Thursday, October 13, 2011

Finish Line

The biggest takeaway that the Engineers have from last weekend's games against Minnesota State: finishing appears to be the issue of the moment.

Defensively, RPI looked very comfortable, which was something we mostly expected coming into the season. The blueliners are big and, to a man, talented at keeping offensive opportunities down. Both Bryce Merriam and Scott Diebold have impressed in net, making the saves they've needed to make and also making the saves that are a bit more difficult to make.

Offensively, however, the young core of forwards had a bit of a problem putting the puck away. They were shut out on Friday - partially because Austin Lee did a phenomenal job in net, but occasionally because the forwards simply couldn't move the puck at the right time to put it home. On Saturday, three of the four goals were scored on the perimeter by defensemen, while the fourth was on an open net and a defensive miscue by the other team.

The forwards playing this weekend against Ferris State are basically known - it's an all-hands on deck situation because of lingering injuries in the MASH unit to junior Greg Burgdoerfer and freshman Mark McGowan which have now added junior Marty O'Grady and sophomore Brock Higgs, leaving the Engineers with 12 healthy forwards on the roster.

It's good to know that there's offensive ability among the defensemen. We already knew Nick Bailen was a power play threat who's always willing to take the puck down below the faceoff circles to menace the opposing defense down low. Guy Leboeuf and Pat Koudys, in addition to being big, wield a big stick as well from the point, and even Luke Curadi (certainly not known for his scoring in juniors) uncorked a couple of slappers on Saturday as well.

Now it falls to the forwards. Higgs, Ryan Haggerty, Patrick Cullen, Alex Angers-Goulet, Zach Schroeder, and Jacob Laliberte all impressed last weekend with their ability to put themselves and the puck in a position to score goals on multiple occasions each. All they need to do now is get that finishing touch down. Higgs' injury is obviously a drawback, but with so many of the team's forwards right on the cusp of scoring last week, the potential is certainly there for breakout.

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