Sunday, October 3, 2010

Women's Hockey - at Wisconsin (1/2 Oct)

We knew last week that the exhibition against Montreal would be no real indicator of what to expect from the Engineers this season, and the team received a reality check when they traveled to Madison, WI to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. The fifth-ranked Badgers made the most of their opening weekend, cruising to an easy pair of wins over RPI with consecutive 7-0 and 6-0 shutouts by two different goalies.

Friday

The first clue that it might be a long weekend for the Engineers came just 15 seconds into Friday’s game, when a defensive lapse led to Badgers Carolyne Prevost and Brianna Decker breaking in 2-on-0 against RPI goaltender Sonja van der Bliek. Van der Bliek didn’t have much of a chance as Decker fed Prevost for an easy tap-in to take a very early 1-0 lead.

Wisconsin picked up another pair of goals in the early going, increasing the lead to 3-0 on goals by Hilary Knight and Brittany Ammerman before the Engineers even recorded their first shot on the night. The Badgers’ first three goals came on just four shots, and it was clear that van der Bliek was going to have her hands full with Wisconsin skating around the RPI defense at will.

Coach Burke called his timeout after the third goal and the Engineers settled down through the middle of the first, but it was only a matter of time before Wisconsin found the twine again. Another pair of quick goals at 12:53 and 13:22 of the period would mark the end of van der Bliek’s night as she headed for the bench in favor of sophomore Shannon Ramelot, who held Wisconsin at bay until the middle of the second period, including during a trying penalty kill that carried from the end of the first into the early second period.

Prevost notched Wisconsin’s sixth goal, and the only in the second period, at 8:03, and the Engineers made some attempts to get into the game with minimal success. A bright spot in the game (and the weekend as a whole) was once again freshman Jordan Smelker, who had several good offensive opportunities for the Engineers in a pair of games where the vast majority of play was in the RPI end. RPI avoided going down 7-0 early in the third period when a Wisconsin goal was sent to the replay booth and waved off when the officials determined it had gone in off a Wisconsin skate.

It looked like 6-0 was going to be the final as play slowed down and got more physical in the third, but a shorthanded goal by Mallory Deluce made it 7-0 late in the period. After allowing an odd-man rush by the shorthanded Badgers (one of several in the game), Deluce took a cross-ice pass from recently-returned Olympian Kelly Nash to close out the scoring. Final shots ended up being 31-11 in Wisconsin’s favor – and to be honest, the game was more lopsided than that shot count would end up indicating.

It was certainly a rough night for van der Bliek, who allowed five goals on nine shots in her season debut, but Ramelot performed well in relief, making 20 stops on 22 shots through the latter two-thirds of the game. Wisconsin’s Becca Ruegsegger picked up the shutout with her 11-save effort, which saw her tested only a couple times over the course of the game.

Saturday

The teams returned to the ice on Saturday night for a rematch, with van der Bliek back in net for the Engineers while Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson gave freshman Alex Rigsby a chance between the pipes. RPI’s hopes of a drastically different result when hitting the ice on Saturday were quickly squashed when Hilary Knight scored for the Badgers just 33 seconds into the game, notching her first of five points on the night. It was a better first period for RPI than Friday however, with the Engineers holding the Badgers to two goals in the frame, the second also coming from Knight at 7:48 on a feed from Brittany Ammerman.

The second period marked the height of the physical play on the weekend, as both Wisconsin and RPI players played the body without repercussion – despite players on both teams getting leveled multiple times, there was not a single body checking penalty on the weekend. A fortunate gift for the Engineers, who could have fared much more poorly if not given the chance to slow down the faster Wisconsin skaters. Knight notched a pair of assists on two Wisconsin goals in the second, scored by Mallory Deluce and Brianna Decker. By the end of the second, Wisconsin was outshooting RPI 25-9.

The third period was marked by continued dominance by the Badgers, who picked up yet another pair of goals while allowing the Engineers no opportunities of substance. Saige Pacholok and Breann Frykas notched the Badger goals, while the Engineers could muster just one shot on goal in the final 20 minutes. Sonja van der Bliek spent the entire game in goal, allowing six goals on 31 shots to send her stats plummeting by the end of the weekend.

RPI hopes to recover next weekend with a pair of games at home against Vermont. UVM was picked to finish seventh out of Hockey East’s eight teams by conference coaches, but launched a strong comeback this weekend against McGill in an exhibition game to skate to a 2-2 tie. McGill played a couple strong games against Providence and St. Lawrence, so early indicators point toward Vermont not being a total pushover. Expect the Engineers to come out firing on all cylinders as they return to Houston Field House, looking to redeem themselves for this weekend’s losses. Game times are 7pm Friday and 4pm Saturday, and both games will be broadcast on WRPI, 91.5FM, www.wrpi.org, and we will have live tweets from the Field House right here at Without a Peer.

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RPI at #5 Wisconsin
Non-Conference Game – Kohl Center (Madison, WI)
10/1/10 – 8:07pm
UW 7, RPI 0

BOX SCORES:
RECAPS:
RECORD: 0-1-0 (0-0-0 ECAC)

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RPI at #5 Wisconsin
Non-Conference Game – Kohl Center (Madison, WI)
10/2/10 – 8:07pm
UW 6, RPI 0

BOX SCORES:
RECAPS:
RECORD: 0-2-0 (0-0-0 ECAC)

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Upcoming Games

Oct. 8 – Vermont (7pm)
Oct. 9 – Vermont (4pm)
Oct. 15 – New Hampshire (7pm)
Oct. 22 – at Providence (7pm)

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