Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Men's Hockey - American International (10 Jan), at Union (14 Jan)

What a difference four days makes. Less than a week after finally getting the monkey off their back with a mid-week win over American International (3-1) that snapped a seven-game winless streak, the Engineers backslid considerably on Saturday, getting overwhelmed early with a long two-man penalty kill followed by two shorthanded goals given up on consecutive power plays, falling to Union 5-1 in a game they never really were in.

American International
Lee/Higgs/Schroeder 
Neal/McGowan/Haggerty
Laliberte/O'Grady/Tinordi
Cullen/Malchuk/Rabbani
Burgdoerfer

Leonard/Bergin
Leboeuf/Bailen
Koudys

Merriam

Following the tie against Harvard that snapped a losing streak of six straight, RPI played its final non-conference game of the season on a Tuesday without school being in session - it made for a pretty empty Field House to begin the game (plus no band), although the final attendance did reach over 3,000, which is impressive considering all of that and the team's record.

Alex Angers-Goulet suffered a leg injury against Harvard and was out of action - a sickness affecting a few undisclosed members of the team also had an effect on the lineup, which led to 13 forwards and 5 defensemen dressing for the game against the Yellow Jackets.

RPI dominated play throughout the first two periods as we have rarely seen them dominate all year. Through the first 40 minutes, the Engineers uncorked 31 shots, while Bryce Merriam saw only 6 - three in each period - on the other end of the ice. However, some very solid play by AIC goaltender Ben Meisner kept RPI from scoring in the first period despite 14 shots on goal. He kept the Engineers out of the net for the first 13 minutes or so of the second period as well; although RPI thoroughly controlled the game, it was 0-0 halfway through.

The Engineers finally broke through with a shot right off a faceoff win from the point. Marty O'Grady won a draw in the AIC zone back to Curtis Leonard, whose shot beat a screened Meisner for the freshman's first career goal and point, making it 1-0 RPI.

Another blast from the point made it 2-0 about five minutes later, as Greg Burgdoerfer found Nick Bailen at the blue line, and the junior defenseman ripped a shot that was saved by Meisner, but C.J. Lee, who had been robbed on a similar play by  Cab Morris against Dartmouth just a few days earlier, swatted home the rebound into an open net.

AIC found some life in the third period, as they began to control the puck more frequently. RPI had only 6 shots on goal in the final 20 minutes, while the Yellow Jackets pushed to get themselves back into the game, which they did on a 4-on-4 goal with three minutes left to play, cutting the RPI lead in half and placing things in doubt. Meisner was pulled from the net, and AIC had some good chances to draw level, but eventually Joel Malchuk scored RPI's first empty net goal of the season with 28 seconds remaining to seal the Engineers' fourth win of the season.

Regardless of the win, there was much to dislike about the game. RPI was 0-for-6 on the power play and could only manage two goals despite a total domination of the first two periods.

Union
Lee/Higgs/Schroeder 
Neal/McGowan/Haggerty
Laliberte/O'Grady/Tinordi
Rabbani/Malchuk/Burgdoerfer

Leonard/Bergin  
Leboeuf/Bailen
Curadi/Koudys

Diebold

It was hoped that the victory would give the Engineers the push they needed to bounce back into league play with a push for home ice, but it was not to be on Saturday in Schenectady. Although Union had been through a tough outdoor game the previous night in Boston (a 2-0 win over Harvard at Fenway Park), they appeared no worse for the wear against a relatively rested RPI squad.

The Engineers dressed 13 forwards for the pre-game warmup, and Patrick Cullen was removed from the lineup as a game-time decision.

If it could go wrong for RPI early on, it did. Matt Tinordi picked up a hitting from behind penalty just 2:13 into the game, and after getting burned on a move in his own zone, Curtis Leonard added a holding penalty 18 seconds later, giving Union a long 5-on-3. While the Dutchmen technically didn't capitalize on the two-man advantage, they scored two seconds after Tinordi's penalty expired, too early for RPI to add the fourth skater back to the defensive scheme, so it was functionally a 5-on-3 goal that put Union ahead 1-0.

It only got worse as RPI ostensibly got opportunities to draw even. On the Engineers' first power play chance three minutes later, a lazy effort moving down ice ended with Union moving quickly in transition and netting a shorthanded goal to make it 2-0. Four minutes after that, RPI's second power play resulted in yet another shorthanded goal, this one from an exceptionally lackadaisical pass in the defensive zone that caused a turnover right in front of Scott Diebold, who had no chance as Union went up 3-0 after about 13 minutes of play.

That was a bridge too far for the Engineers, but Union dominated play in the first two periods almost as much as RPI had against AIC - the only difference being that they managed goals during that domination. Another power play goal came in the latter half of the second period, making it 4-0.

RPI supposedly put 40 shots on net - a questionable tally - and got only one goal, oddly enough, coming in a shorthanded situation as Nick Bailen scored his fourth goal of the season with six minutes left to play, but by this time it was far too late. Union added an empty netter four minutes later for the final tally.

Both teams officially combined for 80 shots in the game (40 each), which again is questionable, but it does at least underscore perhaps the one player who had an OK game for the Engineers - Scott Diebold. He did not give up a single goal at even strength and was hung out to dry completely on three of the four goals he allowed.

RPI heads back on the road next weekend to face an unpredictable Brown team and an also-down-on-their-luck Yale squad. Time is running out for a turnaround.

Other junk - Ranked teams on the RPI schedule this week are #7 Notre Dame (down four), #9 Cornell (no change), #11 Colorado College (down three), #12 Union (up two), #13 Ferris State (no change), #14 UMass-Lowell (down three) and #18 Colgate (down six). Also receiving votes were Quinnipiac (15), Harvard (6), Minnesota State (4) and RIT (2).

The Engineers are now 6 points behind the rest of the field. To show how big of a gap that is, 11th place Dartmouth and St. Lawrence are 7 points behind first place. 8th place, the last home ice spot, is 7 points out as well. Not looking good for hockey at Houston Field House past Senior Night.

ECAC Standings (by win% in parentheses)
1 (1). Cornell - 16 pts (7-1-2)
2 (2). Union - 15 pts (6-2-3)
3 (8). Quinnipiac - 14 pts (5-5-4)
4 (3). Colgate - 12 pts (6-4-0)
5 (11). Princeton - 12 pts (5-8-2)
6 (4). Yale - 11 pts (5-4-1)
7 (7). Clarkson - 11 pts (4-4-3)
8 (6). Brown - 10 pts (4-4-2)
9 (9). Harvard - 10 pts (3-3-4)
10 (5). Dartmouth - 9 pts (4-4-1)
11 (10). St. Lawrence - 9 pts (4-6-1)
12 (12). RPI - 3 pts (1-8-1)

American International at RPI
Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/10/12- 7:00pm
RESULT: RPI 3, American International 1

BOX SCORES

RECAPS

RECORD: 4-16-1 (1-7-1 ECAC, 3 pts)

RPI at #14 Union
ECAC Game -  Achilles Center (Schenectady, NY)
1/14/12 - 7:00pm
RESULT: Union 5, RPI 1

BOX SCORES

RECAPS

RECORD: 4-17-1 (1-8-1 ECAC, 3 pts)

Upcoming games
20 Jan - at Brown
21 Jan - at Yale
27 Jan - St. Lawrence
28 Jan - Clarkson
03 Feb - #9 Cornell

No comments:

Post a Comment