RPI opened ECAC league action this weekend in the North Country, taking on St. Lawrence and Clarkson teams who have struggled in the early going, despite high preseason expectations. The Engineers capitalized on the opportunity Friday night to earn the team’s first ever win over St. Lawrence by a 3-2 mark, before falling to Clarkson 2-1 Saturday afternoon to take two points from a North Country trip that has historically been very difficult.
Van der Bliek
With St. Lawrence coming into the weekend with a 1-4-1 record and a 4-game winless streak, the Saints looked like a prime target for RPI and the Engineers set out to make the most of it. The game started on a weird note, with SLU starting the game shorthanded after receiving a bench minor for being late to pregame warm-ups. Although RPI couldn’t capitalize on the unusual opportunity, it set the tone of the first period which would see the Engineers outshoot the Saints by a 12-8 margin. It was Andie Le Donne who would first find the back of the net just past the midpoint of the first period, firing a slapshot through traffic from the point past SLU goalie Maxie Weisz to give RPI a 1-0 first period lead.
SLU tied the game early in the second period when Ally Bero punched home a rebound on a scrum in front of Sonja van der Bliek. Though van der Bliek made the initial save on a shot by Kayla Sullivan, she was unable to get control of the rebound and Bero had the opportunity to poke it over the goal line. Although SLU pressured RPI throughout the second period, holding the Engineers without a shot on goal in the first half of the period, RPI would regain the lead at 12:54 of the second when Kristen Jakubowski scored her first career goal on a slapshot that deflected off a SLU defender in front of the net. Lady Luck was smiling on RPI later in the period as a SLU penalty set up Taylor Horton to fire another shot toward the net which was also tipped by a SLU defender to expand the RPI lead to 3-1.
St. Lawrence dominated much of the third period as the Engineers took five consecutive penalties in under ten minutes. SLU’s coach took a somewhat unconventional approach by pulling the goalie with over five minutes left in the game, but the decision allowed SLU to completely control the late game, finally converting a shot at 19:27 when Kelly Sabatine got one past van der Bliek to make it 3-2. A clutch faceoff win on the ensuing draw allowed RPI to get the puck into the SLU end and hold it there until the final buzzer to hang on for the 3-2 victory.
Each team finished the game with 31 shots and a single power play goal. Van der Bliek had a solid 13 third period saves to keep the Saints from tying the game and Jakubowski had the team high of five shots in the game.
Van der Bliek
Clarkson entered Saturday’s game looking to break a 4-game winless streak against RPI, and they played the right game to make that happen. With Andie Le Donne in the penalty box for checking, Clarkson capitalized on its first power play of the night, holding the puck and cycling in the RPI zone for nearly a minute until Hailey Wood found a lane to the net and took a shot which was deflected just enough on the way in to beat van der Bliek for a 1-0 Clarkson lead.
RPI answered in the third period on the last of three consecutive Clarkson penalties, Sierra Vadner took a shot much the same as Wood’s in the first period which found its way to the back of the Clarkson net to tie the game at one. Through the first two periods the play was relatively even, with the teams tied in shots, nearly even on penalties, and each notching a goal on the power play. The third period, however, was all Clarkson as the Golden Knights turned up the pressure in an attempt to secure the win.
Early in the third period, Clarkson forward Juana Baribeau drew a crowd of RPI defenders near the Engineer blue line and was able to sneak a pass to teammate Danielle Skirrow, who skated in on van der Bliek and beat the RPI goalie with a few slick moves and a top-shelf backhand shot. RPI would pull van der Bliek for the extra attacker in the final minute, but did not generate any solid chances, nearly giving up an empty net goal which was only avoided thanks to an Engineer defenseman taking the Clarkson shot to her midsection to prevent the goal. Clarkson had a decisive 15-4 shot advantage in the final frame.
RPI returns to Houston Field House next weekend for ECAC games against Princeton (Friday, 7pm) and Quinnipiac (Saturday, 4pm). Friday’s game will not be carried on WRPI, while Saturday’s will be joined in progess at the conclusion of the football game. As usual, Without a Peer will live tweet updates from the Field House at http://www.twitter.com/without_a_peer.
RPI at St. Lawrence
ECAC Hockey Game – Appleton Arena (Canton, NY)
10/29/10 – 7:00pm
RPI 2, SLU 1
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1011/boxes/wrenstl1.o29
RECORD: 2-4-2 (1-0-0 ECAC)
RPI at Clarkson
ECAC Hockey Game – Cheel Arena (Potsdam, NY)
10/30/10 – 4:00pm
Clarkson 2, RPI 1
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1011/boxes/wclkren1.o30
RECORD: 2-5-2 (1-1-0 ECAC)
Nov. 5 – Princeton (7pm)
Nov. 6 – Quinnipiac (4pm)
Nov. 12 – at Yale (7pm)
Nov. 13 – at Brown (4pm)
Nov. 19 – Niagara (7pm)
Nov. 20 – Niagara (2pm)