Monday, November 30, 2009

RPI Tournament (Bentley, Union, Nov 27/28)

The 59th annual RPI Holiday Tournament provided for us the last really good opportunity to work out some kinks before some very important home ECAC games. While the final result was disappointing - and a key player was lost to injury - there's still quite a lot of good to take away from the weekend, which saw the Engineers pick off Bentley 5-2 before dropping an overtime thriller to Union, 5-4.

Bentley
Lee/Polacek/Helfrich
D'Amigo/Pirri/O'Grady
Angers-Goulet/Kerins/Cullen
Vassel/Malchuk/Halpern

Kennedy/Merth
Brutlag/Burgdoerfer
Jensen/Foss

Merriam

The big news ahead of this game was that sophomore Allen York would be out with a sore shoulder, an injury that had been previously unknown. Coach Appert remarked that if it had been an ECAC game, York would have been good to go, but in keeping with the relatively unimportant nature of the weekend, he decided to rest his top goaltender and give Bryce Merriam his third start of the season. Also missing was Mike Bergin, who it was hoped would be back for the Niagara game, but would ultimately miss both games this weekend as he continues to recover from a concussion suffered in the Clarkson game. Some good news was seen up front, however, as Tyler Helfrich and C.J. Lee rejoined the lineup for the first time in several games, giving RPI a solid three scoring lines, especially with the benchings of Alex Angers-Goulet and Patrick Cullen at an end.

RPI got the scoring started in the first period on the power play when Brandon Pirri hit Chase Polacek with a cross-ice pass that Polacek promptly one-timed to the back of the net to put the Engineers up 1-0. It was Polacek's 10th goal of the season, and the goal made it the seventh game in the last eight that Polacek had dented the twine.

With about two minute to go in the first period, RPI made it 2-0 on a nifty goal by junior Joel Malchuk. After a shot from the boards by Scott Halpern, the puck took a big bounce off Bentley netminder Kyle Rank in Malchuk's direction. Malchuk, falling backwards, poked the puck into the net practically from his back for his first goal of the season.

The Engineers dominated offense in the first two periods but wasn't loading up on the goals until late in the second. RPI's third goal came on a coast-to-coast play by Jerry D'Amigo. On a play that looked like D'Amigo was fading to Rank's left side and trying to dish to Marty O'Grady, the puck instead deflected off a Bentley player and into the net, making it 3-0. Just 48 seconds later, the Engineers would score again as Halpern drove to the net and had his shot saved by Rank, but Malchuk was right there on the doorstep to put it home for his second goal of the game, putting RPI up 4-0.

The game was well in hand at that point, though Bentley would get themselves on the scoreboard late in the second, when Bobby Preece scored to make it 4-1 (RPI 2011 recruit Patrick Koudys's cousin, Dan Koudys, had an assist on the goal). Then, early in the third period, with Preece in the penalty box, the Engineers gave up their first shorthanded goal of the season to make it 4-2. RPI bounced back quickly, though, as Alex Angers-Goulet scored his first goal of the season on an "alley oop" pass from Paul Kerins at the blue line. Angers-Goulet basically redirected the long pass into the net to give RPI a 5-2 lead. That would be the final score - the third consecutive time the Engineers have won by that score in a Friday game. RPI had a good game on the margins as well, as they took only two penalties in the entire game, the second of which was cut short by a Bentley penalty. Four of the five goals scored were at even strength, another good sign.

Union
Helfrich/Polacek/Rabbani
D'Amigo/Pirri/O'Grady
Cullen/Kerins/Angers-Goulet
Vassel/Malchuk/Halpern

Kennedy/Merth
Brutlag/Burgdoerfer
Jensen/Foss

York

Allen York's shoulder was feeling better the next day, so he was inserted back into the lineup for the championship game. However, C.J. Lee was back out of the lineup, this time with a wrist injury as he took a slash from the Bentley goaltender on Friday. Mike Bergin was still missing from the lineup.

There was a great amount of hope as the game started that this would finally be the year that the Engineers would earn the gold in their own tournament. Union had played a lackluster 0-0 tie against Lake Superior State the previous day, advancing only on a 1-0 shootout win. They were also missing all of their top four scorers, each serving a team suspension for a violation of team rules. With York back in net, it seemed like the stars were arranging for the Engineers.

The first period might have been one of the most atrocious - Appert would later call it "immature" - periods RPI has played all year. Despite dominating play early on, the Engineers were unable to be the first to beat Union goaltender Keith Kincaid on the weekend.

The discipline issue was what became the initial problem, and the penalty kill problem reared its ugly head again. Practically back to back penalties for hooking were assessed to Malchuk and Polacek, giving the Dutchmen an extended 5-on-3 chance, and as has been the norm practically, the opposition capitalized, as Mike Schreiber scored to put Union up 1-0. Just 15 seconds after the ensuing faceoff, Bryan Brutlag was sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct after a foolish headbutt, giving Union another 5-on-3, and this one was also capitalized on. 3 seconds after Polacek was released from the box to officially make it 5-on-4, Jeremy Welsh made it 2-0 Union - with the Engineers still effectively dealing with a 5-on-3 situation.

After failing to score on a power play chance just after going down 2-0, the Engineers would fall even farther behind as Kyle Bodie scored his first of the year with 5 minutes left in the 3rd as Union went up 3-0. Everything was going the Dutchmen's way. Even worse, freshman phenom Jerry D'Amigo left the game late in the period and did not return.

The second period was much more even throughout, but Union maintained their 3-goal edge throughout most of the period. The slow climb back began late in the 2nd period as RPI got a power play chance with about three minutes left in the period. Sophomore Josh Rabbani got his second goal of the season after pulling the puck out of a scrum on the boards and making a nice move before rifling it from the right-side faceoff dot to get RPI on the board, 3-1. Just before the 2nd intermission, Union was called for too many men, giving the Engineers a power play opportunity with fresh ice in the third.

The comeback continued on that power play, as Brandon Pirri took a shot from the left-side faceoff dot during the first minute of the third that evaded Kinkaid, making it 3-2 and putting RPI right back into the game. Both teams would get another power play opportunity during the first half of the third, but Union remained up by one.

With about four minutes left in the game, Paul Kerins was shown the door for boarding on what may have been a borderline call, except that the player had his back turned to Kerins before the hit, so the referee pretty much had to make the call. As it was, the penalty alone made completing the comeback much more difficult, but just four seconds later, Jason Walters scored to put Union up 4-2. With only four minutes left to play, it seemed pretty grim for the Engineers.

But Kerins would gain instant redemption. Just 45 seconds later, after a sweeping wrap-around attempt by Angers-Goulet, Kerins would pick up a rebound and throw it into the net to make it 4-3. That was just the beginning of his atonement.

With York pulled for the extra attacker, Union's Stephane Boileau would get called for an obvious tripping call to give RPI a late power play. Appert elected to leave York out of the net for the last 30 seconds of the game, calling timeout to set up the play. The Engineers swarmed, looking for the tying goal, and it was Paul Kerins who would ultimately score on a pass from Polacek as time expired in the third. Technically, the goal came at 19:59.9 of the third period, as RPI tied the game at the last possible moment to force overtime.

Things continued to seem bright in the overtime period. Union's Mike Wakita was called for contact to the head elbowing, giving the Engineers a rare overtime power play, but they were unable to generate the winning goal. Just a few seconds after the power play expired, Union's Jason Walters would score a nifty goal, his second of the game, on a rising shot that evaded York to give Union the 5-4 victory and their first RPI Tournament championship.

The overtime goal was quite a buzzkill, but the game still displayed more about the Engineers that we are continuing to see in them. They fell behind 3-0 but refused to quit, even when facing a 2-goal deficit with four minutes to play, even with the final seconds ticking off the clock, they continued to focus on the task at hand. Last year, this game would have easily been over after the first period, especially with an injury to a key element.

Clearly, the penalty kill has got to improve. Union was 3-for-6 on the man advantage, with two of them being assisted by bonehead penalties from upperclassmen to create 5-on-3 chances. Saturday games are also becoming a major point of contention, as RPI has not played a convincing game on Saturday night to date, though the "sixth period" issue took a vacation this weekend, as RPI played with all desperate attention in the third period against Union. It was more of a "fourth period" problem this go round.

Easily the biggest lasting negative from the Union game was the injury to Jerry D'Amigo. He has been diagnosed with an MCL sprain, an injury that will keep him out of the lineup for three crucial ECAC home games and the trip to BU.

This week, focus turns to what are more than likely going to be three of the most difficult home matchups remaining on the schedule - Cornell on Friday, Colgate on Saturday, and followed quickly by a return from the Dutchmen next Wednesday. Six big league points will be on the line in the span of six days, and none of the games figure to be easy, especially with D'Amigo missing from the lineup. A speedy return to game fitness for Mike Bergin and C.J. Lee would help out greatly, especially against Cornell. At this point, neither are confirmed to be in the lineup, but they have not yet been ruled out the way D'Amigo has.

Other junk - Surprising given the fact that the Engineers are 1-3-0 in their last four (all without Bergin, hint hint), the Engineers still managed to pull in 3 votes in this week's USCHO.com poll, which means there are 3 voters who think RPI's the 20th best team in the nation, or one who thinks they're #19 and one who think they're #20. Ranked ECAC teams are #4 Quinnipiac (up five with seven 1st place votes after beating Princeton and UMass), #7 Cornell (no change after beating Colgate and tying BU), and #10 Yale (up one after manhandling Sacred Heart and Holy Cross). Colgate (fell out from #20 after losing to Cornell, 20 votes), Union (tied Lake Superior State and beat RPI, 19 votes), and Princeton (lost to Quinnipiac, 1 vote) also received votes.

At this point, there's definitely some separation developing in the ECAC. It appears that there are a couple of tiers - the top tier, with Quinnipiac, Cornell, Colgate, RPI, Union, and Yale, and a lower tier with Princeton, Harvard, Clarkson, Dartmouth, and Brown. St. Lawrence is sitting in the middle; they could go either way.

Quinnipiac is ridiculous right now. They are 7-0-0 in the ECAC and 12-1-0 overall, the best record in the nation. They came into the season with major question marks in net, but there are no questions anymore. Their offense has been superb, and we sit here on the last day of NOVEMBER and the Bobcats are likely to, for all intents and purposes, lock up a home ice playoff spot before the New Year. At this point, they could go .500 the rest of the season and more than likely still have a first-round bye. That's how dominating they have been.

Chase Polacek now has a nine game point-scoring streak going back to the first Union game (8 goals, 8 assists). His 20 total points have him tied for 6th in the nation in that category. His 10 goals place him 7th nationally, 5 power play goals at 6th, and 10 assists is tied for 24th in the nation.

All-Tournament Team
G Keith Kincaid, Union
D Simon Gysbers, Lake Superior State
D Mike Schreiber, Union
F Paul Kerins, RPI
F Kelly Zajac, Union
F Chase Polacek, RPI
MVP Jason Walters, F, Union

Injuries
F Jerry D'Amigo (MCL sprain) - will miss next four games
F C.J. Lee (wrist) - has missed four of the last five
D Mike Bergin (concussion) - has missed four straight games
G Allen York (sore shoulder) - missed one game, played last game

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

By Winning Pct. (points/possible)
1. Quinnipiac 1.000 (14/14)
T-2 RPI and Union .750 (6/8)
4. Cornell .714 (10/14)
5. Colgate .643 (9/14)
6. Yale .600 (6/10)
7. St. Lawrence .500 (6/12)
8. Princeton .357 (5/14)
9. Harvard .286 (4/14)
10. Clarkson .250 (3/12)
11. Dartmouth .143 (2/14)
12. Brown .100 (1/10)


Bentley at RPI
RPI Holiday Tournament First Round - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/27/09 - 7:00 pm
RESULT: RPI 5, Bentley 2
BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats: http://www.collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/mbenren1.n27
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091127&vis=bentley&home=rpi&gender=m
RECAPS
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/11/27/MHOCK_1127094208.aspx?path=hockey
Troy Record: http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2009/11/28/sports/doc4b10c58fe6d38237660139.txt
Albany Times-Union: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=871144&category=SPORTS
Schenectady Gazette: http://www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/schott/2009/nov/27/rpi-bentley-postgame-report/
VIDEO
Post-game Press Conference: http://www.youtube.com/user/RPIathletics#p/u/1/RP7bQOWUMRw
Full replay, streaming: http://www.rpitv.org/productions/2009/11/27/RPI-Men-s-Hockey-vs-Bentley-59th-Annual-RPI-Holiday-Tournament
RECORD: 8-5-1 (3-1-0 ECAC, 6 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Joel Malchuk, 2 G, 2 shots
2. D Bryan Brutlag 2 A, 2 shots, +1
3. F Jerry D'Amigo, 1 G, 1 A, 4 shots


Union at RPI
RPI Holiday Tournament Championship - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/28/09 - 7:00 pm
RESULT: Union 5, RPI 4 (OT)
BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats: http://www.collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/mrenuni1.n28
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091128&vis=uc&home=rpi&gender=m
RECAPS
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/11/28/MHOCK_1128094510.aspx
Troy Record: http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2009/11/28/sports/doc4b11fe98f1801394713539.txt
Albany Times-Union: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=871422&category=SPORTS
Schenectady Gazette: http://www.dailygazette.com/weblogs/schott/2009/nov/29/union-rpi-postgame-report/
WNYT-TV (Albany): http://wnyt.com/article/stories/S1279632.shtml?cat=300
VIDEO
Post game Press Conference: http://www.youtube.com/user/RPIathletics#p/u/0/B-Ze5GBvr4E
Full replay, streaming: http://www.rpitv.org/productions/2009/11/28/RPI-Men-s-Hockey-vs-Union-59th-Annual-RPI-Holiday-Tournament-Championship-Game
RECORD: 8-6-1 (3-1-0 ECAC, 6 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Paul Kerins, 2 G, 1 A, 5 shots
2. F Josh Rabbani, 1 G, 1 A, 3 shots
3. F Brandon Pirri, 1 G, 6 shots

Upcoming Games
04 Dec - #7 Cornell
05 Dec - Colgate
09 Dec - Union
11 Dec - at Boston University
29 Dec - vs. Michigan (Detroit, MI)
--
MEN’S HOCKEY

Rensselaer went 1-1-0 last week, topping Bentley (5-2) in the semifinal round of the 59th Annual Rensselaer Holiday Tournament, before falling to Union (5-4) in overtime in the Championship Game on Saturday. Senior Paul Kerins (Weston, ON) had a five-point tournament, posting two goals and three assists, while making the All-Tournament Team.

RPI (8-6-1; 3-1-0 ECAC Hockey) is back to league play this weekend, when it hosts seventh-ranked Cornell on Friday (7pm) and Colgate on Saturday (4pm). Live stats for both 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/. The games will also be broadcast courtesy of WRPI radio on 91.5 FM or log on to www.wrpi.org and click on sports. Friday’s game will be Whiteout! at the Houston Field House, while Saturday’s contest will be Teddy Bear Toss Night as well as Skate with the Engineers after the game.

Women's Hockey - at Robert Morris (11/27-11/28)

The Engineers spent the Thanksgiving holiday on the road to Moon Township, PA where they faced off against non-conference foe Robert Morris in a weekend series. The Colonials, with a 0-3-1 CHA record (and 4-9-1 overall) looked like they might provide RPI an opportunity to pick up a couple wins before getting into the bulk of the ECAC schedule. Indeed, RPI cashed in on the opportunity Friday afternoon with a handy 5-2 victory but the Engineers' Saturday woes continued as they went on to fall 3-1 on Saturday.

Whitney Naslund was honored with selection as the ECAC Player of the Week for her performance in the two games, in which she went 2-2-4 and 1-0-1 for a combined five points and eight shots on goal.

-----

Friday

Wright/Harrison/Naslund
Padmore/Dunlop/Vandegrift
Horton/O'Keefe/Weidner
Guilmette/Jakubowski/Stapleton

Le Donne/Gersten
Castignetti/Haller
Vadner/Daniels

Van der Bliek

By the time I made it to the computer and got the video set up from the RMU website, it was late in the first period and the score was tied at one, with an RPI goal by Allison Wright at 3:08 and an RMU PP answer at 14:00. Coming out for the second period, the Engineers took it to the Colonials much like they did for stretches against New Hampshire, and the effort paid off with two quick tallies by Whitney Naslund and Laura Gersten at 6:00 and 8:42 of the middle frame. The momentum shifted back to RMU late in the period, but despite outshooting the Engineers 12-6 in the period, the Colonials couldn't find the twine and went to the locker room down two goals.

The third period saw RPI go down two players when Allysen Weidner and Naslund went off for penalties less than a minute apart, setting RMU up for 1:06 of 5-on-3 time. RPI had little trouble killing the 2-man advantage, and on the ensuing 5-on-4, Weidner came out flying and nearly notched another RPI goal on a shorthanded breakaway bid, but was stopped by RMU netminder Kristen DiCiocco. DiCiocco had come into the game in relief of starter Daneca Butterfield after RPI's third goal. RMU would continue the pressure after the penalty kill, but it was RPI that struck next as Kendra Dunlop scored her fourth of the season to make it 4-1. RMU answered late with a goal at 17:21 and promptly pulled the goalie, setting up Whitney Naslund with the chance for the empty net. She converted, picking up her second goal and fourth point of the night to put a seal on the game with the final score of 5-2.

Naslund was awarded first star of the game for her four-point, +4 effort and Allison Wright picked up second star with a goal, an assist, and a +3 rating on the night.

-----

Saturday

Wright/Harrison/Naslund
Padmore/Dunlop/Vandegrift
Horton/O'Keefe/Weidner
Guilmette/Jakubowski/Stapleton

Le Donne/Gersten
Castignetti/Haller
Vadner/Daniels

Van der Bliek

RMU struck early in Saturday's game, capitalizing on their first power play opportunity of the afternoon as Andie Le Donne went off for checking to take a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the game. The Colonials would make it 2-0 a little over five minutes later and only record two more shots on goal for the period, scoring two goals on four shots. RPI also recorded four shots in the opening period.

The second period was uneventful, with only one penalty each way, six shots on goal for each team, and no goals scored. Neither team would find the net again until Whitney Naslund notched her third goal of the weekend at 14:11 of the third period, on the power play. The Colonials iced the game with an empty netter at 19:46 as RPI desperately tried for the equalizer, but they couldn't find it. Shots in the third were 12-7 in RPI's favor, for a game total of 22-17 RPI.

-----

RPI @ Robert Morris
Non-Conference Game - Island Sports Center (Pittsburgh, PA)
11/27/09 - 2:05pm
RPI 5, RMU 2

BOX SCORES:
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wrenrmu1.n27
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091127&vis=rpi&home=rm&gender=w

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/11/27/WICE_1127092533.aspx
RMU: http://www.rmucolonials.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=13900&ATCLID=204840888

RECORD: 5-7-4 (2-2-2 ECAC Hockey, 6 points)

-----

RPI @ Robert Morris
Non-Conference Game - Island Sports Center (Pittsburgh, PA)
11/28/09 - 2:05pm
RMU 3, RPI 1

BOX SCORES:
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wrenrmu1.n28
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091128&vis=rpi&home=rm&gender=w

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/11/28/WICE_1128094115.aspx
RMU: http://www.rmucolonials.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=13900&ATCLID=204841376

RECORD: 5-8-4 (2-2-2 ECAC Hockey, 6 points)


-----

ECAC Standings (with no ECAC games this weekend):
               GP   Pts      ECAC      All
Cornell 8 13 6-1-1 6-3-1
Clarkson 7 12 6-1-0 12-2-1
Princeton 8 11 5-2-1 6-3-1
Quinnipiac 8 11 4-1-3 6-4-4
Harvard 8 10 5-3-0 5-3-1
Dartmouth 8 9 4-3-1 4-3-1
St. Lawrence 7 7 3-3-1 6-5-4
RPI 6 6 2-2-2 4-7-4
Colgate 8 5 1-4-3 2-9-3
Brown 8 3 0-5-3 1-6-3
Yale 8 2 1-7-0 1-7-1
Union 6 1 0-5-1 2-9-1
-----

Upcoming Games

Dec. 5 - @ Union
Dec. 6 - Union
Jan. 8 - St. Lawrence
Jan. 9 - Clarkson

-----

NASLUND NAMED ECAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Senior forward chosen by the league's coaches after five-point weekend

TROY, N.Y. – ECAC Hockey has announced its weekly women’s ice hockey award winners for the week ending November 29 and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) student-athlete Whitney Naslund was chosen as the conference’s Player of the Week.

A senior right winger from Bloomington, Minn., Naslund recorded a team-best five points on three goals and two assists as the Engineers went 1-1-0 last week. She also added a team-best eight shots and was a +4. In a 5-2 victory at Robert Morris, Naslund scored two goals, including one on the power play, and assisted on two others. She then tallied the lone goal in a 3-1 loss to the Colonials the following day.

Through 17 games this season, Naslund leads the team in scoring with a team-best eight goals and five assists for 13 points. She also ranks 15th nationally and fourth among ECAC players in power play goals with three (0.12 average).

Last season, the former Bloomington Jefferson High School standout played in 37 games, leading the team in goals with 15. Four of her tallies came on the power play, while four other were game-winning. She finished second on the squad in assists (14) and points (29), while helping lead the team to the ECAC Hockey Championship Game. For her efforts, which included two goals in RPI’s 3-2 overtime victory against Harvard in the league Semifinals, she was named to the All-Tournament team.

As a sophomore, Naslund led the team in points (22), assists (14) and short-handed goals (2). She was second on the team in goals (8) and played in all 33 contests. During her freshman campaign, Naslund recorded team-highs in points (28) and assists (17), while finishing second in goals (11). She helped RPI to its first appearance in the ECAC Hockey Playoffs, recording a hat-trick against Dartmouth

In 122 contests, Naslund has recorded 42 goals and 50 assists for 92 points. She has been recognized by ECAC Hockey nine times in her career, having been named to the league’s Weekly Honor Roll six times and Rookie of the Week twice prior to her senior season.

Rensselaer (5-8-4; 2-2-2 ECAC Hockey) returns to league play this weekend when it plays a home-and-home series with area-rival Union College. The Engineers head to Schenectady on Saturday (2pm) and then welcome the Dutchwomen on Sunday (12pm) to the Houston Field House.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Public Service Announcement

OK, before anyone gets into a tizzy over last night's championship game loss to Union, extending RPI's tournament titleless streak to eight... please, heed our advice.



At the end of the day, it's a non-conference game, and we continue to learn things about this team in non-conference games that can and most likely will be applied in league play - of which we have three games in six days coming up with three top teams, including Union.

What did we learn?

1) This team doesn't quit.
2) Mike Bergin's absence is still missed.
3) Union's a versatile team.

Jerry D'Amigo will not be available for any of those games due to an MCL injury suffered in the Union game, which, quite honestly, seems like the biggest problem - the People's Line has been very effective since its assembly. But I have faith. If Union can find a way to score five goals in a game in which they were missing their top four scorers (regardless of how poorly RPI played in the first period), we can find a way to do without one of our top scorers. Heck, we did it for weeks with Helfrich.

The games that matter are coming back soon. Don't lose your bowels yet.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Falcons Punched

We knew there was nothing to worry about. Allen York's injury, it appears, is not serious and if he's back in the pink we may see him in goal tonight against the our friends from Schenectady.


Joel Malchuk (2 goals) gets his swerve on in one of these bad boys.

Last night's Lake State/Union game was described by some observers as one of the worst games they've seen. The Dutch are almost certainly going to have to step it up if they want even a prayer of sniffing gold tonight.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tournament of Turkeys

Let's go get 'em, Red. Time for the first tournament title since the Governor's Cup in 2007, and the first RPI Tourney title since... 2001 (yeah, it's been that long).



Sounds like it's all hands on deck this weekend, with the possible exception of Mike Bergin. Bentley is improved from last year when they doled out an embarrassing overtime loss at the Field House - but the Engineers are improved too.

Monday, November 23, 2009

at Niagara (11/18)

Conventional wisdom had it that this was a classic "trap game" for the Engineers to have to contend with just a few days after a decent showing in the North Country and starting off the ECAC schedule with a 3-1-0 record. Conventional wisdom turned out to be right, but not nearly in the way anyone had expected as RPI was drubbed 4-1 by a then-winless Niagara team last Wednesday night.

Niagara
Kerins/Polacek/Halpern
D'Amigo/Pirri/O'Grady
Watts/Malchuk/Rabbani
Vassel/Beauregard/Smith

Kennedy/Merth
Brutlag/Burgdoerfer
Zarbo/Foss

York

Take a good look at that lineup. Yeah, what a mess. Let's run down the list. Tyler Helfrich missed his 7th straight game with an ankle injury, C.J. Lee his third straight with a still unknown malady, and Mike Bergin his second in a row after suffering a Grade I concussion in Potsdam. Furthermore, offensive sparks Patrick Cullen and Alex Angers-Goulet were left behind in Troy as healthy scratches for the game as Seth Appert attempted to provide both sophomores, and really, the rest of the team, with a wake-up call. Cullen and Angers-Goulet have been mired in what some would call a sophomore jinx, but Appert is also of the opinion that they simply were not playing hard enough - “Healthy scratch for their wildly inconsistent play," he told the Troy Record. "Nothing to do with discipline, they’re just not playing hard." He described Angers-Goulet as "soft as puppy poop" in the North Country and said Cullen was too consumed with scoring goals and being on the power play.

All of the scratches led to a very short-handed Engineers squad - "The People's Line" of Jerry D'Amigo, Brandon Pirri, and Marty O'Grady was the only usual line heading out intact on Wednesday. Additionally, juniors Mark Zarbo and Kevin Beauregard each saw their first action of the season, for Beauregard, it was only his second career game.

With the hodge-podge lineup, expectations were significantly lowered from the get-go and even those were not met. After a less than stellar first half of the first period, Niagara got on the board first with a goal from freshman Brent Vandenberg, but neither team played particularly well in the first 20 minutes. Shots were 6-6 after one.

After Vandenberg was sent off for a dangerous hit on D'Amigo, the Engineers went on their third power play of the game, and it didn't take long for Paul Kerins to net his third goal of the season, from Chase Polacek and Bryan Brutlag, to tie the game at one. For a moment, it appeared as though the Engineers might turn the tide in their favor and start rolling.

That's when the penalty kill decided to start laying a giant egg. Kerins went off for hooking six minutes after scoring, and just seconds later, Jeff Foss took a delayed penalty for boarding that gave Niagara an extra attacker. Vandenberg scored for the second time to make it 2-1. Kerins came out of the box, and Foss went in to begin his penalty. A minute later, another Niagara power play goal made it 3-1 Purple Eagles.

The penalty killing problem carried over into the third period. During an RPI power play, Justin Smith was called for tripping, and after the 4-on-4 ran out, the Purple Eagles scored on their 3rd consecutive power play, making it 4-1 and pretty much putting a seal on things the way the Engineers had been playing at even strength since the back-to-back Kerins and Foss penalties in the 2nd. By that point Niagara was 3-for-5 on the power play, while RPI was 1-for-4. Both teams would get another power play chance before the end of the game, but no more scoring was in store as the Engineers had one of their worst played games of the season - though it was not terribly surprising given the personnel that they had available and playing.

Some of the "bedwetters" have crawled out from under the rocks where they were hiding following back-to-back losses to St. Lawrence and Niagara over the course of five days. One person on the RPISPORT-L list even brought up the tired line of questioning Coach Appert's ability.

Needless to say, I'm not terribly concerned about the Niagara game, and in two weeks, it'll scarcely be remembered at all. If there was a game to use for an "attention grabber" for guys who needed a healthy scratch to remind them that playing time isn't an absolute right, this was it: on the road, non-league, in the middle of the week. This was an expendable game. In two weeks, Cornell and Colgate are coming to town - that promises to be the most difficult home weekend yet. When do we want these lessons to be learned? In a throwaway road game in the middle of the week, or in crucial ECAC games at home?

Bear in mind that the Engineers should mostly be back to full strength by their next game this Friday. Helfrich is fully expected to be back in the lineup, Bergin will more than likely be back, and Cullen and Angers-Goulet have served their penance and will be back in the lineup. Lee is still a question mark, but having four of the five back in the lineup will be a huge boost compared to the last two games that RPI has played.

Other junk - RPI, much to my surprise, lost only half of its votes in the USCHO.com poll this week, falling to 8 from 16 last week. Ranked ECAC teams are #7 Cornell (down two after beating Princeton and losing to Quinnipiac), #9 Quinnipiac (up four after sweeping Colgate/Cornell), #11 Yale (down two after losing to UMass and beating Brown in OT), and #20 Colgate, ranked for the first time this season. Princeton (fell out from #19 after being swept by Cornell/Colgate, 18 votes) Union (idle, 16 votes) and St. Lawrence (beat Harvard and lost to Dartmouth, 2 votes) also received votes.

Individual Engineers fell in the national statistics following the one goal effort. Polacek's lone assist gives him 17 points, but he fell from 5th to 11th in that category. His 9 goals are now 7th in the nation. Brandon Pirri's 12 points is now 6th in the nation in points by a freshman, down from 2nd.

Next up is the 59th annual RPI Holiday Tournament, still the longest running in-season tournament in college hockey (a year longer than the Beanpot). On Friday, they face Bentley (1st appearance) and on Saturday will take on either Union (6th appearance, 2-8 all time) or Lake Superior State (3rd appearance, 3-1 all time, 1997 champs). RPI will play at 7 pm on Saturday regardless of whether they beat Bentley or not, meaning that, like last year, the championship game may actually be played before the consolation game. Realistically, the Engineers would probably like a shot at Lake State on Saturday night - they face Union at the Field House a week and a half later anyway, and beating a CCHA team is always helpful when it comes time to jockey for position in the computer rankings later in the season.

Hopefully, the Engineers have a chip on their shoulder from last year, when Bentley embarrassed them at home, 4-3 in overtime. The Falcons are doing fairly decent in Atlantic Hockey this season, but this is still a game RPI needs to be winning, especially at or almost at 100% health for the first time in a month.

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

By Winning Pct.
1. Quinnipiac 1.000
T-2 Colgate, RPI, and Union .750
5. Cornell .667
6. Yale .600
7. St. Lawrence .500
8. Princeton .417
9. Harvard .286
10. Clarkson .250
11. Dartmouth .143
12. Brown .100


RPI at Niagara
Non-Conference Game - Dwyer Arena (Lewiston, NY)
11/18/09 - 7:00 pm
RESULT: Niagara 4, RPI 1
BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats: http://www.collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/mniaren1.n18
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091118&vis=rpi&home=niag&gender=m
RECAPS
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/11/18/MHOCK_1118092750.aspx
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/recaps/20092010/m/11/18/rpi-niag.php
Troy Record: http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2009/11/18/sports/doc4b04c8e0853c8829737154.txt
Albany Times-Union: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=867886&category=SPORTS
Niagara Gazette: http://www.niagara-gazette.com/sports/gnnsports_story_322230721.html
RECORD: 7-5-1 (3-1-0 ECAC, 6 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Paul Kerins, 1 G, 7 shots
2. F Chase Polacek, 1 A, 2 shots
3. D Bryan Brutlag, 1 A, 1 shot

Upcoming Games
27 Nov - Bentley (RPI Holiday Hockey Tournament)
28 Nov - Union/Lake Superior State (RPI Holiday Hockey Tournament)
04 Dec - #7 Cornell
05 Dec - #20 Colgate
09 Dec - Union

--
MEN’S HOCKEY

Rensselaer went 0-1-0 last week, dropping a non-league contest at Niagara (4-1) on Wednesday. Senior Paul Kerins (Weston, ON) notched the lone goal for the Engineers.

RPI is back on the ice this weekend, when it hosts the 59th Annual RPI Holiday Tournament at the Houston Field House. The Engineers open against Bentley on Friday (7pm) and will face either Lake Superior State or Union on Saturday (7pm). Live stats for all four tournament 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/. The game will also be broadcast courtesy of WRPI radio on 91.5 FM or log on to www.wrpi.org and click on sports.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Women's Hockey - at #4 New Hampshire

RPI traveled to Durham, NH today for the first ever meeting between the Engineers and the New Hampshire Wildcats. Ranked fourth in the nation in the latest USCHO.com poll, UNH promised to be a tough challenge for an Engineer team that has been hot and cold at intervals this season. Coming off a 3-point ECAC weekend where Saturday's tie against 10th place Brown left a sour taste in fans' and players' mouths alike, RPI entered the Whittemore Center looking for a big non-conference win to get things back on track heading into a weekend series at Robert Morris before getting back into the remainder of the ECAC schedule. It was not the Engineers' lucky night however, as despite a strong performance and three goals, they were bested by the Wildcats 4-3.

---

New Hampshire

Horton/O'Keefe/Weidner
Wright/Harrison/Vandegrift
Dunlop/Naslund/Vadner
Padmore/Jakubowski/Stapleton

Le Donne/Gersten
Castignetti/Haller
Chace/Daniels

Van der Bliek

UNH opened up the scoring midway through the first with a power play goal by Kelly Paton, who led Hockey East in scoring entering the game with 22 points in 13 games. After a few penalties were exchanged, Allison Wright tied it at one with a shorthanded goal just after a 4-on-4 ended and UNH got a player back. Wright's goal was RPI's second shorty of the season. This tied RPI with SLU, Quinnipiac, and Clarkson in the ECAC for shorthanded goals. From there it was all RPI for the next 15 minutes.

The teams entered the locker room tied at one, but the first half of the next period found RPI dominating UNH, with the Wildcats unable to clear the puck from their zone for much of that time. The Engineers cashed in on their pressure as Alisa Harrison netted two goals at 1:28 and 6:53 of the second to give RPI a 3-1 lead. UNH answered back with pressure of their own in the latter half of the period, throwing a ton of rubber at Sonja van der Bliek, and Kelly Paton picked up her second of the game on a delayed penalty at 15:05, to send the teams to the locker room with RPI holding onto the lead, 3-2.

UNH continued the pressure in the third as RPI looked like they were settling back a bit and trying to protect the lead. As we've learned from RPI teams the past several seasons, this rarely works and UNH made the Engineers pay for it with a power play goal by Kristina Lavoie followed very quickly by another goal by Kelly Paton to give her the hat trick midway through the period. RPI had a chance to recover with a power play opportunity shortly after, but UNH held up on the kill and kept RPI out of the net despite a couple of good Engineer chances. RPI took a penalty of their own with 4:36 left in the game, putting themselves down by retaliating on an uncalled cross-check by UNH. The Engineers pressured UNH on the kill and kept them from setting up on the power play, escaping the man advantage without giving up a goal. Despite nearly a minute and a half with the net empty and some strong pressure in the UNH zone, RPI was unable to find the equalizer and the game went in the books 4-3 in UNH's favor. Overall, the Engineers looked very strong and the came could easily have gone either way.

RPI is on the road again next weekend with a pair of games against Robert Morris, the only team from the CHA the Engineers have yet to play this season. Game times are 2:05pm Friday and Saturday. The Engineers then have a home-and-home with Union before taking a month off for winter break.

-----

ECAC Standings (as of 11/21/09, with ECAC play complete for the weekend)
               GP   Pts     ECAC      All
Cornell 8 13 6-1-1 6-3-1
Clarkson 7 12 6-1-0 12-2-1
Princeton 8 11 5-2-1 6-3-1
Quinnipiac 8 11 4-1-3 6-4-4
Harvard 8 10 5-3-0 5-3-1
Dartmouth 8 9 4-3-1 4-3-1
St. Lawrence 7 7 3-3-1 6-5-4
RPI 6 6 2-2-2 4-7-4
Colgate 8 5 1-4-3 2-9-3
Brown 8 3 0-5-3 1-6-3
Yale 8 2 1-7-0 1-7-1
Union 6 1 0-5-1 2-9-1
-----

RPI @ #4 New Hampshire
Non-conference Game - Whittemore Center (Durham, NH)
11/21/09 - 5:00pm
UNH 4, RPI 3

BOX SCORES:
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wrenunh1.n21

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/11/21/WICE_1121091255.aspx
UNH: http://unhwildcats.com/sports/wice/2009-10/releases/20091121i8pfdu
ECAC: http://www.ecachockey.com/women/2009-10/Game_Stories/20092111_RPI_UNH

RECORD: 4-7-4 (2-2-2 ECAC Hockey, 6 points)

-----

Upcoming Games

Nov. 27 - @ Robert Morris
Nov. 28 - @ Robert Morris
Dec. 5 - @ Union
Dec. 6 - Union

Friday, November 20, 2009

Around the NCAA in 80 seconds

Since the Engineers are off this weekend, here's a quick rundown of the big games in college hockey to look forward to between now and the next poll release on Monday.

Friday
#13 Quinnipiac at Colgate
This is the big one in the ECAC. It's early in the season, but the Bobcats and Raiders are 1-2 in the standings and have been very impressive early in the season. The winner of this game will have to be considered a definite favorite for a first-round bye going forward.

#19 Princeton at #5 Cornell
Games between ranked teams in conference simply can't be ignored. Princeton seems like they're better than they've played early in the season, and Cornell looks like they have a few flaws here and there that are being overlooked. Many people are calling this an easy win for Cornell, especially at home, but I'm not so sure.

Clarkson at Dartmouth
We've got the battle at the top of the standings and then the battle of the basement. These are the last two teams in the ECAC without any points (after 4 and 5 games respectively). Something's got to give - the loser of this game is certainly in for a very long season indeed.

Army at Bentley
This game - actually a two game series - features a past RPI opponent against the next RPI opponent. The Engineers were flat against Army, and the victory over RPI was one of the lone bright spots thus far for the Black Knights. Bentley, meanwhile, is off to a pretty decent start in Atlantic Hockey.

#10 Alaska at Lake Superior
Another battle of past and (potentially) future RPI foes. One of the major occupational hazards for college hockey players in Alaska are the long flights to the "lower 48" for away games, and this one is longer than most - to Sault Ste. Marie in the Upper Peninsula, which probably means a long bus ride on top of a long flight. If the Lakers do well in the two-game set, they'll be coming to Troy riding high and could prove dangerous for Union or RPI.

#2 North Dakota at #3 Denver
The series of the weekend pits the two teams most experts considered to be the cream of the crop in the WCHA this season. Although it seems that Colorado College and Wisconsin may have something to add to that conversation, there's no denying that the points earned this weekend will be huge for either team in the quest for the MacNaughton Cup.

Boston University at New Hampshire
It's rare indeed when these two teams meet and neither one of them is nationally ranked and, yet again, it's a matchup between teams with RPI as a common opponent. They meet again in Boston on Saturday. For BU, it's a chance to resurrect their national title defense, which at present is in complete shambles. For UNH, it's a chance to make sure they don't slide into irrelevance early in the season.

Saturday
#13 Quinnipiac at #5 Cornell
The Bobcats have played like a juggernaut in their first 8 games, going 7-1-0. During the 2000s, Cornell has been the juggernaut of the ECAC. And again, it's a battle atop the league table. If the Bobcats can pull off a third straight sweep, they could be establishing the early claim as Cleary Cup favorites. If Cornell sweeps, it could be them.

Merrimack at #4 UMass-Lowell
Ever since Merrimack's move to Division I in 1989, the Warriors have yet to put together a winning season. It's not that they haven't had any good teams, it's just that they've never been able to approach the class of Hockey East. That may be changing this year. The Warriors are 6-4-0 and have wins over BC and BU on consecutive weekends. This weekend, they face their long-time rivals in one of the biggest matchups between Merrimack and UMass-Lowell since they moved to D-I together.

Sunday
#6 Michigan State at #14 Notre Dame
The only game on the docket on Sunday is bound to be a good one. The Spartans have surprised many casual observers and even some experts with their explosive start (9-2-2). Michigan State is in first place in the CCHA. Meanwhile, the Irish have struggled to a .500 start to the season.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Women's Hockey - Princeton & Quinnipiac, Colgate & Cornell, Yale & Brown

Hi all - I'll be joining Tom here to provide coverage and recaps of RPI women's hockey, starting with the past three weekends' worth of games. Going forward I'll be following the same weekly schedule for game recaps, as well as chiming in with any news or press between games that's worth sharing. So, without further ado:

Princeton

Wright/Harrison/Vandegrift
Horton/Guillemette/Naslund
Padmore/Dunlop/O'Keefe
Chase/Stapleton/Jakubowski

Le Donne/Gersten
Daniels/Vadner
Castignetti/Haller

Van der Bliek

Quinnipiac

Wright/Harrison/Vandegrift
Horton/Guillemette/Naslund
Weidner/Dunlop/O'Keefe
Chase/Stapleton/Jakubowski

Le Donne/Gersten
Daniels/Vadner
Castignetti/Haller

Van der Bliek

RPI opened up the ECAC season with a pair of games on the road at Princeton and Quinnipiac, a road series which they swept last season before going on to upset Princeton in two games at Hobey Baker Rink in the quarterfinals of the ECAC playoffs. Hopes were understandably high given the recent history with these teams, and it seemed this could be the weekend the Engineers needed to snap a five-game winless streak. RPI would take only one point out of the weekend, however, as they skated to a 2-2 tie with Princeton (behind goals from Jill Vandegrift and Kendra Dunlop, and 23 saves from Sonja van der Bliek) before getting drubbed by Quinnipiac 6-1 on Saturday.

Saturday's loss marked the fifth straight weekend series where RPI performed noticeably worse in the weekend's second game. Van der Bliek surrendered three goals on just seven shots in the first period before being pulled for freshman Shannon Ramelot, who surrendered one more in the first before holding the Bobcats scoreless throughout the second and third. Quinnipiac notched two empty net goals while Taylor Horton scored for RPI with the net empty in order to avoid the shutout. RPI outshot Quinnipiac 30-24 but simply couldn't find tha back of the net.

Colgate

Wright/Harrison/Vandegrift
Dunlop/Vadner/Naslund
Horton/O'Keefe/Weidner
Guillemette/Stapleton/Gaylord

Le Donne/Gersten
Castignetti/Haller
Chase/Daniels

Van der Bliek

Cornell

Wright/Harrison/Vandegrift
Dunlop/Vadner/Naslund
Horton/O'Keefe/Weidner
Guillemette/Stapleton/Gaylord

Le Donne/Gersten
Castignetti/Haller
Chase/Daniels

Van der Bliek

The Engineers returned home the following weekend to take on Colgate and Cornell, and the alternating pattern of good and bad performances kept up another week. Friday afternoon at the Field House saw RPI absolutely dismantle Colgate 10-4 with 11 Engineers picking up points in the contest. RPI went 2/3 on the power play and took the lead on two goals just 0:07 apart in the first 1:11 of the game, never looking back and never relinquishing the lead.

Saturday, on the other hand, saw the Engineers put forth one of the sloppiest games of hockey (aside from intramurals) seen at Houston Field House this season. Outshot 29-19 by the Big Red, RPI never really played like they wanted to win this game, with sloppy passing, lazy turnovers, and an all around 180 from the dominating performance turned in the day before. Cornell may have come to town ranked #10 in the nation but the way RPI played this game they could have made just about anyone look like #1.

Yale

Horton/O'Keefe/Weidner
Dunlop/Vadner/Naslund
Wright/Harrison/Vandegrift
Guillemette/Jakubowski/Stapleton

Le Donne/Gersten
Castignetti/Haller
Chase/Daniels

Van der Bliek

Brown

Horton/O'Keefe/Weidner
Wright/Harrison/Vandegrift
Dunlop/Vadner/Naslund
Guillemette/Jakubowski/Stapleton

Le Donne/Gersten
Castignetti/Haller
Padmore/Daniels

Van der Bliek

One more weekend and one more pair of ECAC foes arrived at Houston Field House, this time winless Yale and one-win Brown (who had been shutout four times in the five games prior to their tilt with RPI). RPI played a solid Friday game once again, handily dispatching the Bulldogs 4-1 with goals by Audrey Stapleton, Sydney O'Keefe (2), and Whitney Naslund. And once again, they crapped out on Saturday, tying a Brown team who couldn't muster a goal against Union the night before (0-0 tie) and had scored one goal TOTAL in their past five games (following a 5-1 win over Providence for the Mayor's Cup). The Engineers put 38 shots on net, and scoring one goal on 38 shots is not a ticket to victory in any game. RPI was unable to capitalize on four Brown penalties, including a short 5x3, and Allysen Weidner's unassisted first period goal was the only one of the game for the Engineers.

RPI will look to break the frustrating cycle of hot and cold performances on Fridays and Saturdays this weekend as they play a single game at New Hampshire. The numbers tell the story as RPI is +9 in goal differential on Friday so far this season, and -12 on Saturday. After the game at UNH and a weekend series at Robert Morris, completing the Engineers games against every team in the CHA this season. Afterward they launch into the remainder of the ECAC schedule and will need to start turning in two solid games per week if they want to make the playoffs in a very competitive ECAC.

-----

ECAC Standings (as of 11/18/09)

Team GP Pts ECAC All
Clarkson 7 12 6-1-0 12-2-1
Cornell 6 10 5-1-0 5-3-0
Princeton 6 9 4-1-1 5-2-1
Quinnipiac 6 9 4-1-1 6-4-2
SLU 7 7 3-3-1 5-4-4
Harvard 6 6 3-3-0 3-3-1
RPI 6 6 2-2-2 4-6-4
Dartmouth 6 5 2-3-1 2-3-1
Colgate 6 4 1-3-2 2-8-2
Brown 6 3 0-3-3 1-4-3
Yale 6 2 1-5-0 1-5-1
Union 6 1 0-5-1 2-9-1

-----

RPI @ Princeton
ECAC Game - Hobey Baker Rink (Princeton, NJ)
10/30/09 - 7:00pm
RPI 2, Princeton 2 (OT)

BOX SCORES:
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wprnren1.o30
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091030&vis=rpi&home=pri&gender=w

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/10/30/WICE_1030090910.aspx
PU: http://www.goprincetontigers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=46920&SPID=4275&DB_LANG=C&DB_OEM_ID=10600&ATCLID=204824464

RECORD: 2-4-3 (0-0-1 ECAC Hockey, 1 point)

-----

RPI @ Quinnipiac
ECAC Game - TD Bank Sports Center (Hamden, CT)
10/31/09 - 400pm
Quinnipiac 6, RPI 1

BOX SCORES:
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wquiren1.o31
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091031&vis=rpi&home=qu&gender=w

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/10/31/WICE_1031095335.aspx
QU: http://www.quinnipiacbobcats.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=87927&SPID=10457&DB_OEM_ID=17500&ATCLID=204824983

RECORD: 2-5-3 (0-1-1 ECAC Hockey, 1 point)

-----

Colgate @ RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/6/09 - 2:30pm
RPI 10, Colgate 4

BOX SCORES:
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wclgren1.n06
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091106&vis=col&home=rpi&gender=w

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/11/6/WICE_1106094425.aspx
Colgate: http://gocolgateraiders.com/news/2009/11/6/WHOCKEY_1106091201.aspx

RECORD: 3-5-3 (1-1-1 ECAC Hockey, 3 points)

-----

#10 Cornell @ RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/7/09 - 2:30pm
Cornell 3, RPI 1

BOX SCORES:
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wcorren1.n07
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091107&vis=cor&home=rpi&gender=w

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/11/7/WICE_1107095705.aspx
Cornell: http://cornellbigred.com/news/2009/11/7/WICE_1107093134.aspx

RECORD: 3-6-3 (1-2-1 ECAC Hockey, 3 points)

-----

Yale @ RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/13/09 - 2:30pm
RPI 4, Yale 1

BOX SCORES:
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wrenyal1.n13
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091113&vis=yu&home=rpi&gender=w

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/11/13/WICE_1113093718.aspx
Yale: http://www.yalebulldogs.com/sports/w-hockey/2009-10/releases/20091113p2q1wq

RECORD: 4-6-3 (2-2-1 ECAC Hockey, 5 points)

-----

Brown @ RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/14/09 - 4:00pm
RPI 1, Brown 1 (OT)

BOX SCORES:
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wbrnren1.n14
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091114&vis=bn&home=rpi&gender=w

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/11/14/WICE_1114094729.aspx
Brown: http://www.brownbears.com/sports/w-hockey/2009-10/releases/200911152bxhmv

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

-----

Upcoming Games

Nov 21 - @ UNH
Nov 27 - @ Robert Morris
Nov 28 - @ Robert Morris
Dec 5 - @ Union
Dec 6 - Union

-----

WOMEN’S HOCKEY

The Engineers went 1-0-1 last week, topping Yale (4-1) on Friday, before tying Brown (1-1) on Saturday. Senior Allysen Weidner (Prior Lake, MN) had a three-point weekend, including the lone RPI goal against the Bears. Rensselaer (4-6-4; 2-2-2 ECACH) returns to action on Saturday, when it visits fourth-ranked New Hampshire (5pm).

Live stats will be available at http://livestats.prestosports.com/unhwildcats/ and can also be seen live on a pay-per-view basis at http://unhwildcats.tv/.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Put the Gun Down! Put it Down!

We've found the culprit for tonight's embarassing 4-1 loss to the Purple Eagles.


Thanks to Joe Yerdon of Gross Misconduct Hockey for the action shot.

Six penalties, and three straight failed penalty kills after tying it in the 2nd period. Yup. That'll do it.

Tonight's Forecast: Purple Rain

That is to say, here's to the Engineers making it rain goals on the as-yet winless Purple Eagles tonight. This doubles as a shout out to the Minnesota troika- Bryan Brutlag, Jeff Foss, and Chase Polacek - each of whom scored goals over the weekend.



Tyler Helfrich will miss his seventh straight game, C.J. Lee will miss his third straight, and Mike Bergin will be out for the second straight game, but the good news is that they'll all be back in time for the RPI Holiday Tournament, aka the Bentley Revenge Weekend, and the Engineers will be back to full strength assuming no one gets hurt tonight.

Monday, November 16, 2009

at Clarkson/St. Lawrence (Nov 13-14)

"The dreaded" North Country trip really isn't so dreaded anymore, especially when it comes early in the season. Traditionally, Clarkson and St. Lawrence are schools that put together solid teams year in and year out, but lately, just as RPI's traditional top ECAC team status has dwindled, so have the fortunes of the Knights and the Saints. As bad as some recent RPI teams have been, they haven't been swept in the North Country - the default expectation of many long-time watchers still to this day - since the 2002-03 season. While an outright sweep remains difficult (RPI has only one since the '85 national championship), the trip isn't really dreaded as much anymore, especially when it's made before the snow falls.

Clarkson
Cullen/Polacek/Halpern
D'Amigo/Pirri/O'Grady
Angers-Goulet/Malchuk/Watts
Vassel/Kerins/Smith

Brutlag/Burgdoerfer
Kennedy/Merth
Bergin/Foss

York

The lineup that hit the ice in Potsdam was exactly the same as the one that lined up against Yale - save for the inclusion of Jordan Watts in just his second appearance of the season, in for the injured C.J. Lee. A harbinger? Perhaps.

RPI struck first after an early "feeling out" period with the Knights that included a successful albeit shortened penalty kill. Just 16 seconds after Peter Merth was released from the penalty box to put the Engineers on the power play, junior Bryan Brutlag blasted a shot from the point similar to his game-tying goal in Schenectady two weeks earlier that evaded traffic and hit the back of the net to put RPI up 1-0.

The game hinged on the second period, and it was the Engineers who would end up on top after a wild back-and-forth affair. Early in the period, just 8 seconds after a power play had expired, Jeff Foss scored his first of the season, this one also from the blue line, putting RPI up 2-0. Then, discipline problems allowed the Knights the opportunity to get back into the game. Scott Halpern took a high-sticking penalty two minutes after the Foss goal, and with about 30 seconds left in the Halpern penalty, yet another untimely penalty from senior defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer gave Clarkson a 5-on-3 advantage and they didn't waste any of their precious time, scoring 20 seconds later to make it 2-1, and then, with Burgdoerfer still in the box (2 seconds had remained on the Halpern penalty when the Knights scored), adding a second power play goal just 45 seconds later. Just like that, the lead was gone.

In previous years, that would have basically been the end of the game, especially on the road and especially in Potsdam. But as we've seen repeatedly already this season, this isn't previous years.

The "youth movement" manned up. After a Clarkson penalty about 30 seconds after the ensuing faceoff, the power play went back to work, and sophomore Alex Angers-Goulet found freshman Marty O'Grady at the top of the right face-off circle about a minute later. O'Grady blasted it in for his second goal of the season, putting the Engineers right back on top.

Four minutes later, the two-goal cushion was back in place on an even strength goal by Jerry D'Amigo, who took a feed from Burgdoerfer in the high slot before going top shelf on Clarkson netminder Paul Karpowich. It was D'Amigo's fourth of the year, and the last shot Karpowich would see on the night as he was replaced by Richie LaVeau following the goal.

Clarkson would dominate the shot count in the third period trying to pull back as the Engineers went into a defensive mode with the two-goal edge. RPI managed only five shots despite having a pair of power play opportunities in the period. Penalties to Foss, Burgdoerfer, and Chase Polacek were successfully killed off. A late hooking penalty to Brutlag resulted in a 6-on-4 chance as Clarkson coach George Roll pulled LaVeau for the extra attacker. With Brutlag in the box, this allowed the Engineers to take potshots at the open net, and Polacek put one in 36 seconds later for his 8th goal of the season and 6th in five games to seal it as RPI came away with their second consecutive 5-2 Friday night league victory.

One major downside on the night was an injury to sophomore defenseman Mike Bergin. Bergin missed nearly all of last year with an injury and has played a key role in RPI's newfound defensive prowess this year. While Bergin left and did not return, he was initially expected to play the next night in Canton. He did not. At this point it's unknown whether Bergin's injury is worse than was originally suspected or if Coach Appert was simply playing it safe by keeping him out of the lineup.

St. Lawrence
D'Amigo/Pirri/O'Grady
Cullen/Polacek/Halpern
Angers-Goulet/Malchuk/Rabbani
Vassel/Kerins/Smith

Brutlag/Burgdoerfer
Kennedy/Merth
Jensen/Foss

York

Again, same lineup, only with Josh Rabbani in for Watts, and senior Christian Jensen seeing his first action of the year, playing in place of the injured Bergin.

The Engineers largely controlled play in the first period, partially assisted by three power-play opportunities. The third time was the charm as Chase Polacek continued his torrid pace, netting his 9th of the season and extending his goal streak to six consecutive games to give RPI the 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission. That was largely the entire extent of the RPI offense for the game, as the Engineers uncharacteristically would uncork only 7 more shots for the remainder of the game.

The second period was the Allen York show. York stood on his head, stopping an amazing 21 shots during the period as the Saints delivered an absolute onslaught but were unable to put the puck in the net. The Engineers were clinging to their 1-0 lead heading into the final 20 minutes.

St. Lawrence would finally break through in the third period. After killing an early penalty, Brutlag was back in the box at the wrong time, going off for interference. 16 seconds later, SLU defenseman Jeff Caister finally put the Saints on the board, and when it rains, it pours. Just under two minutes later, senior Mike McKenzie - with his father, renowned TSN hockey analyst Bob McKenzie, in the stands - put the eventual game winner behind York. Appert would pull York with about two minutes left to play and the Engineers would get a power play on top of that with a minute and a half left, but even with the 6-on-4 advantage, RPI just could not get anything done. SLU managed to keep the puck in the RPI end for the final 25 seconds of the game, unable to put it in the empty net but taking the night, 2-1. SLU netminder Kain Tisi, despite allowing only 1 goal, had only 14 saves on the night. York finished with 35.

After heading into the third period with the lead, no matter how slim and no matter how marginal given the practical rout of the second period, it does feel a little disappointing to have let the sweep slip away, especially considering that it could have meant a 4-0 ECAC start and 2 more precious points. There are a lot of silver linings to take away from the game, however. The Engineers were more than game despite injuries to offensive threats in Tyler Helfrich (who should be back for the holiday tournament) and C.J. Lee (who will also probably be back by then) and a key defensive element in Mike Bergin. The RPI defense held up for the most part under intense pressure all game. In both games, the defensive letdowns were only for short portions of the game - two quick goals by the opponents both times. That leaves a lot of the rest of the game to make them up, and this team has a bunch of guys who can score.

Lost points? Disappointing. This team? Hardly.

That said, this weekend definitely exposed a few issues that the team will have to work through in the future. Fortunately, it seems like they're not altogether earth-shattering.

"The sixth period" - Four straight weekends now, the Engineers have had major struggles in the third period on Saturday. It could be that they're too fast for their own good and they're tired by that point. Whatever it is, it is making for some dangerous living on occasion. They pulled through against AIC and Brown. They didn't against Army and SLU.

Brutlag/Burgdoerfer - Brutlag, this past weekend, was similar to the way we've seen him in his first two years: getting caught behind the play and taking bad penalties when he tries to make up for it. Up until this weekend he was doing pretty well, let's hope it's an anomaly. Burgdoerfer, though, is making me wonder if Jensen or Mark Zarbo might deserve a crack at his spot every now and then. Burgdoerfer's physical, which is important to have most of the time, but he's constantly out of position and is just as constantly taking very, very bad penalties at the worst possible time. Case in point - on RPI's last EIGHT goals, he's either been in the box or on the ice. Come on, Erik! Get with it!

Here's one thing to remember though - we're shooting for a first-round playoff bye, right? To achieve that, over the last seven seasons since the present playoff setup went into effect, teams have required an average of just over 26 points, give or take a few decimal points. So that's the magic number. How do we get to 26? Average 3 points on each of your five home weekends (15 points), average 2 points on each of your five road weekends (10 points) and then just don't get swept by your travel partner. It's not hard and fast - some years have required only 25 points, and others have required up to 29 points. The Engineers took 27 points in 2004 and still had to play a first-round series. But it's a rough guideline to go by at least - and RPI's got an extra point in the bank so far. (If you're wondering, it's a touch over 18 points to at least stay home for the first-round.)

Other junk - After a North Country split, the Engineers basically stayed the same in the USCHO.com poll. They took 16 votes, down 2 from last week. #5 Cornell (down two, lost to Yale and beat Brown), #9 Yale (up three, beat Cornell and tied Colgate), #13 Quinnipiac (up seven, swept Harvard/Dartmouth), and #19 Princeton (no change, beat Dartmouth and tied Harvard) give the ECAC four ranked teams for the second consecutive week. Colgate appears with 43 votes after their 3-point weekend with Brown and Yale, and Union took 9 votes after their North Country sweep.

As mentioned, Chase Polacek has a six game goal-scoring streak, but yet again he was snubbed for ECAC Player of the Week. No Engineer player was even nominated for any awards. Hmm.

Nationally, Polacek is 5th in points (16), 2nd in goals (9), 5th in power-play goals (4), and 4th in short-handed goals (1, his empty netter from Friday). Brandon Pirri is 2nd in the nation in points by a freshman (12, trailing Merrimack's Stephane Da Costa's 15). It's early in the season still, obviously, but these two Engineers are starting to put together seasons that could have them as contenders for the Hobey Baker Award and the national Rookie of the Year Award, respectively if they can keep it up.

Considering ECAC games alone, there are an unusually high number of Engineers on the leaderboard in stats. In points, we see Polacek (T-2nd, 8), Pirri and D'Amigo (T-16, 5, both tied for 2nd behind Harvard's Louis Leblanc for frosh points), and Cullen and Angers-Goulet (T-25, 4). Allen York is 5th in GAA (1.76) and 4th in save percentage (.941).

Nationally, RPI's numbers are fairly pedestrian. The Engineers possess only the 30th best scoring offense (2.67 GPG) and the 14th best scoring defense (2.25 GPG). They are 12-for-63 on the power play (19%), which is good for 25th in the nation - much better than in recent years, of course. On the penalty kill, RPI is 55 for 69 (79.7%) and could use a bit of improvement.

Quick turnaround for the Engineers this week - they don't play this upcoming weekend, but they do have a rare Wednesday game at Niagara this week. The Purple Eagles (0-8-2) are one of only three teams in the nation that has not secured a win yet - Brown and Dartmouth being the other two, although they haven't been playing as long as Niagara. In their defense, the Purps did have a fairly rough early season schedule, with games against ranked opponents in Michigan, Cornell, and two against UMass. Still, they took only one point this past weekend in a two-game set with Robert Morris, so by any measurable standard, this should be a game that the Engineers should win. It will be interesting to see if Bryce Merriam gets the start, or if we see some dinged up Engineers take a breather. I don't expect to see Helfrich or Lee return. This could be a good opportunity to give some other guys the opportunity to see some ice time - Buffalo native Mark Zarbo hasn't played a shift yet this year, and neither has Christian Morissette.

Just to keep things flowing evenly, I'll file a report on Wednesday's game at the same bat time, same bat channel.

ECAC Standings
1. Quinnipiac - 8 pts
2. Colgate - 7 pts
3. Cornell - 6 pts (4 games, 3 wins, +11 GD)
4. RPI - 6 pts (4 games, 3 wins, +7 GD)
5. Union - 6 pts (4 games, 2 wins)
6. Princeton - 5 pts
7. St. Lawrence - 4 pts (4 games, 2 wins)
8. Yale - 4 pts (4 games, 1 win)
9. Harvard - 3 pts
10. Brown - 1 pt
11. Clarkson - 0 pts (4 games)
12. Dartmouth - 0 pts (5 games)

Since the ECAC schedule continues next weekend with 9 games (no RPI/Union games, one game on Saturday between travel partners Brown and Yale), I'll probably switch to winning percentage as a better representation of the state of the league while RPI and Union hold up to three games in hand over some teams. As it is, points and winning percentage arrangements are exactly the same right now.

RPI at Clarkson
ECAC Game - Cheel Arena (Potsdam, NY)
11/13/09 - 7:00 pm
RESULT: RPI 5, Clarkson 2
BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats: http://www.collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/mclkren1.n13
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091113&vis=rpi&home=ckn&gender=m
RECAPS
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/11/13/MHOCK_1113092234.aspx
Troy Record: http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2009/11/14/sports/doc4afe4d35433bc214335521.txt
Watertown Daily Times: http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20091114/SPORTS01/311149945/-1/sports
RECORD: 7-3-1 (3-0-0 ECAC, 6 pts)

Reale Deals
1. D Bryan Brutlag, 1 goal, 1 assist
2. F Alex Angers-Goulet, 3 assists
3. F Marty O'Grady, game-winning goal, 4 shots, +2

RPI at St. Lawrence
ECAC Game - Appleton Arena (Canton, NY)
11/14/09 - 7:00 pm
RESULT: St. Lawrence 2, RPI 1
BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats: http://www.collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/mrenstl1.n14
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20091113&vis=rpi&home=ckn&gender=m
RECAPS
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2009/11/14/MHOCK_1114095331.aspx
Troy Record: http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2009/11/15/sports/doc4aff8f7c6f392149752291.txt
Albany Times-Union: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=865971
RECORD: 7-4-1 (3-1-0 ECAC, 6 pts)

Reale Deals
1. G Allen York, 35 saves (21 for 21 in 2nd)
2. F Chase Polacek, 1 goal, 4 shots
3. F Brandon Pirri, 1 assist, 3 shots

Upcoming Games
18 Nov - at Niagara
27 Nov - Bentley (RPI Holiday Hockey Tournament)
28 Nov - Union/Lake Superior State (RPI Holiday Hockey Tournament)
04 Dec - #5 Cornell
05 Dec - Colgate

--
MEN’S HOCKEY

Rensselaer went 1-1 on its North Country trip last week, topping Clarkson (5-2), before falling to St. Lawrence (2-1). Sophomore Alex Angers-Goulet (St. Augustin, PQ) had a team-best three assists in the victory over the Golden Knights.

RPI is back on the ice on Wednesday, when it visits Niagara for a non-league contest (7pm). Live stats can be found at http://www.purpleeagles.com/livestats/mhockey/xlive.htm and can also be seen live on a pay-per-view basis with B2 Networks at http://www.b2livetv.com/. The game will also be broadcast courtesy of WRPI radio on 91.5 FM or log on to www.wrpi.org and click on sports.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Boondock Saints

St. Lawrence sneaks back into it and into the lead in a span of less than two minutes. They are true Boondock Saints.


Jeff Caister and Mike McKenzie sneak in, kill, and sneak out. In nomine patrie, et fili, spiritu sancti.

Yeah, I had to use reference that considering that the new movie came out this weekend. Was hoping for something even more awesome, but you take what you can get.

In other news, good on Union for sweeping the North Country weekend. They get an "atta boy" and a tussle of the hair befitting the kid brother.

Saturday, November 14, 2009