Sunday, November 21, 2010

Women's Hockey - Niagara (19/20 Nov)

The Engineers played their first of two consecutive weekends of non-conference hockey at Houston Field House on Friday and Saturday with a back-to-back pair against the Niagara Purple Eagles of the CHA. Despite Niagara’s 3-8-1 record entering the weekend, they had defeated one of the top teams in women’s hockey – Mercyhurst, and gave RPI fits in a pair of 1-1 ties that were each marked by sloppy play by both teams andlate goals to decide the outcome.

Friday

Smelker/Horton/Harrison
Sanders/Vandegrift/Dunlop
Padmore/O’Keefe/Jakubowski
Guillemette/Stapleton/Mankey/Letuligasenoa

Le Donne/Vadner
Castignetti/Marzario
Daniels

Van der Bliek

The first period saw RPI come out strong, controlling play through most of the frame and piling 12 shots on Niagara netminder Sarah Moses while the Purple Eagles were unable to get a single shot on goal for more than five minutes to start the game. The Engineers scoring woes continued throughout the period, however, as they continued to search for their first goal since the early third period against Yale last Friday. A power play for RPI gave the Engineers a taste of what they were in for on the weekend as sloppy passing led to an inability to hold the Niagara zone and an easy penalty kill on the only penalty of the first.

The second period saw more turnovers than any in recent memory, and another Niagara penalty was easily killed thanks to poor puck control in the attacking zone. With Niagara holding the momentum through much of the second, the scoring deadlock was broken at 7:35 when Sonja van der Bliek sprawled to cover a puck loose in front of the crease but missed it. While players battled for the puck, Nona Letuligasenoa took a delayed call for cross-checking a Niagara player from behind, and with the referee’s arm up, Jenna Hendrikx buried the loose puck to take a 1-0 lead. On the ensuing Niagara power play (as a rule change this season causes goals on delayed penalties to not wave off the penalty) the Engineers stood strong despite some heavy pressure from Niagara.

Late in the second period, Niagara’s Caitlin Jenkins found herself on a breakaway with Sierra Vadner close behind. Unable to catch up, Vadner slashed Jenkins to stop the shot, and the official immediately signaled for a penalty shot. Jenkins lost the handle on the puck while skating in from center ice, and van der Bliek wasn’t even forced to make a save on the play. Just seconds before the whistle, the officials botched an icing call where Niagara was clearly ahead of the RPI skaters chasing down the puck, and rather than take the faceoff to center ice as the rules require when a mistake is made on an icing call, the officials gave the Purple Eagles an offensive zone draw. Obviously this drew the ire of coach Burke as it gave Niagara one last opportunity in the period, but RPI was able to win the draw and run out the clock. Perhaps some level of vindication was achieved after the period when an ECAC official pulled aside the referees on their way to the locker room and explained why their handling of the call was incorrect.

The third period saw the scales and momentum tip back in RPI’s favor, but only slightly as both teams continued to have trouble with puck control and passing. Toni Sanders had a point-blank chance near the midpoint of the period, but fired the puck directly into Moses’ chest. It was looking like RPI might be shutout for the second straight game when some last minute heroics saved the day for the Engineers. With van der Bliek on the bench in favor of the extra attacker and 43.5 seconds left on the clock, Clare Padmore picked up a rebound off a scrum in front of the Niagara net and put it past Moses to tie the game at one.

Neither team looked to be playing for the win in overtime, with Niagara falling on the puck and tying it up along the boards multiple times, and the game went in the books as a 1-1 draw. The Engineers probably counted themselves lucky to salvage a tie from the game, in which they had little rhythm or flow to their play. The most noticeable concern was an inability to score, which would continue to plague RPI through the rest of the weekend.

Saturday

Smelker/Harrison/Horton
Sanders/Vandefgrift/Dunlop
Padmore/O’Keefe/Jakubowski
Guillemette/Stapleton/Mankey/Letuligasenoa

Le Donne/Vadner
Castignetti/Marzario
Daniels

Ramelot

Saturday’s game started out in almost the exact same fashion as Friday’s – after a few chances by Niagara in the very early going, RPI controlled the ice for most of the first period but couldn’t get many quality shots. Just past the midpoint of the period, the weekend’s second penalty shot was awarded – this time to RPI as Niagara’s Chelsea Witwicke closed her hand on the puck inside her own goal crease during a prolonged scrum where goalie Jenni Bauer couldn’t find the puck. Alisa Harrison took the shot for the Engineers but just like Jenkins the night before, Harrison couldn’t keep a handle on the puck and only got off a weak shot which went into Bauer’s pads.

The first period ended with no score and so did the second – although the Engineers were playing better than Friday night, it was still by no means an excellent showing by either team. RPI put shot after shot across the Niagara crease through the second period, but never had a player crashing the net to put any of them home. With better positioning, the Engineers could have been up by several goals as Bauer had a hard time sliding across the crease to keep up with the feeds.

RPI had a bit of a scare late in the second as Katie Daniels tried to corral the puck near the Engineer net and slide it to Ramelot for a whistle. Ramelot wasn’t expecting the puck and Daniels nearly put it in the Engineer net, but after a moment of confusion Ramelot covered the puck for the whistle. Niagara’s Jessica Hitchcock had the opportunity of the game just after, as Ramelot was caught out of position leaving a wide open net to shoot at. Hitchcock shot clear over the crossbar, even throwing her arms up in celebration for a moment on what should have been a guaranteed goal. As the call on WRPI put it – “that shot was easier to make than to miss”.

Finally, at 13:13 of the third period, the Engineers got the bounce they needed as Sydney O’Keefe lobbed a shot in from the blue line which deflected off Kristen Jakubowski in front of the Niagara net and past Bauer for a 1-0 lead. The Engineer lead didn’t last for long as just over a minute and a half later, a terrible turnover by RPI in the Niagara zone led to the Purple Eagles skating the puck down ice and scoring with what seemed to be no effort whatsoever to tie the game at 1. As was the case the day before, with the game tied Niagara looked to be playing for the tie, wrapping the puck up along the boards and falling on it to run time off the clock. RPI had a few chances in the rest of regulation, including a shot by Jordan Smelker which rang off the pipe, but the game would head to overtime and end as a 1-1 tie.

Perhaps most frustrating for the Engineers in coming away with a tie on Saturday was the fact that they played better than on Friday and had the ice tilted decidedly more in their favor, but still couldn’t pull out the win. As RPI faces Syracuse next weekend before entering the grueling remainder of the ECAC schedule, the Engineers are going to need to start finding offense and scoring some goals, as one a game is not going to do it against most of the ECAC.

Next weekend’s games against Syracuse are at 7pm (Friday) and 2pm (Saturday). WRPI will not carry either game, nor will Syracuse have video available. It’s questionable whether Syracuse will have live stats either, so fans looking to follow the games live from home may not have the opportunity.

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RPI vs. Niagara
Non-Conference Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/19/10 – 7:00pm
RPI 1, NU 1 (OT)

BOX SCORES:

RECAPS:

RECORD: 4-7-3 (3-3-0 ECAC)

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RPI vs. Niagara
Non-Conference Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/20/10 – 2:00pm
RPI 1, NU 1 (OT)

BOX SCORES:

RECAPS:

RECORD: 4-7-4 (3-3-0 ECAC)

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ECAC Standings Points ECAC All
Cornell                 12              6-0             8-1
Dartmouth 10 5-3 6-3
Harvard 10 4-2-2 4-2-2
Quinnipiac 8 4-5 9-6-1
Clarkson 7 3-1-1 5-8-2
Princeton 7 3-5-1 3-7-1
St. Lawrence 6 3-2 6-6-2
Rensselaer 6 3-3 4-8-3
Yale 5 2-3-1 2-6-2
Brown 4 1-3-2 2-4-2
Colgate 4 2-4 5-9
Union 1 0-5-1 1-10-1
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Upcoming Games

Nov. 26 – at Syracuse (7pm)
Nov. 27 – at Syracuse (2pm)
Dec. 3 – at Union (7pm)
Dec. 4 – Union (4pm)
Jan. 7 – Dartmouth (3pm)
Jan. 8 – Harvard (3pm)

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