Monday, October 8, 2012

Men's Hockey - Acadia (6 Oct)

Another season of RPI hockey is now officially underway, and nearly 3,000 turned out for the first official look at the Engineers this season - a homecoming weekend exhibition against the Acadia Axemen. Despite the nature of exhibitions making the game's outcome irrelevant and the results difficult to interpret, RPI put on a show against the Nova Scotia side for the second consecutive year, skating away with a 6-2 victory.

Acadia
Lee-McGowan-Schroeder
Zalewski-Higgs-Tinordi
Neal-Laliberte-Haggerty
Miller-Rogic-Bubela
Commers, Burgdoerfer

Leboeuf-Bailen
Curadi-Leonard
Bradley-Dolan
Hampton

Merriam

As with any exhibition, the roster was limited only by who could fit on the bench. Freshmen Craig Bokenfohr and Travis Fulton were the odd men out, with senior Marty O'Grady out with injury. Every other player on the roster got at least a little playing time on Saturday night, including all three goaltenders, each of which got to play for one period in order of seniority.

Last season, Scott Diebold played all 60 minutes and picked up a shutout victory. This year, a similar result was not in the cards, and it took only a little over five minutes for that prospect to fall by the wayside, as Acadia notched the game's first goal on a weak shot that Merriam just missed grabbing. The 1-0 score was in place for the next six minutes of game time, and the Engineers broke onto the scoresheet on a four-on-four opportunity. With Milos Bubela in the penalty box for goaltender interference (negating a power play that could have come from a cross-checking call against Acadia), Nick Bailen scored on a scrum in front to tie the game up following an excellent series of passes with the open ice.

Two minutes later, a solid individual effort by Mark McGowan gave RPI the lead. The sophomore forward intercepted a pass along the Acadia blue line and took the puck in by himself, rifling a shot past the goaltender on the short side to make the score 2-1.

Acadia tied things up a couple minutes into the second on a mini breakway that gave middle frame goaltender Scott Diebold trouble. Diebold guessed wrong and went to his left on a fake shot, and the shot instead was slapped into an open net on his right. But RPI responded just under four minutes later on a nifty play by sophomores Matt Neal and Jacob Laliberte. Neal drifted a perfect pass through the slot to a wide open Laliberte, who popped the puck into an open net to make it 3-2 Engineers.

Five minutes into the third period, Neal and Laliberte would link up a second time, this time with Laliberte feeding Neal the puck on another four-on-four (Bailen was called for diving after being cross-checked in the neck). Up 4-2, the power play took center stage as RPI finally got their first real opportunities on the man advantage and did not waste them. The first of these power plays came concurrently with the Neal goal, which was scored during a delayed penalty call, and Bubela became the first of the freshmen to dent the twine, giving RPI a 5-2 lead. Some three and a half minutes later, it was sophomore Ryan Haggerty scoring on the power play, making it 6-2, which is how the game ended.

In net, Jason Kasdorf worked a perfect third period, stopping all nine shots that he faced in the final stanza. Diebold made eight saves on nine shots in the second, while Merriam stopped five of six in the first.

Brock Higgs showed distinct signs of continuing his playmaker role that he had late last season, notching three assists, while Matt Neal added a goal and two assists as part of a dynamic pairing with Jacob Laliberte. Laliberte and Nick Bailen each had a goal and an assist on the night.

The games that count now get underway next week in Troy, as RPI welcomes last year's national runners-up Ferris State, Seth Appert's alma mater. The Bulldogs found success last season on a heavily defense-centric game plan, and given what they return from last year's squad, that same game plan could be in store next weekend. The Engineers were unable to score a single goal in two games in Michigan against Ferris State last year, obviously, that will have to change this coming weekend.

Other junk - As with most years, the Engineers were part of a glut of teams receiving votes in the first USCHO poll of the season, picking up 5. They still had 5 votes in this, the second week of the rankings. Ranked teams in the ECAC are #5 Cornell (idle, up one), #10 Union (lost to Merrimack, down five), #17 Harvard (idle, no change), and #18 Quinnipiac (beat Maine and lost to Acadia, previously unranked). Also receiving votes was Yale (4). Ranked teams appearing on RPI's schedule this season are #11 Ferris State and #12 Boston University - New Hampshire (64), St. Cloud State (62), and Minnesota State (3) also received votes.

Acadia at RPI
Exhibition Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/6/12 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 6, Acadia 2

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS

Upcoming games
12 Oct - #11 Ferris State
13 Oct - #11 Ferris State
19 Oct - at Minnesota State
20 Oct - at Minnesota State
02 Nov - #10 Union (Black Friday)

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