Entering the final weekend of the regular season, RPI needed to pick up more points than Brown while staying ahead of Colgate in order to make the playoffs. While Colgate and Brown each did their part to help the Engineers by getting swept, RPI was unable to pick up any points of their own in a 2-1 loss to Princeton followed by a 5-1 loss to Quinnipiac. The results of the weekend knocked the Engineers out of the playoffs by virtue of Brown's head-to-head tiebreaker win with RPI, ending the 2011-12 season.
Scoring first wasn't enough to give RPI control against Princeton, as the Tigers answered RPI's opener with two goals of their own to take a 2-1 victory at Baker Rink on Friday.
The Engineers lit the lamp just 23 seconds into the game, when Taylor Mahoney skated down the left side and beat Rachel Weber for a 1-0 lead. Princeton fought back from the goal and controlled play for much of the first period, earning a power play before the middle of the period. While the Tigers were unable to capitalize on the power play chance, they tied the game only a minute after the penalty expired. Denna Laing was able to get control of a rebound in front of RPI netminder Kelly O'Brien, and push it past her to make it a 1-1 game at 10:43.
RPI would manage just three shots on goal in the opening period despite a 5-on-3 power play opportunity, and Princeton continued to hold fast in the second period, killing another penalty before gaining the lead at 6:13. Julie Johnson fed a pass to Sally Butler who was open in front of the RPI net, and Butler put it past O'Brien for a 2-1 lead.
Princeton would hold that lead against a furious effort from the Engineers in the third period, including a breakaway chance by Taylor Horton - which, along with a rebound opportunity were stopped by Weber. The Tigers nearly put the game away with an empty net shot which rang off the pipe, and Weber made one final save in the game's closing moments to secure the win.
When one team comes into a game with its back to the wall, needing points to keep their season alive, and the other has their playoff seed already determined, with no possible impact from the ensuing game, you might expect to see a disparity in intensity between the two. That was exactly the case on Saturday, except it was in the exact opposite direction from what one would anticipate, with sixth-seeded Quinnipiac trouncing RPI 5-1 to end the Engineers' season.
Sophomore Kelly Babstock led the Bobcats with a hat trick capped off with an empty net goal late in the third period, and Victoria Vigilanti made 18 saves on 19 shots to help Quinnipiac end their regular season (and senior night) on a high note.
The first period was somewhat tentative from both squads, testing the waters and not taking many chances. The Engineers killed the period's only penalty and outshot their hosts 6-4, but none were great oppotunities to score.
Penalties cost the Engineers dearly in the second period, as three consecutive power play chances for Quinnipiac were quickly converted into a pair of goals. With Toni Sanders in the box for checking, Breann Frykas tapped a rebound past Brianna Piper at 7:09, and Babstock scored her first of the afternoon at 12:52, just 15 seconds into a penalty on Taylor Horton for high sticking.
Babstock turned it into a 3-0 lead just over three minutes later, collecting a turnover in the RPI zone and casually skating it to the net to deposit it in the back of the net. Quinnipiac finally took their first penalty of the game at 16:39 but the Engineers mustered little pressure on the power play opportunity.
Toni Sanders drew the Engineers to within two, but it wasn't until nearly 15 minutes into the final period, and too late to spark a serious comeback attempt. Babstock completed her hat trick with an empty netter at 16:21, and Bethany Dymarczyk notched another at 19:28 when RPI pulled Piper for a 6-on-4 advantage on a power play. The shorthanded tally made it 5-1 and the score held. Alicia Miksic, RPI's graduate student third goalie, played out the final 32 seconds in net in what would be her first and last game action for the team.
With the loss, RPI's season comes to an end and the Engineers miss the playoffs for just the second time since joining the ECAC (and first time since 2007-08). The preseason polls predicted an 8th place finish for the Engineers, and they were off only by a tiebreaker for RPI (although the coaches picked Brown for 11th, not to take the final playoff spot). A disappointing end to a frustrating season - but as it is with any disappointing finish - there's always next year.
RPI vs. Princeton
ECAC Hockey Game – Baker Rink (Princeton, NJ)
2/17/12 – 7:00pm
Princeton 2, RPI 1
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1112/boxes/wprnren1.f17
RECORD: 9-20-4 (6-13-2 ECAC)
RPI vs. Quinnipiac
ECAC Hockey Game – TD Bank Sports Center (Hamden, CT)
2/18/12 – 4:00pm
Quinnipiac 5, RPI 1
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1112/boxes/wquiren1.f18
RECORD: 9-19-4 (6-12-2 ECAC)
Final ECAC Standings
Pts Conf All
1 Cornell 40 20-2 26-3
2 Harvard 35 17-4-1 20-8-1
3 Clarkson 32 15-5-2 21-8-5
4 Dartmouth 30 14-6-2 18-8-2
5 St. Lawrence 30 14-6-2 20-9-4
6 Quinnipiac 26 12-8-2 17-14-2
7 Princeton 22 10-10-2 12-13-4
8 Brown 14 5-13-4 8-14-7
9 Rensselaer 14 6-14-2 9-21-4
10 Colgate 12 5-15-2 10-21-2
11 Union 6 2-18-2 4-26-4
12 Yale 3 1-20-1 1-27-1
#8 Brown at #1 Cornell
#7 Princeton at #2 Harvard
#6 Quinnipiac at #3 Clarkson
#5 St. Lawrence at #4 Dartmouth