Sunday, November 13, 2011

Women's Hockey - at Brown & Yale (11/12 Nov)

If there was ever a time to turn around the Engineers' troubled season start, this would be it. Hitting the road to take on Brown and Yale, teams both predicted to finish among the bottom of the league, RPI needed to pick up some points and break out of their offensive funk. They did just that as the weekend progressed, managing only a 2-2 tie against Brown on Friday before shellacking Yale 5-0 on Saturday behind a hat trick from freshman Eleeza Cox.

Brown

Smelker/Cox/Horton
Harrison/Guillemette/Vandegrift
Sanders/Mahoney/Svoboda
Letuligasenoa

Castignetti/Vadner
Le Donne/Schilter
Walsh/Marzario

O'Brien

Brown's record last season would seem to indicate a team that didn't have much going for them, but they gave RPI trouble, winning the teams' first meeting and holding a 2-0 lead in the other past the midpoint of the third period before breaking down and letting the Engineers roar back for the win. That tough competition returned in the teams' first meeting of the 2011-12 season as the Bears and Engineers skated to a 2-2 tie at Meehan Auditorium.

A scoreless first period passed with limited interruptions as the scoresheet shows just a single RPI penalty in the frame, with a 10-5 RPI shot advantage. Momentum would shift in the Bears' favor in the second, but only for a matter of moments.

Just past the midpoint of the middle frame, a defensive turnover by RPI left Brown's Katelyn Landry all alone against Kelly O'Brien. Landry was stopped on her first try as well as the ensuing rebound, but the puck sat in the crease after the stop, allowing Skyelar Siwak to sneak in from the side and poke it past O'Brien for a 1-0 lead at 10:33.

The score didn't hold for long. Just 45 seconds later, Toni Sanders knotted the score at one on a quick feed from Taylor Horton following a save on Eleeza Cox. The pass made its way through traffic in the crease to a wide open Sanders who put it home and kill the Bears' momentum in a hurry.

A Brown tripping penalty assessed on the same play left the Engineers on the power play immediately following the goal, and they capitalized quickly to turn the 1-0 defecit into a 2-1 lead. Taylor Horton carried the puck into the offensive zone, dropped it for the defense and headed to the net, and was rewarded with a rebound opportunity on an ensuing shot which she snuck past a sprawling Aubree Moore to put the Engineers ahead at the 12:08 mark - less than a minute after tying the game.

RPI kept strong pressure throughout the remainder of the second and the third, but Brown's Sarah Robson singlehandedly tied the game back up, carrying the puck deep into the RPI end, outworking a defender in the corner, and taking a dipsy-doodle path to the front of the net to beat O'Brien and make it a 2-2 game.

Continued RPI pressure, including a power play opportunity later in the third, did not give the Engineers the look at the net they needed to retake the lead, and the game went into overtime, ending in a 2-2 tie, but allowing the Engineers to at least take a point from the game.

Yale

Smelker/Cox/Horton
Harrison/Guillemette/Vandegrift
Sanders/Mahoney/Svoboda
Letuligasenoa

Castignetti/Schilter
Vadner/Walsh
Marzario

Piper

The preseason coaches' poll may have gotten the bottom end of the league wrong based on early results, as both Union and Brown have shown promise so far, while Yale has apparently regressed even further from last year's underwhelming performance, with an overtime win over Union (in which the Bulldogs were outshot 31-24) marking their only win in nine games. In that stretch, only twice have they given up three or fewer goals.

RPI took advantage of Yale's struggles and used them to break out of their own offensive funk. Scoring in bunches - specifically with a hat trick from Eleeza Cox, shutting down Yale's offense entirely, and a shutout by Brianna Piper netted RPI its first win of the ECAC season.

Cox opened the scoring late in the first period with Yale's Stephanie Mock off for a hooking call. Cox took the puck from the board and slid into the slot where a weak backhander snuck through traffic and past Yale's Genny Ladiges. Jordan Smelker and Alisa Harrison picked up assists on the goal.

Jill Vandegrift doubled the Engineers' lead at 16:40 of the second when she put a rebound off Taylor Mahoney's shot past Ladiges to make it 2-0. Jordan Smelker, who herself notched a hat trick against Yale exactly one year prior, opened it up to 3-0 at 19:09 as she broke in on Ladiges alone and ripped a shot top shelf.

Early in the third period, RPI was awarded a penalty shot when Yale's Madi Murray closed her hand on the puck in the crease. Cox took the shot, skating in and deking several times before slipping a backhand shot past the outstretched leg of Ladiges and extending the lead to a commanding 4-0.

Cox completed the hat trick about three minutes later, threading a shot under Ladiges' arm through traffic to make it 5-0 and close out the scoring. All told, the Engineers finished the game with a seriously lopsided 52-15 edge in shots on goal, in a game they controlled from the opening faceoff to the final buzzer.

While Yale is not top flight competition by any means, teams need to be able to soundly defeat teams they should beat, and RPI did just that on Saturday. After a disappointing tie against Brown on Friday, RPI came out strong, dictated the flow of the game, and never let off the gas en route to Saturday's win.

The Engineers will face much, much stronger competition next weekend as the top-ranked and defending national champion Wisconsin Badgers come to Troy for a pair of games at the Field House. Wisconsin won last year's pair of games by a combined 13-0 score and has already jumped out to an 11-1 record this season, so RPI will have its hands more than full for the weekend.

With the men off next weekend, expect to see WRPI cover the games against Wisconsin, although it is not currently listed on their broadcast schedule. Video and live stats will be available as usual through the RPI Athletics website, and live tweets from HFH can be found @without_a_peer.

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RPI vs. Brown
ECAC Hockey Game – Meehan Auditorium (Providence, RI)
11/11/11 – 7:00pm
RPI 2, Brown 2 (OT)

BOX SCORES:

RECAPS:

RECORD: 2-7-4 (0-3-2 ECAC)

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RPI vs. Yale
ECAC Hockey Game – Ingalls Rink (New Haven, CT)
11/12/11 – 4:00pm
RPI 5, Yale 0

BOX SCORES:

RECAPS:

RECORD: 3-7-4 (1-3-2 ECAC)

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Upcoming Games

Nov. 18 - Wisconsin (7pm)
Nov. 19 - Wisconsin (4pm)
Nov. 25 - Syracuse (7pm)
Nov. 26 - Syracuse (4pm)
Dec. 2 - at Clarkson (7pm)
Dec. 3 - at St. Lawrence (4pm)

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