Monday, November 8, 2010

Men's Hockey - at Dartmouth and Harvard (5/6 Nov)

The Engineers close out the year with lots of home games. 4 of the last 6 ECAC weekends of the year are in Troy, a fact which should be helpful down the stretch. The trade-off, of course, is that the year has to start off with lots of road games, and that's just the way the league schedule kicked off last weekend, with games at Dartmouth and Harvard. RPI got off the ground well on Friday, dumping the Big Green 4-1, but had a long trip back to Troy after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Harvard on a late goal, settling for the weekend split.

Dartmouth
Lee/Polacek/Helfrich
Brutlag/Malchuk/O'Grady
Cullen/Higgs/Rabbani
Tinordi/Rogic/Halpern

Bergin/Foss
Kennedy/Dolan
Leboeuf/Bailen

York

The minor shakeup of the 2nd and 3rd lines was a result of Alex Angers-Goulet developing an infection that ultimately kept him from the lineup throughout the weekend. Patrick Cullen was the replacement, he was inserted onto the Higgs line, with Marty O'Grady moving onto the Malchuk line. Seth Appert said that Joel Malchuk was also hurt, but was able to maintain his position as the 2nd line center.

The knock on Dartmouth coming into the season was questionable goaltending. After going with junior Jody O'Neill twice in the Ivy Shootout the previous weekend, coach Bob Gaudet decided to throw freshman Cab Morris in against the Engineers for his first collegiate action in the Big Green's first ECAC game of the year.

After failing on two power play opportunities in the game's first eight minutes, the Engineers got themselves on the board first. A minute after killing a hooking penalty against Guy Leboeuf, Chase Polacek notched his fourth goal of the season, with assists coming from Mike Bergin and Tyler Helfrich, to make it 1-0. It was one of only five shots of the first period for the Engineers.

Dartmouth, meanwhile, blasted away at Allen York throughout the opening period, but especially in the last half of the first - he faced a total of 14 shots in the first period alone, allowing one goal, which came a little under three minutes after Polacek's goal, leaving the game tied at one after the first period, and the Engineers looked like they were on their heels.

Marty O'Grady turned that momentum around almost right away. Just 58 seconds into the second period, O'Grady scored his first goal of the season from Bryan Brutlag and Joel Malchuk to put RPI up 2-1. It was the only goal of the period, but the momentum swung decidedly in RPI's direction during the second - York was forced to make only 3 saves, while the Engineers had 11 shots on goal.

A Dartmouth penalty early in the third period put the Engineers on their fourth power play of the game, and C.J. Lee made the Big Green pay rather quickly. He scored his third goal of the season - and second in as many games - from Nick Bailen and Brock Higgs (who has been getting an increased amount of ice time on the power play) to give RPI a two-goal edge. Three-and-a-half minutes later, RPI went on the penalty kill after a penalty to Johnny Rogic, but the end result became another RPI goal. Chase Polacek, who was among the best shorthanded scorers in the nation last year, earned himself another shorty with the lone assist going to Lee. WRPI announcers questioned whether the puck went all the way over the line, but the goal ended up counting, giving the Engineers a 4-1 lead, which would be the final difference.

Harvard
Lee/Polacek/Helfrich
Brutlag/Malchuk/O'Grady
Cullen/Higgs/Rabbani
Burgdoerfer/Rogic/Smith

Koudys/Kennedy
Bergin/Foss
Leboeuf/Bailen

York

Greg Burgdoerfer worked his way back into the lineup for Saturday's game, taking Matt Tinordi's place on the Rogic line. Justin Smith also saw his first action of the season, replacing Scott Halpern, leaving Kevin Beauregard, Bryce Merriam, and Jeremy Coupal as the only Engineers yet to see the ice thus far this season.

The Crimson were coming into only their second competitive game of the season, their first coming the previous night against Union, a 2-1 loss.

There honestly isn't much to report about the flow of this game. Neither team put a great number of pucks on net in the first two periods - Harvard led the shot total 12-11 after 40 minutes, a low number for both teams despite four power plays for the Engineers and three for the Crimson. During the second period, the Engineers had a pair of goals waved off - one which Josh Rabbani put into the net but was batted in by a high stick, and another that was put in after a scrum in front of Harvard goaltender Kyle Richter, but disallowed because it crossed the line after the whistle.

Referees Eric Ernst and Nick Litterio swallowed their whistles during much of the third period, but late in the game, observers say they had little recourse but to call a penalty to Harvard's Daniel Moriarty for hooking, as he impeded what could have been a clear scoring opportunity for the Engineers. RPI went to work and had their best showing of the night on the man advantage by far, blasting away at Richter, but they weren't able to put one over the line, and the power play expired.

Just 16 seconds after the Moriarty penalty expired, Litterio's arm was in the air - and he was calling Polacek for interference behind the play. WRPI's Tim Heiman couldn't spot the penalty, and Seth Appert later told the Times Union that if there was a penalty on the play, it certainly wasn't on Polacek, one of the team's most important penalty killers, for reasons he'd proven the previous night. All signs pointed to the call being nothing more than the usual ECAC "even up" call - RPI had a late power play, therefore Harvard had to have one too.

The Polacek penalty came late enough that it would have run into a potential overtime period - but it did not get that far. With 8.2 seconds left in regulation, Harvard scored the game's first and only goal on the power play as Alex Killorn beat Allen York with a shot York would probably like a second chance at, shortly after the Engineers, a week after giving up a late goal defending against an extra skater, were unable to clear the zone after attaining the puck, which had led to the late Union goal as well. Just over five minutes away from a solid 3-point weekend, RPI instead had to stomach a loss that ended a 7-game unbeaten streak that had been the longest in over a decade.

Other junk - The split road weekend resulted in the Engineers holding steady in the weekly USCHO poll, as they remain 18th in the nation with 145 votes overall. Also ranked from the ECAC this week are #3 Yale (up two with 5 first-place votes, swept Princeton and Quinnipiac at home) and #12 Union (up three, beat Harvard and tied Dartmouth). As with last week, Boston University is the Engineers' only non-conference opponent ranked this week, but they are now ranked #1 in the nation as they are undefeated in their first 8 games (6-0-2). They earned 31 of 40 first place votes. Cornell fell from the Top 20 after splitting a weekend in the North Country, they tied with Robert Morris for the most votes among unranked teams with 30. Colorado College (22), Quinnipiac (11), Clarkson (2), Dartmouth (2), Harvard (1), and Niagara (1) also received votes.

All ECAC teams now have two games under their belts, and in an interesting twist, no team was swept on the weekend - each team earned at least one point in the opening round. Most surprising was the home sweep by the St. Lawrence Saints of Cornell and Colgate, a duo most observers expected to be among the most difficult travel partner pairings in the league. Nine teams came away with either two points or one point on the weekend, which means there's practically no separation after the first weekend.

Every ECAC team except for Yale and Brown is back into league action this coming weekend (Yale is at Colorado College and Air Force on Saturday and Sunday, Brown is idle), with Dartmouth and Harvard traveling to Clarkson and St. Lawrence, while Princeton and Quinnipiac are at Colgate and Cornell.

And of course, the big RPI/Union weekend is this weekend as well. The travel partners tied 3-3 in Lake Placid in the last week of October, and will not see each other again during the regular season after this weekend. Union is trying to advertise some kind of "blackout" event on Friday in which everyone is supposed to wear black to the game. What a novel concept! The REAL Black Saturday (usually Black Friday) takes place the next night in Troy.

ECAC Standings
1. Yale - 2-0-0 (4 pts)
2. St. Lawrence - 2-0-0 (4 pts)
3. Union - 1-0-1 (3 pts)
4. Cornell - 1-1-0 (2 pts)
5. RPI - 1-1-0 (2 pts)
6. Harvard - 1-1-0 (2 pts)
7. Princeton - 1-1-0 (2 pts)
8. Brown - 0-1-1 (1 pt)
9. Colgate - 0-1-1 (1 pt)
10. Dartmouth - 0-1-1 (1 pt)
11. Quinnipiac - 0-1-1 (1 pt)
12. Clarkson - 0-1-1 (1 pt)


#18 RPI at Dartmouth
ECAC Game - Thompson Arena (Hanover, NH)
11/5/10 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 4, Dartmouth 1

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS
RPI
Troy Record
Albany Times Union
WMUR-TV (Manchester, NH)


RECORD: 4-1-3 (1-0-0 ECAC, 2 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Chase Polacek, 2 G
2. F C.J. Lee, 1 G, 1 A
3. G Allen York, 25 saves

#18 RPI at Harvard
ECAC Game - Bright Hockey Center (Boston, MA)
11/6/10 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Harvard 1, RPI 0

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS
RPI
USCHO
Troy Record
Albany Times Union
Boston Globe
Harvard Crimson

RECORD: 4-2-3 (1-1-0 ECAC, 2 pts)

Reale Deals
1. D Nick Bailen, 5 shots
2. G Allen York, 22 saves
3. F Tyler Helfrich, 2 shots

Upcoming games
12 Nov - at #12 Union
13 Nov - #12 Union (Black Saturday)
26 Nov - UConn (RPI Invitational)
27 Nov - Alabama-Huntsville/Bowling Green (RPI Invitational)
03 Dec - at #3 Yale

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