Monday, October 15, 2012

Men's Hockey - Ferris State (12/13 Oct)

The Engineers concluded their season last year playing some very good team hockey, especially on the road. They arguably controlled play in their final nine road games of the year, going 5-3-1 in those contests and sparking a run to the ECAC Quarterfinals. At home, it was a very different story for RPI. Welcoming the national runners-up to Houston Field House, it didn't seem to be a good opportunity for the Engineers to shine in Troy, but instead they picked up their first home win since January 27, taking down 11th-ranked Ferris State 3-1 on Friday and picking up a 2-2 tie on Saturday.

Friday
Lee-McGowan-Schroeder
Zalewski-Higgs-Tinordi
Neal-Laliberte-Haggerty
Miller-Rogic-Bubela

Leboeuf-Bailen
Curadi-Leonard
Bradley-Dolan

Diebold

Friday's lines were actually just as advertised in the exhibition matchup against Acadia - the extra skaters of Andrew Commers, Greg Burgdoerfer, and Phil Hampton were dropped from the lineup, and sophomore Scott Diebold was given the surprise start in net for the Engineers in the season opener for both teams. Excluding both teams' exhibition matchups, it was RPI's first game since dropping Game 2 of the ECAC Quarterfinals, and Ferris State's first since falling to Boston College in the national championship.

Things started out very poorly for the Engineers, and it seemed a harbinger of things to come. The Bulldogs would score with their very first shot on goal just a minute and a half into the game, a tip-in after a spin-around pass from Diebold's left putting RPI behind the eight ball from the get-go, down 1-0.

Eight minutes in, the Engineers would finally notch their first ever goal against Ferris State (after failing to score in two games last year) to tie the game at one. Nick Bailen found Mark McGowan with a perfect cross-ice head-man pass, allowing McGowan to go in all alone on Ferris goaltender C.J. Motte. McGowan ripped a wrister from the top of the slot that beat Motte top shelf to knot the score.

Ryan Haggerty's first goal of the season midway through the second period broke the deadlock and gave the Engineers a lead they would not relinquish. After an initial shot from the point by Guy Leboeuf, Haggerty eventually picked up a rebound in the slot which he put past a sprawling Motte to make it 2-1 Engineers.

Ferris State was able to maintain some good puck control in the final 40 minutes, but Diebold proved up to the task, stopping 11 shots in the second and 12 in the third, having to make a number of outstanding saves in the final stanza to preserve the Engineers' lead. In total, he finished the contest with 30 saves.

There were a dearth of penalties in the game, with RPI taking only two minors in 60 minutes and Ferris State only three. The Bulldogs' third penalty could not have come at a worse time, as an interference call put them down a man with about two and a half minutes left in regulation, forcing FSU to kill a penalty for most of the time they had left to find the tying goal.

The RPI power play sealed things up about a minute into that man advantage, as a sharp shot by Bailen from the top of the left faceoff circle was redirected in front by Jacob Laliberte to make it 3-1 with just a minute and a half left, giving the Engineers the upset victory at home in the first game of the season.

Saturday
Lee-McGowan-Schroeder
Zalewski-Higgs-Tinordi
Neal-Laliberte-Haggerty
Miller-Rogic-Bubela

Leboeuf-Bailen
Curadi-Leonard
Bradley-Dolan

Merriam

Not surp risingly, the same lines that worked on Friday were rolled out again on Saturday, and on a team with three legitimate goaltenders, a new goalie was between the pipes for RPI in senior Bryce Merriam.

Where Friday's game had seen a low number of penalties, the Bulldogs managed to match their total from that contest in Saturday's first period alone, and much like on Friday, it was RPI's third power play opportunity that would lead to a goal - albeit a goal that had a little controversy to it. After extended pressure in the Ferris State zone, Matt Neal took a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that Motte stopped, and while Ryan Haggerty and Laliberte tried to work the puck free, the net was knocked off its pegs by a defender. Laliberte put the puck across the goal line, and the goal was upheld after review. The defender knocking the net loose was key; this would not have been a goal last year but the situation was changed as part of the new "Union rule," so-named because Union nullified a Michigan State goal in last year's NCAA Tournament in a similar fashion.

Ferris State's first goal of the game came with the Bulldogs pouncing on RPI at the outset of the second period. Just 39 seconds into the middle frame, a tight angle shot from the boards on Merriam's right side bounced in to tie the score at one. For the second straight night, it would be a solid second for Ferris State as Merriam made 10 saves over the course of the period to maintain the tie.

After a slow start to the third period, Ferris State picked up their first lead of the game midway through the period on a rip from the blue line, making it 2-1 and giving them a very serious edge given the way the third period had been playing out to that time. Things didn't look promising for the Engineers to crawl back into things.

However, it took only 24 seconds for RPI to find the equalizer, and it was Laliberte notching his third consecutive goal. After a turnover in the Ferris State zone, Laliberte poked at the puck while fading back toward the blue line to bring the game level again, 2-2.

The Engineers maintained an even keel heading into overtime, even though they managed only three shots on goal in the entire third period. The final five minutes was a different story, as RPI blasted Ferris State with five shots on goal in the extra stanza. Motte was up to the task, however, and the game ended in a 2-2 tie which completed a virtual three-point weekend for the Engineers.

Other junk - The surprise showing vaulted the Engineers up in the consideration for the always volatile early season polls, picking up 40 votes in this week's USCHO rankings. #6 Cornell (idle, down one), #8 Union (swept Bowling Green, up two with one first-place vote for some reason), #17 Harvard (idle, no change), and #20 Quinnipiac (split with Robert Morris, down two) are the ranked ECAC teams this week, St. Lawrence (6) and Yale (3) are the other league teams receiving votes this week. Other ranked teams on RPI's schedule are #11 Boston University (up one), #15 New Hampshire (previously unranked), and #16 Ferris State (down five). St. Cloud State (9) and Minnesota State (3) also received votes.

RPI's penalty kill was 4-for-4 on the weekend, but 17 teams have a similar 100% penalty kill ratings (including Quinnipiac, who has killed all 15 penalties they've taken in three games). RPI's 10 total penalty minutes in two games has them 46th out of 48 teams that have played games thus far in penalties, which won't last given the Engineers' reputation for penalties.

Boston College fell in their first game of the season (to Northeastern), ending their 19-game winning and unbeaten streak. Northeastern, ironically, was the only other team in the nation that won their last game of the season last year, and now has the longest unbeaten streak in the nation with three wins in a row.

Next on the docket for RPI is a trip to Mankato, MN for the second half of the home-and-home series with Minnesota State. The teams split in Troy last year, with the Mavericks winning 1-0 in the season opener for both sides last year and the Engineers winning 4-1 in the Saturday game. Minnesota State also picked up a win and a tie to open this season, taking three points at Alabama-Huntsville over the weekend 4-1 and 2-2.

#11 Ferris State at RPI
Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/12/12 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 3, Ferris State 1

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO
RECORD: 1-0-0 (0-0-0 ECAC)


#11 Ferris State at RPI
Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/13/12 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 2, Ferris State 2

BOX SCORES
RECORD: 1-0-1 (0-0-0 ECAC)

Upcoming games
19 Oct - at Minnesota State
20 Oct - at Minnesota State
02 Nov - #8 Union (Black Friday)
03 Nov - at #8 Union
09 Nov - at Dartmouth

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