Monday, November 1, 2010

Men's Hockey - vs. Union (30 Oct)

The Route 7 Rivalry was rekindled in unfamiliar territory, as the two teams played each other outside of the Capital District for the first time since meeting in the Catamount Cup in 2006 in Burlington - this time clashing on the hallowed ice of Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, a venue the Engineers hadn't visited since the 2002 ECAC Championships, which was also the last time they played in that tournament. With an eye on two weeks from now, when the Engineers and Dutchmen will go head to head for ECAC points, the teams skated to a 3-3 tie in a well played, back-and-forth affair.




The forward lines seem to be settling in nicely - which is bad news for the guys who are now becoming regular scratches, especially Patrick Cullen and Greg Burgdoerfer, who are continuing to have trouble cracking the lineup. Meanwhile, the rotation of the three freshmen defensemen continues, and this time it was Bo Dolan's turn to sit out.

After an early feeling out period, the first major event was an interference penalty to Bryan Brutlag, which gave us our first taste of the crucial Union power play vs. RPI penalty kill matchup, and the first round went definitively to the Dutchmen. Shortly after the man advantage got underway, Greg Coburn scored on a rocket from the point to put Union up 1-0.

A penalty to Union captain Brock Matheson shortly thereafter gave RPI their first power play of the afternoon, but they were unable to convert. Brutlag hit the box again on a tripping call about a minute after the RPI advantage ended, and Union made it 2-for-2 on the power play with a little help from a defensive miscue. Nick Bailen checked a Union forward in front of the net, and the Dutchman, perhaps seeing a golden opportunity after the hit, sprawled into Allen York in front fairly easily, putting the RPI netminder on his back for the shot that came in from senior Adam Presizniuk, giving Union the 2-0 lead that they would carry into the second period.

The Engineers finally killed a penalty early in the 2nd period when they successfully got through an elbowing call against Bailen. The increasingly famous Union slow-down kept things difficult for RPI through the majority of the period, as shots became few and far between, but a penalty late in the period to Justin Pallos opened the door, and the RPI power play walked through it. Just one second after the penalty expired, a laser of a shot from Bailen hit the back of the net. His second goal as an Engineer made it 2-1 heading into the third period.

The Union slow-down continued into the third as the Dutchmen clung to their one-goal lead. What appeared to be an RPI power play chance on a hooking call to Presizniuk was wiped away when the referees called Bailen for embellishment on the play. But a minute after the teams returned to 5-on-5, C.J. Lee came into the zone with Polacek and Helfrich on a 3-on-2, keeping the puck himself as he drove to the net and jammed it past Keith Kincaid to tie the score at two.

With the RPI faithful still cheering Lee's goal, the Engineers attacked immediately on the center-ice faceoff. Just 11 seconds after Lee had tied the game, Tyler Helfrich continued his personal renaissance with his team leading 4th goal of the season, sneaking a Chase Polacek pass between Kincaid and the post to put RPI ahead, 3-2.

From there, the Engineers seemed to have broken the Dutchmen's backs, as they continued pressing and looking for another goal, exhibiting good puck control and keeping Union from having any decent looks. But a late icing call on the Engineers with exactly 60 seconds left in regulation provided the opening they needed. Previously unable to pull Kincaid, Nate Leaman called timeout and set up a play with the extra attacker - a situation in which the Dutchmen have been dangerous all season long, as their excellent power play statistics (and their 2-for-3 record on the night) underscore. 30 seconds later, before the Engineers had ever been able to clear the zone, freshman Mat Bodie scored his first career goal on a shot from the blue line with traffic in front to tie things up at three.

Both teams had opportunities to score in the overtime period, but neither were able to get any quality chances, and the first battle between the Route 7 rivalry ended without resolution. The Dutchmen led most of the way but were fortunate to get the tie - in some respects, both teams were disappointed with the final result. John Kennedy told Ed Weaver after the game that "the team was more PO'd than disappointed." That chip on the shoulder will be important in two weeks.

Other junk - The tie with Union, coupled with some bad weeks from other teams in the rankings, helped the Engineers rise two spots in the poll, they now sit as the 18th ranked team in the nation. Also ranked this week from the ECAC are #5 Yale (one first place vote, no change, beat Brown and Dartmouth at home), #15 Union (up one, tied UConn and RPI), and #19 Cornell (down five, lost at home to UNH and RIT). #3 Boston University (seven first place votes, up three) is the only other ranked RPI opponent this week, but also receiving votes were Quinnipiac (38), Colorado College (18), Clarkson (7), and RIT (6).

The ECAC schedule starts this week with a full slate of games, including RPI/Union visiting Dartmouth/Harvard. The Big Green got two games under their belts last weekend, beating Princeton before falling to Yale in the Ivy Shootout, but this will be the first weekend of competitive hockey for the Crimson.

#20 RPI vs. #16 Union
Nonconference Game - Herb Brooks Arena at Olympic Center (Lake Placid, NY)
10/30/10 - 4:00pm

RESULT: RPI 3, Union 3

College Hockey Stats

Troy Record
Albany Times-Union
WNYT-TV (Albany)

Goals (Union goals first, RPI goals after)

RECORD: 3-1-3 (0-0-0 ECAC)

Reale Deals
1. F Tyler Helfrich, 1 G, 1 A
2. F Chase Polacek, 2 A
3. D Nick Bailen, 1 G, 1 A

Upcoming games
05 Nov - at Dartmouth
06 Nov - at Harvard
12 Nov - at #15 Union
13 Nov - #15 Union (Black Saturday)
26 Nov - UConn (RPI Invitational)

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