Monday, February 21, 2011

Men's Hockey - at St. Lawrence and Clarkson (18/19 Feb)

Earning road weekend splits is a good way to position yourself for a first-round bye, as long as you're taking care of business at home as well. RPI finished off their ECAC road schedule with another split, giving them four splits and a 3-point weekend among their five league road weekends. In the North Country, the Engineers had to endure a tough 5-3 loss to a very game St. Lawrence team, but they picked up a convincing 5-1 victory over Clarkson the next night.

St. Lawrence
Lee/Polacek/Helfrich
Cullen/Higgs/Rabbani
Angers-Goulet/O'Grady/Brutlag
Halpern/Malchuk/Smith

Koudys/Foss
Kennedy/Dolan
Leboeuf/Bailen

York

All eyes were on Allen York as he made his return to the RPI lineup after missing three full games and part of a fourth due to a concussion. Meanwhile, hopes that Mike Bergin would return to the lineup were not realized, as he would miss his fifth and sixth consecutive games since picking up a leg injury in the Freakout!.

The game could not have started off much worse for the Engineers. St. Lawrence won the faceoff and immediately started pressuring in the RPI zone, keeping the puck in almost as though they were on the power play until they scored the first goal of the game just 1:24 in to make it 1-0.

The Engineers responded three and a half minutes later on the power play, as Josh Rabbani scored on a rebound a minute into RPI's first man advantage of the night to tie the score. That would not last terrible long, however, as Guy Leboeuf was called for roughing about two minutes later, and St. Lawrence's freshman phenom Greg Carey gave them the lead back on the ensuing faceoff, scoring just 4 seconds into the Leboeuf penalty to put the Saints back on top.

RPI would have plenty of chances to tie things up again during the remainder of the first period, especially when SLU was called for too many men while they were already killing a penalty, giving the Engineers a 5-on-3 for over a minute for the third consecutive game, and like the previous two, they did not convert. They even had third power play opportunity before the end of the period that was also wasted. Despite starting off the night 1-for-1, RPI ultimately went 1-for-4 on the advantage in the first period and finished the night 1-for-6.

Carey scored his second goal of the night with a pinpointed laser of a shot that simply placed the puck in a part of the net where York wasn't to make it 3-1 early in the 2nd period. Later on in the period, as a penalty to Pat Koudys was expiring, the Saints got a fourth goal that was at least inspired by the power play if not technically a power play goal, giving SLU a commanding 4-1 lead that they would hold after two periods.

It wasn't so much that the Engineers were playing poorly per se, although they did have some top players who had rough games, it was more an issue with St. Lawrence playing exceptionally well as a team. That was displayed in lights early in the third period. Just one minute after Jeff Foss scored his third goal of the year of the year off a rip from the point to cut the lead to 4-2 (the much ballyhooed "worst lead in hockey"), the Saints answered right back, scoring on an impossible angle shot that Allen York appeared to either not see, or straight gave up on. At any rate, the fifth goal of the night for St. Lawrence ended York's night, and Bryce Merriam made his fifth consecutive appearance in net for the Engineers.

Merriam stopped all seven shots he saw, but the Engineers could not claw their way back. C.J. Lee did net his fifth goal of the season with four and a half minutes to play and Merriam was pulled for much of the remainder of the game, but it was too little too late for RPI as they fell, 5-3. It was RPI's third consecutive loss, the first time this season they have dropped more than two in a row.

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

Bailen/Foss
Leboeuf/Kennedy
Koudys/Dolan

York

The shakeup to the lineup was immediate and intriguing. Although C.J. Lee appeared to be favoring his shoulder late in the Friday game, he was scratched due to a coach's decision rather than an injury. Brock Higgs, for the first time, was moved off to the left wing, and Tyler Helfrich was placed on the fourth line alongside Matt Tinordi and Johnny Rogic.

For the second night in a row - and the third consecutive game - the Engineers got off to a bad start by giving up the first goal of the night. This one came in similar fashion to one of St. Lawrence's goals as the Golden Knights scored just three seconds into an elbowing penalty against Nick Bailen, giving Clarkson a 1-0 lead only 2:48 into the contest.

The Engineers started off slowly, but gradually began putting pucks on net, ending the first period with the shot totals tied 8-8 despite being down 1-0. The second period was a different story, as RPI outshot Clarkson 4 to 1 during the middle stanza. The persistence paid off midway through the period as RPI finally got on the board with a putback goal from Marty O'Grady, who notched his sixth goal of the year to bring things level.

RPI was the beneficiary of a late penalty to Clarkson in the second period, called at 20:00 to give them fresh legs and a fresh sheet of ice for a full two-minute power play to start the third, but they were unable to take advantage. That didn't matter two minutes later as Johnny Rogic scored on a rebound following a wraparound try by Matt Tinordi, putting the Engineers in front for the first time on the weekend, 2-1.

The Engineers killed a pair of penalties during the period, and Allen York was brilliant in the third, showing that exceptional lateral movement that has served him well all season. He made 20 saves on 21 shots during the course of the game.

Greg Burgdoerfer's third goal of the year midway through the third gave RPI an important two-goal cushion, and Guy Leboeuf sealed it with his first career goal into an empty net with under two minutes remaining, lofting it high in the air from just over the red line in the neutral zone and watching it bounce down and into the net.

That wasn't the end, however, though the final goal was more of a testament to the forechecking, defensive, and penalty killing ability of Alex Angers-Goulet. A slashing call against Joel Malchuk put Clarkson on the power play for the remainder of the game, but in the final seconds, a pokecheck while forechecking from Angers-Goulet resulted in a breakaway in the Clarkson zone, which he put away with 4.2 seconds left in the game, giving RPI a 5-1 victory.

RPI now sits in fifth place, one point behind Cornell and Dartmouth, who are tied for third. Things are very simple for RPI from here - if they win a pair this weekend and see Cornell drop at least one, they won't have to hit the road again until a potential trip down the Garden State Parkway to the Atlantic City Expressway. Sure, it's a bit of a longer drive than the 10-minute trip down I-787 that we never got to take, but it's the new goal.

Other junk - No movement for RPI this week in the USCHO.com poll, as the split weekend kept them ranked #14 in the nation. Ranked past opponents this week are #3 Yale (no change, swept Quinnipiac/Princeton), #5 Union (up two, swept Clarkson/SLU), #15 Boston University (no change), #18 Dartmouth (down two, swept by Colgate/Cornell), and #19 Colorado College (down one). Also receiving votes this week were Princeton (33), Cornell (24), RIT (20), and Northeastern (3).

Congratulations to Tyler Helfrich, who earned his 100th career point on Saturday with an assist on Johnny Rogic's goal. He is the 61st member of the RPI Century Club.

A very rare pointless weekend for Chase Polacek leaves him tied with Barry Martinelli '76, for 20th all time with 155 points. He needs two points to tie Larry Landon '81 for 19th with 157.

I was mistaken about the all-time lead for games played in an RPI uniform - apparently RPI's online records have not been updated to reflect last year, when Peter Merth set the record with 151 games. That does still put Polacek and Jeff Foss on pace to set the all-time record provided they stay healthy and in the lineup - they would break the record in the team's second playoff game.

With Matt Tinordi and Guy Leboeuf breaking onto the scoresheet for the first time in their collegiate careers, Kevin Beauregard, who has appeared in only one game this season, is the only skater who has not registered a point this year.

14 different Engineers have registered at least 3 goals so far this year. That includes every forward that has scored a goal.

ECAC Standings
1. Union - 16-3-1 (33 pts)
2. Yale - 16-4-0 (32 pts)
3. Cornell - 11-7-2 (24 pts)
4. Dartmouth - 11-7-2 (24 pts)
5. RPI - 11-8-1 (23 pts)
6. Princeton - 10-8-2 (22 pts)
7. Clarkson - 8-11-1 (17 pts)
8. Quinnipiac - 6-9-5 (17 pts)
9. Brown - 6-11-2 (14 pts)
10. St. Lawrence - 6-12-1 (13 pts)
11. Colgate - 4-14-2 (10 pts)
12. Harvard - 4-14-1 (9 pts)

#14 RPI at St. Lawrence
ECAC Game - Appleton Arena (Canton, NY)
2/18/11 - 7:00pm

RESULT: St. Lawrence 5, RPI 3

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS
RPI
Troy Record
Watertown Daily Times

RECORD: 18-9-4 (10-8-1 ECAC, 21 pts)

Reale Deals
1. F Josh Rabbani, 1 G
2. D Jeff Foss, 1 G
3. F Joel Malchuk, 1 A, +1

#14 RPI at Clarkson
ECAC Game - Cheel Arena (Potsdam, NY)
2/19/11 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 5, Clarkson 1

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS
RPI
Troy Record
Watertown Daily Times

RECORD: 19-9-4 (11-8-1 ECAC, 23 pts)

Reale Deals
1. G Allen York, 20 saves
2. F Matt Tinordi, 1 A
3. F Alex Angers-Goulet, 1 G

Upcoming games
25 Feb - Princeton
26 Feb - Quinnipiac (Senior Night)
04 Mar - ECAC First Round Game 1 (if necessary)
05 Mar - ECAC First Round Game 2 (if necessary)
06 Mar - ECAC First Round Game 3 (if necessary)

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