Monday, January 31, 2011

Men's Hockey - Brown and Yale (28/29 Jan)

The Engineers are officially on a roll. For the first time since February 2002 - in a stretch that included the immortal Freakout! victory over Clarkson - RPI has won five consecutive ECAC games. They kept things going in impressive fashion this weekend, completing the season sweep of Brown with their second shutout of the season on Friday, 3-0, ahead of the Big Red Freakout! matchup with top-ranked Yale, earning their first victory over the national #1 in 15 years (Vermont in 1995-96), 5-2 in front of a sold-out crowd.

Brown
Angers-Goulet/O'Grady/Brutlag
Cullen/Higgs/Rabbani
Lee/Polacek/Helfrich
Tinordi/Rogic/Malchuk

Bergin/Foss
Kennedy/Dolan
Leboeuf/Bailen

York

John Kennedy returned to the lineup after missing just one game, giving RPI a full complement of skaters to choose from again. There had been some drama during the week as to whether he'd play, with Appert deeming him "50-50" and Kennedy deeming himself "95 percent," but the captain did in fact return to the lineup.

Brown returned to Houston Field House for the first time since their upset 3-game playoff victory over RPI last March, but were playing against what was clearly a better RPI team than last season's.

The Bears came up shooting throughout the game, but the Engineers were first on the board for the fourth straight game. A kneeing call against Jeff Foss was canceled out by penalty to Brown's Harry Zolnierczyk for running Allen York about a minute into the Brown power play. Seconds later, Jack Maclellan was called for slashing York during the ensuing 4-on-4, giving RPI a 4-on-3 that eventually became a 5-on-3 when Foss exited the box. With time running down on Zolnierczyk's penalty, Chase Polacek scored his 15th goal of the season, stretching his goal-scoring streak to four in a row, making it 1-0 Engineers.

Zolnierczyk would get his team in trouble again just over three minutes later, this time with a tripping penalty, and again the Engineers responded. Bryan Brutlag scored just about 30 seconds into the penalty to give RPI a 2-0 edge heading into the second period.

The rest of the game was basically the Allen York show. After Brutlag's goal in the first period, Brown had four full power play opportunities, but could not score thanks to York, who made 36 saves on as many shots to preserve the shutout. Tyler Helfrich scored an empty netter with just over two minutes to play to seal the win. Notably, Zolnierczyk took a penalty at 19:59 of the third period, but the Engineers couldn't complete the hat-trick of goals with the Brown captain in the penalty box.

The win, coupled with Dartmouth's tie with Cornell, moved the Engineers into a tie for 4th place in the ECAC, a bye position, with RPI winning the tiebreaker with the Big Green thanks to their season sweep of Dartmouth that was completed the previous weekend.

Yale
Angers-Goulet/O'Grady/Brutlag
Cullen/Higgs/Rabbani
Lee/Polacek/Helfrich
Burgdoerfer/Rogic/Malchuk

Kennedy/Dolan
Bergin/Foss
Koudys/Bailen

York

It appears that Burgdoerfer and Tinordi are becoming somewhat interchangeable in the lineup and for good reason - they are fairly similar players.

Yale had already been upset on the weekend heading into Troy as they dropped a one-goal decision to Union in Schenectady on Friday. Conventional wisdom had it that Yale wasn't going to lose two games in a row, but the Engineers, straight out of the gate, had other plans.

Yale's Nick Jaskowiak took the game's first penalty just 1:44 in on a hooking call, and though it took RPI nearly the entire two minutes to score, they did with 10 seconds remaining on the penalty as Patrick Cullen scored to put the Engineers ahead 1-0.

From there, however, Yale displayed exactly why it was the #1 team in the country, maintaining excellent puck possession for basically the next 30 minutes of the game, and keeping RPI bottled up in its own end with an amazing forecheck that more often than not kept the Engineers from getting very far with the puck even when they did have it. But as amazing as the Yale forecheck was, Allen York was even more impressive. Totally dialed in, York made a number of instinctive saves and had tremendous puck awareness all night long.

He needed to be sharp in the second period, as the Engineers began a procession to the penalty box that included a stretch of nearly four straight minutes after consecutive penalties to C.J. Lee and Chase Polacek (with a 10 second overlap of 5x3). RPI killed those penalties, and also killed a delay of game call against Johnny Rogic after Rogic popped the net off its moorings during yet another feverish Yale rush.

Eventually, the penalties became a touch too much. Almost a minute-and-a-half into an elbowing call against Greg Burgdoerfer, Yale finally put one behind York, tying the game at one. From there, the Engineers could have broken, given how dominant Yale had been practically since Cullen's goal.

But that didn't happen. Instead, RPI turned things the other way, assisted by a Yale penalty. Josh Rabbani notched his third goal of the year on a nice deke move in front of the net on the ensuing power play, putting the Engineers back on top 2-1 heading into the third period, but with the game still very much in doubt as it was one of only 3 RPI shots during the middle frame, and they had only 9 through 40 minutes. Such was the puck domination of the Bulldogs.

A fortuitous sequence of events early in the third period put the Engineers in firm control of the scoreboard despite the play on the ice. With Allen York off the ice on a delayed holding penalty against Yale's Ken Trentowski, Brock Higgs scored his fifth goal of the season to give RPI a two-goal cushion. The new rule put in place this season requires penalties to be assessed even if a goal is scored in a delayed situation, so Trentowski went to the box for two minutes and RPI, fresh off their goal, went straight to the power play.

Not even a minute after Higgs had put RPI up by two, Polacek made it five straight with a goal, improbably putting the Engineers up 4-1 despite all of their struggles and required big defense throughout the game. The goal also chased Ryan Rondeau, who has been Yale's stalwart in net all year, after giving up four goals on 12 total shots.

Late in the game, York took offense to Yale's Chris Cahill operating around the net and dropped his stick to go after the Bulldog senior. That netted him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and the Bulldogs converted with 2:15 left in the game to cut the RPI lead to 4-2. That gave Yale the opening they needed to pull their backup goaltender, Nick Maricic, but 37 seconds after the net was vacated, C.J. Lee scored RPI's second empty netter of the weekend to put the seal on a 5-2 victory over the best team in the nation.

Allen York was nothing short of fantastic. He made 38 saves on 40 shots, making it an eye popping 74 saves on 76 shots for the weekend. The win snapped RPI's Freakout! losing streak at three, and ended the winless streak at four. It also represented RPI's third win in four tries against the Bulldogs, who saw their quest for a third consecutive Cleary Cup thrown into a little bit of doubt, as they now sit just one point ahead of Union in the ECAC standings.

The Engineers completed their big homestand 4-for-4, and now hit the road to face Quinnipiac and Princeton, the only two ECAC teams they have yet to see this year. The Bobcats have been all over the map but still could be a challenge, especially at home. Princeton, meanwhile, is surprising many of the experts and having a fantastic season, they currently sit in third in the ECAC and have been nationally ranked for three straight weeks. They present RPI's greatest remaining road challenge during the remainder of regular season.

Other junk - Five wins in a row will usually see you rising in the polls. Beating the reigning #1 does that too. The Engineers moved up to their highest position yet this season and are now ranked #9 in the country following their sweep. Yale being swept predictably moved them out of the #1 position, down to #3 in the nation with 2 first place votes. Other ranked teams are #11 Union (up two, swept Yale/Brown), #17 Dartmouth (up one, tied Cornell and beat Colgate), and #19 Princeton (no change, swept Clarkson/St. Lawrence). #14 Boston University (up two) and #20 Colorado College (no change) are also ranked this week. Also receiving votes were Northeastern (4), RIT (2), Niagara (1) and Quinnipiac (1).

Chase Polacek followed up his ECAC Player of the Week performance (in which he had 3 goals and 1 assist) with a 2 goal, 3 assist effort this week. His power play goal in the Freakout! made him the 21st Engineer to reach 150 points for his career, and his assist on Lee's empty-netter gives him 151 points. Barry Martinelli '76 currently occupies 20th with 155 points, followed by Larry Landon '81 in 19th with 157.

Chase is unlikely to catch Miami's Andy Miele (49) or Carter Camper (46) for the national point scoring lead (they feed off each other on the same line), but he is now 5th in the nation in points per game with 1.50, and is tied for 4th in the nation in points 39 for the year.

Allen York, meanwhile, also improved on his numbers from last week, when he was ECAC Goaltender of the Week. He earned his second shutout of the year against Brown, and didn't allow a single even-strength tally against the #1 team in the nation against Yale, making 38 saves on 40 shots.

The Engineers are currently 9th in the nation in KRACH and second in the ECAC, meaning that from this vantage point (that is, from right now), they would be favored in every remaining game they play for the remainder of the regular season.

ECAC Standings
1. Yale - 11-3-0 (22 pts)
2. Union - 10-3-1 (21 pts)
3. Princeton - 9-4-1 (19 pts)
4. RPI - 9-5-0 (18 pts)
5. Dartmouth - 8-4-2 (18 pts)
6. Cornell - 7-5-2 (16 pts)
7. Quinnipiac - 6-6-3 (15 pts)
8. Clarkson - 6-6-1 (13 pts)
9. Brown - 5-8-1 (11 pts)
10. St. Lawrence - 3-9-1 (7 pts)
11. Harvard - 3-12-0 (6 pts)
12. Colgate - 0-12-2 (2 pts)

Adjusted Standings
1. Yale (.786)
2. Union (.750)
3. Princeton (.679)
4. RPI (.643)
5. Dartmouth (.643)
6. Cornell (.571)
7. Clarkson (.500)
8. Quinnipiac (.500)
9. Brown (.393)
10. St. Lawrence (.269)
11. Harvard (.200)
12. Colgate (.071)

Brown at #10 RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/28/11 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 3, Brown 0

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS
RPI
Troy Record
Albany Times Union

VIDEO
RPI TV (full game)

YouTube (goals, no audio)
YouTube (post game press conference)

RECORD: 16-6-3 (8-5-0 ECAC, 16 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Tyler Helfrich, 1 G, 2 A
2. G Allen York, 36 saves
3. F Chase Polacek, 1 G, 1 A

#1 Yale at #10 RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/29/11 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 5, Yale 2

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS
RPI
Troy Record
Albany Times Union
Yale Daily News
College Hockey News

VIDEO
YouTube (highlights, all goals plus big York saves, no audio)

YouTube (post game press-conference)
YouTube (York penalty)
YouTube (fan video)
YouTube (post-game celebration)

RECORD: 17-6-3 (9-5-0 ECAC, 18 pts)

Reale Deals
1. G Allen York, 38 saves
2. F Chase Polacek, 1 G, 2 A
3. F Josh Rabbani, 1 G, 1 A

Upcoming games
04 Feb - at Quinnipiac
05 Feb - at #19 Princeton
11 Feb - Colgate
12 Feb - Cornell
18 Feb - at St. Lawrence

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