-8621/
Full replay, streaming: http://www.rpitv.org/productions/2009/12/05/RPI-Men-s-Hockey-vs-Colgate
RECORD: 8-8-1 (3-3-0 ECAC, 6 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Patrick Cullen, 1 G, 1 A
2. F Alex Angers-Goulet, 2 A
3. F Chase Polacek, 1 A, 5 shots

Upcoming Games
09 Dec - #20 Union
11 Dec - at Boston University
29 Dec - vs. Michigan (Detroit, MI)
30 Dec - vs. #14 Michigan State OR Michigan Tech (Detroit, MI)
08 Jan - at #7 Quinnipiac

Rensselaer went 0-2-0 last week, dropping a pair of ECAC Hockey games to seventh-ranked Cornell (2-1) and Colgate (5-3). Sophomore Patrick Cullen (Washington, DC) had a goal and an assist against the Raiders on Saturday. RPI (8-8-1; 3-3-0 ECAC Hockey) hosts Union on Wednesday (7pm), for the first of two league meetings between the area-rivals this season. The Engineers then travel to defending national champion Boston University for a non-league contest on Friday (7pm).

Live stats for Wednesday’s games will be available at http://www.sidearmstats.com/rpi/mhockey/index.htm and can also 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. Live stats for Friday’s contest can be found at http://www.goterriers.com/sports/m-hockey/sched/bost-m-hockey-sched.html. In addition, the game will be televised in New England on NESN.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Force is Missing

Engineers 0-for-5 on the power play tonight. They were game, but ultimately fell 2-1 to Cornell in a game that was thankfully free of hi-jinks and wasn't decided by the referees. It was boring, but Cornell games are boring so what can you do about that? Nothing. Just be glad the game winner was a nice shot, be happy but not satisfied to have been in it at the final whistle with the #7 team in the land, and do better on Saturday.

Oh, and that's four losses in the last five games (since Mike Bergin's concussion).

Help us, Obi Wan Bergin, you're our only hope.

Time to Go

It's on. Let's get pumped.

The RPI'd up lyrics, for your approval:

Fight! Fight! Red and white!
Old-time hockey, bar the door
Clear the track it's all-out war
Light the lamp, throw a hit
Red and white never quit
The barn is full, our team's in town
So put 'em up boys, knock 'em down
Drop the puck, it's time to go (time to go)

Bust outta work, at just quarter past three
Time to round up the gang
and take Route 7 down to Hoosick Street
Head for the Tute with the Northway crowd
You can feel it in the air, when the team's in town


The pep band's ready, it's time to take to the ice
So tie down the jersey 'cause it could get ugly tonight
Top corner, five hole, off the post and in
On a quest for the cup, and we're ready to win


Fight! Fight! Red and white!

Drop the puck, it's time to go

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

Remember when we said Jerry D'Amigo was probably going to miss the next four games?

Yeah. About that...
Jerry D’Amigo practiced on Wednesday. Not just skated, practiced.
Whether or not Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s standout freshman plays this weekend, remains to be seen.

“There’s a chance,” said RPI head coach Seth Appert. “Better today (Wednesday) than there was yesterday (Tuesday).”
This kid is John Wayne. "MCL? Pfft. Whatever. I've got another one."

You know what else John Wayne had? Big. Brass. Balls.
“I want to get back and help the team win,” D’Amigo said.

“Yeah, I didn’t even intend on him practicing,” Appert said after Wednesday’s practice.

“He keeps needling me and letting me know how much he wants to play,” Appert says. “And I think that says a lot about him. He knows he has a chance to play to make the (USA) World Junior team in a few weeks but yet he really wants to get back in there for Friday night’s game here. That’s a heckuva mindset that he has about that and I think it’s very impressive and it shows why he’s such a special player, because he’s such a team guy.

“Our intention was,” Appert continued, “was to bring him out there for some (pre-practice) work. We did some skill-development stuff, we did some goalie work, and he was shooting on the goalies and he was doing crossovers and testing (the sprained knee) it, see how it’s feeling with the brace.

“But Jerry’s Jerry and he started testing it more aggressively,” Appert said, “and all of a sudden I look over and he’s doing stops-and-starts, blue line to blue line and really testing it, seeing if he can stop and explode the other way. He went for about 20 minutes doing those things and it was fine. There was no discomfort, no pain, no looseness.”

So, after speaking with team doctors and trainers, Appert decided to allow D’Amigo to practice wearing an orange (no contact) shirt “and see how practice goes and practice was successful as well.
Oh yeah. This happened too.
Jerry D'Amigo, a freshman forward on the Rensselaer men's hockey team, was one of 29 players named Wednesday to the preliminary roster for the 2010 U.S. National Junior Team. That means he's been chosen to participate in the three-day pre-tournament training camp Dec. 17-19 in Grand Forks, N.D.
If he makes the team (there are 16 forwards on the preliminary roster, they'll probably take 13), he'll be missing for GLI, but it's a total honor to make the team at D'Amigo's age. He'll still be eligible next year, and there aren't many guys who get a chance to play in two World Junior Championships.

This guy is all heart. Period. He's a fan favorite already for a reason - he doesn't take any shifts off and he wants to shoot for the stars as a team player.

Obviously, we'd love to see him in the lineup this weekend if he can make it. I think we can do without him in Michigan - hopefully he's in Saskatoon representing his country that weekend.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tragedy at 60:00 - 10 months later

It doesn't seem like it was that long ago, but a true tragedy unfolded back in January at Houston Field House last season.

Watch it again, just the "injury."

Poor, poor Taylor Davenport. Such a shame that a Division I college hockey player, and a senior, no less, can't keep his head up while shooting the puck off-balance in the final seconds of a game his team was leading by 3 goals. It is truly tragic. At least his teammates showed the ultimate class in the wake of such heartache.

Of course, it wasn't seen that way in Central New York.

Even before he made headlines whining about the referees, Mike Schafer was issuing thinly veiled threats through the media.
Cornell coach Mike Schafer is hoping that Davenport can play one of Cornell's games this weekend against Yale and Brown, but isn't counting on it. Schafer and the Big Red already are looking forward to the rematch with RPI on Feb. 20 at Lynah Rink.

"Our guys will have a long memory when they come back to Lynah," Schafer said.

Cornell fans were angry with Erik Burgdoerfer's role in Davenport's misfortune.

Cornell has had four games with the Engineers at their dump since this tragic event, and haven't headhunted yet (unless you count the aforementioned stripes caterwaul), but they will be returning to Troy for the first time since tragedy struck that night at Houston Field House. Could this be the weekend Mr. Schafer's threats come to fruition? We hope not. We hope the Big Red will comport themselves with same kind of class and panache that they displayed on that fateful night.

Please, dear reader, pause with me a moment, and reflect.

NEVER FORGET (how to skate)
(Total games missed: one)