Monday, December 10, 2012

Men's Hockey - at Yale/Brown (7/8 Dec)

Heading into the mid-season break, it was obvious that RPI needed a boost if they were going to avoid falling well behind the rest of the pack in the ECAC. The Engineers provided themselves with the boost they needed, heading on the road and picking up three crucial points as they exploded on Friday for a blowout, upset victory over nationally-ranked Yale before tangling with a pesky Brown team that would not go away, settling for a 2-2 tie but emerging from the weekend in much better shape than they'd entered.




An illness to forward Matt Neal put him on the sidelines Friday night, necessitating a slight jumbling of the lines. Jason Kasdorf earned his third consecutive start in net.

Penalties were the name of the game in the first period, as both sides picked up three minors each, though both teams ultimately went 0-for-3 in the first 20 minutes on the man advantage. Key for the Engineers on the weekend was power play improvement after a dreadful 0-for-9 showing at home against Quinnipiac, and in the first period, despite a lack of goals, it was apparent that the power play was looking much better than it had a week prior.

Yale would earn the only goal of the first period on a bad pass behind the RPI net by Luke Curadi. The towering defenseman attempted to move the puck with a pass through forecheckers to the forwards in the neutral zone, but the pass was intercepted at the point by the Bulldogs. With all kinds of ice to work with and plenty of time before RPI could even get into his vicinity, the defenseman lasered a shot that was perfectly placed to beat Kasdorf and put Yale ahead 1-0.

Unfortunately for Yale, that was all the offense they would be able to put up for the entire game. Kasdorf was dialed in for the Engineers, stopping 36 of 37 shots and getting good looks at the puck, making big saves when he had to and keeping rebounds from appearing on easier shots.

Meanwhile, the RPI offense got going midway through the second period and started firing on all cylinders. Mike Zalewski and his classmates got things started with an impressive give-and-go move in transition and through traffic, with Zalewski passing back and forth with Milos Bubela before blasting it into the net to tie the game.

Just over a minute later, RPI broke through its power play funk with a goal on the man advantage. Bubela rifled a shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle, simply powering the puck past the Yale netminder to put RPI up 2-1 with the Engineers' second goal in 1:08.

Jacob Laliberte gave RPI a two-goal cushion by hanging out in front of the Yale net a little over six minutes later. After Brock Higgs got his man to bite with a nifty move behind the net that put the defender down on the ice, he skated around to the left side of the net and simply passed across to the waiting Laliberte, who one-timed it in to make it 3-1.

The Engineers disabused Yale of any possibility of comeback early on in the third period as Mark Miller notched his second goal of the season 2:11 in to push the score to 4-1, followed by a highlight-reel goal by Johnny Rogic, who scored from his back to make it 5-1 Engineers. Ryan Haggerty added a sixth goal against a relief goaltender, his fourth goal of the year making it 6-1 RPI with over 12 minutes left in the game.

RPI's attack gradually started to pull back after attaining a five-goal edge, and Yale, it was clear, was not on their game either offensively or defensively, but the Engineers capitalized well on both sides of the puck. The Engineers finished the game on a high note despite nearly back-to-back calls against Curadi and Bo Dolan giving Yale a late five-on-three, but Kasdorf and the penalty kill stood tall despite a 42 second two-man disadvantage to end the game, allowing no more goals.

The win represented RPI's first ECAC victory of the season, and marked the third time in four years that the Engineers were able to pick up a win at the Yale Whale. It was also the second win of the season against a ranked opponent, the first since the season's opening game against Ferris State.





Neal returned to the lineup, replacing Zach Schroeder, but he was placed on the fourth line (presumably to ease him back into things). That moved Brock Higgs onto the Laliberte line, with Johnny Rogic moving to center the fourth line and O'Grady centering Tinordi and Lee in place of Schroeder.

Brown, the previous night, had managed a tie with Union after giving up three goals in the first period. The backup goaltender, Anthony Borelli, came on in relief and stoned the Dutchmen in the second and third periods as well as overtime to pick up the tie, not surprisingly he was in net for Brown against the Engineers.

A penalty to Brock Higgs for boarding four and a half minutes into the game and a lackluster Brown power play effort was the only notable event of the first period, which saw RPI lead in shots 9-7. Neither team really put forward an overly impressive showing in the opening 20 minutes, and neither had any real quality opportunities to score.

Ryan Haggerty's second goal of the weekend and fifth of the season came down at 13:14 of the second period to give RPI a 1-0 lead. Haggerty scored on a rebound opportunity to finally break the scoreless tie over halfway through the game.

The second period was the only one of the game with multiple penalties called, and RPI had three chances against Brown's sub-par penalty kill. The first power play early in the period was decent, but the second displayed shades of the struggles that were evident last weekend. The third power play, coming just a couple of minutes after the Haggerty goal, was markedly better than the second but still was unable to result in an insurance goal.

The Engineers took the 1-0 lead into the third period, but just 42 seconds into the third, Brown tied it up on a horrifying display of poor defense by the Engineers, as the forward line failed to retreat to help out the defense after a turnover in the RPI zone.

RPI would get the lead right back on a slick tap-in by Matt Neal, who took Travis Fulton's shot through the crease and just poked it home, giving Neal his fourth goal of the season and Fulton his second assist of the weekend. Fulton would later come within inches of scoring his first collegiate goal after picking off a pass from Borelli behind his own net and whipping it toward the empty cage. Borelli somehow managed to get back to put a pad on a puck that looked destined for a goal, saving the game for the Bears.

With seven and a half minutes left to play, Brown were able to find the equalizer to make it 2-2, and from there the Bears looked very hungry for the go-ahead goal while the Engineers looked more like they were hanging on for dear life. No penalties were called in the third period and RPI outshot Brown 11-10 in the third period, but the momentum was all with the home team late in the game.

In overtime, Brown managed four shots against RPI's two, but neither team was able to break through. A blown icing call gave Brown possession in the RPI zone for the final 30 seconds, and despite frenzied shooting and defense, Kasdorf and the Engineers were able to at least escape with one point, despite blowing a pair of third period leads.

Other junk - Ranked teams in the ECAC this week include #9 Quinnipiac (swept Princeton, up four), #10 Dartmouth (beat Vermont, no change), #12 Cornell (idle, down one), #14 Union (tied Brown and Yale, down two), #15 Yale (lost to RPI and tied Union, no change), and #18 Harvard (tied Merrimack, up two). Also receiving votes was Colgate (35). Other RPI opponents ranked this week are #2 New Hampshire (down one, with 9 first place votes), #6 Boston University (up one), #17 St. Cloud State (no change), #19 Ferris State (down three) and #20 Minnesota State (previously unranked).

Matt Neal sat out on Friday with an illness, leaving RPI's iron man club at four heading into the winter break - Bailen, Bubela, Leboeuf, and Miller. These are the only players on the roster who have played in all 12 games this season.

The freshman line of Mike Zalewski, Mark Miller, and Milos Bubela has played very well of late. The trio has been together for four consecutive games and looks like a battle-hardened group. Their two-game goal scoring streak was stopped against Brown, but they looked very good against both opponents on the weekend.

Jason Kasdorf, now eligible for inclusion in the national statistics with a minimum of 33% of team games played, is fourth in the nation in goals against with a 1.46 GAA, second in the ECAC only to Quinnipiac's Eric Hartzell, who sits at 1.29. He is third in the nation and first in the ECAC with a save percentage of .945. We may be seeing more of him in the near future.

Jacob Laliberte has backed off the national lead in scoring, but his rate of 1.17 points per game still has him in the top 30, sitting tied for 25th in the nation.

The Engineers are now off until just after Christmas, when they play the first two of five non-conference games out in Minnesota against nationally-ranked St. Cloud State. That continues with a home game on New Year's Eve against Sacred Heart, and rounds out against national powerhouses Boston University and New Hampshire. The stretch should present a serious gut-check before the remainder of the ECAC schedule begins the following weekend.

ECAC Standings (by winning percentage in parentheses)
1 (1). Quinnipiac - 16 points (8-0-0)
2 (2). Dartmouth - 9 points (4-1-1)
3 (3). Union - 9 points (3-2-3)
4 (7). Cornell - 8 points (3-3-2)
5 (5). Clarkson - 7 points (3-3-1, +3 GD)
6 (6). Yale - 7 points (3-3-1, -2 GD)
7 (8). Princeton - 7 points (2-3-3, -4 GD)
8 (9). Colgate - 7 points (3-4-1, -6 GD)
9 (4). Harvard - 6 points (3-3-0)
10 (10). Brown - 4 points (0-3-4, -3 GD)
11 (11). St. Lawrence - 4 points (1-3-2, -9 GD)
12 (12). RPI - 4 points (1-5-2)

RPI at #15 Yale
ECAC Game - Ingalls Rink (New Haven, CT)
12/7/12 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 6, Yale 1

College Hockey Stats

Troy Record
Albany Times Union
New Haven Register

Yale All-Access (full game)

RECORD: 4-6-3 (1-5-1 ECAC, 3 points)

RPI at Brown
ECAC Game - Meehan Auditorium (Providence, RI)
12/8/12 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 2, Brown 2

RECORD: 4-6-4 (1-5-2 ECAC, 4 points)

Upcoming games
27 Dec - at #17 St. Cloud State
28 Dec - at #17 St. Cloud State
31 Dec - Sacred Heart
04 Jan - at #6 Boston University
05 Jan - at #2 New Hampshire

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