Monday, November 12, 2012

Men's Hockey - at Dartmouth/Harvard (9/10 Nov)

Somehow, it keeps getting worse. A week after the Engineers were swept by Union to start the ECAC season, they produced an anemic result in their first road weekend of the league schedule, dropping a 4-0 contest at high-flying Dartmouth before losing to nationally-ranked Harvard by the same score with a less-than-full lineup on the ice.

Dartmouth
Lee-Higgs-O'Grady
Tinordi-Neal-Haggerty
Zalewski-McGowan-Bubela
Rogic-Miller-Burgdoerfer

Leboeuf-Bailen
Leonard-Dolan
Bradley-Bokenfohr

Diebold

Three Engineers were unavailable for Friday's game - leading scorer Jacob Laliberte and his classmate, Zach Schroeder, were both ruled out for the weekend with injuries, while Luke Curadi served his one-game suspension on Friday for the game DQ he picked up in the Union game in Schenectady. Replacing Curadi was freshman Phil Bokenfohr, who got his first collegiate action, and Marty O'Grady returned to game action from the injury that scuttled the first five weeks of his season.

Scott Diebold, in net for the fourth straight Friday, got behind early on a shot that snuck through on the very short side, seeming to find the only area between Diebold and the post to slide in giving Dartmouth a 1-0 lead in the game's third minute. The Big Green outshot RPI 8-4 in the first period, and no penalties were called until late, when both teams picked up minors.

Dartmouth made it 2-0 in the fifth minute of the second period, but the Engineers seemed ready to push for the goal that would cut their deficit in half, especially midway through the period when a Dartmouth penalty led to RPI's first full power play opportunity. The five-on-four could not have gone more disastrously for the Engineers. Just under a minute into the advantage, a breakaway for Dartmouth led to a short-handed goal and a 3-0 lead for the Big Green, and just four seconds after the penalty expired, another goal for the Big Green that followed an extended period in the RPI zone made it 4-0.

RPI called timeout and replaced Diebold with Bryce Merriam, marking the second consecutive game in which the starting goaltender had been removed. The remainder of the second period finished without much fanfare - Merriam made one save in the period's last eight minutes, meanwhile RPI uncorked only 10 shots in the game's first 40 minutes total.

The Engineers would enjoy three power play opportunities in the third period, but never really came close to finding their first goal. Meanwhile, the Big Green went into lockdown and finish mode, scaling back their offense and focusing on keeping the Engineers from being able to break onto the scoreboard. Dartmouth goaltender Cab Morris, who had been brilliant in beating RPI in Troy last year on national television, didn't need to flash the glove or his stick with any real frequency, but still made 18 saves to pick up the shutout, the first of his collegiate career.

Harvard
Fulton-Miller-Burgdoerfer
Zalewski-McGowan-Bubela
Rogic-Neal-O'Grady
Higgs, Lee

Leboeuf-Bailen
Curadi-Bokenfohr
Hampton

Merriam

Saturday's lineup was all about message sending in the RPI locker room. All of the scratches on Saturday who had played on Friday were considered healthy, plus Brock Higgs and C.J. Lee did not see ice time in the first period. Travis Fulton and Phil Hampton got their first appearances in an RPI uniform.

The odd lineup was far from what would be considered a "best available" lineup, especially with RPI rolling just three forward lines in the first period.

RPI came out of the gate looking ready to go, but nothing came of their early activity in the Harvard zone, where much of the game's early moments unfolded. An early penalty to Luke Curadi was killed off well, and Bryce Merriam soon began standing on his head keeping the puck out of the net, turning in a brilliant first period in which he made 20 saves on 22 shots.

Harvard's first goal came on a redirect in front that Merriam simply could not reach. Two minutes later, the Engineers dug themselves a deep hole when Mark McGowan and Guy Leboeuf took almost back to back penalties, forcing RPI onto a long two-man disadvantage with only four defensemen available, two of which had never appeared in a college hockey game before that weekend.

Mark Miller, Nick Bailen, and Luke Curadi played nearly the entire 1:30 or so of the five-on-three (Matt Neal replaced Miller late), and Bryce Merriam continued to stand on his head, eventually killing both penalties off and giving RPI a small opening to get back into things. However, with the short bench, Curadi was back out on the ice much earlier than he likely would have been otherwise, the fatigue possibly being the reason he lost his feet while defending the puck, allowing the carrier a clear path to the net and a 2-0 lead for the Crimson.

RPI's best period of the weekend was undoubtedly the second period, but not until the waning moments of that middle stanza. Harvard had picked up a third tally midway through the period on a turnover to make it 3-0, but the Engineers looked ready to score with a serious flurry of activity in the period's final three minutes. Mark Miller and Travis Fulton especially had excellent chances, and if not for some frenzied backchecking by Harvard along with some big saves by goaltender Raphael Girard, the Engineers could have broken onto the scoreboard.

That flurry of activity did not follow into the third period, as Harvard entered a simiar lockdown and finish mode that Dartmouth had the previous night, simply looking to wind the game up as quickly as possible. RPI only managed 6 shots in the third period, and Harvard produced only two - the second of which was fired into an empty net with 3 seconds left to play to make the final tally 4-0, the same as the previous night.

The Engineers thus completed a two-game weekend without scoring a goal for the second consecutive season, having done the same last year at Ferris State.

Other junk - Ranked teams in the ECAC this week include #7 Union (beat Harvard and lost to Dartmouth, up one), #10 Cornell (swept by Princeton/Quinnipiac, down six), #12 Dartmouth (swept RPI/Union, previously unranked), #16 St. Lawrence (tied Brown and lost to Yale, down three), and #17 Harvard (lost to Union and beat RPI, down three). Yale (24), Quinnipiac (22), and Princeton (1) also received votes. Also ranked this week on the RPI schedule are #5 New Hampshire (up four), #11 Boston University (no change), #15 St. Cloud State (no change), and #20 Ferris State (down two). Also receiving votes was Minnesota State (1).

Dartmouth (5-0-1) is the only remaining Division I team that is undefeated.

RPI has given up four or more goals in five consecutive games for the first time since the 2008-09 season.

Just eight games into the season, the entire RPI roster has seen ice time. However, only Lee, Neal, Higgs, Bailen, Leboeuf, Bubela, and Miller have played in all eight games.

Scott Diebold has had rough starts in all of his four games. His first goals were given up at 1:32, 3:25, 1:59, and 2:36 of the first period. However in each case, it was the only goal allowed in the first period.

The downward spiral continues. A week after putting up a win and a tie against last year's national runners-up, RPI blew a pair of two-goal leads in the third period at Mankato, were swept by their rivals two weeks later (including a devastating six-goal period), and now have gone a full weekend without scoring. That makes the upcoming home weekend against Mercyhurst an important firewall - the Lakers aren't going to be pushovers by any stretch of the imagination, but after four games against three very good ECAC squads and the aforementioned spiral, this weekend has the potential for either stopping the bleeding or continuing the descent.

ECAC Standings
1. Dartmouth - 8 points (4-0-0)
2. Union - 6 points (3-1-0)
3. Princeton - 4 points (2-0-0, +6 GD)
4. Quinnipiac - 4 points (2-0-0, +4 GD)
5. Yale - 4 points (2-2-0, +2 GD)
6. Harvard - 4 points (2-2-0, -3 GD)
7. Clarkson - 3 points (1-0-1)
8. Cornell - 3 points (1-2-1)
9. Brown - 2 points (0-2-2)
10. St. Lawrence - 1 point (0-1-1)
11. Colgate - 1 point (0-3-1)
12. RPI - 0 points (0-4-0)

RPI at Dartmouth
ECAC Game - Thompson Arena (Hanover, NH)
11/9/12 - 7:05pm

RESULT: Dartmouth 4, RPI 0

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS
RPI
Troy Record
Albany Times Union

RECORD: 1-4-2 (0-3-0 ECAC)


RPI at #14 Harvard
Non-Conference Game - Bright Hockey Center (Boston, MA)
11/10/12 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Harvard 4, RPI 0

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO
RECORD: 1-5-2 (0-4-0 ECAC)

Upcoming games
16 Nov - Mercyhurst
17 Nov - Mercyhurst
30 Nov - Princeton
1 Dec - Quinnipiac
7 Dec - at Yale

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