Monday, January 24, 2011

Men's Hockey - Harvard and Dartmouth (21/22 Jan)

Finally, the Engineers have a weekend sweep in the ECAC after six tries, but it didn't come down the way most people expected it would. The Engineers had to battle to get a 3-2 win over Harvard, but then dominated against #18 Dartmouth in what was probably the team's most complete game of the season to earn a 5-1 victory over the Big Green.

Harvard

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

Bergin/Foss
Koudys/Dolan
Bailen/Kennedy

York

C.J. Lee's suspension and Scott Halpern's continuing ankle injury were the only major issues in crafting a lineup on Friday, as Marty O'Grady and Bryan Brutlag returned to the lineup - both missing only one game in the end after O'Grady volunteered to play relatively hurt against Colgate in place of Brutlag, who had no lingering effects of being knocked out against Cornell. Brock Higgs also made his valiant return to the lineup after being out for nearly a month with that scary throat cut.

Given what was to come, the first 10 minutes were pretty uninteresting. No goals, no penalties, not an awful lot of shots coming from either direction. The first notable event of the game came 13 minutes into the contest, when Patrick Cullen picked up the deflection from a weak pass by Josh Rabbani for his third goal of the season, giving RPI a 1-0 lead on a goal that Harvard's Kyle Richter is probably still kicking himself over.

Speaking of goals to kick yourself over, Allen York proceeded to give up an even worse one with less than 20 seconds left in the first period. Going behind the net to grab a loose puck, he misplayed it to the left side of his cage, where it was scooped up by Harvard's Michael Del Mauro, who promptly stuck it in the empty net to make it 1-1 going into the 1st intermission.

The beginning of the second period, however, became a showcase for the best player in Troy. Two minutes into the period during a 4-on-4, Brock Higgs stole the puck right in the middle of the Harvard zone while forechecking. Higgs promptly fed it to Polacek, who rifled it into the net in an impromptu 2-on-1 following a Harvard breakout attempt, making it 2-1 RPI. A minute and a half later, it basically happened again in a very similar fashion. The RPI forecheck managed to keep Harvard from clearing the zone, and this time it was Nick Bailen getting the steal after an excellent check by Alex Angers-Goulet. Bailen made a cross-ice pass to Polacek, who then used a screen by Angers-Goulet to score his second goal in 1:37 of game time, his 13th of the season, to put RPI up 3-2.

To that point in the game, there had been just three penalties called - one on RPI in the 1st, and matching minors early in the 2nd that created the 4-on-4 situation. But the remainder of the game would be marred by the penalties that were called - seven on RPI, and only one on Harvard (for too many men). The Engineers managed to get by on the two calls during the second period, but a number of questionable calls in the third period finally proved to be too much to handle. Shortly after killing an interference call against Joel Malchuk that was made just 10 seconds into the third, RPI found themselves in a tight spot with Angers-Goulet and Polacek, arguably the two best penalty killers on the team, called for penalties 9 seconds apart. The ensuing 5-on-3 was almost killed off, but there's only so much you can do when you've got three guys out there that have been killing penalties for most of the period. Pier-Oliver Michaud scored his first goal of the year with less than 15 seconds left on the 5-on-3 to bring Harvard within one.

The Harvard penalty for too many men gave RPI its only power play chance of the game, which they did not convert. True to form, Bryan Hicks gave Harvard a pair of opportunities to tie the game on the power play late, including one late enough for Ted Donato to pull Richter from the net to create a 6-on-4. The Engineers survived the late onslaught, and Allen York made 17 saves in the 3rd period alone to help preserve the win for RPI. The Engineers had only 3 shots of their own in the final 20 minutes.

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

Bergin/Foss
Koudys/Dolan
Leboeuf/Bailen

York

The only real lineup differences for Saturday were C.J. Lee's reinsertion following the end of his suspension, Greg Burgdoerfer playing in place of Matt Tinordi, and John Kennedy, who suffered an ankle injury late in the Harvard game - his timetable for return is unknown. It could be this Friday, or he could be out for a while.

Immediately after the Harvard game, the players told the media that they knew they'd need to play better against Dartmouth, who jumped on Union for three goals in 10:10 on Friday night to issue the Dutchmen their first home loss of the season. That's essentially what happened for RPI, even right out of the gate. Just 2:20 into the 1st, the Engineers got themselves on the board first for the third straight game as Johnny Rogic zoomed up the left wing, taking a quick shot before going behind the net that was scooped up and put in the net by Joel Malchuk, scoring his fourth of the year to put RPI up 1-0.

Excellent puck control in the first period led to an 11-8 edge in shots for the Engineers after one period, and that generally carried over into the second period despite continued penalty issues that saw the Big Green getting four power play chances by the time the game was 28 minutes old. The RPI penalty kill held up throughout, allowing the Engineers the opportunity to go up two on their next power play chance.

A cross-ice feed through the slot from Nick Bailen to Chase Polacek was one-timed in just below the faceoff dot for another impressive goal from the senior assistant captain about a minute into RPI's third man advantage of the night, putting the Engineers up 2-0.

About four minutes later, it was Dartmouth's turn to start getting in penalty trouble, as the Engineers gained a 5-on-3 for over a minute that was eventually - after much patience - converted by Brock Higgs, scoring his first goal since his return to the ice with a one-timer on the doorstep from a pass by Polacek to give RPI a commanding 3-0 lead. That lead would increase just over two minutes later when Rabbani fed Angers-Goulet while the latter was crashing the net to make it 4-0 after two. James Mello, who had been a rock in net for Dartmouth, was pulled during the second intermission in favor of Jody O'Neill, who the Engineers had beaten in Hanover in November.

Dartmouth got one back early in the third period off an odd end-board bounce that left Allen York out of position, but it was the only goal they would get on the night. RPI got their 4-goal lead back midway through the third when Joel Malchuk, rushing out of the penalty box after a kill, reached the puck to get icing waved off and then poked it around O'Neill, who had wandered behind the net to go after it. O'Neill raced back to the crease, but couldn't position himself in time for Marty O'Grady's one-timer in the slot from Malchuk's pass.

Of the three goals York gave up on the weekend, the first was his fault but pretty fluky, the second was after a long 5-on-3, and the third was just a bad bounce in a game RPI had well in hand. Defensively, the Engineers did pretty well, and they broke out of their offensive shell with eight goals in two games. That'll help gain weekend sweeps more often than not.

The big homestand continues this weekend with another pair of huge games. Brown, an odd team with some very big wins (BU and Yale come to mind) and some head-scratching losses (they're still under .500 and got owned at home by RPI) comes into town in what is an important game for the Engineers to win for a number of reasons. That's followed by what could become one of the freakiest Freakouts in the history of Freakout, as the Engineers welcome the #1 team in this great nation of ours, the Yale Bulldogs. They have held that title ever since their 4-2 home victory over RPI in early December.

The Engineers are 10-1-0 at home this season, with the lone loss coming in overtime. It could be pretty wild - and another weekend sweep would position RPI perfectly for the last month of the season, not to mention open some eyes given the caliber of teams coming to Troy this week.

Remember, this year's senior class has lost their first three Freakouts, and no class has ever graduated without winning at least one. There are some talented names in this year's senior class, but they face a tough challenge. All of this is conspiring to make for what should be the biggest game of the year on the biggest stage of the year.

Other junk - Just a week after dropping four positions in the USCHO.com poll, the Engineers return to #10 in the nation by rising four spots with their weekend sweep. #1 Yale (swept Clarkson and St. Lawrence) earned 46 first place votes, their most to date. Other ranked ECAC teams are #13 Union (down one, lost to Dartmouth and beat Harvard), #18 Dartmouth (no change), and #19 Princeton (up one, idle). Also ranked this week are #16 Boston University (down one) and #20 Colorado College (re-entering the poll). Other teams earning votes this week were Niagara (16), RIT (4), and Clarkson (2).

Chase Polacek is now at 146 points for his career after his 3 goal, 1 assist weekend, moving him Ray Belasky '60 (142), Kevin Croxton '06 (143), Garry Kearns '58 (144), and Alain St. Hilaire '99 (145) to take sole possession of 22nd all time. Next on the ladder is Jim Josephson '62 in 21st with 148 career points. There's a bit of a gap to the Top 20, however, as Barry Martinelli '76 currently occupies 20th with 155 points.

Saturday's Freakout game will be televised live on Time Warner Cable Channel 3. Normally, we'd tell you to go to the game if you get TW3, but the Freakout is going to be sold out, so watching on TV is a viable alternative if you can't get a ticket.

ECAC Standings
1. Yale - 11-1-0 (22 pts)
2. Union - 8-3-1 (17 pts)
3. Dartmouth - 7-4-1 (15 pts)
4. Princeton - 7-4-1 (15 pts)
5. RPI - 7-5-0 (14 pts)
6. Clarkson - 6-4-1 (13 pts)
7. Cornell - 6-5-1 (13 pts)
8. Quinnipiac - 5-6-2 (12 pts)
9. Brown - 5-6-1 (11 pts)
10. St. Lawrence - 3-8-0 (6 pts)
11. Harvard - 2-11-0 (4 pts)
12. Colgate - 0-10-2 (2 pts)

Adjusted Standings
1. Yale (.917)
2. Union (.708)
3. Dartmouth (.625)
4. Princeton (.625)
5. Clarkson (.591)
6. RPI (.583)
6. Cornell (.542)
8. Quinnipiac (.462)
9. Brown (.458)
10. St. Lawrence (.273)
11. Harvard (.154)
12. Colgate (.083)

Harvard at #14 RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/21/11 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 3, Harvard 2

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS
RPI
Troy Record
Albany Times Union

VIDEO
RPI TV (whole game)
YouTube (goals, no audio)
YouTube (post-game press conference)

RECORD: 14-6-3 (6-5-0 ECAC, 12 pts)

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

#18 Dartmouth at #14 RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/22/11 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 5, Dartmouth 1

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS
RPI

Troy Record
Albany Times Union

VIDEO
RPI TV (whole game)
YouTube (goals, no audio)
YouTube (post-game press conference)

RECORD: 15-6-3 (7-5-0 ECAC, 14 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Joel Malchuk, 1 G, 1 A
2. F Chase Polacek, 1 G, 1 A
3. D Nick Bailen, 2 A

Upcoming games
28 Jan - Brown
29 Jan - #1 Yale (Big Red Freakout!)
04 Feb - at Quinnipiac
05 Feb - at #19 Princeton
11 Feb - Colgate

2 comments:

  1. Last year's class graduated without ever winning a Freakout. 2007 was a tie.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Right. Losing all four Freakouts.

    ReplyDelete