Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Men's Hockey - vs. Union (10 Dec)

On the big ice at Lake Placid, the Engineers had one last opportunity to gain a little bit of redemption before going into a nearly three-week winter break. For nearly 35 minutes, RPI looked like they were ready to give Union a run for their money in the annual non-conference matchup, but a slew of bad penalties and rough goals buried the team and doomed them to their 13th loss of the season - the same number as all of last year - before Christmas, falling 5-2.




Not too many changes to the lineup from the Quinnipiac game - Merriam returned in net, Cullen returned to replace Burgdoerfer on the Laliberte line, and Guy Leboeuf returned in place of Pat Koudys, whose absence was not explained. Otherwise, basically the same lines. Ryan Haggerty remained out with what has been reported as a bout of the flu, missing his third straight game, while Matt Neal remained out for the 11th straight outing with an ankle injury.

For the fifth time in six games, the Engineers got the all important first goal. Following a very early penalty kill, RPI struck first just as their first power play of the game was expiring. A blast by Jacob Laliberte was redirected in front by C.J. Lee, the junior's first goal of the season (though it was originally noted as Laliberte's goal, which would have been his third in as many games).

While scoring the first goal hasn't been a problem lately, only once - in RPI's game against RIT, scoring twice on a major power play - have the Engineers been able to take control by going up 2-0. That was not to be on Saturday afternoon, either, as Union got the tying goal with just under five minutes left in the first period, depriving RPI of a much needed first intermission boost - the Engineers have never led after one period in 16 games thus far.

Union made it 2-1 four minutes into the second period, but the Engineers, to their credit, did not back off as they did after giving up the lead in Troy against the Dutchmen. On the counter attack, a shot by Matt Tinordi was initially saved, and Mark McGowan was there to rifle home the rebound, tying the game up at two with McGowan's first career goal.

As the period wore on and the Engineers killed another penalty, it was beginning to look like they had an opportunity to fight for a win in the third period, but then the specter of bad penalties came down and snuffed out any opportunity to stay in things.

A cross-checking penalty was called against Guy Leboeuf with about five and a half minutes left in the second period, and while arguing the call, Seth Appert was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that for some reason was served by Guy Leboeuf as part of a new double minor. Making matters worse, Alex Angers-Goulet, one of the team's most crucial penalty killers, was called for boarding less than a minute later, giving Union a long 5-on-3 power play. It took more than a minute, but the Dutchmen eventually capitalized on the two man advantage, and then made it 4-2 with a minute and a half left in the period after a blown defensive assignment by Mike Bergin left Union with a breakaway which they capitalized on.

RPI got a pair of power plays early in the third period, but neither were even remotely successful. The Dutchmen added a third straight goal midway through the third to lock things down tight. RPI managed a total of 25 shots on goal in the game, and the Engineers got 10 on net in the third, but by that time they were already facing a deep deficit. Bryce Merriam made 27 saves in the loss.

Other junk - Want further proof of RPI's fall from grace? Union's win was their only game of the week, and yet they fell one spot and are now only ranked #11. Also ranked this week: #6 Notre Dame (split with Ferris State, up one), #7 Colorado College (split with Alaska-Anchorage, down one), #10 Ferris State (down one), #12 Colgate (tied Merrimack, no change), #13 Cornell (idle, up three), #17 UMass-Lowell (beat BC, lost to Northeastern, up one), and #19 Yale (lost to UMass, down two). Also receiving votes, Quinnipiac (45), Harvard (9), Clarkson (4) and RIT (3).

With 9 goals in the last 4 games - at least 2 in each for the first time since doing it 7 times in a row late last year - the Engineers offense is slowly improving, but is still among the bottom five offenses in the nation, all scoring under two goals per game.

The Engineers started the season by falling behind 1-0 in their first seven games and understandably went 1-6 during that stretch. They have since gone up 1-0 in six of the nine games since, but are 2-3 in those games, with the two being shutouts. The Engineers still have given up only one goal in games they've won, the first goal of the game in the second Minnesota State outing.

Matt Neal, who has played only four games due to injury, is the only freshman forward who has yet to record his first career goal. Freshmen have scored 7 of the team's 15 goals by forwards.

ECAC Standings (by win% in parentheses)
1 (1). Cornell - 13 pts (6-1-1)
2 (2). Colgate - 12 pts (6-2-0)
3 (8). Quinnipiac - 9 pts (3-4-3)
4 (3). Yale - 8 pts (4-2-0)
5 (4). Union - 8 pts (3-2-2)
6 (7). Harvard - 8 pts (3-3-2)
7 (10). St. Lawrence - 8 pts (4-5-0)
8 (9). Clarkson - 8 pts (3-4-2)
9 (6). Dartmouth - 7 pts (3-3-1)
10 (11). Princeton - 7 pts (3-7-1)
11 (5). Brown - 6 pts (3-3-0)
12 (12). RPI - 2 pts (1-6-0)

#10 Union vs. RPI
Non-Conference Game - Herb Brooks Arena (Lake Placid, NY)
12/10/11 - 4:00pm
RESULT: Union 5, RPI 2

College Hockey Stats

RECORD: 3-13-0 (1-6-0 ECAC, 2 pts)

Upcoming games
29 Dec - vs. #17 UMass-Lowell (Storrs, CT)
30 Dec - vs. Army OR at UConn (Storrs, CT)
06 Jan - Dartmouth
07 Jan - Harvard
10 Jan - American International

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