Monday, February 13, 2012

Women's Hockey - Harvard & Dartmouth (10/11 Feb)

Sometimes teams lose games others expect them to win, and other times they win when they are expected to lose. The Engineers pulled one out of the second column on Saturday, upsetting Dartmouth 4-2 a day after falling to Harvard by the same score.

With the win, RPI stays in the hunt for the final ECAC playoff spot, keeping in a 2-way tie for 8th with Brown. While Colgate is still in the mix - just two points behind - the odds are, whichever of Brown and RPI takes more points next weekend will be heading to Ithaca to face Cornell in the playoffs.

Harvard

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

Castignetti/Vadner
Le Donne/Marzario
Walsh/Schilter

O'Brien

While most of the attention has been on Cornell this season, Harvard has put together an impressive record as usual, and showed on Friday night why they're second in the ECAC and top-10 nationally. The Crimson, led by a two-goal effort from sophomore Marissa Gedman, outmatched the Engineers and foiled a late comback bid en route to a 4-2 victory.

Harvard dominated the first period from the opening faceoff, allowing just three shots to the Engineers in the entire opening frame. Of the Crimson's 11 shots, it was Samantha Reber's at 14:46 which opened the scoring. Skating from the near boards into the slot, Reber fired one past Kelly O'Brien to make it 1-0.

It was all Gedman in the second period, as she broke open the scoring on two consecutive power plays early in the middle period. She took a wrister through traffic to make it 2-0 at 5:00, then collected a failed clearing attempt at 9:01 and turned it into Harvard's third goal.

The game quickly looked to be getting out of hand for RPI when the Crimson scored their fourth just 3:29 into the third period. Lindsay Fry took a brillian cross-ice pass through traffic and quickly snuck it past O'Brien for the score.

RPI mounted a comeback attempt - and notched two goals in about a minute and a half, but it wasn't enough to overcome the four-goal defecit. Laura Guillemette capitalized on a misplayed puck behind the Crimson net to fire one into a wide open cage, then Taylor Horton banged a rebound past Laura Bellamy shortly after to bring it to within two. The scoring would stop there, and the Crimson would take advantage of three consecutive RPI penalties late in the period to hold off the Engineers and secure the win.

Dartmouth

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

Castignetti/Marzario
Le Donne/Vadner
Walsh/Schilter

Piper

With Colgate earning a point on Friday and moving into a three-way tie with Brown and RPI, things were just as jumbled as ever in the fight to make the playoffs. Making things more interesting - Brown and Colgate faced each other while RPI challenged Dartmouth, guaranteeing one or both would pick up points on the afternoon. Brown won that contest, 3-2, but the Engineers kept pace by turning around a bad start to roar back to an impressive 4-2 victory over Dartmouth and gain an improbable two points on the weekend.

It was a less than stellar start for the Engineers, who surrendered two goals on Dartmouth's first three shots. Karlee Odland beat Brianna Piper on a 2-on-1 at 3:42, and Camille Dumais doubled that lead just over a minute later at 4:50 when she picked up a rebound and put it over the sprawling RPI netminder. It was a troubling start to an otherwise good period for RPI, which saw them outshoot the visitors by a 12-5 margin.

The start of the middle period shifted back in Dartmouth's favor, with the Engineers having to kill a pair of penalties, but as the game pushed past its midpoint, RPI picked things up and eventually launched one of the more impressive comebacks in recent memory.

With four minutes left in the second period, RPI trailed 2-0. By the time the teams headed to the locker rooms, the Engineers were sporting a 3-2 lead and had the Big Green reeling.

Taylor Mahoney got RPI on the board first, smashing a rebound from Alisa Harrison past Lindsay Holdcroft at 16:43 for her first career goal. Toni Sanders notched her fifth of the season at 18:41, after a fantastic effort by Harrison to beat the Dartmouth defenders and slide Sanders a perfect pass across the slot, and like that the game was tied, and Dartmouth stunned.

Anyone watching at the Field House would have been happy to go to the intermission tied at two, but it apparently was not enough for the Engineers - Eleeza Cox put RPI ahead just 32 seconds later, taking a behind-the-net feed from Jordan Smelker who outran a Big Green defender to win the race to the puck and set up the score which gave the Engineers a 3-2 lead. It would be RPI's third goal in 3:30, and it had the Field House rocking.

With 20 minutes left to play, RPI returned from the intermission ready to hold off Dartmouth's attempt to even the score, and they held the Big Green's chances in check - allowing eight shots on goal in the final period but preventing many excellent scoring chances. Instead, it was RPI who would get the next goal, and it was a shorty to boot. Capitalizing on a bounce off the stick of the Dartmouth player at the point, Taylor Horton corralled the puck and raced down ice toward Holdcroft. Despite being hooked on the play, Horton fired the puck past Holdcroft to give RPI an extra goal cushion and a 4-2 lead which would hold up through the final buzzer.

The resulting power play from the breakaway foul, along with another roughly four minutes later, helped RPI hold their momentum - the Engineers ended up outshooting the Big Green in each period, and 34-24 overall, en route to their 4-2 victory.

With the win, RPI and Brown moved into a tie for eighth place, with Colgate falling back to tenth just a day after moving into the same tie. Suddenly the Raiders found themselves on the outside looking in, and the Bears and Engineers much more in control of their own destiny.

Colgate plays Clarkson and SLU next weekend. Brown plays Harvard and Dartmouth. RPI plays Princeton and Quinnipiac. The Engineers need to earn more points than the Bears (and remain ahead of Colgate) and the final weekend's schedule gives them every opportunity to do so. While Princeton and Quinnipiac are both solid teams (RPI took one point from the Tigers early in the season), they are not nearly the challenge the other four teams fighting for eighth have to deal with. Nothing is a guarantee (particularly since RPI is in a bad position for the tiebreaker with Brown), but the Engineers it's pretty simple. Pick up some points next weekend and you're more than likely headed to Cornell for the playoffs.

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RPI vs. Harvard
ECAC Hockey Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/11/12 – 7:00pm
Harvard 4, RPI 2

BOX SCORES:

RECAPS:

RECORD: 8-19-4 (5-12-2 ECAC)

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RPI vs. Dartmouth
ECAC Hockey Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/11/12 – 4:00pm
RPI 4, Dartmouth 2

BOX SCORES:

RECAPS:

RECORD: 9-19-4 (6-12-2 ECAC)

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ECAC Standings (all teams have played 20 games)
                   Pts   Conf     All
1 Cornell 36 18-2 24-3
2 Harvard 31 15-4-1 18-8-1
3 Clarkson 30 14-4-2 20-7-5
4 St. Lawrence 28 13-5-2 19-8-4
5 Dartmouth 26 12-6-2 16-8-2
6 Quinnipiac 22 10-8-2 15-14-2
7 Princeton 18 8-10-2 10-13-4
8 Brown 14 5-11-4 8-12-7
Rensselaer 14 6-12-2 9-19-4
10 Colgate 12 5-13-2 10-19-2
11 Union 6 2-16-2 4-24-4
12 Yale 3 1-18-1 1-25-1
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Upcoming Games

Feb. 17 - at Princeton (7pm)
Feb. 18 - at Quinnipiac (4pm)
Feb. 24-26 - ECAC Playoff Quarterfinals (if RPI qualifies)

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