Monday, February 8, 2010

Women's Hockey - at Clarkson & St. Lawrence (2/5, 2/6)

RPI has left its fans scratching their heads at times this season, as there has been a constant pattern of big wins over great teams and confusing losses where a completely different team appears to take the ice. This weekend was no different, as the Engineers handed #3 nationally-ranked Clarkson their first home loss of the season, 3-1, before falling to St. Lawrence by the same score the following night.

While SLU and RPI are on par with each other in the standings, the Engineers played a game which handed the Saints the keys and let them run away with the game early and never look back.

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Friday

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

Castignetti/Gersten
Le Donne/Vadner
Gaylord/Daniels

van der Bliek

After a tough midweek game where they fell 4-2 at SLU, the Clarkson Golden Knights looked to return home to the comforts of Cheel Arena, where they had built up an impressive 12-0-1 record on the season. RPI's Engineers had a different idea, as they looked to put the first tally in Clarkson's home loss column.

Clarkson opened the scoring a little under halfway into the first, as Dominique Thibault put a laser wrist shot over Sonja van der Bliek's shoulder to take a 1-0 lead. Allysen Weidner answered right back with her fifth of the season just 2:02 later as Clarkson was stuck out on the ice after an icing call. Weidner put a shot on goal which was stopped, but she collected her own rebound and put a backhand shot past Clarkson goalie Lauren Dahm. Sydney O'Keefe notched the kind of goal that's backbreaking to an opponent when she found the puck in a scrum in front of Dahm and snuck it into the net with just 49.2 seconds left in the first period. RPI outshot Clarkson 14-5 in the period, a very rare period in which Clarkson was thoroughly outplayed. The Clarkson announcers commented with surprise at RPI's speed in the first, as well as the job they did limiting shots and scoring opportunities.

Allison Wright put the nail in Clarkson's coffin just 2:33 into the second period, taking advantage of a screened Dahm to loft a shot past the Clarkson netminder to give RPI a 3-1 lead. RPI went into lockdown, limiting the Knights to a total of just 11 shots in the first two periods combined. The Engineers got in some hot water in the third period as they took four consecutive penalties in the final 12 minutes of the game, including one with only a minute left to play. Dahm was pulled in favor of the extra attacker, but Clarkson could not solve van der Bliek despite a minute of 6-on-4 advantage in the RPI zone.

The loss was Clarkson's 7th overall on the season and just their third in ECAC play (Cornell, SLU). The loss dropped the Knights one spot in the USCHO poll, from #3 to #4, and RPI picked up two important (and not necessarily expected) points which moved them into a tie for third place with Harvard. That standings spot would be on the line the next night, however, as the Engineers moved on from Potsdam to Canton for the second half of their North Country trip at St. Lawrence.

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Saturday

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

Castignetti/Gersten
Le Donne/Vadner
Gaylord/Daniels

van der Bliek

For every good thing RPI did in their game against Clarkson, they did a bad thing of equal or greater magnitude the following afternoon against SLU. Perhaps the players were worn out from their effort against Clarkson, perhaps the Saturday blues continued to manifest themselves, but the fact of the matter was the Engineers played some of the most sloppy, uninspired hockey of the season en route to being soundly defeated by the Saints.

RPI spotted SLU a three goal lead in the first period, and against teams in the top half of the ECAC, that's a tough defecit to come back from. Bad decisions and penalties galore marked the Engineers play, as they took four in a row in the first period alone, two of which led to SLU power play goals. All told, RPI would take 8 penalties, giving SLU a lot of time to take advantage and wear down the Engineer penalty killers.

The second period was a little more back-and-forth than the lopsided first, with neither team able to find the back of the net. Sierra Vadner took her third of three penalties on the night in the frame; both of SLU's power play goals in the first came on Vadner penalties.

Vadner looked for redemption early in the third as the Engineers came out of the locker room firing, and she broke SLU's shutout bid at 3:21 of the third as she fired a slapshot past a screened Brittany Chartier. RPI would go on to outshoot SLU 8-4 in the frame, and hold the puck for most of the period, but the real sustained offensive pressure and goal scoring just wasnt there, and SLU held on to the 3-1 lead until the final buzzer.

The loss, combined with other results on Sunday, dropped RPI from a tie for 3rd to a tie for 5th with Quinnipiac. The two teams have 22 points each with 4 games left to play. SLU leads by a point with 23, Harvard has 24, Cornell 26 and Clarkson maintains a solid lead in the league with 29. Behind RPI and Q are Princeton with 20 points, then Dartmouth and Yale with 15 each.

RPI needs just two points in its remaining four games to guarantee a bid into the ECAC playoffs, but the Engineers have to be looking higher toward the chance at home ice for the first time since joining the league. With games against Cornell and Harvard remaining, RPI has a chance to make up ground on teams ahead of them, but it will take a very strong finish to the season to end in the top four. Even after next weekend there will likely be a lot of question left in the standings - with the logjam from 2nd-7th a lot of movement will be possible in the last four games of the season for each team.

In other news, another recruit was announced for the team today - Melissa Mankey from Hopkins High School in a suburb of Minneapolis. Not a lot of info online that I've found as of yet, but as information becomes available I'll pass it along. Mankey, a forward, has 16 goals and 6 assists in 25 games this season. She joins Jordan Smelker (LW, Team Alaska U-19) and Madison Marzario (RD, Shattuck St. Mary's) as recruits for RPI next season.

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RPI vs. #3 Clarkson
ECAC Hockey Game – Cheel Arena (Potsdam, NY)
2/5/10 - 7:00pm
RPI 3, Clarkson 1

BOX SCORES:
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wclkren1.f05
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20100205&vis=rpi&home=ckn&gender=w

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2010/2/5/WICE_0205104627.aspx
CU: http://clarksonathletics.com/news/2010/2/5/WHOCK_0205100750.aspx

RECORD: 12-10-6 (9-4-4 ECAC Hockey, 22 points)

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RPI vs. St. Lawrence
ECAC Hockey Game – Appleton Arena (Canton, NY)
2/6/10 – 4:00pm
SLU 3, RPI 1

BOX SCORES:
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/0910/boxes/wrenstl1.f06
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/?date=20100206&vis=rpi&home=slu&gender=w

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2010/2/6/WICE_0206102629.aspx
SLU: http://www.stlawu.edu/athletics/saints/women%27s+hockey/story/3948

RECORD: 12-11-6 (9-5-4 ECAC Hockey, 22 points)

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ECAC Standings (as of 2/7/10, all teams have played 18 games):
            Pts    ECAC      All
Clarkson 29 14-3-1 20-7-3
Cornell 26 10-2-6 11-8-6
Harvard 24 11-5-2 15-5-4
SLU 23 10-5-3 14-9-7
Quinnipiac 22 8-4-6 15-8-7
RPI 22 9-5-4 12-11-6
Princeton 20 8-6-4 10-11-4
Dartmouth 15 7-10-1 10-12-2
Yale 15 7-10-1 9-13-3
Colgate 14 5-9-4 9-17-4
Union 3 1-16-1 5-24-1
Brown 3 0-15-3 2-18-4
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Upcoming Games

Feb. 12 - Harvard
Feb. 13 - Dartmouth (Senior Night)
Feb. 19 - at Cornell
Feb. 20 - at Colgate (end of regular season)

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WOMEN'S HOCKEY

The Engineers went 1-1-0 last week, beating third-ranked Clarkson (3-1) on Friday night, before falling at St. Lawrence (3-1) on Saturday afternoon. Senior Allysen Weidner (Wichita, KS) had a goal and an assist in the two games.

Rensselaer (12-11-6; 9-5-4 ECACH) returns to the Houston Field House this weekend, when it hosts sixth-ranked Harvard and Dartmouth on Friday (7pm) and Saturday (4pm), respectively. Live stats for both games will be available at http://www.sidearmstats.com/rpi/whockey/index.htm and can be seen live on a pay-per-view basis through the B2 Networks at https://www.b2livetv.com/login.asp.

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