Monday, December 13, 2010

Men's Hockey - Boston University (11 Dec)

There's no time like a game on national television to make a statement, and that's exactly what the RPI Engineers did this weekend with their lone outing at home against the BU Terriers. With Time Warner's cameras broadcasting their exploits around North America, RPI came through with a solid 4-1 victory partially spoiled by a ridiculous display by the referees, but ultimately earned on the ice with good hustle and outstanding special teams play.

Boston University



The big news at the outset was the return of C.J. Lee and Joel Malchuk, fully one half of the injured quartet that was out against Yale and Brown. There was a bit of good news about John Kennedy as well - he has had his cast removed. He probably won't play next week in the exhibition as a precaution, but he may well be back in time for the Alabama-Huntsville games. Marty O'Grady, however, is an unknown going forward.

The game got off to a rough start for RPI as Joel Malchuk and Guy Leboeuf were each called for tripping early on, giving BU a short 5-on-3 power play opportunity. The penalty kill was up to the challenge though, and the Engineers escaped unharmed. Two minute later, a BU penalty set up RPI's first chance on the man advantage, but a penalty to Pat Koudys for interference just a minute later negated the chance and eventually gave BU it's third power play opportunity only midway through the first period.

That was when the Engineers struck. A clearing pass out of the zone by Mike Bergin was taken by Lee, who raced forward with Malchuk. The two players returning from injury raced into the attacking zone two-on-two, with Lee making a drop pass to Malchuk, who promptly blasted it from near the top of the zone, beating BU's Grant Rollheiser to put the Engineers up 1-0 on a shorthanded tally.

In the final minute of the first period, BU defenseman David Warsofsky was called on a cross-checking call that put RPI on its 2nd power play of the game, and the Engineers responded quickly. Tyler Helfrich scored his 9th goal of the season after being left all alone on the doorstep to Rollheiser's right. He one-timed a cycling pass from Chase Polacek to give RPI a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

Right off the bat in the second period, another BU penalty led to an RPI goal. Polacek scored with one of his signature "one-timer near the goal line from a sick angle" shots for his 8th goal of the year to make it 3-0. After the next whistle, BU coach Jack Parker decided that 3 goals on 13 shots was too much, and pulled Rollheiser in favor of his classmate, Kieran Millan. The move did seem to get the Terriers back into things, as the game opened up and became more of a two-way affair than the one-sided tilt the Engineers had turned it into at that point.

Midway through the period, BU's Matt Nieto got a great breakaway opportunity to score, but was stoned cold by Allen York to keep the shutout intact. Each team got a power play chance following the Polacek goal, but neither scored until Wade Megan was able to put back a big rebound that York had let up, putting the Terriers on the board and ending the night for York's stick, as he smashed it against the pipe out of frustration for giving up the rebound. For the remainder of the period - a good four minutes - momentum was definitely in BU's favor.

The 3-1 score carried over into the third period, where things really started to get out of hand. The referees, led by Bryan Hicks of Union wave-off fame, appeared ready to swallow their whistles, but it was a bad move given the myriad calls that had not been made for both teams in the first two periods, and the smattering of bogus calls both teams were called for as well. The game had already been chippy, but it got much worse during the third period. The Terriers worked hard looking for another goal to put them back in the thick of things, but Allen York did what he has increasingly been able to do - clamp things down. He made another big breakaway save during the period to preserve the 2-goal lead.

Things definitively unraveled late in the period after an interference call against BU. It was one of those "had to" penalties, given that the Engineers had come into the zone on a lightening-fast 3-on-0, which you don't see every day. The penalty came with about two-and-a-half minutes left in the 3rd, putting a serious damper on BU's ability to come back. Then, the referees lost control of the game, as BU's frustrations began to boil over. Parker's argument with the referees after the interference call - more than likely, an argument stemming from things not called rather than the actual call - resulted in a bench minor to go along with the interference, putting RPI on a 5-on-3 for two minutes holding the 2-goal lead.

Less than a minute later, BU was whistled again for cross-checking (which was really iffy given that they were already down a player) and the brawling began. No player was issued a game DQ, but several were sent to the locker rooms early, including Lee, Nick Bailen, and BU's Alex Chiasson.

About a minute later, as the 5-on-3 was about to expire, Bryan Brutlag scored on a one-timer in the slot to make it 4-1, putting the seal on the victory. In the immediate aftermath, Warsofsky was shown the gate. Seconds after the ensuing faceoff, Bo Dolan was called for roughing, and seconds after that, a 5-minute major and a game misconduct was assessed to BU's Garrett Noonan for grasping the facemask in another scrum with 16 seconds left. The game was essentially over, but the referees had lost control well before. Jack Parker was furious after the final horn, talking to one of the linesmen during the hand-shake and making a sarcastic gesture to Bryan Hicks, a move which saw him slapped with a game misconduct of his own at the 20:00 mark of the 3rd period.

The ugliness and the terrible officiating aside, it was a monster mid-season win for RPI hockey, scoring a solid victory against one of the top teams in the nation - a team which was ranked #1 just a few weeks ago. The win continued the Engineers' unbeaten streak at Houston Field House this season to 7-0-0.

Next up for the Engineers is a bit of a treat - they play an exhibition this Sunday against the US Junior Team in their first preparation game for the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, which run from December 26 to January 5 at the Sabres' HSBC Arena and Niagara's Dwyer Arena. This is the team on which Jerry D'Amigo won a gold medal last year - and D'Amigo will be back to lead the United States in its quest for a second straight gold. This game will be something of a valedictory for D'Amigo at the Field House. Expect an ovation for the Toronto Marlies forward when he is announced on Sunday. If you're going to be in the Capital District, you are advised not to miss it.

Other junk - The upward mobility continues for the Engineers; another week, another rise in the polls. The win over BU propelled RPI up one place to #14 in the nation. The loss was a bit more of a hit for the Terriers, however, as they dropped three to #10. Other ECAC teams ranked this week are #1 Yale (up to 45/50 first place votes, idle) and #12 Union (up one, blew out AIC and Army at home). Ex-#19 Dartmouth dropped out after just one week as a ranked team after losing to one-win Vermont last night. #20 Colorado College is ranked for the first time in over a month. Other RPI opponents receiving votes are Clarkson (41, the second straight week with the most votes for an unranked team), Dartmouth (36), Princeton (23), and Niagara (1).

With a goal and two assists on Saturday, Chase Polacek has seven points in the last two games. His goal tied him with Don Hearns '75 and Brian Ferreira '90 for 33rd in RPI history with 134 points, and he is now tied with Trevor Kaye '62 for 32nd with 135 points. Next on the list, tied for 30th, are two big names - Mo Mosco '55 and Richard Scammell '69, who have 137 points each.

Joel Malchuk's second goal of the year was also his second shorthanded goal of the year. He is one of only 17 players in the nation with multiple shorties on the season.

The Capital District may be turning into Fort Neverlose. RPI and Union are a combined 14-0-1 at home this season - the lone blemish being Union's tie with UConn.

The ECAC league schedule is finished for 2010, it picks back up on January 3 with a travel-partner game between Quinnipiac and Princeton in New Jersey, then goes to a full 12-game weekend January 7th and 8th.

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

Adjusted Standings
1. Yale (1.000)
2. Dartmouth (.688)
3. Princeton (.667)
4. Clarkson (.643)
5. Union (.583)
6. RPI (.500)
7. Quinnipiac (.450)
8. St. Lawrence (.429)
9. Brown (.417)
10. Cornell (.333)
11. Harvard (.222)
12. Colgate (.083)

#7 Boston University at #15 RPI
Nonconference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
12/11/10 - 3:30pm

RESULT: RPI 4, Boston University 1

College Hockey Stats

Troy Record
Albany Times Union
BU Daily Free Press

Boston Herald
College Hockey News
Inside Hockey

Goals (no audio, includes one York breakaway save)

Post-game interviews

RECORD: 9-4-3 (3-3-0 ECAC, 6 pts)

Reale Deals
1. G Allen York, 28 saves
2. F Chase Polacek, 1 G, 2 A
3. D Nick Bailen, 2 A, 5 shots

Upcoming games
19 Dec - US Junior National Team (exhibition)
30 Dec - at Alabama-Huntsville
31 Dec - at Alabama-Huntsville
07 Jan - Clarkson
08 Jan - St. Lawrence

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