A win or two this weekend would have gone a long way toward securing a more favorable playoff spot for the Engineers, but a pair of losses to Clarkson and St. Lawrence saw RPI back into the 8th and final playoff spot which is accompanied by a less-than-desirable trip to face Cornell in the ECAC Quarterfinals next weekend. After falling 2-1 to Clarkson on Friday night, the Engineers saw a repeat on the scoreboard in a 2-1 loss to SLU on Saturday, despite playing significantly better than they did the night before.
Van der Bliek
Clarkson struck early in the first period, netting a pair of goals on a delayed penalty and the ensuing power play – the rules having been changed this season so that a goal on a delayed penalty does not wave off the penalty. With the net empty and the extra attacker on for the delayed call, Clarkson defenseman Vanessa Plante fired a shot through traffic which Sonja van der Bliek stopped, but Juana Baribeau was there for the Knights to put home the rebound for a 1-0 lead.
A minute into the ensuing power play, it was another rebound shot that put Clarkson up 2-0. Melissa Waldie put a shot off van der Bliek which Jamie-Lee Rattray corralled and put past the sprawling netminder to double the Knights’ lead.
Rattray would factor in the game’s next goal as well, but for the wrong reason. Sent off for hooking, Rattray watched from the penalty box as the Engineers cycled in the offensive zone, feeding a pass to Andie Le Donne, who rifled a shot toward the net. Taylor Horton tipped the shot in front and past Clarkson goalie Erica Howe to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Engineers would go on to dominate the second period, posting an 8-3 advantage in shots, but couldn’t solve Howe in net. The tide turned back in Clarkson’s favor in the third, and although the Knights didn’t score another, it wasn’t for lack of trying behind a whopping 15 shots on goal. With van der Bliek on the bench late in regulation in favor of an extra attacker, Clarkson had several opportunities at the empty net, but rang one shot off the post and had another stopped by freshman Toni Sanders to keep it at 2-1. RPI would manage just 4 shots in the final frame and Clarkson would hold on for the 2-1 victory.
The loss dropped RPI into a 3-way tie for 8th place and set up a must-win game for the regular season finale if the Engineers wanted to be guaranteed a playoff spot. As we would find out on Saturday, the Engineers would choose the hard way to get into the playoffs instead.
Van der Bliek
With SLU sitting in 7th place and RPI in 8th, just two points back, the standings had set up a big showdown in the regular season’s final game on Saturday. A win by RPI would move them into a tie with SLU, and even with two other teams in range to tie, RPI would have held all the tiebreakers and been guaranteed the 7th spot. Instead, the Engineers settled for a disappointing loss on Senior Night, but made the playoffs anyway thanks to Colgate and Yale both losing.
Saturday was RPI’s turn for an early goal, and it came just 52 seconds into the first period when Alisa Harrison picked up a rebound in a scramble beside SLU netminder Maxie Weisz. Harrison poked the puck home for a 1-0 lead before the game’s first minute had elapsed.
After the early goal, the teams settled down a little and played several minutes of exciting back-and-forth hockey, with both goaltenders forced to make some impressive saves. After being bottled up for some time by a tenacious SLU forecheck near the middle of the period, a series of RPI turnovers were quickly converted by the Saints’ Lauren Brozowski who broke across the crease with the puck and beat van der Bliek to tie the game at one.
Karell Emard notched the deciding goal for the Saints in the middle of the second period as she fired a laser over van der Bliek’s glove on a 2-on-2 rush down ice. RPI would get a chance at the equalizer with 1:36 left in the second, as Amanda Castignetti broke past the Saints defense on a breakaway. Castignetti was hooked from behind and the official signaled penalty shot, but RPI coach John Burke elected to make use of the rule allowing the coach to opt for a 2-minute minor in place of a penalty shot.
This proved to be a missed opportunity for the Engineers as 26 second later, a SLU player dove into the boards under pressure from Jordan Smelker and drew a boarding call to negate the lion’s share of the RPI power play. Although RPI would get several good chances at the tying score, including nearly two minutes of extra attacker play, Weisz would hold strong for the Saints and secure the 7th seed for St. Lawrence.
With the loss, RPI ended the season with 18 points, tied with Colgate and Yale on the season. By virtue of head-to-head record, RPI won the 3-way tie and secured the 8th spot and a trip to Ithaca next weekend to face Cornell.
Here are the matchups for the ECAC Quarterfinals:
No. 1 Cornell vs. No. 8 RPI – Lynah Rink (Ithaca, NY)
No. 2 Harvard vs. No. 7 SLU – Bright Hockey Center (Boston, MA)
No. 3 Dartmouth vs. No. 6 Clarkson – Thompson Arena (Hanover, NH)
No. 4 Princeton vs. No. 5 Quinnipiac – Baker Rink (Princeton, NJ)
Keep an eye out during the week for a preview of the RPI-Cornell series, along with a brief summary of the other three matchups.
RPI vs. Clarkson
ECAC Hockey Game –Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/18/11 – 7:00pm
Clarkson 2, RPI 1
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1011/boxes/wclkren1.f18
Video Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI3gXB7osA0
RECORD: 10-15-7 (8-11-2 ECAC)
RPI vs. St. Lawrence
ECAC Hockey Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/19/11 – 4:00pm
SLU 2, RPI 1
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1011/boxes/wrenstl1.f19
Video Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAYdLBLSdus
RECORD: 10-16-7 (8-12-2 ECAC)
Final ECAC Standings
Pts ECAC All
1. Cornell 41 20-1-1 26-2-1
2. Harvard 31 14-5-3 15-10-4
3. Dartmouth 30 15-7 19-9
4. Princeton 27 13-8-1 16-12-1
5. Quinnipiac 25 12-9-1 20-11-3
6. Clarkson 24 10-8-4 13-15-6
7. St. Lawrence 22 11-11 16-16-2
8. Rensselaer 18 8-12-2 10-16-7
9. Colgate 18 8-12-2 11-19-3
10. Yale 18 8-12-2 9-17-3
11. Brown 6 1-17-4 2-23-4
12. Union 4 1-19-2 2-29-3
Feb. 25-27 – ECAC Quarterfinals at Cornell (best-of-3, game times TBA)
Mar. 3 (Thu)– ECAC Semifinals (campus sites of top 2 remaining seeds)
Mar. 5 (Sat) – ECAC Finals (3pm, at the top remaining seed)