Sunday, January 31, 2010

Three Dog Night

Or rather, a three point night for Jerry D'Amigo and Chase Polacek. For Polacek, his 3 points give him an even 100 in his RPI career - the 60th member of the RPI Century Club and the first new member since Kirk MacDonald in 2007.

As for the (Bull)dogs... well, it appears they probably won't be terribly eager to see the Engineers grace their path again. In two games this season, both of which the Bulldogs entered as the #6 team in the nation, RPI outscored them 9-2 and took all four points in the season series.

That's not a feat many other teams are likely to accomplish.

Oh, and while you're here... why not go vote for Chase Polacek for Hobey Baker?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Weekend Has Arrived

And what a weekend it is for both the men's and women's hockey teams.

The ladies are at home with a big weekend against Quinnipiac and Princeton - games they need to win if they want to be at home for the quarterfinals, considering that they're currently tied with both of them for 4th place in the ECAC. With both teams almost certain to take two points against Union, the Engineers need to limit their weekends to just 2 points. If they can complete the weekend sweep and run their win streak to 4 in a row and 5 of 6, they'll be alone in third place, trailing only Clarkson and Cornell. The remainder of the schedule is tough indeed - these are points they need, for sure.

Meanwhile, the men hit the road for a night and day weekend with Brown and Yale. The Brown game is a must-win - teams have been taking points from the Bears all season, and the Tute needs to keep pace by following suit. Yale is a different story. The two points the Engineers earned on Black Friday are much more rare. We can't expect much facing the #6 Bulldogs, but we weren't expecting much back in November either. Points in New Haven will be a huge bonus. Let's go get them.

Let's let it rock. Time to bring the fire.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Top 10 Greatest RPI Games of the 2000s

Ed Weaver did a pretty solid article about the 10 biggest news items of the decade in RPI hockey, and while we basically agree all the way around, we thought there was a little room to talk about the 10 best single games of the decade as well.

In all, there were 26 games given consideration for this list. Some good ones had to be cut - with honorable mention going to Marc Cavosie's hat trick at Walter Brown Arena in 2000, a 5-1 smackdown of Wisconsin before 10,000 fans at Kohl Center (2002), the 7-1 dismantling of Vermont in the first Black Friday (2003), the shocking 5-1 win over nationally ranked Princeton last January, Christian Morissette's only goal as an Engineer, which put RPI up 1-0 in last year's playoff series with Dartmouth, and a 4-3 win over Michigan at Joe Louis Arena in the decade's dying week - but we are left with the best of the best, the creme de la creme.

Without further ado, the top 10 RPI games of 2000-2009, starting with #10.

#10 - February 8, 2003
RPI 4, Brown 3 (OT)

Houston Field House, Troy, NY (Big Red Freakout!)

Box - Recap

With a lot to live up to coming a year after an incredible Freakout! win the previous year, the 2003 Freakout! fell short of its predecessor by a considerable margin, but still managed to produce a thrilling game which provided a much needed boost at exactly the right time.

Brown in the Freakout! is something of a traditional automatic win for RPI, but in February 2003 it seemed like there was no such thing. After tying Union on January 10th to open the 2003 segment of the ECAC regular season, the Engineers went on a dismal seven game losing streak, including a 7-1 clubbing at the hands of Clarkson in Potsdam the previous weekend and a 6-4 loss to Harvard the previous night in which Kevin Kurk and then Nathan Marsters had been torched for 5 goals in the 2nd period. Brown seemed to be the only chance the Engineers would ever have to be able to extend their Freakout! unbeaten streak.

Things got off to a good start with Kevin Croxton scored midway through the first period to start the scoring, but shortly thereafter the Bears pumped in two goals in less than a minute's time to take a 2-1 lead.

It was junior Scott Basiuk who brought the team back, tying the game back up in the last minute of the first period, and then scoring late in the second period to make it 3-2 Engineers. That lead wouldn't last long, though, as Brown's Les Haggett would score his second of the game early in the third to tie it up. The Engineers dominated the third period, but simply could not solve Brown goalie Yann Danis, who would be a Hobey Baker candidate the following season. Danis stopped all 11 shots RPI put on him in the 3rd period, and it appeared as though the Engineers' winless streak was about to hit 10 straight games.

The overtime period was much of the same - not even the Freakout! crowd, with the previous season's triumph fresh in their minds and making nose. Things were the same, that is, until the last 10 seconds of the game. With the puck behind the Brown net, junior Ryan Shields had been looking to create something, anything, so he did what any good forward behind the net would do - he tried to throw the puck into the slot and see if someone could do something with it. The puck never reached its intended destination, striking off the skate of Brown defenseman Tye Korbl, who was trying to crash Shields and the puck. As he moved in, he kicked the puck with his skate directly into the back of the net - an unlikely finish to RPI's biggest game of the year, but it gave the loud, cheering crowd the win they'd been hoping for. A little Freakout! magic come true once again.

#9 - March 13, 2009
RPI 1, Cornell 0
Lynah Rink, Ithaca, NY (Game 1 of the ECAC Quarterfinals)
Box - Recap

Allen York had arrived at RPI touted as the future leader of the Engineer defensive corps, but during much of his freshman season, there wasn't much to write home about. Posting a 2-8-0 record in limited playing time during the regular season, some started to wonder if York was going to be able to take over as the top netminder the following year after Mathias Lange's graduation.

But when the playoffs arrived, York was handed the reins earlier than many expected, and he responded beautifully, backstopping RPI to a shocking two-game sweep at Dartmouth and putting his critics in retreat. The next weekend in Ithaca, he put them to bed.

The Engineers were even bigger underdogs against the second-ranked Big Red than they had been in Hanover - no one expected them to do much of anything, especially considering the weak performance that Dartmouth had turned in. That didn't seem to stop Allen York. The freshman netminder played progressively better as the night wore on, rebounding from a 1st period mistake that almost resulted in a goal to stop an increasing number of shots in each period - 7 in the first, 10 in the second - including a big sweeping kick save - and 15 in the third - including a big glove save and another big kick save - for a total of 32 saves on 32 Cornell shots.

Meanwhile, the Engineers were having trouble finding the net themselves, on far fewer shots and opportunities. But with less than 3 minutes left in regulation, freshman Patrick Cullen finally broke onto the scoring sheet with the game's only point. He intercepted a Cornell clearing attempt, knocking it down, turning, and firing it into the back of the net past junior Ben Scrivens.

York held up the rest of the way, including a frenzied final minute, to give RPI an improbable 1-0 win. It was the first playoff win at Lynah in school history, the first league shutout in five years, and it put the Engineers on the cusp of the impossible dream - a visit to Albany as the 11 seed. It was not to be, but the Allen York era had officially begun in Troy.

#8 - November 6, 2009
RPI 5, Yale 2

Houston Field House, Troy, NY (Black Friday)

Box - Recap

This was supposed to be the season that the Engineers' unbeaten streak in Black Friday games came to an end. The Yale Bulldogs, the reigning league champions, were returning nearly all of their key players from a team that absolutely victimized the league last season. RPI was supposed to have been improved from their 11th place showing the previous year, but Yale was a legitimate national contender, already ranked sixth in the nation and receiving 1st place votes from some voters.

Any thoughts that the Engineers would be intimidated were quickly gone. From the opening faceoff, the team went right to work, and the freshman trio of Jerry D'Amigo, Brandon Pirri, and Marty O'Grady, playing together on the same line, introduced themselves to the ECAC with an exclamation point.

Junior Chase Polacek got the scoring started at 7:42, and classmate Scott Halpern added another one just 19 seconds later to put RPI up 2-0. But there was still plenty of game left to go, and expectations still weren't exceptionally high. After a penalty to senior Erik Burgdoerfer late in the period, All-ECAC forward Broc Little scored on the ensuing power play to cut the lead in half, and Little would score again in the second minute of the second period. It appeared as though the real Yale had woken up and was ready to break things open. In previous seasons, it had been the time when the real letdown would show.

But the tie didn't last long. Just a minute and a half later, D'Amigo, with some very heads-up play down low, put the puck in the net with assists from O'Grady and Pirri, to give RPI the lead again, and it was a lead they would not relinquish. Despite penalty issues late in the 2nd period, the penalty kill held up, and goals from Pirri and sophomore Patrick Cullen in the third period gave the Engineers some insurance on their way to a very convincing 5-2 win. Sophomore Allen York contributed with a 33-save night, while the Engineers put forward perhaps their most complete 60-minute team effort in years. They'd faced the Yale juggernaut, perhaps one not clicking 100% of the time but playing, for the most part, solid hockey, and punched them in the mouth.

The message was simple. The struggling Engineers from years past were just that - in the past.

#7 - October 20, 2006
RPI 2, Denver 1

Magness Arena, Denver, CO
Box - Recap

After only a single game as RPI's new bench boss, Seth Appert was already winging his way back to Denver, where he'd won a pair of national championships as an assistant to George Gwozdecky. It was in his old stomping grounds that he would earn his first ever win as a head coach, pitting a team with only one player that he'd recruited - freshman Peter Merth - against a whole team of players he'd helped land.

Before a packed crowd larger than any that could fit in an ECAC arena, on regional TV, against the 11th-ranked Pioneers, who were playing in their home opener, the Engineers had an express lane open to the penalty box and couldn't keep pace on the shot count, but they did what they needed to get the job done. RPI bent plenty over the course of 60 minutes, but never broke.

To no one's great surprise, the Pioneers got on the board first, as highly touted sophomore Brock Trotter scored on the power play at 13:21 of the first period. But already, junior Jordan Alford was showing that he was going to be keeping RPI in the game, working his way to 13 saves in the first period alone.

Eight minutes into the second, sophomore Reed Kipp took a slashing call with freshman Christian Jensen already in the box, giving a dangerous Denver power play a long 5-on-3 chance. Once again, the Engineers bent without breaking, killing both penalties and getting a long 5-on-3 opportunity of their own (a little even-up move by WCHA referee Brian Thul a year before earning the ire of RPI fans at the Icebreaker in Minnesota), and RPI responded with the tying goal. The marker came from the stick of senior captain Kirk MacDonald, scoring his first goal since returning from a redshirt season in which he had successfully undergone treatment for testicular cancer.

Five minutes into the third period, sophomore Seth Klerer scored his first of the season, one of the biggest goals he would score as an Engineer, to put RPI up 2-1 with 15 minutes left in regulation. From there, the game rested on Jordan Alford's shoulders. Alford, who had come in as a much hyped replacement for Nathan Marsters, had struggled to see ice time in his first two seasons at RPI, falling behind Andrew Martin and then Mathias Lange on the depth chart in net, but he proved his worth in Denver in one of the finest performances he would turn in during his collegiate career, making 15 saves in the final period to finish with a total of 38 saves on 39 shots, keeping the Pioneers completely off the scoresheet at even strength and paving the way for Seth Appert's first victory, a shocking upset of his former team.

Despite Denver's overpowering win the following night, the stunning win - the first ever against long-time NCAA hockey power DU - helped propel the Engineers to a 4-1-3 record to open the Appert Era in Troy. Things started getting rough that season after November came to a close, but the new coach had already put his stamp on the team. A new age was about to begin.

#6 - December 28, 2001
RPI 5, Quinnipiac 4 (2 OT)

Houston Field House, Troy, NY (RPI Holiday Tournament)

Box - Recap

The Engineers won the RPI Holiday Tournament for the only time this decade during the 2001-02 season, arguably the best full season that the team turned in during the last 10 years. While the title game was a thrilling overtime affair on its own, it didn't quite live up to the game the previous night, which featured the Engineers taking on the Quinnipiac Braves, who were bound for the NCAA Tournament later in the season.

No one expected the Engineers to struggle against the Braves, who hailed from the lowly MAAC, but from the game's outset it was apparent that Quinnipiac was ready to put up a fight. For the first two periods, QU's Ryan Olson and Ryan Morton had a response for every goal RPI put up. After freshman C.J. Hanafin scored his first collegiate goal early in the first, Olson scored on the power play to tie it. When senior Andrew McPherson landed his first goal of the season minutes later, Morton responded with a short-handed goal early in the second period. Midway through the senior Jim Vickers scored a power play goal to put RPI up 3-2, but minutes later it was Olson tying it up, shortly followed by Morton to give Quinnipiac their first lead of the night. Morton's second of the night was enough to chase sophomore Nathan Marsters from the net, after having given up 4 goals on just 18 shots.

With Kevin Kurk now between the pipes, a power play goal from junior Carson Butterwick tied things up again just before the end of the period. That was when the duel between Kurk and Quinnipiac goaltender Justin Eddy began in full.

The Engineers were the beneficiaries of two power play chances in the third period, but after their last opportunity expired with 7 minutes left in regulation, the referee swallowed the whistle, and the teams went blow for blow. RPI controlled play in the 3rd period but could not beat Eddy despite 15 shots in the frame, and the game went into overtime.

Back then, there were no shootouts in the RPI Tournament, and no ties, either. Games went on as long as it took to decide a winner. And this one went on - over 30 minutes of overtime were played in this game as Kurk and Eddy went deep into the night, neither bending an inch. RPI put 12 shots on goal in the first overtime period, but still couldn't nab the game winner. Finally, midway through the second overtime, it was senior Chris Migliore - ironically, a native of Hamden, CT - that would score the game-winning goal in what had become, at that time, the longest game in school history (and remains the longest game in Quinnipiac history), beating out the famed 1985 semifinal win over Minnesota-Duluth at the Frozen Four. Eddy had broken his stick during a sustained attacking zone sequence for RPI, and had little recourse as Migliore fired a shot in the slot that beat the netminder five-hole.

The tournament victory marked one of the high points of Kurk's career at RPI - he made 22 saves in relief to earn the victory in the game, playing almost a full game's worth of minutes. He started the next night and backstopped the team with 32 saves on 34 shots, earning Tournament MVP honors.

#5 - February 12, 2005
RPI 3, Brown 2

Houston Field House, Troy, NY (Big Red Freakout!)

Box - Recap

As noted before, Brown at the Freakout! sometimes has felt like an automatic win - the Bears have been the most frequent Freakout! opponent, appearing in eight editions, and the Engineers have won all eight. However, not all eight victories have come easily, as in #10 above and here at #5, the big win in the biggest game of the year sometimes involves an excruciating wait before the payoff. In this case, on national television, the payoff came at just about the time most Freakout! veterans would expect.

It was a game better remembered for the way it ended than the way it played out, but there were similarities with the 2003 Freakout! in the way this one was played. Sophomore Oren Eizenman scored about 15 minutes in, but Brown scored 3 minutes later to make it 1-1 after one period. Early in the 2nd, the Bears would make it 2-1, while RPI failed to get anything going in the middle frame, offering just 5 shots.

A Brown penalty late in the 2nd gave RPI the fresh ice power play in the 3rd, and senior Nick Economakos delivered just 36 seconds into the period to tie the score. Brown threw everything they had at senior goaltender Andrew Martin, exploiting a weak Engineer defense, but Martin stopped all 14 shots he faced in the period.

With time running down and the crowd on its feet, it was junior Kirk MacDonald, one of the Engineers' best scoring forwards of the decade, who took matters into his own hands. After sophomore Jake Luthi took control of the puck in the neutral zone and feathered a pass up to the big forward, MacDonald, like a man possessed, drove for the zone, unleashing a blistering shot from the top of the faceoff circle that loudly rang off the crossbar and into the net, sending the wild Freakout! crowd into a frenzy with only 9 seconds remaining on the clock. As the CSTV commentators would put it, "the crowd almost willed this team to respond." The crowd rose to their feet with about two minutes left expecting some Freakout! magic, and it happened yet again, extending RPI's unbeaten streak in the Freakout! to 15, and making the Class of 2005 the first class to win all four of its Freakout!s.

It was a shining personal peak for MacDonald, coming just weeks before a devastating diagnosis of testicular cancer, which would sideline him for a full year. For the Engineers, though, the Freakout! boost never came. They would drop the next three games and Brown would gain revenge in the playoffs, sweeping the first round series in Providence.

#4 - March 16, 2002
RPI 4, Clarkson 3

Olympic Center, Lake Placid, NY (ECAC Consolation Game)

Box - Recap

Most people wouldn't put much stock in the outcome of the consolation game - after all, both teams involved came so close to playing in the championship but ultimately missed out. In this case, though, it was a happy story with a happy ending for the Engineers and their fans, who got to see a very talented group of seniors - and one very talented junior - end their college careers with a hard-fought victory on a big stage against the school's biggest rival.

Power plays were the order of the afternoon - of the seven goals scored, six came on the man advantage, and the seventh was scored 4 seconds after the conclusion of a power play. The game got off to a fairly famliar start for RPI/Clarkson that season as the Knights picked up the first two goals about two and a half minutes apart in the first period to take a 2-0 lead. About a minute later, senior Matt Murley, playing in what he knew would be his final game as an Engineer since the team was not going to earn an at-large NCAA bid, scored to cut the lead to 2-1.

Clarkson dominated the second period, putting 14 shots on sophomore Nathan Marsters, scoring on their second power play of the period to make it 3-1 heading into the 2nd intermission. The Engineers started the 3rd on the power play, and with the fresh ice, junior and ECAC Player of the Year Marc Cavosie would score his 23rd goal of the season, and the last one he would score as an Engineer, as he would forgo his senior year to sign a professional contract that summer. The goal cut the Clarkson lead in half again, but the Engineers would get a big boost toward the finish line when Clarkson's Adam Campana knocked Murley down behind the net and then sticked him in the face. Campana was given an interference minor, a spearing major, and a game DQ, and giving the Engineers an extended power play opportunity. About two minutes later, after one more penalty for each team, junior Nolan Graham would score in a 4-on-3 opportunity to tie things up at three.

The game remained tied as the Engineers took almost complete control in the 3rd period, outshooting Clarkson 19-2 in the last 20 minutes. In the final minute of the game, Clarkson's Ian Manzano took a foolish hooking penalty, and it was Murley who would conclude his career with a big goal - a shot from the blue line with 32 seconds left that gave RPI their first lead of the afternoon, and the only one they'd need.

The victory gave the Engineers 3rd place in the ECAC Tournament, and represented the high water mark of the decade. It was their 20th win of the season, giving the senior class, led by Murley, Steve Munn, and Andrew McPherson, three 20-win seasons. They have had only one 20-win season since (2003-04, which oddly did not have any games make this list), and have not been back to the ECAC Semifinals since.

#3 - March 11, 2000
RPI 3, Dartmouth 2 (OT)
Houston Field House, Troy, NY (Game 2 of the ECAC Quarterfinals)

Box - Recap

This is a game that shouldn't have been one of the more remarkable of the decade. The Engineers were in the middle of a fight for an NCAA berth, while Dartmouth was still a season away from crawling out of their two-decade long slumber as one of the worst teams in the ECAC. This was always RPI's series to win on their way to a showdown in Lake Placid. They had the 1-0 series lead, having completely whitewashed the Big Green the previous night, 7-2.

In the second period, junior Brad Tapper, who had been leading the nation in scoring, put one in the net with a two-man advantage to give RPI a 1-0 lead, a lead the team carried into the third period. With senior Joel Laing, the consensus number one goaltender in the nation and a Hobey Baker contender, guarding the Engineer net, it seemed as though the ticket to Lake Placid was practically punched as the final 20 minutes of regulation got underway. Dartmouth had managed 18 shots on Laing during the 2nd period, but he'd turned them all back.

Then, midway through the third, the bottom dropped out, and the Big Green were not only right back in the game, they were leading. Dartmouth scored two goals in just under two minutes, and just like that, the game was in doubt. The Engineers had been cruising along toward an NCAA berth before a devastating 5-game losing streak in February, and a loss to Dartmouth in the playoffs, even if it didn't end their playoff run, would surely be the final dagger in their quest to qualify for an at-large berth.

With time running out in regulation, Laing was pulled for the extra attacker, and it was a familiar name coming through in the clutch - senior Pete Gardiner, who was one of the most prolific scorers on the team in the late 90s. Taking a feed from sophomore Matt Murley, Gardiner roofed a shot past Dartmouth's Nick Boucher (who would become a key element in the renaissance in Hanover) with only six ticks remaining on the brand new scoreboard at Houston Field House, forcing overtime with perhaps the biggest goal of his outstanding career.

The goal snapped the Engineers out of their offensive malaise, as they took control in the extra session. Midway through the first overtime period, with a 4-on-4 situation out on the ice, unheralded fourth-line freshman Carson Butterwick put one past a prone Boucher to complete the gut-punch, sending the Engineers straight to the semifinal in Lake Placid and keeping hopes for a potential at-large bid - dreams that would not be realized after a disappointing shutout at the hands of St. Lawrence in the ECAC Championship game a week later, but for one night, the Engineers had gone to the brink and become potential world killers again.

#2 - March 8, 2003

RPI 3, Union 2

Achilles Center, Schenectady, NY (Game 2 of the ECAC First Round)

Box - Recap

The rapid succession of a pit in your stomach and jubilant elation is what great games are made of, and in the third period of an all out war which we may one day look back on as the weekend where the Route 7 Rivalry began in earnest, RPI fans, in a hostile environment, got the opportunity to experience that rollercoaster ride.

The 2002-03 season was unkind to the Engineers. They struggled to a 4-15-3 record in the ECAC, including a 2-11-2 league record after the New Year. They finished in 11th place, a position which just a year earlier would have ended their season with no playoff appearance for the first time since 1982. Fortunately, concurrent with the league's decision to move the tournament to Albany, the playoff field was expanded to include all 12 teams - a move which RPI backers had ironically referred to as the "Union rule" as the Dutchmen had missed the playoffs six times in the 11 years since they had joined the league. Instead, the Engineers were the beneficiaries of the change - and Union got the chance to host their very first playoff series.

After sneaking out of Game 1 with a 2-1 victory - paired with the previous Saturday's home win over Vermont, creating the only the second 2-game win streak of the season - the Engineers returned for Game 2, hopeful of another upset over the Dutchmen, who had lost every playoff game they'd played since taking their very first one in 1994.

A rough and tumble first period produced 12 minutes worth of penalties for both teams, but no goals. An additional pair of penalties early in the 2nd gave both teams their fourth power plays of the game, but neither converted. But mere seconds after sophomore Blake Pickett was sent off on a tripping call, Union's Scott Seney scored to put the Dutchmen up 1-0. About 11 minutes later, senior Carson Butterwick tied it back up heading into the 3rd period.

Union would score again midway through the third as Kris Goodjohn scored just a few seconds into a penalty to junior Mikael Hammarstrom. A little over a minute and a half later, Pickett was called again for roughing, and the tide seemed to be turning in favor of the hosts - a 2-1 lead, a shift in momentum down the ice toward junior Nathan Marsters, and a power play to boot. Game 3 was looking more and more likely.

Then, the impossible happened. Early in the penalty kill, junior Scott Basiuk got control of the puck cleared it down the ice. Union goaltender Kris Mayotte wandered out of his crease to collect the puck near the boards, but sophomore Nick Economakos was right there to try and work it away. The two collided, and the puck squirted out to junior Ben Barr, who threw it into the empty net for a short-handed goal, tying the game up at two.

That was crazy enough. Then it happened again. On the same penalty kill.

Only 50 seconds later, Basiuk took control of the puck in the RPI zone and moved it to Economakos, who cleared the zone. Barr raced after it, and once again, Mayotte came out of his crease to try to get to it first. Mayotte tried to poke it away, but the puck hit Barr instead, who maneuvered into open ice and once again fired the puck into an empty net for a second shorty - with exactly the same scoreline, Barr from Economakos and Basiuk. Just under a minute later, Blake Pickett emerged from the penalty box. His team had been down a goal when he'd gone in. They led 3-2 when he came out. There would be no further penalties called, and Marsters made a total of 13 saves in the 3rd period as the Engineers finished the series sweep. RPI fans serenaded the Dutchmen with an "overrated" chant as they left the ice, the last time Union coach Kevin Sneddon would see Achilles Center as the coach of the Dutchmen, as he would leave a few months later to take over at Vermont.

The victory earned the Engineers a trip to Ithaca, where they would be downed in two games by a Cornell team that was bound for the Frozen Four. It had still been a very rough season, but it was a single night in Schenectady and a herculean effort by a man who would, a season later, wear the "C" for his team and several years later, a suit and tie behind the bench for the team he'd victimized, that gave RPI fans reason to be happy with their team.

#1 - February 9, 2002

RPI 4, Clarkson 3 (OT)

Houston Field House, Troy, NY (Big Red Freakout!)

Box - Recap

The night they killed the horn. Much of the time, the games you remember the most are not the ones in which your team was utterly dominant throughout, but the ones in which an improbable, sometimes seemingly impossible turnaround takes place. When it happens in the playoffs or at Freakout!, the effect only grows. In this case, the turnaround happened not only at Freakout!, and during the official celebrations for the 100th anniversary of hockey at RPI, but in such a way as to propel the Engineers all the way to Lake Placid, producing a high that would last throughout the remainder of the season.

RPI had gone into late January in complete disarray in the ECAC. After a heart-breaking loss in Schenectady (in which senior Matt Murley had scored a hat trick at just the 1:25 mark of the 2nd period, only to be followed by 3 Union goals), the Engineers sat at 2-6-2 in the ECAC. That had started to turn around in the two weekends leading up to Freakout!, which featured a 2-1-1 showing against Dartmouth and Vermont, but there was still much work to be done.

A loss in the Freakout! to arch-rival Clarkson would have been a devastating momentum killer for RPI, and for the first 45 minutes of the game, it looked like it would be nothing but that in the final ledger - a crushing loss to end the school's 10-year unbeaten streak, and worst of all, to Clarkson. In the game's third minute, the Knights took advantage of an early penalty to Murley to go up 1-0, and then scored again midway through the period.

Nine minutes into the second period, Clarkson's Kerry Ellis-Toddington would score on the power play to make it 3-0 Knights - his third point of the night - and that's about the time when hope was beginning to fade. By the end of the 2nd period, the Engineers had squandered seven power play opportunities - and had poured 18 shots onto Clarkson goalie Mike Walsh in the 2nd period alone - and were facing a big hole with just 20 minutes to play.

Murley pleaded with his team in the locker room during the 2nd intermission. "We don't lose Freakouts," he told them sternly. But even early in the 3rd period, it looked hopeless. Sophomore Ryan Shields was given five and a game-misconduct for hitting from behind, and it appeared that things were only about to get worse. But RPI buckled down and defended the long penalty kill for three minutes before getting a reprieve when Clarkson's Jay Latulippe was called for holding, negating the remainder of the penalty kill.

That's when the magic started. On the ensuing 4-on-4, junior Marc Cavosie netted his 17th goal of the season to get the crowd back into the game. At least it wasn't going to be a shutout. It would take another nine minutes - with just over four minutes left in the game - when senior Jim Henkel scored on a pass from Cavosie to make it 3-2, and suddenly, the game was interesting.

With 1:05 remaining in regulation and a faceoff coming in the Clarkson zone, Clarkson coach Mark Morris called timeout, and Dan Fridgen pulled sophomore Nathan Marsters for the extra attacker. Just seven seconds later - practically right off the faceoff, Cavosie had found the back of the net for the second time, sending the sold-out crowd into an all out frenzy.

But the period wasn't over yet. 25 seconds later, Clarkson's Matt Poapst was called for charging, putting the Engineers on a power play through the end of regulation and into the overtime period. The Field House absolutely rocked during the short overtime break, as both sides got on their feet and made more noise than had been heard in years in that building. One could barely hear themselves among the clamor.

Perhaps befitting the Engineers' dismal performance on the power play that night, RPI technically didn't convert on the man advantage. But that hardly mattered two seconds after the Poapst penalty expired, as junior Carson Butterwick, with assists from Henkel and Cavosie, blew the roof off the building as he beat Walsh over the left shoulder to give RPI the magical victory. Jubilation reigned. The horn operators blew the horn so long that one of the three horns blew out - it hasn't been as loud since. A group of students tried to storm the ice, but were denied. The team celebrated as though they'd just won some hardware.

The special 100th anniversary jerseys were supposed to be worn only once, for Freakout!, but after the win the team would wear them in each home game for the remainder of the season. They lost only once wearing them - in a game known today as "Fulton's Folly," and the Freakout! win became the third in a streak of 6 that pulled the Engineers right back into the thick of the ECAC battle and onto a path that ended in a small town nestled in the Adirondack Mountains.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Men's Hockey - Dartmouth and Harvard (22/23 Jan)

The Engineers returned to Houston Field House for the first time since early December this past weekend with a pair of winnable games. Although they weren't able to complete the sweep, they did get 3 vital points out of the weekend festivities despite the consensus evaluation of lackluster play, getting by Dartmouth 2-1 and tying Harvard 3-3 in games that could both have been losses in recent years, underlining just how far this team has come, and maybe showing a little additional maturity needed for further growth.




The Brutlag at forward experiment continued unabated, while Paul Kerins, who has been a great addition to the Engineers' repertoire of scoring threats, was moved onto the People's Line in place of Jerry D'Amigo, who was paired on what has the makings of a dangerous line with Chase Polacek and Bryan Brutlag.

Dartmouth, in the middle of a really rough season, was facing RPI for the first time since the Engineers unceremoniously kicked them out of their own building and out of the ECAC playoffs last night. They started sophomore goaltender James Mello, who was making only his second start of the season.

It was nothing doing early on in the first period. RPI managed only a single shot on goal in the game's first 6 minutes, which led into Dartmouth's first power play of the game on a Brandon Pirri penalty. That started the usual back and forth penalty calls, in which both teams got an advantage, but neither converted. A spate of penalties just after the halfway mark resulted, in succession, in a very short RPI 5-on-4, a longer 4-on-4 after a penalty to Polacek just after the power play started, a short 4-on-3 after another Dartmouth penalty, another short 4-on-4 after the first Dartmouth penalty expired, then another RPI 5-on-4 after Polacek left the box.

That 5-on-4 was just 4 seconds old when Connor Goggin - the Dartmouth player who had drawn the initial penalty in that sequence, scored what was technically a shorthanded goal although its circumstances came in the 4-on-4 situation since Polacek had not yet returned to the play, giving Dartmouth a 1-0 lead. The Big Green led 12-7 in shots after the first period and had the lead.

The second period was much more of the same, but more even. RPI was still playing uninspired hockey, failing to convert on an early power play before a successful penalty kill midway through the period. The Engineers won the shooting contest in the 2nd period 7-6, but weren't able to put one in the net and after two periods, Dartmouth still led 1-0, and the potential letdown of a loss to lowly Dartmouth hung in the air during the 2nd intermission.

Then, the team came alive in the 3rd period, using a method that they might just have picked up on in their last game against Union - the quick shot off the faceoff. In this instance, it was Tyler Helfrich, scoring on a quick shot off a draw won by Patrick Cullen, finally getting RPI on the board at 5:46 of the third period. The goal was made more impressive by the fact that Alex Angers-Goulet had been in to take the draw, but was tossed by the linesman, an occurrence which usually thwarts a team's set plays on the draw.

Three and a half minutes later, it was another familiar sight that put the Engineers ahead, and this time it was from a more familiar source. Paul Kerins took an opportunistic shot that Mello tried to grab with his glove, but the puck bounced off it and into the net, putting RPI up 2-1 in a similar fashion to the goal Kerins scored against Michigan in the GLI.

From there, it was basically academic. Allen York stopped all 10 shots he faced in the third period, giving him 27 saves on 28 shots for the game, and giving RPI two more league points despite a lackluster effort at home against a pretty weak team. Last year, this game probably would have been a loss - but the team bounced back well and two points are two points, no matter how they come.




The only change from the Dartmouth game in the Harvard lineup was Jordan Watts taking a seat in favor of Garett Vassel. This is a game the Engineers probably wish they'd had earlier in the season, as Harvard has come alive in the month of January, and on Saturday night they were fresh off handing Union their first ECAC loss of the season.

Jerry D'Amigo got the party started midway through the first period with one of those difficult angle shots he is becoming known for. Shooting from a spot that was practically on the goal line, D'Amigo managed to bank the puck in off Harvard goaltender Ryan Carroll to put RPI up 1-0. The period had a decent amount of flow to it, with each team drawing only a single penalty, and the Engineers had their most lopsided shot advantage in recent memory, 9-4.

The ice tilted back the other way in the 2nd, though, as the Crimson took an 8-4 shot advantage in the middle frame, indicative not only of a better effort by Harvard but also a weaker showing by RPI. However, it was yet another feeling of deja vu in the last 10 seconds of the period that would the the biggest event. After killing back to back penalties midway through the period, it appeared the Engineers were going to be fortunate to get to the 2nd intermission clinging to their one goal lead. Then Paul Kerins took an opportunistic shot, Carroll tried to glove it down, and it glanced off the glove and into the back of the net. At some point, you start to wonder how Kerins is enticing goaltenders to miss with their gloves, but it was good for his 8th of the season, and it put RPI up 2-0 despite the weak period.

Observers could be forgiven for thinking that the Kerins goal was an absolute dagger - coming right at the end of a period in which Harvard had pulled themselves back into the game. Much like Kerins' goal against Michigan, the opposing coach responded by coming out with a new goaltender for the third period, the much maligned Kyle Richter (who was at one point thrown out of Harvard for academic dishonesty). That's pretty much when all hell broke loose, changing the face of the entire game.

Just 20 seconds after the opening faceoff, Harvard's Alex Killorn scored to cut the RPI lead in half, immediately dashing any hopes of Kerins' goal having any lasting effects into the 3rd. But less than a minute later, Marty O'Grady took yet another of his high percentage shots off a pass from Brandon Pirri, and just like that, the 2-goal lead was back as the Engineers led 3-1. The feeling of calm returned.

Almost as quickly, it was gone again. Just over a minute after O'Grady's goal, the Crimson got yet another goal, scoring their second of the game in the span of 2:10, cutting the lead back to one and setting the tone for a potentially dismal third period. The Crimson fought throughout the third to get the tying goal, but York, for the most part, was very crisp, keeping Harvard out of the net as RPI clung to the one-goal lead for much of the period.

A potential turning point came with about four minutes left in the period as D'Amigo was absolutely blasted from behind into the boards by Harvard's Danny Biega, one of the three very talented and highly touted Biega brothers. D'Amigo was slow to get up, and observers report that the hit was very much in line with the NCAA's crackdown on hitting from behind and, by precedent, probably deserved a 5-minute major and a game misconduct, which would have put Harvard down a man for the remainder of regulation. The referees decided on only a minor for Biega, and the Engineers were unable to convert on the power play, giving Harvard another chance.

They capitalized on that chance, pulling Richter in the last minute of the game for an extra attacker. With just 3 ticks left on the clock, the Crimson got a flurry in front of the net, and Montreal Canadiens 1st round draft pick Louis Leblanc was waiting on the doorstep to put home a loose puck after York made an initial save. Appert was critical of sophomore Mike Bergin on the play, telling the media afterwards that Bergin should have "been a man and put Leblanc on his rear end" rather than hovering over York trying to be a second goaltender. RPI was literally 3 seconds away from completing the weekend sweep, but instead, overtime was in the cards.

During the overtime, D'Amigo was once again blasted from behind by one of the Biega brothers, this time garnering no call whatsoever. However, the Engineers were the beneficiary of a makeup call a minute later which gave them a power play opportunity for the remainder of the overtime - and they weren't able to convert on that one either. Suddenly, the power play is becoming a concern. The Engineers are 0-for-12 in their last three games.

It ended up being one of those ties that feels a little bit like a loss - in those 3 seconds, the Engineers could have moved into a tie for fifth in the ECAC, but it's water under the bridge now. Every point is crucial, so perhaps we should be thankful we got 3 of them this weekend despite uninspired play.

There are four games left that the Engineers really must win in order to have a shot at the bye - must-wins simply because the season as borne out that RPI is clearly the better team in the matchup. The first of these four games comes this Friday at Brown, with the others being special home games against Clarkson and Princeton (the 1985 celebration and Freakout! respectively) and a road game at Dartmouth. These are the bottom four teams in the ECAC, and they're 8 points that RPI absolutely must take if they are going to put themselves in contention for the top four.

Assuming they can meet that burden, home games against St. Lawrence and Quinnipiac and games at Colgate and Harvard are also crucial for points - points that may not be automatic. These games will likely be where the season swings from here on out.

Then the last two games are pretty much bonus points for RPI if they can get anything out of them, both on the road - this Saturday at Yale and on the last day of the regular season at Cornell. These are good teams that we can't count on too much out of, but fortunately it's only two games out of 10.

This team is close. The Record's Ed Weaver notes that this team is two extra-attacker goals given up at home (Union and Harvard) from being in first place, goals that led to an overall loss of three league points. It's a game of inches, and once this team matures a bit more, those inches will belong to RPI.

Other junk - No votes for the Engineers for the second week in a row. Ranked ECAC teams are #6 Yale (no change after splitting with Clarkson and SLU), #8 Cornell (up one after splitting with North Dakota), and #18 Union (down five after being swept at home by Harvard and Dartmouth, their first ECAC losses of the year). St. Lawrence, after their impressive sweep of Brown and Yale, garnered 47 votes, just missing a #20 ranking. Quinnipiac has almost lost all of their votes after at one point being ranked 4th in the nation, down to only 6 after another embarrassing weekend, losing to and tying Niagara. The Bobcats are now 1-9-2 since starting the season 12-1-0. It's night and day.

Ranked non-conference opponents of the Engineers are #12 Michigan State (down 2), #13 New Hampshire (up 3), #15 UMass (no change), and #20 Michigan (re-entering the poll). Alaska clocked in with 10 votes.

Go, right now, and vote for Chase Polacek for Hobey Baker: It's the honorable thing to do. He's ahead in the ECAC scoring race by three points over Union's Mario Valery-Trabucco and remains among the top scorers in the nation.

Brandon Pirri is way ahead in the national freshman scoring race. He's not getting as many goals since the word's out on his scoring ability (which has substantially freed up Marty O'Grady and now Paul Kerins), but he's got 22 assists, 5 more than any other freshman in the nation. With 29 total points, he's two ahead of Michigan State's Derek Grant, and has the second most points per game among rookies with 1.12, trailing only Merrimack's Stephane Da Costa (who has 7 fewer games played). His 13 assists in ECAC play is tops in the entire league, trailed by some guy named Polacek (12). There's no question that he's been a major part of RPI's resurgence this season.

Oh, and one more thing - the fact that Pirri and Polacek don't play on the same line ought to be troubling for opponents.

RPI has 13 points in ECAC play after 12 games - the same total they had after 22 games last season.

ECAC Standings
1. Union - 17 pts
2. Cornell - 16 pts (11 games)
3. St. Lawrence - 16 pts (12 games, 7 wins, +10 goals)
4. Yale - 16 pts (12 games, 7 wins, +9 goals)
5. Quinnipiac - 14 pts
6. Colgate - 13 pts (11 games)
7. RPI - 13 pts (12 games)
8. Harvard - 13 pts (13 games)
9. Brown - 9 pts
10. Princeton - 7 pts
11. Dartmouth - 6 pts
12. Clarkson - 4 pts

By Winning Pct. (points/possible)
1. Cornell .727 (16/22)
2. Union .708 (17/24)
T-3. St. Lawrence/Yale .667 (16/24)
5. Colgate .591 (13/22)
6. RPI .542 (13/24)
7. Quinnipiac .538 (14/26)
8. Harvard .500 (13/26)
9. Brown .375 (9/24)
10. Princeton .292 (7/24)
11. Dartmouth .250 (6/24)
12. Clarkson .167 (4/24)

Dartmouth at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/22/10 - 7:00 pm
RESULT: RPI 2, Dartmouth 1

RECORD: 13-11-1 (6-5-0 ECAC, 12 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Paul Kerins, GWG, 3 shots
2. D John Kennedy, +1
3. F Tyler Helfrich, 1 G

Harvard at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/23/10 - 4:00 pm
RESULT: RPI 3, Harvard 3


RECORD: 13-11-2 (6-5-1 ECAC, 13 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Paul Kerins, 1 G, 1 A
2. F Marty O'Grady, 1 G, 1 A
3. F Brandon Pirri, 2 A

Upcoming Games
29 Jan - at Brown
30 Jan - at #6 Yale
05 Feb - St. Lawrence
06 Feb - Clarkson
12 Feb - at Harvard


Rensselaer went 1-0-1 last week, topping Dartmouth (2-1) on Friday, before tying Harvard (3-3) on Saturday. Senior Paul Kerins (Weston, ON) scored a goal in each game, including the game-winner against the Big Green. RPI (13-11-2; 6-5-1 ECAC Hockey) is back on the ice this weekend, when it visits Brown and sixth-ranked Yale on Friday (7pm) and Saturday (7pm), respectively.

Live stats for Friday’s game will be available at and can be seen live on a pay-per-view basis via the B2 Networks at Saturday’s game will also have live stats, available at and live video at As is the case will all RPI men’s hockey games, both contests will be broadcast on the air courtesy of WRPI radio on 91.5 FM or log on to and click on sports.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Women's Hockey - at Dartmouth & Harvard

It was a weekend for the history books as RPI earned their first ever win over Dartmouth before continuing on to their first ever regular season win over Harvard to take a weekend road sweep - only the second ECAC road sweep in the program’s four seasons in the league.

The story of the weekend was goaltending as RPI netminders Sonja van der Bliek and Shannon Ramelot split the duties, turning away 45 and 43 shots against Dartmouth and Harvard respectively, en route to 2-1 and 4-2 victories. Senior captain Laura Gersten led the charge against Harvard, scoring two of RPI’s goals and tacking on an assist for a 3-point performance.





van der Bliek

Let’s put it this way – Sonja van der Bliek is a hero for keeping the Engineers in this game. Keeping in mind that Dartmouth dismantled RPI 6-1 in the championship game of the ECAC playoffs last season, many weren’t expecting a great outcome for the Engineers. However – this year’s Dartmouth team is not the typical powerhouse the ECAC is used to seeing. They hover on the cusp of missing the playoffs right now, which is nearly inconceivable for a team that’s been in the NCAA tournament more often than not recently.

Facing a firestorm of 22 Dartmouth shots in the first period alone (more than RPI managed to get the entire game), van der Bliek stopped them all, and with RPI managing just six shots of their own, Dartmouth’s Mariel Lacina had little trouble keeping RPI off the board, and the teams made it out of the period with no score.

It was another Dartmouth shooting gallery in the second, as the Big Green outshot RPI 16-4, but in the numbers that count, each team picked up one. Dartmouth’s Alyssa Boehm broke the scoreless tie at 14:10 of the period on a goal from Sally Komarek. Less than four minutes later, Kendra Dunlop found Allysen Weidner with a pass, and Weidner put it past Lacina to tie the score at one heading to the locker room.

Allison Wright broke the tie near the middle of the third period on a goal from Dunlop and Weidner, and despite a Dartmouth power play in the final three minutes of regulation, van der Bliek was up to the task and kept the score locked at 2-1 until the final buzzer. Dartmouth is now 6-11-2 (4-9-1 ECAC) after going 20-10-4 (13-5-4 ECAC) last season and making it to the NCAA tournament. A surprising turn of events to say the least for a team led by seniors Jenna Cunningham and Sarah Parsons, who have been among the top players in women’s hockey in their time at Dartmouth.




Vadner/Le Donne


RPI proved last season that they were up to the task of beating Harvard, defeating the top seeded Crimson in the semifinals of the ECAC championship. That didn’t mean a repeat was expected, as Harvard came into the game ranked #6 in the nation and #3 in the ECAC. After van der Bliek’s 45-saves the night before in Hanover, and a short turnaround for an afternoon game in Boston, Coach Burke played rookie Shannon Ramelot in net. She made the most of her ECAC debut, proving she’s up to the task of being a backup that can be relied upon, and built some confidence in her capability as van der Bliek’s eventual replacement.

RPI took off out of the gate and put Harvard on their heels early as Laura Guillemette put a shot past Crimson goalie Laura Bellamy just 1:47 into the game. Two Harvard penalties early in the period gave RPI nearly four straight minutes of power play time, and Laura Gersten capitalized at 8:06 with help from Allison Wright to give RPI a commanding 2-0 lead. In a relatively evenly matched rest of the period, play went back and forth until there was just over a minute remaining, when Harvard defenseman Cori Bassett notched an unassisted goal to cut RPI’s lead in half at 18:51.

Gersten restored RPI’s two-goal lead at 6:54 of the second, with her second goal of the afternoon from Syndey O’Keefe and Jill Vandegrift. Harvard would again cut the lead to one at 16:20 of the third period, but Alisa Harrison added an empty netter with 30 seconds remaining to put the game away at 4-2.

The Crimson outshot the Engineers 45-29, for a lopsided total weekend shot count 91-47 in favor of the home teams. Van der Bliek and Ramelot’s superior performances, and a lot of help from the defense (including more than a dozen blocked shots) gave RPI the opportunity to win, and they capitalized.

Last week I mentioned RPI would have to work hard to stay safe in the playoff picture this season. With this sweep, 4 points that were by no means considered safe for RPI, the Engineers have moved into a 3-way tie for fourth place with Princeton and Quinnipiac, who visit the Capital District next weekend. With two points pretty much guaranteed for the visitors against Union, the two games at RPI will be huge in starting to sort out the standings as we get closer to the end of the season. Third place Harvard is only one point up on the Engineers, and RPI still holds a game in hand over the Crimson. Cornell and Clarkson are five and six points up respectively, and likely to finish in the top two spots barring any big upsets. RPI still has a game remaining against each Clarkson and Cornell, so the opportunity is there to make up some ground with some big games from the Engineers.

Amazing how quickly an outlook can turn around, as we now look to whether RPI will be seeing home ice in the playoffs for the first time. RPI needs to stay on top of their game still, as the bottom two spots may be wrapped up by Brown and Union, but Dartmouth and Colgate are currently out of the playoffs but only 6 and 7 points back from the Engineers. Ever-increasing parity in the league has made every game count more than seasons past.


RPI at Dartmouth
ECAC Hockey Game – Thompson Arena (Hanover, NH)
1/22/10 - 7:00pm
RPI 2, Dartmouth 1

College Hockey Stats:


RECORD: 9-10-5 (6-4-3 ECAC Hockey, 15 points)


RPI at Harvard
ECAC Hockey Game – Bright Hockey Center (Boston, MA)
1/23/10 – 4:00pm
RPI 4, Harvard 2

College Hockey Stats:


RECORD: 10-10-5 (7-4-3 ECAC Hockey, 17 points)


ECAC Standings (as of 1/23/10):
            GP    Pts    ECAC      All
Clarkson 13 23 11-1-1 17-5-3
Cornell 14 22 9-1-4 10-7-4
Harvard 15 18 8-5-2 10-5-4
Quinnipiac 14 17 6-3-5 13-7-6
Princeton 14 17 7-4-3 9-9-3
RPI 14 17 7-4-3 10-10-5
SLU 13 16 7-4-2 11-8-6
Yale 14 11 5-8-1 7-11-3
Dartmouth 15 11 5-9-1 7-11-2
Colgate 14 10 3-7-4 7-15-4
Union 14 3 1-12-1 5-20-1
Brown 14 3 0-11-3 2-14-4

Upcoming Games:

Jan. 29 - Quinnipiac
Jan. 30 – Princeton
Feb. 5 – at Clarkson
Feb. 6 – at St. Lawrence



The Engineers went 2-0-0 last week, beating Dartmouth (2-1) - for the first time in school history - and sixth-ranked Harvard (4-2). Freshman Shannon Ramelot (Bloomfield, MI) picked up her first collegiate victory against the Crimson, stopping 43 shots, including 20 in the second period alone.

Rensselaer (10-10-5; 7-4-3 ECACH) returns to the Houston Field House this weekend, when it hosts Quinnipiac (7pm) and Princeton (4pm) on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Live stats will be available and a live video feed will also be available through the B2 Networks at Saturday's contest will also broadcast on the air courtesy of WRPI radio on 91.5 FM or log on to and click on sports.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Welcoming the Upper Crust

Time for a quick one to take us into the first home weekend in six weeks, as the most spoiled rich travel partners in the ECAC arrive for a pair of games, starting with tonight's till against Dartmouth and wrapping up tomorrow against Hahvahd.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Times Useless Indeed

Time for an editorial.

"Union the king of local hockey" blared the Times Union's headline on Sunday after the Dutchmen squeezed out a 3-1 victory in a hard-fought game to claim the same edge in the season series with RPI. Yeah, OK. Let's have a run through of this four game war that has ratcheted the Route 7 Rivalry to heights never before seen.

Game #1: RPI 4, Union 3 (OT)
The Dutchmen led this game 3-2 late when Stephane Boileau took a terrible interference penalty. Seth Appert called timeout, and before the end of the advantage, Bryan Brutlag tied it up, with Chase Polacek getting the bounce he needed in overtime to give the Engineers the win. Close? Yeah, this game was close. It could have gone either way.

Game #2: Union 5, RPI 4 (OT)
Another overtime game? Yup. In this game, RPI had a brutal 1st period, falling behind 3-0, but did they fold? Hardly. By the time all was said and done, they'd fought back from two 2-goal deficits and tied it, literally, in the last second of regulation on a good bounce. Then Union got a good bounce of their own in overtime to win it and take the RPI tournament. Great game, a classic. One for the ages, really. It could have gone either way.

Game #3: Union 5, RPI 4
The "kick in the nuts" game for RPI fans, the Engineers held the lead with a minute left to play, and then practically stood idly by as the Dutchmen pumped in two goals in that final minute to win in regulation. Just goes to show, especially in a rivalry game, you can't just play for 59 minutes and expect a win. The late bounces favored Union, for sure. It could have gone either way.

Game #4: Union 3, RPI 1
The only game in this series not to feature a one-goal difference, thanks to an empty netter in the last minute. RPI took the lead and almost made it 2-0 on a shorthanded attempt in the second period, but didn't get things to go their way. Meanwhile, on Union's two goals that mattered, set plays worked perfectly - set plays that depend entirely on what, folks? Bounces. It could have gone either way.

So the 3-1 difference makes Union the "king of local hockey?" Uh, no. Thanks for playing, Tim Wilkin. This series could have been an RPI sweep just as much as it could have been a Union sweep. Statistically, if the teams are evenly matched, you get a 3-1 result over four games 50% of the time. Anyone who actually watched these four games would tell you that these teams were evenly matched.

Really, we shouldn't be surprised by this attitude from the Times Union. After all, their coverage of both RPI and Union has been terrible for years - if you want real college hockey coverage in the Capital District, you turn to Ed Weaver of the Troy Record and Ken Schott of the Schenectady Daily Gazette, and that's it. They've got their ear to the ground, while the Times Union fakes it.

For years, the T-U had Matt Graves, a horse racing handicapper, covering RPI hockey. That's not a knock on Graves, who was (and still is) a fine journalist who did a great job with his winter task, it's a knock on the Times Union for pretty much punting when it comes to college hockey coverage. The closest the T-U ever had to decent coverage was when Harvard grad Jon Paul Morosi was at the paper covering the scene - he knew the ECAC well enough to do a satisfactory job. But he wasn't long for the Capital District (he now covers baseball with Ken Rosenthal for, and the T-U's decent coverage left with him.

But if a dopey headline was the only ax to grind here, there wouldn't be much substance. Instead, Wilkin decided to ask Seth Appert a ridiculous question that he got a completely unexpected answer to - and perhaps he's the only one who didn't expect it.

You won't find the question in Wilkin's gamer, but Ed Weaver picked up on it and reported it (emphasis mine). INCH's Joe Gladziszewski confirmed that Wilkin was the questioner. It's flat out irresponsible.
Asked by a reporter if, since they beat the Engineers in three of four meetings, the Dutchmen are “a better team.”

"No," Appert said flatly.

"How can you say that now; why would you say that," the reporter asked.

"I just choose to," Appert replied. "I refuse to believe that they're better than us. I believe in our guys, I have a lot of belief in that locker room, what we have in there. I have a lot of respect for Union. I think they're a really good hockey team. I think they're a Top 10 hockey team. But I don't believe they're better than us."

Keep in mind, Appert said often times last season that Union was "a better team," — in those exact words.
Last season, it made sense. RPI was terrible last year. But look at that emphasized portion. How can he say that now? Tim, did you WATCH those four games? Was there ANYTHING other than a cursory glance at final scores that would tell you that one of these teams is any better than the other?

I know Tim watched those games, because he casually remarked in his gamer that:
This season, every game has been close, but it has been Union that has found the ways to win.
Well, yeah. Like I said. How does that even come close to equating Union as "kings" or that they have some kind of "mastery." In previous seasons, this may have been the case. Not this year. And then, before even getting to the discussion of what actually happened in the game, he brings up Appert's response to his irresponsible question - stirring the pot.

If the results had gone the other way, we're sure Union would be demanding to be on equal footing with RPI. And they'd be absolutely right.

Then there's this head scratcher. One wonders exactly what question was asked that brought on this response:

"I think this program is a very underrated program," said Union captain Brock Matheson. "We don't really get the praise from the media that other teams get, especially that team."

Uh, what? Right, Brock. Underrated nationally, perhaps. Absolutely. "That team" being RPI, though, seems downright laughable.

Don't misunderstand. I'm not accusing the T-U of displaying bias in its coverage. I'm accusing the T-U of being lackadaisical and trying to make up for it by being sensational in their coverage, which ought to be a bigger deal. "Hockey Spoken Here?" Doesn't sound like it to me, at least when it pertains to the college game.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Women's Hockey - at Brown & Yale

The Engineers continued into the home stretch this weekend with an ECAC series at Brown and Yale, the first pair of games of the 12 remaining in the season. After getting off to a bit of a slow start in Providence, RPI went on to defeat the Bears 2-0 before falling back into old habits and dropping Saturday’s game in New Haven by a tally of 4-3. The loss moved the Engineers to 1-7-4 in Saturday games (with the only win coming at the expense of Union), 8-10-5 on the season and 5-4-3 in ECAC play.




Le Donne/Vadner

van der Bliek

Friday's first period was an exciting and intense one in every way but on the scoreboard. A clean, hard-fought period of hockey saw the Engineers and Bears trade 19 shots and several good chances, but van der Bliek and Brown goalie Katie Jamieson stood tall to keep the game scoreless. The only penalty of the period was a trip by Sierra Vadner, which RPI killed without too much trouble.

The second period looked to be unfolding much the same way - only a pair of penalties in the first half of the frame - until Brown made a costly defensive zone turnover which Taylor Horton collected, burned a defender, and slid through Jamieson's five-hole to put RPI up 1-0. Two more RPI scoring chances followed up the goal and the Engineers drew a penalty with strong play in the Brown zone. Whitney Naslund made the advantage count as she put a shot past Jamieson to double the lead to 2-0.

Brown had a 1:10 5-on-3 opportunity late in the period, but RPI stood tall and killed it off. It almost became an even longer 2-man advantage when Naslund collided with Jamieson, but in a real head-scratcher, the officials called matching minors for interference (on Jamieson) and roughing the goalie (on Naslund). Keep in mind there was no funny business after the whistle, just one collision, and the two penalties.

Penalties proved unimportant for either team as they were unable to score on the power play for the remainder of the game. Allysen Weidner had a clear breakaway late in the game and was hooked down in a play that was a obvious candidate for a penalty shot, but the officials continued to bewilder fans and the Brown announcers alike by simply calling the minor. RPI did not capitalize, and though Brown had a few PP opportunities of their own, the power play the Brown announcer termed "the worst power play I've ever seen" never really threatened the Engineers. The game went in the books as a 2-0 shutout for van der Bliek.




Le Donne/Vadner

van der Bliek

It was a big weekend at Yale, as the Bulldogs rededicated Ingalls Rink for its 50th Anniversary. A doubleheader was schedule with the women playing at 4 and the men at 7, with the result being more than double the typical attendance at the Whale and a relatively energetic and involved crowd - a rarity at a women's hockey game in the ECAC.

The crowd didn't do much to energize the home team early on, as RPI jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead in shots over the first several minutes of the game. A Bulldog penalty at 10:50 of the period gave RPI an opportunity to capitalize on their momentum but Yale held the Engineers off the board. By 14 minutes in, RPI had amassed a 14-4 shot margin, but Yale's Aleca Hughes made shot #5 count as she got a breakaway and snuck one past van der Bliek for a 1-0 lead.

Another Yale penalty and another penalty kill passed, and Bray Ketchum of the Bulldogs nearly made it 2-0 as she beat van der Bliek high but rang a rocket shot off the post. RPI had an odd-man rush back the other way but Jackee Snickeris made the save for Yale. Just 30 seconds later the Engineers had another rush opportunity and Alisa Harrison beat Snickeris to tie the game at one.

The tie was short-lived; less than 30 seconds after the RPI goal, a scrum in front of van der Bliek led to a Yale goal as van der Bliek tried to clear the puck from the crease, inadvertently putting it right on a Yale player's stick, where it was fired right into RPI's net. The period ended shortly after with Yale holding a 2-1 lead, but RPI leading the shot count 21-7.

RPI and Yale traded power play opportunities early in the second, but Yale made better use of theirs, scoring almost immediately after the ensuing faceoff to take a solid 3-1 lead. As the period approached the midpoint, Allysen Weidner skated up ice (in what started as a harmless play) managed to split a pair of Yale defenders and broke in alone on Snickeris, cutting Yale's lead to 3-2. More penalties marked the remainder of the frame, but no more goals. By the end of the second, RPI led the shot battle 30-12.

RPI took some poor penalties in the third, and it was a wonder Yale didn't put the game away on several power play opportunities. Some chances went both ways, but as the game approached its final minutes the score remained 3-2. With a minute and a half left, RPI barely managed to sneak in the Yale zone onside and caught Snickeris off-guard to tie the game. It looked like overtime was in the cards for the two teams until the Engineers suffered a crushing letdown, allowing Yale to retake the lead with just 33 seconds left. An empty net and short power play to end the game weren't enough to give RPI the equalizer, and Yale captured the win in front of a crowd that had grown quite a bit since the start of the game (at this point it was only an hour until the start of Yale's men's game).

The game marked an unfortunate return to RPI's pattern of disappointing Saturday games - a trend which needs to stop in the last few weekends of ECAC play if the Engineers want to remain in the playoffs and avoid drawing a dominant Clarkson in the first round. With all 4 games against Harvard and Dartmouth, and games against Clarkson, SLU, and Cornell remaining, points are by no means guaranteed for the Engineers, and it will take some serious hard work to stay afloat in the standings.


RPI at Brown
ECAC Hockey Game – Meehan Auditorium (Providence, RI)
1/15/10 - 7:00pm
RPI 3, Brown 0

College Hockey Stats:


RECORD: 8-9-5 (5-3-3 ECAC Hockey, 13 points)

RPI at Yale (Ingalls Rink Rededication Day)
ECAC Hockey Game – Ingalls Rink (New Haven, CT)
1/16/10 – 4:00pm Yale 4, RPI 3

College Hockey Stats:


RECORD: 8-10-5 (5-4-3 ECAC Hockey, 13 points)


ECAC Standings (as of 1/20/10):

Clarkson 11 19 9-1-1 15-5-3
Cornell 12 19 8-1-3 9-7-3
Quinnipiac 14 17 6-3-5 11-7-6
Princeton 14 17 7-4-3 9-9-3
Harvard 13 16 7-4-2 9-4-4
SLU 11 14 6-3-2 10-7-6
RPI 12 13 5-4-3 8-10-5
Yale 12 9 4-7-1 6-10-3
Colgate 12 9 3-6-3 7-14-3
Dartmouth 13 9 4-8-1 6-10-2
Union 12 3 1-10-1 5-18-1
Brown 12 3 0-9-3 2-12-4


Upcoming Games

Jan. 22 - at Dartmouth
Jan. 23 - at Harvard
Jan. 29 - Quinnipiac
Jan. 30 - Princeton



The Engineers went 1-1-0 last week, blanking Brown (2-0) on Friday, before falling to Yale (4-3) on Saturday. Senior Allysen Weidner (Wichita, KS) had a goal and an assist against the Bulldogs.

Rensselaer (8-10-5; 5-4-3 ECACH) resumes its season-long league road trip on Friday and Saturday, when it visits league foes Dartmouth and sixth-ranked Harvard, respectively. Live stats and an online video stream will be available at on Friday and on Satuday.

Let's Have Some Fun, His Beat is Sick

We had the opportunity recently to (virtually) sit down with the King of Schenectady, the Duke of the ECAC media, Daily Gazette writer Ken Schott. We forgot to ask him if the rumors of an upcoming steel cage match between him and Ed Weaver were true, but we did discuss a number of burning questions that we think you'll find intriguing.

Without A Peer: Most obvious question first - what's your take on Appertgate? Was he right to be that blunt?

Ken Schott: If you're a Union fan, you may think Seth was being a sore loser. But in this day an age when coaches and players are guarded in what they say to the media, I found it refreshing. He believes in his team, which is much improved over the last couple of seasons. So, I don't have a problem with it. Plus, it spices up the rivalry with Union.

WAP: A lot of RPI fans don't think there was a "real" rivalry with Union before this year, and that's starting to change. Were they right?

KS: I think a lot of them still look to Clarkson as THE rival, especially with the last-minute-of-play chant. They looked at Union as some wannabe Division I team that didn't offer scholarships and weren't going to be competitive. But with Union taking control of the rivalry the last few years, I think the RPI fans are slowly starting to come around to that. Plus, Seth has been a big believer in this series being THE rivalry, and he has instilled that in his players. Also, the fact that the first three games between the two teams this season were classics, that only enhances it.

WAP: Couldn't agree more. Quinnipiac - are they in a slump, or is this a regression to the mean? No one thought they'd be anywhere near where they were at the end of November.

KS: You can't really complain about the goaltending. Dan Clarke has been good. Bud Fisher was OK, but I was never impressed with him. The Bobcats' scoring has tailed off the last four games. That has hurt them.

WAP: Clarkson's never finished in last in the ECAC before, but they're in danger this season. Is George Roll on thin ice?

KS: You would hope not. But knowing how fans and alums can be, they may put pressure on the Clarkson administration to make a change. I have never seen a Clarkson team struggle like this in my 19 years of covering college hockey.

WAP: You'll excuse Engineer stalwarts, of course, if they suppress a giggle.

KS: Oh, I know.

WAP: Jerry D'Amigo's not a likely candidate to see his senior year in Troy. Over/under two full seasons in an Engineers sweater?

KS: Push. Just two seasons.

WAP: Brandon Pirri?

KS: Over. 3 seasons. Of course, a lot depends on (Chicago's) cap situation.

WAP: Buy or sell Chase Polacek as a flight risk?

KS: Sell.

WAP: Even if he, say, was a Hobey Baker finalist, the way Marc Cavosie and Brad Tapper were before they split town?

KS: The offer from an NHL team would have to be really good. Leaving early and getting the money doesn't always mean success at the next level.

WAP: Not that I'm trying to change your mind at all, of course. So you suspect that RPI's "Big 3" this year will all be back next season. Any word on how firm Jacob Laliberté's likelihood of joining them is?

KS: I suspect they will, and Jacob will be there.

WAP: Excellent. So, the Capital District - most feared weekend in the league?

KS: It is this year. No one likes to play at Union because it is cramped, and Union always plays physical. With RPI getting better, it makes it even a more difficult time for the opposition.

WAP: It's not too much of a stretch of the imagination to call this the greatest season in the history of Union hockey, no matter what happens from here on out. Any of their guys have a good shot at earning an NHL callup in the near future? We've got a healthy respect for Mario Valery-Trabucco's skills at Without A Peer.

KS: You have to give Mario and Jason Walters at least a shot of making it to the AHL. Kelly Zajac and Adam Presizniuk could have a shots.


KS: Definitely AHL. With Zajac having a brother in the NHL, he could get a closer look.

WAP: Sounds good. We continue await your eventual arrival on Twitter.

KS: Still thinking about that.


We think Ken will eventually be tweeting with the best of 'em. Call it... Peer pressure.

We also promised Ken that there'd be no lame photoshops to go along with this interview - so here's an AWESOME one instead! Thanks to Gross Misconduct Hockey and Hockey Joe for the uber-sweetness.

Men's Hockey - Union (16 Jan)

There was only one game for the Engineers last week, and it was a big one: round four with the Union Dutchmen in Schenectady. It didn't quite live up to the nail-biting, did-that-just-happen nature of the first three games between these teams this season, but it was absolutely a hard fought, back and forth, in your face battle. Unfortunately, the Engineers did not come out on top in this one, dropping a 3-1 decision, but if anything, the game reinforced the growing realization that college hockey in the Capital District is becoming a pretty even affair all around.




The Engineers skated out with exactly the same lineup as was used in the Princeton game with one major exception - junior Tyler Helfrich, one of the usual scoring threats for the Engineers, was kept out as a "healthy scratch" according to Seth Appert. The exact reason for the scratch hasn't been hammered down, but the rumors are flying. Some say he isn't back to 100% from his ankle injury earlier in the season. Some say it was a benching similar to Cullen and Angers-Goulet in the Niagara game due to lack of effort. Others suspect Appert wanted more size against a physical Union team and went with Josh Rabbani instead. It could also have been a disciplinary issue. We don't know, we probably won't find out.

The first 10 minutes was pretty typical of the entire game with the exception of a general lack of whistles, even for simple infractions. It was a back-and-forth physical affair in which both teams had some chances to score, but Allen York and Keith Kincaid kept the pucks out of the net early on.

Things started to pick up with about six and a half minutes left in the first period as Joel Malchuk was sent off for boarding, followed 1:25 later by a foolish interference penalty near the Union bench by Erik Burgdoerfer, giving the Dutchmen a 35 second five-on-three. That's about the time you get that sinking feeling in your stomach, as the Engineer penalty kill has been almost a total failure when down two men this season. This time, however, they were able to get through the 35 seconds unscathed, and once Malchuk was out of the box, the Engineers even got a chance to put their aggressive penalty kill on display.

After Peter Merth chipped the puck out of the zone, Jerry D'Amigo found Chase Polacek with a nice pass, and Polacek drove past his man and zipped one into the upper right hand corner over Kinkaid for a shorthanded goal and a 1-0 Engineer lead. It was the first RPI shorthanded goal in Schenectady since some guy named Ben Barr did it twice in one penalty kill. That was a cool game.

The lead carried over into the second period. Jeff Foss was hit with a holding penalty five minutes in, and the aggressive penalty kill nearly resulted in a 2-0 RPI lead, with Polacek again leading the charge, but this time Kincaid was up to the task, keeping Polacek from a slight repeat of Barr's feat. It would prove to be the save of the game in due course.

The Dutchmen would tie the score past the midway point of the second period with a set play off the faceoff. They'd been doing it all night with faceoffs in the Engineer zone, and it finally paid off as Union won the faceoff and Adam Presizniuk (it's pretty bad that I can spell that without looking now) snapped a quick shot that York couldn't catch up with, making it a 1-1 game.

From there, RPI finally got its first two power play opportunities of the night before the end of the 2nd, but the man advantage didn't look as sharp as it had in Princeton the previous weekend. Puck possession was still in vogue, but Union's penalty kill deserves an awful lot of credit for limiting good chances.

Merth would take an early penalty in the third period, and the Dutchmen would capitalize - but it was more due to the ensuing attacking zone faceoff than anything else. Just like with their first goal, the Dutchmen snapped a quick shot off the faceoff that beat York - freshman Wayne Simpson with the goal this time. Union had a gameplan coming in and they stuck with it. Obviously, they found something about York's setup on draws in the RPI zone that they thought they could exploit and they buried their chances - important for them, because they weren't getting anything past him otherwise. That's not just the sign of a good hockey team, that's the sign of a good coaching staff.

From there, the classic Union trap was played to full effect - not uncommon once they grab the lead - and from most accounts the Engineers didn't answer the bell. A brief power play opportunity about eight minutes after the Union goal was quickly negated when Brandon Pirri took a penalty of his own, and turned into a second long 5-on-3 for Union a minute later when Merth took his second penalty of the period on a bad slash. A minor ray of sunshine comes out of the fact that RPI was able to successfully kill not only the full minute long 5-on-3, they also killed the entire Merth penalty too, keeping them in the game, but it was not to be. Luke Cain added an empty netter to seal the game with about a minute left.

A disappointing loss for the Engineers, to be sure, but hope springs eternal. With 12 games left in the regular season, RPI faces a whole slew of teams in the bottom half of the league table, with only games at Yale (two weekends hence) and at Cornell (on the last day of the regular season) figuring as being games that the Engineers probably won't be the favorites in. They didn't put their best foot forward in the third period in Schenectady, but if they play hard from here on out, there could be points galore for the taking.

As for Union, they take all four points from RPI this season in ECAC play and finish 3-1 against the Engineers, but only the casual observer, looking strictly at the line scores, would suggest that Union has some kind of upper hand in what truly is growing into an actual rivalry. Any of these games, from RPI's opening round win to Union's two shockers in Troy to this game here, could have gone either way. If Polacek scores a second shorty in the second period, that's a dagger. It's a game of bounces, and this year it was a series of bounces. If these teams meet again, it'll more than likely be in Albany.

Next up is Dartmouth and Harvard. The Big Green have struggled all year, and while RPI probably faced Quinnipiac at the right time the previous weekend, they probably wish they had landed Harvard earlier in the season, as the Crimson have shown signs of turning around what had been up until now a brutal season. They're now the second team to have beaten Yale in ECAC play (after RPI) and pretty easily dispatched Dartmouth this week. Still, with RPI coming back to Houston Field House for the first time since early December, you have to think they're favorites to take both of these games, and they really need to in order to show that they've got the chops to square off with St. Lawrence, Colgate, and Quinnipiac for that last first-round bye.

Other junk - Naturally, the loss made RPI's 1 vote in the poll disappear. #6 Yale (down one after losing to Harvard and beating Brown), #9 Cornell (no change after beating Clarkson and tying SLU), and #13 Union (no change after beating RPI). Quinnipiac, formerly #17, dropped out after being swept at home by St. Cloud State but received 47 votes. St. Lawrence received 2 votes after taking 3 points from Colgate and Cornell. #10 Michigan State (down 3), #15 UMass (up 4), and #16 New Hampshire (up 4) are the other RPI opponents on the poll, Michigan (52 votes) and Alaska (20 votes) were also mentioned.

With 34 points, Chase Polacek sits tied for fourth nationally in scoring. He's first among ECAC players by a whopping 7 points over Union's Mario Valery-Trabucco and Colgate's Austin Smith. Within league play, he leads Valery-Trabucco by 2, and his 4 short-handed points in ECAC play is twice what anyone else in the league has. At this point, Polacek is a very solid contender to be named a Hobey Baker finalist. His 34 points, with a month and a half still to go in the regular season, is the most of any Engineer in a single season since Kevin Croxton had 39 and Oren Eizenman had 38 in 2005-06. As we've mentioned before, he's well on his way to becoming the first Engineer with 40 points in a season since the 2001-02 season when Matt Murley and Marc Cavosie both accomplished the feat.

ECAC Standings
1. Union - 17 pts
2. Cornell - 16 pts
3. Yale - 14 pts (10 games)
4. Quinnipiac - 14 pts (13 games)
5. Colgate - 13 pts
6. St. Lawrence - 12 pts
7. RPI - 10 pts (10 games)
8. Harvard - 10 pts (11 games)
9. Brown - 7 pts (10 games)
10. Princeton - 7 pts (12 games)
11. Dartmouth- 4 pts (2 wins)
12. Clarkson - 4 pts (1 win)

By Winning Pct. (points/possible)
1. Union .850 (17/20)
2. Cornell .727 (16/22)
3. Yale .700 (14/20)
4. St. Lawrence .600 (12/20)
5. Colgate .591 (11/18)
6. Quinnipiac .538 (14/26)
7. RPI .500 (10/20)
8. Harvard .455 (10/20)
9. Brown .350 (7/20)
10. Princeton .292 (7/24)
T-11. Clarkson and Dartmouth .200 (4/20)

RPI at #13 Union
ECAC Game - Achilles Center (Schenectady, NY)
1/16/10 - 7:00 pm
RESULT: Union 3, RPI 1


RECORD: 12-11-1 (5-5-0 ECAC, 10 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Chase Polacek, SHG
2. F Jerry D'Amigo, 1 A, 3 shots
3. D Peter Merth, 1 A, +1

Upcoming Games
22 Jan - Dartmouth
23 Jan - Harvard
29 Jan - at Brown
30 Jan - at #6 Yale
05 Feb - St. Lawrence


Rensselaer went 0-1-0 last week, dropping its only contest to 13th-ranked Union (3-1) on Saturday. Junior Chase Polacek (Edina, MN) notched the lone goal for the Engineers, which came shorthanded. RPI (12-11-1; 5-5-0 ECAC Hockey) returns home for the first time since December 9, when it hosts Dartmouth and Harvard on Friday (7pm) and Saturday (4pm), respectively.

Live stats will be available The contest will be broadcast on the air courtesy of WRPI radio on 91.5 FM or log on to and click on sports. A live video feed will also be available through the B2 Networks at