Sunday, January 29, 2012

Women's Hockey - Union Home & Home (27/28 Jan)

With it looking more and more like a two-team race for the final playoff spot between RPI and Brown, no weekend could be more important for the Engineers to take four points than the home-and-home against Union - and that's exactly what RPI did. After earning a 3-1 victory on Friday which saw Union melt down and take three penalties in the game's final minute, the Engineers dominated Saturday's game from start to finish to earn a 3-0 shutout and move into a tie with Brown for the eighth spot in the standings.

Friday (at Union)

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

Castignetti/Marzario
Le Donne/Vadner
Walsh

O'Brien

RPI's top line combined for eight points at Union's Messa Rink on Friday, with freshman Eleeza Cox scoring her tenth goal and tacking assists on both of RPI's other goals, while senior Jill Vandegrift had assists on all three Engineer tallies.

Cox opened the scoring at 13:42 of the opening period, collecting a pass from Jordan Smelker and slid a five-hole backhand shot past Union goalie Kate Gallagher.

The second period saw the teams trade only a few penaltes and the Engineers held just a 15-13 edge in shots on goal by the end of the second period in what was becoming a little closer of an affair than the Engineers might have preferred.

While the Engineers appeared to be scrambling a little bit early in the third, there was no need for concern by the time the period hit its midpoint, as Smelker scored her ninth goal at 9:56 in a bid to keep pace with Cox. Cox picked up the primary assist on the goal, feeding Smelker for a wrist shot past Gallagher.

Sierra Vadner pushed the RPI lead to 3-0 just two minutes later, precisely redirecting a pass from Smelker on an odd-man rush to leave Gallagher little chance at a save.

Union would get one back about a minute and a half after Vadner's goal, with Maddy Norton earning her first goal of the season on a deflection past RPI's Kelly O'Brien. That would be the end of the offense for Union. The Dutchwomen would combine for three penalties in the span of 48 seconds in the game's final minute, completely losing their composure to the point where one of the calls (a checking penalty) would likely have been a penalty even in the men's league, where checking is allowed.

The win moved RPI to within two points of eighth place, setting them up to move into a tie with Brown following Saturday's game.

Saturday (vs. Union)

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

Castignetti/Marzario
Le Donne/Vadner
Walsh/Schilter

O'Brien

Unlike Friday's tilt, which actually was pretty strongly contested by the Dutchwomen, Saturday afternoon's game showed a much wider disparity between the teams as the Engineers more than tripled Union in shots on goal and picked up a goal in each period while cruising to a 3-0 shutout - Kelly O'Brien's third of the season for her second straight win.

Eleeza Cox scored the opening goal at 10:22 of the first period, beating a pair of Union defenders while rushing down ice one-on-two before firing the puck past Shenae Lundberg for a 1-0 lead. Cox would go on to score the next goal as well, with just 26 seconds remaining in the second period.

Six penalties passed in the second without either team being able to capitalize on the man advantage; RPI in particular suffered from a lack of shots on each of their three advantages in the frame, earning just seven shots total in the second. Cox's tally would come off a pass from Taylor Mahoney which was nicely redirected past Lundberg.

RPI remedied its lack of shots on the final period, racking up an astonishing 22-1 margin in the third. Four consecutive Union penalties would be killed by a surprisingly effective PK squad for the Dutchwomen, but the Engineers would instead pick up a shorthanded goal as Jordan Smelker fired one into the empty Union net with 1:47 left in regulation to seal the 3-0 victory.

With three weekends left in the regular season, it doesn't get any easier for the Engineers, who still have games against Cornell, Harvard, and Dartmouth on the schedule. Fortunately, Brown faces four out of the same six teams as the Engineers, also facing Clarkson and St. Lawrence in place of the Engineers' matchups against Princeton and Quinnipiac. Remarkably similar schedules for two teams battling to make the playoffs, and both will play four out of six on the road to round out the regular season. RPI travels to Cornell Friday night to take on the #2 Big Red (7pm) before facing Colgate (another must-win as the Raiders trail RPI by five points) at 4pm Saturday.

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RPI at Union
ECAC Hockey Game – Messa Rink (Schenectady, NY)
1/27/12 – 3:00pm
RPI 3, Union 1

BOX SCORES:

RECAPS:

RECORD: 7-16-4 (4-9-2 ECAC)

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RPI vs. Union
ECAC Hockey Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/28/12 – 3:00pm
RPI 3, Union 0

BOX SCORES:

RECAPS:

RECORD: 8-16-4 (5-9-2 ECAC)

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ECAC Standings (all teams have played 16 games)
                Pts   Conf     All
Cornell 28 14-2 19-3
Harvard 23 11-4-1 14-6-1
Dartmouth 22 10-4-2 14-6-2
Clarkson 22 10-4-2 16-7-5
Quinnipiac 22 10-4-2 15-10-2
St. Lawrence 20 9-5-2 15-8-4
Princeton 16 7-7-2 8-10-4
Brown 12 4-8-4 7-9-7
Rensselaer 12 5-9-2 8-16-4
Colgate 7 3-12-1 8-18-1
Union 6 2-12-2 4-20-4
Yale 2 1-15 1-22
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Upcoming Games

Feb. 3 - at Cornell (7pm)
Feb. 4 - at Colgate (4pm)
Feb. 10 - Harvard (7pm)
Feb. 11 - Dartmouth (Senior Night) (4pm)
Feb. 17 - at Princeton (7pm)
Feb. 18 - at Quinnipiac (4pm)

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