Friday, January 21, 2011

It's a Long Way

We've still got six weeks left until the playoffs start (five for the women), but from this vantage point, the most important part of the regular season is now.

The women are essentially about to do a repeat of the last two weeks, starting tonight in Boston as they look to secure their fifth consecutive win over the Crimson. That seems almost too good to be true. But where the preseason expectations were that RPI would be fighting to simply make the playoffs, the reality now is that they are in a position to fight for a top four - home ice - position. Being paired with Union continues to be a drag, but as long as the Engineers beat Harvard and at least tie Dartmouth this weekend, they would be guaranteed to be sitting in second place on Sunday, the highest any team can possibly hope to attain given Cornell's rampage through the ECAC schedule this season. That positions them perfectly for what would be their first home ice playoff series in Division I.

For the men, eight of the final 12 games of the season are at home, and half of those come in the next two weeks - after this homestand, the home-ice advantage is leveled. That makes these next four games immensely important. After losing two points to the Crimson at the beginning of the ECAC schedule (accounting for precisely half of Harvard's points to date) despite thoroughly outplaying them, tonight is payback time. A good, solid win is necessary tonight. Then tomorrow comes a challenge from a very good Dartmouth team that is unquestionably better than the last time they faced RPI. They have a new goaltender in James Mello who has been outstanding this year, but make no mistake. A win over Dartmouth would go a very long way toward the twin goals of a bye and an NCAA tournament berth. It would mean a season sweep of the Big Green, something few teams are going to accomplish this year. That's like free points.

Both of our teams have lofty goals, and it's going to take a lot of hard work and determination to reach those goals, even though they're in sight. Today's pumpup serves as a little reminder.

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