Monday, December 7, 2009

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: 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:
Troy Record:
Albany Times-Union:
Elmira Star-Gazette:
Post-game Press Conference:
Full replay, streaming:
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:
Troy Record:
Albany Times-Union:
Madison County Courier:
Full replay, streaming:
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 and can also be seen live on a pay-per-view basis with B2 Networks at Both games will be broadcast courtesy of WRPI radio on 91.5 FM or log on to and click on sports. Live stats for Friday’s contest can be found at In addition, the game will be televised in New England on NESN.

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