Sunday, November 7, 2010

Women's Hockey - Princeton & Quinnipiac (5/6 Nov)

RPI returned to the friendly confines of Houston Field House for the first weekend of ECAC home games, earning a split on the weekend by falling 2-1 to Princeton on Friday before playing an excellent game against Quinnipiac in a 2-0 shutout victory. Friday’s game was marked by a few defensive lapses which cost the Engineers the game while Saturday’s game looked to be their best of the season thus far.

Princeton

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

Le Donne/Vadner
Castignetti/Marzario
Daniels

Van der Bliek

Friday night’s game against Princeton was a relatively well-played, back-and-forth affair, with both teams getting chances at the net, but it was two defensive lapses which led to the Princeton goals. The first came near the midpoint of the first period as a missed clear was turned around by Princeton and skated back toward Engineer netminder Sonja van der Bliek. Olivia Mucha found Denna Laing with a pass and Laing found herself without a defender covering her, leaving her open to roof a shot over van der Bliek’s shoulder for the 1-0 lead. A body checking penalty on Kendra Dunlop late in the period would give Princeton a few more chances at the net, but they couldn’t capitalize with the man-advantage and took the 1-0 lead into the locker room, also leading 8-5 in shots in the opening frame.

Nearly a full period after their first goal, at 8:15 of the second, a similar play unfolded for the Tigers as Engineer defenseman Andie Le Donne pinched to the right to challenge Olivia Mucha, who was again trying to break through with the puck. Mucha threaded a pass to a now wide-open Sally Butler on the right wing, who put another shot past van der Bliek to double the Tigers’ lead to 2-0. This lead would stand for only a couple minutes, as the Tigers would take a penalty and allow the Engineers to set up on the power play. After a minute and a half of constant puck possession and good movement in the offensive zone, Le Donne sent a pass from the right point to Jordan Smelker on the right faceoff dot, who shot a laser which launched the water bottle off the top of the Princeton net and cut the Tigers’ lead to 2-1.

The Engineers turned up the pressure in the third period, dominating most of the final frame and outshooting the Tigers by an 8-1 margin, but Princeton goalie Cassie Seguin held strong and kept RPI from finding the equalizer. Despite a power play opportunity near the middle of the third, and 1:27 of extra attacker time at the end of the game, RPI couldn’t hit the back of the net and fell 2-1, giving Princeton its second win of the season. The Engineers fell to 2-6-2 with the loss.

Quinnipiac

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

Le Donne/Vadner
Castignetti/Marzario
Daniels

Van der Bliek

After RPI knocked Quinnipiac out of the postseason in last year’s ECAC quarterfinals, it was widely expected that Saturday’s rematch would have the Bobcats out for vengeance, and while they were, RPI matched their intensity and put forth one of the best single-game efforts seen in the past several seasons. After a very fast-paced first period, which saw two Engineer penalties but no goals, the goalies had quickly become the story, as one might have expected after last year’s overtime marathon games. Van der Bliek and Quinnipiac’s Victoria Vigilanti were perfect through the first frame and most of the second, but the Engineers were able to capitalize late in the second period. With Vigilanti sprawled out of the net to stop a shot from the point by Kristen Jakubowski, a rebound popped out to Clare Padmore who wasted no time in putting it home for her first goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.

The third period was marked by fast transitions, crisp passing, and a lot of back-and-forth hockey, with Quinnipiac trying desperately to tie the game and the Engineers searching for the extra goal that would put the game out of reach for Quinnipiac. It wasn’t until the Bobcats had their net empty in the final minute that RPI would get the chance it was looking for. Quinnipiac’s Jordan Elkins failed to hold the puck in at the Engineer blue line and Alisa Harrison cut around her, getting a break down ice and dumping the puck into the empty net at 19:28 to put the game on ice.

Sonja van der Bliek earned her first shutout of the season with a 25-save effort, and some of the saves were spectacular. Just as importantly, this was the first game of the season where things really seemed to “click” for the Engineers. Nearly every pass found the stick of its intended recipient, puck control was excellent, the Engineer offense was able to set up in the Quinnipiac zone and cycle smoothly…in general, everything went right. Part of the reason may have been some changes to the lines by Coach Burke, who swapped Taylor Horton onto the top line in place of Jill Vandegrift. Whether it was meant to be a message, or just an experiment, it worked, as every line looked great and most importantly each showed chemistry with each other. It will be interesting to see if Burke keeps the lineup intact for next weekend’s games against Yale and Brown – and if we see the same kind of results as we saw on Saturday. Also important was the lack of “sixth-period syndrome”, where the Engineers get outworked in the third period of Saturday’s game – something which has plagued them on and off for several seasons. The team looked energetic and active throughout the final frame, keeping a frantic Quinnipiac squad at bay.

The Engineers hit the road again next weekend for a series at Yale and Brown. WRPI will not cover the games, however Yale and Brown will both have subscription video available for purchase.

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RPI vs. Princeton
ECAC Hockey Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/5/10 – 7:00pm
PU 2, RPI 1

BOX SCORES:
RECAPS:
RECORD: 2-6-2 (1-2-0 ECAC)

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RPI vs. Quinnipiac
ECAC Hockey Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/6/10 – 4:00pm
RPI 2, QU 0

BOX SCORES:
RECAPS:
RECORD: 3-6-2 (2-2-0 ECAC)

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Upcoming Games

Nov. 12 – at Yale (7pm)
Nov. 13 – at Brown (4pm)
Nov. 19 – Niagara (7pm)
Nov. 20 – Niagara (2pm)
Nov. 26 – at Syracuse (7pm)
Nov. 27 – at Syracuse (2pm)

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