Monday, November 15, 2010

Men's Hockey - Union (12/13 Nov)

They said it couldn't be done, but RPI and Union just keep finding new and inventive ways to ratchet up the intensity. In a weekend that will likely go down in the lore of both schools, the Engineers and Dutchmen played a hard-fought home-and-home series that had plenty of just about everything, including late-game action and controversial finishes. On Friday in Schenectady, the Engineers walked away on the losing end of a 2-1 final after having a goal disallowed in the waning moments, then returned the next night to take advantage of a major penalty in Troy to tie the game in the final second before winning in overtime, 4-3.

Friday
Angers-Goulet/Malchuk/Brutlag
Lee/Polacek/Helfrich
Cullen/Higgs/Rabbani
Tinordi/O'Grady/Smith

Bergin/Foss
Koudys/Kennedy
Leboeuf/Bailen

York

With Alex Angers-Goulet recovered from his infection, he was re-inserted into the lineup, replacing Johnny Rogic and Matt Tinordi replacing Greg Burgdoerfer. Without Rogic, Marty O'Grady centered the fourth line.

RPI survived an early penalty kill, getting through a boarding call against O'Grady in the game's first six minutes, but the second call, a retaliatory penalty taken by Guy Leboeuf, resulted in the first goal of the game for Union as Daniel Carr scored his fifth goal of the season to put Union up 1-0. The Engineers would have their first power play shortly thereafter, but could not convert.

By the middle of the second period, the RPI penalty kill had basically been on the ice for almost a third of the game, but had been holding steady, clicking at 4-for-5 by the time Union's Adam Presizniuk took a tripping penalty to negate the power play caused by Joel Malchuk's tripping call midway through the period.

Union continued to cling to its 1-0 lead until Nick Bailen, just two seconds after the end of RPI's fourth power play opportunity of the game, ripped a shot from near the blue line that beat Keith Kinkaid to tie the game.

After a back-and-forth opening to the third period, Matt Tinordi was called for roughing about six minutes in, giving Union their sixth power play - and so far this season, giving the Dutchmen that many power play opportunities has just been asking for trouble. That's exactly what the Engineers got as Jeremy Welsh scored to put Union up 2-1 at 7:39 of the third period.

With less than six minutes left in the game, the Engineers found themselves killing a 4-on-3 situation, and captain John Kennedy displayed the type of grit and tenacity that has become commonplace on the team under his leadership. In a very short span, Kennedy blocked two shots - one slapshot slamming into his skate, and a second one hitting his left hand. In obvious pain, the captain stayed out to finish his shift until the puck was cleared, dropping his glove as soon as he reached the bench. He would not return to the game.

Following an icing call with 1:20 left to play and the faceoff coming in the Union zone, Seth Appert called timeout and pulled Allen York, hoping to get the same type of late, tying goal that Union found in Lake Placid. With 7.6 seconds remaining on the clock, it appeared that Mike Bergin had done just that, as he redirected a shot by Nick Bailen past Kinkaid and into the back of the net. Referee Bryan Hicks had other ideas. After initially pointing to the net, he began waving off the goal, calling C.J. Lee, who had been screening Kinkaid, for goaltender interference (the infraction, not the penalty). Appert was livid. He stood on the the bench and angrily shouted at Hicks.

On the ensuing faceoff, both teams basically came to blows, but only Union's Justin Pallos was called for roughing, practically a make-up call to give the Engineers a faceoff in the Union zone at 6-on-4 with five seconds left, but it didn't make any difference whatsoever, as Union took the 2-1 victory. In the post-game press conference, Appert interrupted the interviews of Bailen and Kennedy to place a laptop on the dais and replay the disallowed goal, captured through the lens of the RPI game camera. He did not explicitly say it was a bad call, but the video did seem to indicate that Lee was nowhere near making contact with Kinkaid, nor was he in the crease.

Saturday
Lee/Polacek/Helfrich
Angers-Goulet/Malchuk/Brutlag
Cullen/Higgs/Rabbani
O'Grady/Rogic/Halpern

Bergin/Foss
Koudys/Dolan
Leboeuf/Bailen

York

Kennedy's hand was X-rayed in Albany after the game on Friday, and he was scratched from Saturday's game. The expectation is that he will probably be out for 4-6 weeks, leaving RPI with six defensemen, and necessarily ending the freshman rotation that Appert has been using until Kennedy's return. The captain stood alongside the coaches on the RPI bench, an unusual place for a scratch, continuing his role as a leader despite being unable to take his place on the ice.

The only other changes to the lineup were Johnny Rogic's return as the fourth-line center, bumping O'Grady to the wing on the fourth line and moving Matt Tinordi out of the lineup, and Scott Halpern's return in place of Justin Smith. The Engineers' top two lines, the Polacek and Malchuk lines, seem to be pretty firm, and the third line of Patrick Cullen, Brock Higgs, and Josh Rabbani has been the same for two straight weekends.

After failing to score on an early power play opportunity, the Engineers appeared to get the game's first goal midway through the first period when Rogic threw the puck in towards Halpern, who drove the net. Kinkaid made the initial save, but the puck squirted behind him and sat in the crease before eventually ending up in the back of the net. The goal was immediately waved off, with the official ruling being that the net was dislodged. A replay, however, shows that while the net didn't seem to move at all, the puck was put in by a skate - that of Union's Nolan Julseth-White, who was defending against Rogic to the left of the crease and accidentally knocked the puck in. The goal should have counted, credited to Halpern, but the Engineers instead had a second consecutive goal wiped off the board. RPI fans loudly voiced their disagreement.

The first period ended with no score, though the Engineers were the better of the sides during the opening 20 minutes, outshooting the Dutchmen 14-3. The second period started off well for RPI, as they had a productive power play early on after an interference call against Kinkaid, doing everything but putting it home. The momentum turned quickly, however, as the Dutchmen finally earned their first even-strength goal of the season against the Engineers two minutes later as Justin Pallos scored to make it 1-0 Union.

With the Engineers continuing to struggle on the power play - they had two more opportunities to score on the man advantage after the Pallos goal, only to fall to 0-for-10 on the weekend - Union struck again to make things worse with a goal by Matt Hatch with 5:30 left in the 2nd to make it 2-0. The Dutchmen went into lockdown mode, as is their norm with a two-goal lead, shortly thereafter, but RPI played so poorly as the clock wound down for the 2nd period that Unino continued to have opportunities to score. It was not until Daniel Carr took a tripping penalty in the final minute that the Engineers finally showed some signs of life.

The power play carried over into the third period, and RPI got themselves on the board by finally converting with the man advantage as Patrick Cullen scored his first goal of the season from Brock Higgs and Nick Bailen to cut Union's lead in half, just one minute into the third. From there, the game turned into a back and forth slugfest until Mike Bergin took a hooking call midway through, setting Union up on only their second power play of the game. But it was RPI who would be celebrating a goal with Bergin in the box. Bailen led a breakout going the other way, eventually connecting with Joel Malchuk, who finally landed his first goal of the season in shorthanded fashion, just over midway through the Bergin penalty, to tie the game at two.

Two minutes after Bergin returned to the ice, Brock Higgs took a tripping call in the defensive zone, setting the top power play in the country back up for the third time, and the Dutchmen delivered. With Allen York sprawled out trying to cover the puck, it squirted loose to RPI legend Mark Jooris' son Josh, who put the puck on net. Bergin was standing in the net to cover for York, and while Bergin made the save, the puck dropped straight down onto the goal line and barely made it over, before Bergin's skate swept it out of the area, putting Union back up on top.

An RPI power play shortly thereafter was unproductive, and the Engineers weren't getting many good looks at Kinkaid as time started to wind down. They were granted a reprieve, however, with 1:51 left in regulation as Union freshman Mike Ingoldsby hammered C.J. Lee into the boards from behind near the penalty boxes. The referees wasted no time in assessing a 5-minute major and a game misconduct to Ingoldsby, and with the faceoff coming in the Union zone, Allen York was pulled to make it a long 6-on-4. The Dutchmen had three potshots at the open net without icing being in effect, but they were unable to seal the victory. Meanwhile, the Engineers never quit, taking every shot they could when the time was right. Kinkaid made a number of saves, but he couldn't stop the last shot, a rebound of a Chase Polacek shot that bounced left to Marty O'Grady, who buried the puck just before the buzzer sounded. Officially, the goal was scored at 19:59, and 0.2 seconds were put back on the clock, as the puck had crossed the line before the green light came on to end the game. O'Grady's second goal of the season sent the game to overtime, where the Engineers would still have over 3 minutes of power play time thanks to the Ingoldsby major.

The 5-on-4 power play wasn't producing much in the extra session until Julseth-White was called on a dangerous cross-check in the corner that, after review, was certainly dangerous enough to warrant a call in overtime. That gave the Engineers a 5-on-3 of well over a minute, and after patiently waiting for the right shot and shooting wide several times, Nick Bailen blasted one from the right side faceoff circle that found the back of the net, completing the amazing comeback and sending the Field House into a frenzy.

All four of the Engineers' goals came on special teams, including a 3-for-9 record on the power play, to carry RPI to a season split with Union. The teams went 1-1-1 against each other this season, and they will not face each other again before the ECAC Tournament. They remain undefeated in the Black Friday game (which was on a Saturday this year), now 7-0-1 all time, and beat Union in Troy for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

The Engineers are off this coming weekend. They will return to action the day after Thanksgiving, when they host UConn in the annual RPI Holiday Tournament. They face Alabama-Huntsville or Bowling Green on the second night.

Other junk - RPI's second consecutive ECAC weekend split has them holding steady in the national polls for the second straight week, as they will be #18 in the nation for the third straight week, ranked for the fourth straight week overall. #5 Yale (down two, beat Colorado College and lost to Air Force) and #14 Union (down two) are the only other ECAC teams in the rankings, while #2 Boston University (down one, 11 first place votes, tied Merrimack twice) remains the only ranked non-conference opponent of the Engineers. Also receiving votes this week were Dartmouth (18), Cornell (9), Princeton (4), Colorado College (3), Clarkson (2), Niagara (2), and Quinnipiac (1).

Nick Bailen's huge weekend - 2 goals and 2 assists - propelled him up into the upper reaches of the nation in scoring by a defenseman. He's second in the nation in points per game from the blue line, and third in total scoring. Additionally, at 4-8-12, he's only a point off the team's overall lead in scoring (Chase Polacek, 5-8-13). Keith Kinkaid is thanking his lucky stars that he won't see Bailen again this season - Bailen had a goal in all three games against Union.

Chase Polacek's next goal will be his 50th as an Engineer. His two assists on Saturday moved him past Tony Hejna on the all-time points list - his 125 career points has him alone in 38th all time at RPI. Next on the list are Wayne Clark '95 (126), Tim Regan '96 and Neil Hernberg '87 (both 129). If he can duplicate his point totals from last year, he would be among the Top 20 scorers in RPI history.

Tyler Helfrich's primary assist on the game-winning goal on Saturday was the 80th point of his career. He is the only potential addition to the RPI Century Club this season, and would need the best statistical season of his career - 32 points - to reach that mark.

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

#18 RPI at #12 Union

ECAC Game - Achilles Center (Schenectady, NY)
11/12/10 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Union 2, RPI 1

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS
RPI
USCHO
Troy Record
Albany Times Union
Schenectady Gazette

VIDEO
Schenectady Gazette
Goals (w/homer Union radio)

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

Reale Deals
1. D Nick Bailen, 1 G, 7 shots, +1
2. F Tyler Helfrich, 1 A, 3 shots
3. D John Kennedy, having big ones

#12 Union at #18 RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/13/10 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 4, Union 3 (OT)

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS
RPI
USCHO
Troy Record

Albany Times Union

Schenectady Gazette

VIDEO
Schenectady Gazette
RPI TV - full game
Post-game press conference
Goals (no audio)

RECORD: 5-3-3 (2-2-0 ECAC, 2 pts)

Reale Deals
1. D Nick Bailen, 1 G, 2 A, 4 shots
2. F Marty O'Grady, 1 G
3. F Chase Polacek, 2 A, 9 shots

Upcoming games
26 Nov - UConn (RPI Invitational)
27 Nov - Alabama-Huntsville/Bowling Green (RPI Invitational)
03 Dec - at #5 Yale
04 Dec - at Brown
11 Dec - #2 Boston University

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