Sunday, September 26, 2010

Women's Hockey - Montreal (25 Sep)

RPI opened its season in fine fashion this afternoon, rolling to an 8-3 exhibition win over the University of Montreal after getting off to a slow start. Junior forward Jill Vandegrift notched a hat-trick and an assist in the win, the freshmen played a solid first game, and Shannon Ramelot played relatively well in net for the Engineers.

By the middle of the first period, the Engineers found themselves in a 2-0 hole as Montreal capitalized on two bad turnovers in quick succession at 11:57 and 12:34 of the frame. It became clear early that Montreal hoped to win the game by capitalizing on RPI mistakes, as they didn’t quite have the talent needed to win any other way. Unfortunately for Montreal, the mistakes decreased rapidly as the Engineers found their feet, and once the Engineer train started rolling, there was no stopping it.

A little more than two minutes after Montreal’s second goal, Jill Vandegrift scored her first of the night as she put home a Toni Sanders rebound to narrow the margin to 2-1 at 14:15. Freshman Jordan Smelker made an impact starting in the first period, covering more ice than most other players from either team, and tenaciously going after the puck and winning battles. She was noticeable throughout the entire game, and showed none of the tentative tendencies freshmen frequently do.

While the teams headed to the locker room with Montreal holding a 2-1 lead, it took fewer than three minutes to see a goal in the second period. With Jill Vandegrift off the ice for a cross-checking penalty, Montreal’s Annie-Claude Dumans roofed a beautiful backhand shot past Shannon Ramelot to give Montreal a 3-1 lead. It looked like Montreal would give the Engineers more of a challenge then they bargained for, but things quickly fell apart for the Carabins. Just two minutes after Dumans’ goal, Andie Le Donne lobbed an innocuous shot in from the blue line, and it lofted over Montreal goalie Rachel Ouellette’s glove to bring RPI back within one. RPI’s special teams took over for the rest of the second period, controlling play for most of the frame despite several Engineer penalties during that time.

On RPI’s first power play opportunity, granted after a Montreal player went a tad overboard with the pushing and shoving in front of the net, Katie Daniels scooped up a rebound which was fired off the post, and pushed it past Ouellette to tie the score at three. Later, with Le Donne in the box for body checking, the Engineers channeled Ben Barr and notched a pair of shorthanded goals on the same penalty. Smelker made it 4-3 after skating circles around a pair of Montreal defenders and burying one past Ouellette. A minute and a quarter later, Sydney O’Keefe fired a rocket of a shot which was tipped in front of the net by Jill Vandegrift for her second of the game, increasing RPI’s lead to 5-3.

The third period was nearly all RPI just as the second was. Montreal looked for a spark in the third with a goaltending change between periods, but Taylor Horton quickly squashed those hopes by scoring on the first shot of the period, just 17 seconds in, making it 6-3. Vandegrift completed the hat-trick just past the midway of the period as she and Smelker broke in alone on goalie Joanie Grand-Maison. Smelker fed a perfect pass to Vandegrift who had an empty net to shoot at with Montreal’s netminder sprawled out across the ice. Sanders finished the scoring for RPI with a little over two minutes remaining as she poked home her own rebound which Grand-Maison failed to cover.

As mentioned above, the game was a fantastic one for RPI’s new freshmen. While Montreal may not have been the most talented team, the freshmen stumbled for a few minutes early in the game but once they got their game going, they played strong, smart hockey throughout the rest of the match. Smelker was probably the best of the freshmen overall, but Madison Marzario was solid on defense, making several smart defensive plays and hassling Montreal forwards throughout the game. Nona Letuligasenoa, listed at defense, played forward but did so with a defensive mindset and made several good defensive plays of her own. Missy Mankey finished the game with a -2 rating and had the most trouble of the freshmen on the ice, getting beaten several times early on, but her game solidified as time went on as well.

The obvious player of the game was Jill Vandegrift with her 4-point effort, setting the tone for the team and stepping up to provide some of that scoring we knew the upperclassmen would need to come up with. With three goals on five shots, her shots were laser-guided and she was tough for the Montreal players to contain.

Next week, the real season starts as RPI hits the road for Madison, Wisconsin for a pair of games against Wisconsin. One of the perennial powers in women’s hockey, the Badgers should give us a much better idea of what to expect from this Engineer squad, as they’re more of a known quantity than Montreal, who even Coach Burke admitted in an interview earlier this week he knew very little about. The Carabins put up a good fight for a team in its second year, but by the end of the game just couldn’t keep up. Wisconsin likely won’t have any such trouble.

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RPI vs. University of Montreal
Exhibition Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
9/25/10 – 4:00pm
RPI 8, UM 3

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

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Upcoming Games

Oct. 1 - @ Wisconsin (8:07pm)
Oct. 2 - @ Wisconsin (8:07pm)
Oct. 8 - Vermont (7pm)
Oct. 9 - Vermont (4pm)

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