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.

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Friday

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

Castignetti/Gersten
Gaylord/Daniels
Vadner

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.

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Saturday

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

Castignetti/Gersten
Vadner/Le Donne
Gaylord/Daniels

Ramelot

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.

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


BOX SCORES:
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wdarren1.j22
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20100122&vis=rpi&home=dc&gender=w

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2010/1/22/WICE_0122103232.aspx
Dartmouth: http://dartmouthsports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=11600&ATCLID=204873375

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

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


BOX SCORES:
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wharren1.j23
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20100123&vis=rpi&home=hu&gender=w

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2010/1/23/WICE_0123104911.aspx
Harvard: http://www.gocrimson.com/sports/wice/2009-10/releases/20100123_Rensselaer_Recap

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

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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
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Upcoming Games:

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

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WOMEN'S HOCKEY

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 http://www.sidearmstats.com/rpi/whockey/index.htm and a live video feed will also be available through the B2 Networks at https://www.b2livetv.com/login.asp. Saturday's contest will also broadcast on the air courtesy of WRPI radio on 91.5 FM or log on to www.wrpi.org and click on sports.

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