Wednesday, February 29, 2012

ECAC First Round Capsules

It's crunch time again as the ECAC Playoffs get underway on Friday. The first round beckons, and it has been the land of upsets in recent years - three road teams won their first round series last year, and all three at least pushed their quarterfinal round to three games. In each of the last three seasons, at least two of the road teams have managed to advance to the quarterfinals, and in both of the last two playoff seasons, one of them advanced to the semifinals - so nothing can really be taken for granted this weekend.

The action's all pretty centralized - two series in southern Connecticut, two series in the North Country. In an interesting twist, three of the series feature matchups which took place in the final weekend of the season. Perhaps less than coincidentally, the higher ranked team won all three games.

Without further ado, the capsules:

#12 Brown at #5 Quinnipiac
* Bobcats won season series 3-1: tied 2-2 in Providence on Jan. 7; won 4-1 in Hamden on Feb. 24
* Last playoff meeting: 2011 First Round: Quinnipiac 2, Brown 0 (Best-of-three, Hamden, CT)
* BU in February: 0-6-2
* QU in February: 4-3-1

This is the lone rematch from last year's first round, which was the only matchup to end with the home team advancing. The Bobcats squashed the Bears with back-to-back 4-0 shutouts, torching Mike Clemente for 7 goals on 36 shots.

Taking a look at this year's series, it's hard to imagine that much is going to change, especially given the Bears' putrid record of late, having gone winless in 10 straight games to finish the season - they haven't won since completing the improbable season sweep of Union on Jan. 21, a win that had them back to .500 at 8-8-3. Since then, they are 0-8-2. They tied Princeton 2-2 on the last day of the regular season, that notably snapped a nine-game streak of giving up at least three goals per game, which underscores Brown's problems.

Quinnipiac, meanwhile, produced a strong finish and nearly nabbed themselves the first round bye for the first time since joining the league in 2005-06. They instead had to settle for a 4th-place tie and the #5 seed for the second time (which they also did in 2007, the only other ECAC team never to earn the bye, RPI, has also done that twice). The Bobcats haven't had a problem scoring goals, picking up at least two per game in 12 straight contests.

The Bobcats put 48 pucks on net against the Bears this past Friday, and put the game away with a 3-for-4 showing on the power play in the 3rd period (including a pair of 5-on-3 goals after Brendan Whittet showed Chip McDonald who was number one). They outshine Brown in every facet of the game, and unless the Bears can stay out of the box and get some good bounces, this could be a short weekend down I-95. Quinnipiac does look to have a very favorable path to Atlantic City, given that Colgate (who backed into the bye with four straight losses) would beckon next.

#11 Princeton at #6 Yale
* Bulldogs swept season series: won 6-2 in New Haven on Jan. 7; won 5-2 in Princeton on Feb. 24; teams tied 2-2 in a non-conference game in Hanover, NH on Oct. 28
* Last playoff meeting: 2008 Quarterfinals: Princeton 2, Yale 1 (Best-of-three, Princeton, NJ)
* PU in February: 1-4-2
* YU in February: 4-3-1

The former travel partners and eternal Ivy League rivals have been in some lopsided affairs recently and they've all been in Yale's favor. The Tigers haven't picked up a victory over the Bulldogs since February 21, 2009, and they haven't won in New Haven since January 11, 2008 - and bear in mind that Princeton has had at least a couple of decent seasons since then. Since their last win, Princeton has been outscored 34-17 in games against Yale.

Anyone who saw Princeton's demolition of RPI on Senior Night in Troy two weeks ago could be excused for thinking that the Tigers were an OK, if not overly stellar team, but the truth is that was by far their best game since returning from January exams. After raising eyebrows with a 3-point home weekend against Colgate and Cornell, Princeton has done practically nothing since.

On the home bench, Yale was in the middle of an awful season after dropping their fourth straight game on January 27th, but they have done rather well since, clawing back into things with five wins in their last nine games, riding into the playoffs on a four-game unbeaten streak. In each of their last five wins, the Bulldogs have scored at least five goals per game, which is very impressive. When their defense isn't up to snuff, however, things have been difficult. That's a big change from the early part of the year, when the Yale defense was airtight and the offense sometimes struggled.

The Tigers are going to have to come loaded for bear if they are to shake off their recent struggles against Yale. They came close last Friday, answering the bell twice to score tying goals in the first and second periods and even weathering a 23-shot barrage in the second period to reach the final 20 down just a goal. If the Bulldogs don't come out strong, especially on defense, a concerted effort by Princeton could put them in this series, but they are still definite underdogs.

#10 RPI at #7 Clarkson
* Golden Knights swept season series: won 4-1 in Potsdam on Nov. 4; won 3-2 in Troy on Jan. 28)
* Last playoff meeting: 2002 Consolation Game: RPI 4, Clarkson 3 (Lake Placid, NY)
* RPI in February: 3-3-2
* CU in Feburary: 3-4-1

This is an interesting matchup of teams whose fans are certainly tired, at this point, of first round exits in the playoffs. RPI has famously dropped two straight first round matchups at home and has just one playoff series win since 2004 (at Dartmouth in 2009), but Clarkson has lost four consecutive playoff series (two of which were at home, another of which was down the road at St. Lawrence) since winning the ECAC title in 2007. Something will have to give this weekend in Potsdam, where the long-time rivals meet for only the second time in a playoff series, and the first time ever in a best-of-three.

These teams couldn't have possibly finished the season any differently. The Engineers picked up the only road weekend sweep at Colgate and Cornell in the league this season to pull themselves up to the #10 seed, while Clarkson was looking at a weekend off and fell twice at Dartmouth and Harvard. They did pick up three wins in February, but all three were against teams in freefall - Brown, Princeton, and Colgate (winless in four straight).

That said, the Engineers have been hard-pressed to put together solid back-to-back weekends all year. They came closest in mid-January, sweeping Brown and Yale on the road and then beating St. Lawrence at home, but Clarkson won a hard-fought game on the second Saturday to force a home split and start RPI on 4-game winless streak.

Of all the road teams in the first round, RPI is arguably playing the best hockey overall right now. The question really is which RPI team will show up. If it's the one that swept the toughest road weekend in the league last weekend, Clarkson is in for a serious battle, especially given the closeness of these teams' last meeting. If it's the RPI that was embarrassed at Freakout and Senior Night, it's going to be a short series.

#9 Dartmouth at #8 St. Lawrence
*Season series split: Big Green won 3-1 in Canton on Nov. 18; Saints won 3-1 in Hanover on Feb. 25; teams tied 2-2 with Saints winning shootout 3-2 in a non-conference game in Hanover on Dec. 31
* Last playoff meeting: 2007 Consolation Game: St. Lawrence 5, Dartmouth 3 (Albany, NY)
* DC in February: 2-5-1
* SLU in Feburary: 6-2-0

The other matchup in the North Country promises a pretty solid amount of intrigue as well. A couple of teams that seemed to pass each other frequently in the standings going in opposite directions met on the final day of the regular season with the winner poised to host the loser in the first round in most scenarios, and that's exactly what happened after St. Lawrence's 3-1 win (with an empty netter) in Hanover this past Saturday.

St. Lawrence resurrected their season on three occasions, which speaks to their resilience. After a horrifying October against some difficult competition, the Saints came back in November with five wins in six games, then dropped four straight. That was followed up with a stretch in which St. Lawrence was unbeaten in six of seven, then they dropped four straight again, including a horrible weekend in the Capital District that saw the Saints outscored 10-0. Since then, however, they've been a tough team all around, winning six of their last eight games, dropping only a pair against two bye teams, Cornell and Harvard.

Dartmouth, meanwhile, has spent much of the season trying to keep their heads above water. After sweeping the first weekend of the regular season at home against Quinnipiac and Princeton, the Big Green have picked up at least one loss in every subsequent league weekend. They were only swept twice, however (both times at home), which kept them in the hunt for home ice up until the very last gasp. Since an overtime win over Colgate, Dartmouth has just three wins - two against last place Brown, one against Clarkson.

If one looks at the three games these teams played this year, they were all very close, so Dartmouth clearly has some hope in this series, especially if St. Lawrence takes a fourth turn for the worse and the Big Green can pick up some defense, which has been sparse of late. Momentum-wise, however, the home team looks to have a big advantage.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Men's Hockey - at Colgate & Cornell (24/25 Feb)

Road warriors indeed. For the fifth and sixth straight time away from Houston Field House, the Engineers picked up ECAC points, this time completing just their second weekend sweep of the season (the other was also on the road) with a 4-2 victory over Colgate and a 2-1 overtime win at Cornell. The surprise sweep, coming against the travel partner pairing with the most combined points on the year, followed a dismal Senior Night low, and the 4 points brought the Engineers' total in the last six road games to 11, a full 65% of their final total for the season.




Marty O'Grady was sidelined all weekend after picking up an upper-body injury - Seth Appert said he would have played had it been a playoff week, but was kept out to heal in time for the playoffs instead.

Penalties were the name of the game in the first period, with referees refusing to allow either team to get into a groove, calling nine minor penalties during the first 20 minutes including four which were coincidental (and another two close enough that they were almost coincidental), creating a lot of four-on-four action. Colgate's high-flying offense unleashed 18 shots in the first period alone, but Scott Diebold turned all of them away. The Engineers, meanwhile, managed just six in the first.

Johnny Rogic picked up a kneeing penalty five minutes into the second period to give Colgate their fourth power play of the game, but it was RPI who found the back of the net with Rogic in the penalty box. Just 16 seconds after the call, Mark McGowan scored a shorthanded goal, his second goal of the year, putting RPI up 1-0.

The Engineers maintained that lead for over 10 minutes, but a bad clearance attempt by Rogic put the puck on a Colgate player's stick right in front of the net, and just like that things were even again. Things got even worse 10 seconds later when Brock Higgs was called for elbowing, and a boarding call just over a minute into the ensuing power play against Mike Bergin gave Colgate a 5-on-3 advantage, and they capitalized with goal on that extra bonus, putting the Raiders up 2-1.

Colgate took a hitting from behind penalty with just six ticks left on the clock in the second period, which looked to give the Engineers a power play to start the third period on fresh ice with plenty of time to work with. Instead, Jacob Laliberte won the faceoff in the Colgate zone, sending it back to Nick Bailen who immediately blasted a shot that was redirected in front by Laliberte to the back of the net with two seconds left in the second period. It was Laliberte's fourth goal of the season, tying the game at two and giving RPI the momentum heading into the third.

That momentum powered the Engineers off the opening faceoff of the third, as just 15 seconds into the period - technically, 17 seconds removed from the tying goal - C.J. Lee scored his team leading seventh goal of the year to give RPI the lead.

From there, it was largely the Scott Diebold show. The freshman netminder stood on his head in the third period, making a total of 19 saves on 19 shots in the final frame to give him a total of 49 for the contest to power the Engineers to victory. McGowan would pick up an insurance goal just seconds after a late RPI timeout, his third point of the game and second goal of the night to put the Engineers up 4-2 with two minutes to play.

After years of failing to win at Starr Rink, the win was the second straight for the Engineers in Hamilton.




Despite - or possibly, because of - Diebold's amazing effort on Friday, junior Bryce Merriam returned between the pipes on Saturday for the final game of the regular season, a game Cornell needed to win in order to guarantee themselves the #1 seed in the ECAC Tournament. Size, as is always the case with Cornell, was also valued in the RPI lineup, as Pat Koudys and Greg Burgdoerfer also made return appearances.

As one would expect with a game at Cornell, the Engineers were the recipients of the only two penalties of the first period, but the Big Red were unable to get anywhere with them. Cornell looked fairly lost during the first 20 minutes, but RPI was unable to take advantage of the forecheck-induced possession advantage, pulling only a 6-5 shot edge out of the first period and nothing more.

The second period also ended with no pucks ending up in the back of the net, and unlike Friday's game, it was hardly a goaltender's duel. Merriam and Andy Iles combined for just 20 saves (10 each) in the first two periods, just two more than Diebold nabbed alone in the first period on Friday. Both teams had one power play chance in the second period, but there was still no scoring.

Cornell just missed scoring about six minutes into the period during a power play caused by a boarding call on Nick Bailen, but after a lengthy review the initial call of "no goal" was upheld. This was made moot, however, about two minutes later when the Big Red finally broke onto the scoreboard with a goal that came with 12 minutes left in regulation.

From there, Cornell was served up an additional two power plays (they had six against RPI's one on the evening), but the Big Red could not find the insurance tally and still led 1-0 as time began to get tight in the third period.

With just over two minutes left to play, the Engineers tied things up on a redirect in front by Matt Tinordi, scoring his fourth goal of the season by tipping a blast from Patrick Cullen to create the late tie for RPI.

The game went into overtime, and the Engineers took complete control during the extra period. Despite the much shorter length of the overtime period, the Engineers put an amazing seven shots on goal, which was more than either team had done in any one period all night long. In the end, good forechecking by the Engineers kept the puck in the Cornell zone late, and Patrick Cullen blasted home a Tinordi rebound into an open net to give the Engineers a 2-1 victory, their first in the regular season at Lynah Rink since the 2003-o4 season.

The victory deprived Cornell of the #1 seed, which went to Union thanks in part to the Dutchmen's victory over Colgate minutes before.

The win, coupled with Princeton's 1-1 tie against Brown that afternoon, pushed the Engineers past the Tigers into sole possession of 10th place in the final reckoning. That draws them against 7th place Clarkson, who were in 4th place coming into the week but were swept by Harvard and Dartmouth in the final weekend to drop them down. In typical ECAC fashion, only 4 points separated 3rd place (Harvard) from 8th place (St. Lawrence).

Other junk - After two weeks on top, Ferris State fell out of the #1 slot this week, falling two places to #3 (with one first place vote). Other RPI opponents ranked this week are #7 Union (up one), #8 UMass-Lowell (down one), #13 Cornell (down two), #18 Notre Dame (no change), and #19 Colorado College (down three). Also receiving votes were Quinnipiac (26), Harvard (25), and Colgate (ex-#20, 12).

The Engineers were the only team in the ECAC to pick up four points on the road against Colgate and Cornell this season.

Defense has played a huge role in RPI's success on the road. In the last six road contests, the Engineers have given up just seven goals, one less than they gave up in the Freakout! loss to Colgate alone. On the flip side, RPI has scored 15 markers of their own outside of the Capital District in 2012.

The weekend sweep guaranteed RPI its 30th consecutive season of 10 wins or more. The Engineers nabbed only 9 wins in 1981-82, and reached double digits by the slimmest of margins - exactly 10 - in 1995-96, 2006-07, and 2008-09. The team could technically still notch its second straight 20-win season, but it would require winning the national championship, and would still result in a losing overall record.

This will be Seth Appert's fourth losing season behind the bench for RPI - Dan Fridgen and Mike Addesa also had four losing seasons.

Believe it or not, RPI and Clarkson have met only once before in a playoff series. The #5 Golden Knights won a two game series in Troy over the #4 Engineers  3-1 and 6-4 to end the defending national champions' season. On the flip side, however, Clarkson is 0-2 (0-4 in games) as the #7 seed hosting the #10 seed.  Clarkson fell 3-2 and 6-1 to Vermont in 2003 and lost 2-1 and 6-4 to Harvard in 2011.

RPI was a Dartmouth loss (to Clarkson, on Friday) away from skating away with their best possible result coming into the weekend. That result would have put the Engineers in a tie with the Big Green, which they would have won based on a better record against the Top 4 teams (which would have seen Clarkson as #4) thanks to RPI's win over Cornell. That would have had the #9 Engineers playing at #8 St. Lawrence rather than at Clarkson.

Final ECAC Standings
1. Union - 32 pts (14-4-4)
2. Cornell - 30 pts (12-4-6)
3. Harvard - 25 pts (8-5-9)
4. Colgate - 23 pts (11-10-1)
5. Quinnipiac - 23 pts (9-8-5)
6. Yale - 22 pts (10-10-2)
7. Clarkson - 22 pts (9-9-4)
8. St. Lawrence - 21 pts (10-11-1)
9. Dartmouth - 19 pts (8-11-3)
10. RPI - 17 pts (7-12-3)
11. Princeton - 16 pts (6-12-4)
12. Brown - 14 pts (5-13-4)
RPI at #20 Colgate
ECAC Game - Starr Rink (Hamilton, NY)
2/24/12- 7:00pm
RESULT: RPI 4, Colgate 2



RECORD: 9-21-3 (6-12-3 ECAC, 15 pts)

RPI at #11 Cornell
ECAC Game - Lynah Rink  (Ithaca, NY)
2/25/12 - 7:00pm
RESULT:  RPI 2, Cornell 1 (OT)



RECORD: 10-21-3 (7-12-3 ECAC, 17 pts)

Upcoming games
02 Mar - at Clarkson (ECAC First Round, Game 1)
03 Mar - at Clarkson (ECAC First Round, Game 2)
04 Mar - at Clarkson (ECAC First Round, Game 3, if necessary)
09 Mar - at #7 Union, #13 Cornell, or Harvard (ECAC Quarterfinals, Game 1, if qualified)
10 Mar - at #7 Union, #13 Cornell, or Harvard (ECAC Quarterfinals, Game 2, if qualified)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

2012 Playoff Matchups

With the seeds and first round playoff matchups set, here's a quick look at the first round pairings and potential second round matchups based on each possible outcome next weekend.


The Bloody End

The ECAC regular season is over.

RPI (7-12-3) finishes alone in 10th place. They will travel to #7 Clarkson for the first round of the ECAC playoffs.

Union (14-4-4) wins the top seed for the second consecutive season thanks to the combination of their 5-3 win over Colgate and RPI's 2-1 win over Cornell.

Union, Cornell, Harvard, and Colgate are the top seeds and have a bye to the quarterfinals in two weeks.

First round matchups:
#12 Brown at #5 Quinnipiac (QU won season series, 3-1)
#11 Princeton at #6 Yale (YU swept season series)
#10 RPI at #7 Clarkson (CU swept season series)
#9 Dartmouth at #8 St. Lawrence (SLU won season series, 3-1)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Where We Stand

There is one game remaining in the ECAC schedule.

RPI (6-12-3) is tied with Princeton (6-12-3) for 10th place in the ECAC, but sit as the 11th seed at present due to Princeton's head-to-head sweep this season.

The Engineers will finish as either the 10th seed or the 11th seed, and it comes down to tomorrow's games (RPI at Cornell, Brown at Princeton). If the RPI picks up more points than the Tigers, they are the 10th seed. If not, they are the 11th seed. This is because the Engineers cannot lose a tiebreaker with Brown (5-13-3).

Brown would become the 11th seed with a win over Princeton and an RPI win or tie over Cornell, due to a guarantee of having more points against the Top 4 no matter who they are (6 points already against the only guaranteed Top 4 teams, Union and Cornell). That would leave Princeton as the 12th seed.

RPI could potentially travel to any of Colgate, Clarkson, Quinnipiac, Harvard, Yale, or St. Lawrence for the first round. Yes, that is half the league, but those are the teams that could potentially finish in the 6th or 7th position, which are the places the Engineers would end up. They cannot potentially travel to St. Lawrence without being the 10th seed, and could not travel to Colgate or Harvard as the 10th seed. Anything else is possible.

Cornell (12-3-6) and Union (13-4-4) are tied for first place. The Big Red win the tiebreaker with three points against the Dutchmen this season. Cornell can clinch the #1 seed with a win over RPI. Union can clinch it with a win over Colgate AND a Cornell loss or tie, OR a tie with Colgate AND a Cornell loss.

There is a big mess for 3rd through 7th, with all teams involved holding between 21 and 23 points.

The final two byes will go to two out of Colgate, Harvard, Clarkson, and Quinnipiac. Yale (10-10-1) cannot earn a first round bye because Clarkson and Harvard play each other tomorrow and they cannot win a head to head tie with Colgate for 4th.

St. Lawrence (9-11-1) wins a head-to-head tiebreaker with Yale and would be the 7th seed with a win and a Yale loss. Dartmouth (8-10-3) loses a head-to-head tiebreaker with Yale, and therefore will be either the 8th seed or the 9th seed. As the 8th seed, they would host St. Lawrence. As the 9th seed, they would travel to either St. Lawrence or Yale.

A Dartmouth win or tie tomorrow against St. Lawrence would make Dartmouth the 8th seed and St. Lawrence the 9th seed - which means the Saints and Big Green would play at least three and possibly four consecutive games against each other at Thompson Arena.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Beginning of the End

It's safe to say that this is a really, really forgettable year. The women are already done until September (although for the last month or so, this weekend was probably as far as they were going to go since beating Cornell twice was always kind of a dicey proposition anyway), while the men are drawing dead with two games left to play - they will be on the road in the first round regardless of what happens this weekend, although they can influence whether they play a tougher first round opponent or a comparatively easier one.

As of now, the Engineers could potentially travel to any of Colgate, Clarkson, Harvard, Quinnipiac, Yale, or St. Lawrence next weekend. Does it really matter? Probably not. Clarkson and Quinnipiac swept RPI, Colgate (tonight's opponent) left them a bloody mess at Freakout, Harvard ties everyone, St. Lawrence is this year's Jekyll and Hyde, and RPI always seems to give Yale a good game.

This has been a most frustrating season - and I'll write about it a little more next week - but the end is in sight, good or bad.

Get pumped up, if you can.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tough Crowd

Really not much to add today. As a quick note for those not following us on Twitter (and really, if you're not following us on Twitter... why not?), the Engineers added a pair of recruits this week, which we expect should finish out recruiting for 2012-13 with the possible exception of another potential forward. Here's what the Class of 2012 looks like, with the one question mark on 2012 or 2013 in italics. We've linked to Reilly Hamilton's stat-shot of the two new recruits as well, you can find the rest at our yearly pipeline piece that we did last month.

Mike Zalewski (Vernon, BCHL)
Mark Miller (Omaha, USHL)
Riley Bourbonnais (Cedar Rapids, USHL)
Travis Fulton (Vaughan, OJHL)
Milos Bubela (Dubuque, USHL)

Chris Bradley (Youngstown, USHL)
Craig Bokenfohr (Camrose, AJHL)

Jason Kasdorf (Des Moines, USHL)

That's about it for today. As a parting gift, please, enjoy this... thing. Consider it an early pumpup present.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tentative Men's 2012-13 Schedule

RPI's tentative 2012-13 schedule has been released in mailers to season ticket holders. Game times are 7pm unless otherwise indicated. ECAC games are starred.

Saturday, 6 October - Acadia (Exhibition)
Friday, 12 October - Ferris State
Saturday, 13 October - Ferris State
Friday, 19 October - at Minnesota State
Saturday, 20 October - at Minnesota State
Friday, 26 October - Western Michigan
Saturday, 27 October - Western Michigan

Friday, 02 November - Union* (Black Friday)
Saturday, 03 November - at Union*
Friday, 09 November - at Dartmouth*
Saturday, 10 November - at Harvard*
Friday, 16 November - Mercyhurst
Saturday, 17 November - Mercyhurst
Friday, 30 November - Princeton*

Saturday, 01 December - Quinnipiac*
Friday, 07 December - at Yale*
Saturday, 08 December - at Brown*
Monday, 31 December - Sacred Heart, 4pm

Friday, 04 January - at Boston University
Sunday, 06 January - at New Hampshire, 4pm
Friday, 11 January - at Quinnipiac*
Saturday, 12 January - at Princeton, 4pm*
Friday, 18 January - Colgate*
Saturday, 19 January - Cornell*
Saturday, 26 January - vs. Union (site TBD)

Friday, 01 February - Harvard*
Saturday, 02 February - Dartmouth*
Friday, 08 February - at St. Lawrence*
Saturday, 09 February - at Clarkson*
Friday, 15 February - Brown*
Saturday, 16 February - Yale*
Friday, 22 February - at Cornell*
Saturday, 23 February - at Colgate*

Friday, 01 March - Clarkson*
Saturday, 02 March - St. Lawrence* (Senior Night)
Fri-Sun, 08-10 March - ECAC First Round (at higher seeds)
Fri-Sun, 15-17 March - ECAC Quarterfinals (at higher seeds)
Friday, 22 March - ECAC Semifinals (Atlantic City, NJ)
Saturday, 23 March - ECAC Championship (Atlantic City, NJ)
Fri-Sun, 29-31 March - NCAA Regionals (Providence, RI; Manchester, NH; Toledo, OH; Grand Rapids, MI)

Thursday, 11 April - NCAA Frozen Four (Pittsburgh, PA)
Saturday, 13 April - NCAA Championship (Pittsburgh, PA)

This may be subject to change, especially if the Engineers end up hosting St. Cloud State, as the recent rumor out of Central Minnesota indicated. They do, however, have all 34 regular season games covered at present.

It is suspected that the third Union game may take place at the Times Union Center in Albany, subject to the AHL schedule for the Albany Devils.

The 36th Freakout! is likely to take place against either Dartmouth or Yale.

Unless something changes, or the Engineers reach the NCAA Tournament, Western Michigan will be the last CCHA team to face RPI. They would be favorites to also be the first NCHC team to face RPI in 2013-14 given the Engineers' almost certain return trip that season, unless fellow NCHCers St. Cloud State are also on the schedule that season.

The women's schedule generally isn't known until late in the summer, but based on previous schedules we can estimate that they will open the season with an exhibition in the afternoon on September 29, and should probably have non-conference weekends at Syracuse and Robert Morris and one at home against UConn. RPI has had four straight seasons of non-conference weekends against Niagara, it is unknown if that will continue.

Expect the women's season to wrap up the weekend of February 22/23. The 2013 Women's Frozen Four takes place at Ridder Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN, taking place March 22 and 24.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Men's Hockey - Quinnipiac & Princeton (17/18 Feb)

It's starting to look like the Engineers may play better on the road than they do at home. If that's the case, they could well start playing better permanently, since their play this past weekend in Troy guaranteed that they will not return to competitive hockey at the Field House until October, failing to win at home for the fourth and fifth consecutive times with a 3-1 loss to Quinnipiac and a 6-2 loss to Princeton.




It seems to have happened quite a few times this season that the Engineers have put the puck in the net only to lose the momentum in short order to great detriment. That's basically the story of the first period on Friday as the Engineers put themselves on the board first with Zach Schroeder's sixth goal of the season nine minutes in, giving RPI a 1-0 lead.

But just 23 seconds later, Quinnipiac scored the equalizer to make it 1-1, blunting any momentum that the Engineers could have hoped to gain from Schroeder's goal. A power play goal ten minutes later - with 16 seconds left on the clock - made it 2-1 Bobcats and represented yet another blow, the dreaded late goal which has also been a difficult one for RPI to bounce back from.

The Engineers picked up a pair of power plays in the first 13 minutes of the second period, but were unable to translate those advantages into the tying goal. About a minute after the second power play expired, Quinnipiac struck again to make it 3-1.

Two more power plays fell by the wayside in the third period as the RPI advantage went 0-for-5 on the evening, contributing to an overall bad night on special teams (1-for-7). The Engineers registered 7 shots on goal in the third but still couldn't add to Schroeder's goal, falling 3-1 as the team failed to beat Quinnipiac for the fourth consecutive outing against the Bobcats.




In part to ensure that seniors Josh Rabbani and Justin Smith got the opportunity to play on Senior Night, a shakeup took place in the RPI lineup. Johnny Rogic was also reinserted into the lineup, with Matt Neal, Jacob Laliberte, and Matt Tinordi sitting down, as well as Guy Leboeuf, who came out in favor of Pat Koudys.

The Engineers entered Saturday's game with a distinct advantage - thanks to an injury and a game disqualification to defensemen in Friday's game at Union, Princeton had only four healthy defensemen on hand to take on RPI.

That advantage gave the Engineers the opportunity to generally control the game early on, but it did not translate into goals right away. In fact, Princeton got on the board first on a bit of a weak goal off a faceoff in the RPI zone, but the Engineers did respond before the end of the first period. Mike Bergin scored his first goal of the season - and his first since December 3, 2010 - with a rip from the blue line about four minutes later.

Princeton broke the game open in the second period with four goals, picking up two in the first five and a half minutes of the second period on their first two shots of the period, making it 3-1 and chasing Bryce Merriam in favor of Scott Diebold. The Engineers responded about a minute and a half later with Josh Rabbani scoring his first goal of the season - and his first since February 18, 2011 - on a rebound to cut Princeton's lead in half.

As the Engineers tried going for the second tying goal of the game, a bad break that has created plenty of offensive opportunities for the opposition this season - a blocked blue line shot kicked into the neutral zone - led to a breakaway opportunity and a goal for the Tigers, making it 4-2. A five-on-three advantage three minutes later led to Princeton's fifth goal, and the rout was on. The Tigers picked up another marker eight minutes into the third to seal things up tight.

With 5:49 left in the game, Seth Appert called timeout and sent senior Jeremy Coupal into the net, which drew a standing ovation from the RPI crowd. In a similar circumstance two years ago in the Freakout, Princeton did not relent against the third-string seeing his first game action, scoring two goals on three shots. With Coupal in net, Princeton did visibly pull up a bit, but did squeeze off a couple of shots, one of which was on net and blockered aside for his first career save.

On the other end, RPI fired only 26 shots on net in the game, half of them in the second period. The loss, coupled with Yale's 7-1 slaughter of Harvard, sealed the Engineers' fate in the playoffs - they will be on the road for the first round. While they can potentially reach as high as the 9th seed, the reality is that they will probably finish in the bottom three of the league table.

Other junk - Ferris State remains the #1 team in the nation this week, picking up 36 of 50 first place votes, so congratulations to the Bulldogs on that for sure. They're in first place in the CCHA and hitting on all four cylinders right now with a nation-leading 14 game unbeaten streak, they haven't lost since December 30. Other teams on the RPI schedule ranked this week are #7 UMass-Lowell (down one), #8 Union (no change), #11 Cornell (up one), #16 Colorado College (down one), #18 Notre Dame (down five), and #20 Colgate (re-entering the rankings). Quinnipiac (8) and Clarkson (1) also received votes.

RPI has not beaten Princeton at home since the 2006-07 season - they are 0-5-0 since then and have been outscored 25-6, half of the Engineers' goals coming in last year's 4-3 loss.

Barring a miracle, the Engineers will fail to have any player reach double digits in goals scored for the first time since 2007-08, the only time it has happened in the modern era. C.J. Lee, Zach Schroeder, and Ryan Haggerty each have six goals this year, seven different players reached six that season and the lowest ever team-leading total was nine by both Tyler Helfrich (in his freshman year) and Jonathan Ornelas (in his senior season).

It gets worse on points. Brock Higgs' 18 points leads the team with only four guaranteed games remaining in the season. RPI has never failed to produce at least one player with 20 points in the modern era, coming closest in the disastrous 1965-66 season with Al Jones reaching 10 goals (the only player on the team with double digits that year) and 20 points. Helfrich and Chase Polacek had 29 and 28 points respectively in 2007-08, both were freshmen that year.

On the flip side, only three skaters - Justin Smith, Greg Burgdoerfer, and Luke Curadi - have not scored goals this year, and Curadi is the only skater that has not registered a point (Rabbani and Bergin scored their first goals on Saturday, Smith picked up his first assist). However, nine skaters have only one goal.

Assuming he doesn't get more playing time, Jeremy Coupal becomes the first RPI goaltender to register a 1.000 save percentage since Jim Palmer in 2001-02, who made 14 saves on 14 shots in 23:41 of game time, including a shutout first period against Bowling Green. Palmer is the last third-string goaltender with limited playing time to register more than one save in his career - he had 19 on 20 shots in 31:15 of playing time. Palmer, incidentally, played at Seton Catholic HS in Plattsburgh, NY with RPI teammate Glenn Coupal, no relation to Jeremy.

ECAC Standings
1. Union - 30 pts (13-3-4)
2. Cornell - 28 pts (11-3-6)
3. Colgate - 23 pts (11-8-1)
4. Clarkson - 22 pts (9-7-4)
5. Harvard - 21 pts (6-5-9)
6. Quinnipiac - 20 pts (8-8-4)
7. St. Lawrence - 19 pts (9-10-1)
8. Yale - 19 pts (9-10-1)
9. Dartmouth - 17 pts (7-10-3)
10. Princeton - 15 pts (6-11-3)
11. RPI - 13 pts (5-12-3)
12. Brown - 13 pts (5-12-3)

Quinnipiac at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/17/12- 7:00pm
RESULT: Quinnipiac 3, RPI 1



RECORD: 8-20-3 (5-11-3 ECAC, 13 pts)

Princeton at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/18/12 - 7:00pm
RESULT:  Princeton 6, RPI 2



RECORD: 8-21-3 (5-12-3 ECAC, 13 pts)

Upcoming games
24 Feb - at #20 Colgate
25 Feb - at #11 Cornell
02 Mar - at ECAC First Round, Game 1 (site/opponent TBD)
03 Mar - at ECAC First Round, Game 2
04 Mar - at ECAC First Round, Game 3 (if necessary)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Women's Hockey - at Princeton & Quinnipiac (17/18 Feb)

Entering the final weekend of the regular season, RPI needed to pick up more points than Brown while staying ahead of Colgate in order to make the playoffs. While Colgate and Brown each did their part to help the Engineers by getting swept, RPI was unable to pick up any points of their own in a 2-1 loss to Princeton followed by a 5-1 loss to Quinnipiac. The results of the weekend knocked the Engineers out of the playoffs by virtue of Brown's head-to-head tiebreaker win with RPI, ending the 2011-12 season.



Le Donne/Marzario


Scoring first wasn't enough to give RPI control against Princeton, as the Tigers answered RPI's opener with two goals of their own to take a 2-1 victory at Baker Rink on Friday.

The Engineers lit the lamp just 23 seconds into the game, when Taylor Mahoney skated down the left side and beat Rachel Weber for a 1-0 lead. Princeton fought back from the goal and controlled play for much of the first period, earning a power play before the middle of the period. While the Tigers were unable to capitalize on the power play chance, they tied the game only a minute after the penalty expired. Denna Laing was able to get control of a rebound in front of RPI netminder Kelly O'Brien, and push it past her to make it a 1-1 game at 10:43.

RPI would manage just three shots on goal in the opening period despite a 5-on-3 power play opportunity, and Princeton continued to hold fast in the second period, killing another penalty before gaining the lead at 6:13. Julie Johnson fed a pass to Sally Butler who was open in front of the RPI net, and Butler put it past O'Brien for a 2-1 lead.

Princeton would hold that lead against a furious effort from the Engineers in the third period, including a breakaway chance by Taylor Horton - which, along with a rebound opportunity were stopped by Weber. The Tigers nearly put the game away with an empty net shot which rang off the pipe, and Weber made one final save in the game's closing moments to secure the win.



Le Donne/Marzario


When one team comes into a game with its back to the wall, needing points to keep their season alive, and the other has their playoff seed already determined, with no possible impact from the ensuing game, you might expect to see a disparity in intensity between the two. That was exactly the case on Saturday, except it was in the exact opposite direction from what one would anticipate, with sixth-seeded Quinnipiac trouncing RPI 5-1 to end the Engineers' season.

Sophomore Kelly Babstock led the Bobcats with a hat trick capped off with an empty net goal late in the third period, and Victoria Vigilanti made 18 saves on 19 shots to help Quinnipiac end their regular season (and senior night) on a high note.

The first period was somewhat tentative from both squads, testing the waters and not taking many chances. The Engineers killed the period's only penalty and outshot their hosts 6-4, but none were great oppotunities to score.

Penalties cost the Engineers dearly in the second period, as three consecutive power play chances for Quinnipiac were quickly converted into a pair of goals. With Toni Sanders in the box for checking, Breann Frykas tapped a rebound past Brianna Piper at 7:09, and Babstock scored her first of the afternoon at 12:52, just 15 seconds into a penalty on Taylor Horton for high sticking.

Babstock turned it into a 3-0 lead just over three minutes later, collecting a turnover in the RPI zone and casually skating it to the net to deposit it in the back of the net. Quinnipiac finally took their first penalty of the game at 16:39 but the Engineers mustered little pressure on the power play opportunity.

Toni Sanders drew the Engineers to within two, but it wasn't until nearly 15 minutes into the final period, and too late to spark a serious comeback attempt. Babstock completed her hat trick with an empty netter at 16:21, and Bethany Dymarczyk notched another at 19:28 when RPI pulled Piper for a 6-on-4 advantage on a power play. The shorthanded tally made it 5-1 and the score held. Alicia Miksic, RPI's graduate student third goalie, played out the final 32 seconds in net in what would be her first and last game action for the team.

With the loss, RPI's season comes to an end and the Engineers miss the playoffs for just the second time since joining the ECAC (and first time since 2007-08). The preseason polls predicted an 8th place finish for the Engineers, and they were off only by a tiebreaker for RPI (although the coaches picked Brown for 11th, not to take the final playoff spot). A disappointing end to a frustrating season - but as it is with any disappointing finish - there's always next year.


RPI vs. Princeton
ECAC Hockey Game – Baker Rink (Princeton, NJ)
2/17/12 – 7:00pm
Princeton 2, RPI 1



RECORD: 9-20-4 (6-13-2 ECAC)


RPI vs. Quinnipiac
ECAC Hockey Game – TD Bank Sports Center (Hamden, CT)
2/18/12 – 4:00pm
Quinnipiac 5, RPI 1



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


Final ECAC Standings
                   Pts   Conf     All
1 Cornell 40 20-2 26-3
2 Harvard 35 17-4-1 20-8-1
3 Clarkson 32 15-5-2 21-8-5
4 Dartmouth 30 14-6-2 18-8-2
5 St. Lawrence 30 14-6-2 20-9-4
6 Quinnipiac 26 12-8-2 17-14-2
7 Princeton 22 10-10-2 12-13-4
8 Brown 14 5-13-4 8-14-7
9 Rensselaer 14 6-14-2 9-21-4
10 Colgate 12 5-15-2 10-21-2
11 Union 6 2-18-2 4-26-4
12 Yale 3 1-20-1 1-27-1

Playoff Matchups

#8 Brown at #1 Cornell
#7 Princeton at #2 Harvard
#6 Quinnipiac at #3 Clarkson
#5 St. Lawrence at #4 Dartmouth

Where We... Sit

The ECAC regular season is complete.

RPI (6-14-2) finishes in a tie for 8th place with Brown (5-13-4), but lose the tiebreaker based on an 0-1-1 record against the Bears and occupy the 9th position in the ECAC, out of a playoff spot. The Engineers miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08, and the second time overall since joining the league.

Brown, notably, reaches the playoffs for the first time since 2004-05, ending a long drought for a program that lost 3-2 in the national championship game in 2002.

The remaining seven teams all reached the playoffs last season. Colgate's last playoff appearance was in 2009-10. Yale last reached the quarterfinals in 2007-08. Union has never reached the ECAC playoffs, but reached a new high as a program by not finishing in last place for the first time in Division I (9 seasons), and reaching a new high point total of six, beating the previous standard of four.

Quarterfinal matchups are as follows:
#8 Brown at #1 Cornell
#7 Quinnipiac at #2 Harvard
#6 Princeton at #3 Clarkson
#5 St. Lawrence at #4 Dartmouth

There are two games remaining in the regular season.

RPI (5-12-3) is in a tie for 11th place with Brown (5-12-3), occupying the 11th seed position by virtue of a season sweep. Both teams are eliminated from consideration for home ice in the playoffs, trailing the #8 position by six points with four points remaining.

The Engineers lose the tiebreaker with 10th place Princeton (6-11-3) thanks to the Tigers' season sweep completed last night. Princeton also cannot reach the #8 position, however.

They would go to the third tiebreaker (points against Top 4 teams) against Dartmouth (7-10-3). At present, RPI would win this tiebreaker because for it to come into play, the Engineers must sweep Colgate and Cornell, two Top 4 teams, giving them 4 points against current Top 4 squads against only 2 for Dartmouth. However, only two Top 4 teams are officially known at this time (Union and Cornell), and any team currently in the Top 8 has the potential to reach the Top 4.

Here's how the point totals would play out in a tiebreaker.
Union - Both teams were swept.
Cornell - RPI 2, Dartmouth 0 (tiebreaker requires RPI win at Cornell on Saturday).
Colgate - Both teams split (tiebreaker requires RPI win at Colgate on Friday).
Clarkson - Both teams were swept (tiebreaker requires Dartmouth loss at Clarkson on Friday).
Harvard - Both teams tied Harvard twice (come on, it's Harvard, the tie machine).
Quinnipiac - Dartmouth 2, RPI 0
St. Lawrence - Both teams split (tiebreaker requires Dartmouth loss at St. Lawrence on Saturday).
Yale - RPI 2, Dartmouth 0

Thus, the only teams that really matter for the tiebreaker are Cornell, Quinnipiac, and Yale, since the others are a wash. Since Cornell is guaranteed to be in the Top 4, that would give RPI a distinct advantage. Dartmouth could push things to a Top 8 tiebreak if Quinnipiac reaches the Top 4, by which point all of the above teams come into play. Thus, the Engineers will win a tiebreaker with Dartmouth. (Thanks to Jason Klump for the heads up)

The Engineers can therefore potentially reach the #9 seed, but it would require 4 points this weekend, and for Dartmouth to be swept by Clarkson and St. Lawrence, and for Princeton to take no more than one point this weekend. All of this is moot by Saturday if RPI does not defeat Colgate AND Dartmouth does not lose to Clarkson.

Three-way ties resolve in this fashion:
BRN/DRT/RPI: RPI, Dartmouth, Brown
BRN/PRN/RPI: Princeton, RPI, Brown
DRT/PRN/RPI: Dartmouth, Princeton, RPI

The only possible four way tie: Dartmouth, Princeton, RPI, Brown

On Friday, in addition to the Engineers beating Colgate, fans should be pulling for Clarkson over Dartmouth,  Yale over Princeton, and Brown over Quinnipiac. The Union-Cornell and St. Lawrence-Harvard games are immaterial.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Where We Stand

There is one game remaining in the regular season.

RPI (6-13-2) lost 2-1 to Princeton last night, while Brown (5-12-4) lost 5-1 to Harvard and Colgate (5-14-2) lost 6-0 to St. Lawrence.

Colgate can now only finish in a three-way tie for 8th with RPI and Brown, and Brown would win this tiebreaker. Thus, Colgate is eliminated from playoff contention.

RPI can clinch a playoff berth (the #8 seed) in one of these two scenarios:
1) A win over Quinnipiac AND a Brown tie or loss to Dartmouth
2) A tie over Quinnipiac AND a Brown loss to Dartmouth

Anything different, and Brown is the #8 seed.

The following finishing positions are guaranteed:
#1 - Cornell (19-2-0)
#2 - Harvard (16-4-1)
#6 - Quinnipiac (11-8-2)
#7 - Princeton (9-10-2)
#11 - Union (2-17-2)
#12 - Yale (1-19-1)

Thus, the only known quarterfinal matchup next week is Princeton at Harvard.

St. Lawrence (14-5-2) and Clarkson (14-5-2) are currently in a tie for 3rd place. Dartmouth can tie both with a win over Brown and SLU/Clarkson losses, but would not move up in any tiebreaker. St. Lawrence wins both the three-way tie and a tie with Clarkson for 3rd, both on head-to-head records.

Dartmouth (13-6-2) can move into 4th place and secure the final home ice position if they defeat Brown AND St. Lawrence loses to Cornell AND Clarkson either beats or ties Colgate. That's not a terribly unlikely scenario.

As this pertains to RPI, Brown's opponent has something to play for, while RPI's opponent will finish in their current position no matter what.

Next week's matchups
#8 Brown/RPI at #1 Cornell
#7 Princeton at #2 Harvard
#6 Quinnipiac at #3 Clarkson/St. Lawrence
#5 Dartmouth/St. Lawrence at #4 Clarkson/Dartmouth/St. Lawrence

There are three games left in the regular season.

RPI (5-11-3) lost to Quinnipiac 3-1 last night. Coupled with Princeton's 3-0 loss to Union and Brown's 3-3 tie against Harvard (which gives the Crimson the NCAA record for ties, incidentally), the Engineers now sit in a three-way tie with the Tigers and Bears for 10th place (or last place, if you prefer).

The Engineers can no longer catch any team in the top half of the standings with only six points up for grabs. If they were to win all three games, they would finish with 19 points, putting them, at best, in a tie with St. Lawrence (9-9-1), currently in 7th place. They cannot, however, win a tiebreaker with the Saints, because that presupposes 3 losses for SLU and 3 wins for RPI, and the Saints would win the second tiebreaker on wins.

Yale (8-10-1) sits in 8th, the final home ice position, four points ahead of the Engineers with six points left. To say home ice is a stretch for RPI at this point is putting it mildly, especially given that the season ends with two road games at teams likely to be off the following weekend.

Union (12-3-4) has secured a first round bye. Cornell (10-3-6) does so by picking up any one of the six remaining points.

Colgate (11-7-1) has secured at least home ice in the first round.

The Engineers win the tiebreaker with Brown. They would be unlikely to win the tiebreaker with Yale on wins. The tiebreaker with Dartmouth is unknown, as it would probably go into at least the third iteration (Top 4). RPI would lose the tiebreaker with Princeton with a loss or tie tonight, otherwise it too would likely go into the third iteration.

At this point, RPI needs wins, but they should also be hoping for losses by Yale (vs. Harvard) and Dartmouth (at Brown).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Best Served Cold

The men and the women both face off with the southernmost in the conference, and both will be hoping for better outcomes than the last time they saw the Bobcats and Tigers.

For the men, a road weekend in December featured lost leads in both contests, and despite a long awaited reawakening of the offense, no points. For the women, a home weekend at the end of October to kick off the ECAC schedule occurred during an offensive blackout, and solid defense was only enough to pick up a single point against Princeton.

It's crunch time. In Princeton tonight, it's do or die for the Engineers with only two games left on the schedule. In Troy, it's time to take advantage of home ice for the last time this season.

Pump it up... and let see some turnout this weekend, because you may not get another chance until October.

Special thanks to Matt Forget, who suggested this song for this week's pumpup. It's apt.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Big Game

Something was striking about Seth Appert's pre-weekend chat with the media last week:

"We don't put emphasis on one game over the other. We've tried to flush that mentality out of our team. That was the mentality when we got here, that it was important to get up for some games and others weren't as important. You will never win at the highest levels like that... Winning programs treat every game like it's the most important game of the season, and that's why I make that statement that it's so important that we treat all the games with that urgency. Not just Black Friday, or Freakout, or Clarkson, or Cornell, or whatever it is."

That was in response to a question about the 8-3 loss to Colgate in the Freakout, which is the fourth loss by three or more goals in that game in the last five years. That immediately followed a 17-year unbeaten streak during which it was pretty much standard procedure for ECAC teams to hope their visit to Troy didn't coincide with the game. Before this stretch, RPI had only lost by three in the Freakout three times (1981, 1982, 1986). It might be safe to say that if RPI isn't getting up for the Freakout, the opponents certainly seem to be.

With a 17-year stretch of no losses in the Freakout, maybe it's safe to agree with Appert that under Buddy Powers and Dan Fridgen, Freakout was considered an important game. But even if you try to claim it's the same as all the others, there are plenty of things that set it apart. The building is full and louder than usual. The team wears the road jerseys instead of the home jerseys. There are plenty of events surrounding the game, including a post-game appearance at the Alumni House with tons of alums. Frequently, it's on TV.

Yes, every ECAC game, at the end of the day, is worth two points. From a holistic standpoint, the game in November at home against Union is worth the same as the game in early January against Dartmouth is worth the same on the last day of the season at Cornell. But from a realistic standpoint, are all of these games really of the same value? Probably not. For one, we know more about positioning late in the season than we do early in the season. The games might be worth the same number of points, and of course we want to take as many points as possible - we want 44 when the season starts.

But just as all teams have ebbs and flows, so does the schedule. Appert points to last year's games in Alabama as reasons why the Engineers went to the national tournament, and one could make an argument along those lines. One could make an argument that since we were the last ones in and Dartmouth the first ones out, the season sweep of Dartmouth was more important. An objective observer could say that Alabama-Huntsville's win over Nebraska-Omaha put us in over Dartmouth, which brings us back to the importance of the UAH victories, of course, but nonetheless, those weren't exactly the best games RPI played last year.

Union gets up for RPI, there's no question. You can see if in the interviews done with their players before and after games. Beating RPI is the most important thing in the world, and it doesn't compare with beating, say, Princeton. But those games are worth the same number of points. There's even a third game that's worth no points, which this year, if you asked them, marked a major turning point of the year.

There's no game that can be taken easy, but unless you've already got a championship caliber team, there will naturally be some games that just are not as important as others. That's not to say that you don't want to see teams give 100% in every game, far from it. It's just psychologically difficult to make every single game the most important game of the year - especially this season. How could that midweek game against AIC possibly be as important as, for instance, a game against Cornell on national television?

So why not set yourself some benchmarks? When you're standing on that goal line before the Freakout trying to convince yourself that this game is no more important than the next, or the last, aren't you psyching yourself down a bit from a natural lift?

In years past, it was not unusual to hear players speaking with pride about the importance of certain games, and it wasn't uncommon to see big wins in big games provide boosts for future contests. Ask the 2001-02 Engineers what that big Freakout win did for them going forward - or if you like, just look at the schedule.

It's rare to see us disagree with Seth Appert, but for me, this is what it boils down to: when no game is more important than another, no game is really that important.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Where We Stand

There are two games remaining on the ECAC schedule.

The Engineers (6-12-2 ECAC) are tied for 8th place with Brown (5-11-4) but lose the tiebreaker with the Bears (0-1-1 head-to-head) and thus sit outside of the final playoff position at present.

RPI can still finish as high as 7th, provided that they sweep Princeton and Quinnipiac AND Princeton loses to Union on Saturday AND Brown takes no more than three points from Harvard and Dartmouth. Any other result, and the Engineers finish in 8th or lower.

The Engineers will make the playoffs if they earn more points at Princeton/Quinnipiac than Brown does at Harvard/Dartmouth AND they stay ahead of or win the tiebreaker with Colgate. If they earn less or the same number of points as Brown, they are eliminated.

RPI can be eliminated from playoff contention on Friday with a loss to Princeton AND a Brown win over Harvard.

RPI and Colgate (5-13-2) have an unknown tiebreaker at the moment given a series split (1-1-0). Both teams have the same number of ties, which could make for a tie in total wins if the teams draw even again. If that happens, the third tiebreaker is on record against Top 4 teams. Neither team has a win against the current Top 4, but Colgate has games remaining against St. Lawrence and Clarkson and the Engineers have a win over potential Top 4 team Dartmouth.

Brown would win a three-way tie with RPI and Colgate for 8th place with a 2-0-2 record against the Engineers and Raiders this season.

A meaningful tiebreaker between RPI and Colgate would therefore presuppose that RPI and Colgate finish in a tie for 8th place ahead of Brown. For this to happen, the following point schemes would be required - RPI 2, Colgate 4, Brown 1 or 0 (a win and loss for the Engineers, two ties would give Colgate the tiebreaker on wins); RPI 1, Colgate 3, Brown 0. Thus, Colgate would have to pick up at least one point against a Top 4 team in order for the tiebreaker to become relevant. RPI could potentially counter with 2 points from Dartmouth if the Big Green move into the Top 4, but Colgate would have between 1 and 4.

If both teams have 2 points against Top 4 teams, it moves to record against the Top 8 (realistically, the Top 7, since the tiebreak would be for 8th place). Given the teams' exactly similar records against Yale, Union, and Brown (the teams that would not be Top 7), that means they'd have the same number of points against the rest of the league. We would then move to the 5th tiebreaker, head-to-head goal differential. RPI would win this tiebreak 6-4.

Thus, for RPI to win a meaningful head-to-head tiebreaker with Colgate assuming they do not pick up any more ties, the Engineers would need Dartmouth to finish in the Top 4. Given the schedule of all teams involved, this would be a likely result if the RPI/Colgate tiebreaker was necessary. We feel confident in saying that the Engineers would probably win a head-to-head tiebreak with the Raiders but it is not certain. Things will be more clear on Saturday morning.

Cornell (18-2-0) has clinched the #1 seed and will host the #8 seed (Princeton, Brown, RPI, or Colgate) February 24-26 in the ECAC Quarterfinals.

Harvard (15-4-1) and Clarkson (14-4-2) have clinched home ice for quarterfinal round. The final home ice spot will go to either St. Lawrence (13-5-2) or Dartmouth (12-6-2).

Harvard, Clarkson, or St. Lawrence could potentially finish as the #2 seed, which will host the #7 seed.

Quinnipiac (10-8-2) and Princeton (8-10-2) will be on the road in the quarterfinal round.

Union (2-16-2) and Yale (1-18-1)  have been eliminated from playoff consideration.

There are four games remaining on the ECAC schedule.

The Engineers (5-10-3) are tied for 10th place with Princeton (5-10-3). They lose the tiebreaker with the Tigers at present due to Princeton's 5-3 head-to-head win on December 2 and thus sit in the 11th-seed position. They are statistically eliminated from contention for the first-round bye. They do not control their own destiny for home ice.

Brown (5-11-2) is in last place and, like RPI, are eliminated from contention for the first-round bye and do not control their own destiny for home ice.

Dartmouth, Yale, and Princeton are functionally eliminated from contention for the first-round bye. Princeton does not control their own destiny for home ice.

Union, Cornell, and Colgate have clinched home ice. Union and Cornell control their own destinies for the Cleary Cup and have functionally secured first-round byes.

RPI wins a potential tiebreaker with Brown based on a season sweep of the Bears. They would win a potential (but highly unlikely) tiebreaker with Harvard on the second tiebreaker (wins, since Harvard will finish with more ties than RPI).

They picked up season splits with Dartmouth, Yale, and St. Lawrence, creating unknown tiebreakers with these teams. The Engineers lose a potential (but unlikely) tiebreaker with Clarkson based on being swept, and they have games remaining against Quinnipiac and Princeton, in both cases they would be seeking a season split with wins.

Monday, February 13, 2012

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

Perhaps it is time to start calling RPI the "road warriors." After a mediocre four-game homestand bookended by a solid win and an awful loss, the Engineers managed to extend their road unbeaten streak to four straight games by riding a defense rebounding from the Freakout nightmare to a 3-point weekend on the road, battling back to pick up a 2-2 tie with the fit-to-be-tied Crimson on Friday, then coming back to pick up a 2-1 win the next night at Dartmouth to pass a plummeting Brown and move out of the ECAC cellar.




The top line of C.J. Lee, Mark McGowan, and Marty O'Grady has been together for some time now, but the rest of the forward lines have been jumbled a bit. Matt Tinordi, Greg Burgdoerfer, Johnny Rogic, and Pat Koudys were removed from the Friday lineup after having played in the Freakout, and were replaced with Matt Neal, Jacob Laliberte, Josh Rabbani, and Luke Curadi.

The Engineers got out to the 1-0 lead, scoring the game's opening goal for the first time since the 4-0 win at home over St. Lawrence with Lee's team-lead-tying sixth goal of the season from O'Grady and McGowan    about 15 and a half minutes into the game, but the lead only lasted a short time as the Crimson answered back to tie the game just 1:43 later.

RPI weathered the storm in the second period as Bryce Merriam made 11 saves to keep the game knotted at one heading into the final period, where the Engineers began to take more control of the game, and yet they still ended up falling behind. Harvard coach Ted Donato called timeout shortly after RPI failed to score on their second power play opportunity of the game, and just under two minutes later, the Crimson grabbed the lead.

That goal was followed just over a minute later by a questionable tripping call against Luke Curadi, but the Engineer penalty kill held strong, giving RPI the opportunity to stick around. After the Curadi penalty expired, the Engineers started getting some good puck control and had a number of good opportunities on a subsequent power play, but as time ticked down, they still trailed 2-1.

Following an icing call against Harvard, Seth Appert used his timeout and pulled Merriam from the cage - not an uncommon sight this season, but the script was changed this time. For the first time this season, RPI scored an extra attacker goal, coming off the stick of Brock Higgs, who with 1:03 left on the clock, tied the game at two with just his second goal of the season.

The Engineers dominated the overtime period, but could not find the game winner and settled for their second straight 2-2 tie with Harvard. Interestingly, the tie was the Crimson's 10th of the season (in 24 games), tying an NCAA record. As opposed to the tie in January in which RPI blew a 2-0 lead, this one was a little easier to swallow, but the Engineers surely would have hoped for the win given the way the first and third periods went.

Bryce Merriam finished with 29 saves on the night.




Rogic and Tinordi returned to the lineup on Saturday night, replacing Rabbani and Ryan Haggerty.

As with Friday night, the Engineers jumped out to the 1-0 lead in the first period, and this time they were able to make it stick for a bit longer. Joel Malchuk's fifth goal of the season 9:23 into the game put RPI ahead, and the team killed off the only penalty of the period late to hold the lead into the second thanks in part to some very sloppy play by the Big Green.

Jacob Laliberte struck on the power play about six minutes into the second to give the Engineers a 2-0 edge, but that lead was cut in half about four minutes later, shortly after RPI was unable to convert on another power play opportunity. Dartmouth's Brandon McNally scored just seconds after getting out of the box on a boarding call to make it 2-1, but it was the only high point for the Big Green in the second period, as their overall anemic play carried over into the second overall. Dartmouth managed only two shots on goal in the second period.

Things picked up dramatically in the third period. While RPI put up 14 shots against Dartmouth's 9 in the first two periods, both teams went to work in the final stanza, throwing all kinds of pucks on net. Big Green netminder James Mello made 14 saves in the third, while Merriam threw up 11 of his own.

Both teams had a pair of power play opportunities each in the final frame, but none was more important than Mike Bergin's interference penalty with 1:04 left in regulation. Dartmouth called timeout, and went to work on a 6-on-4 power play which the Engineers were able to break a couple of times with clearances (and open shots on an empty net without the fear of icing), but largely kept RPI hemmed in their own zone. It wasn't until an interference call against Dartmouth with 3 seconds left on the clock that the Engineers could breathe a sigh of relief that they would not be victimized in the same fashion they had done the previous night.

RPI is now undefeated in four straight road games (3-0-1), but they return home this weekend for their final home appearances of the year if they are unable to dig themselves out of their current hole. The good news is that RPI is now within striking distance of a home ice position, now tied for 10th with Princeton and two points behind the tie for 8th between Dartmouth and Yale. With four games left, it's a mad dash for positioning and as we're used to in the ECAC, pretty much anything is possible.

Other junk - Congratulations to Seth Appert's alma mater (and one of RPI's non-conference opponents both this season and next) Ferris State, as they have become the #1 team in the country for the first time in school history, pulling down 27 first place votes (up five). Also ranked this week on the RPI schedule are #6 UMass-Lowell (up one, with one first place vote), #8 Union (up three), #12 Cornell (up one), #13 Notre Dame (down four), and #15 Colorado College (down five). Also receiving votes were Colgate (107) and Quinnipiac (5).

Union, Cornell, and Colgate have clinched home ice at some point in the playoffs. Realistically, given usual point total targets, Union and Cornell have clinched first round byes, while Harvard and Clarkson have pretty much wrapped up home ice at some point as well.

The win over Dartmouth was RPI's second straight win at Thompson Arena. That's the first time that's happened since the playoff upset of March 2009 and the first time in the regular season since the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons.

The men and the women both defeated Dartmouth on Saturday, marking the first time both teams defeated the same school on the same day since January 15, 2011, when both teams beat Colgate. Both teams also beat Dartmouth on January 22, 2009.

ECAC Standings
1. Union - 26 pts (11-3-4)
2. Cornell - 25 pts (10-3-5)
3. Colgate - 23 pts (11-6-1)
4. Harvard - 20 pts (6-4-8)
5. Clarkson - 19 pts (8-7-3)
6. Quinnipiac - 18 pts (7-7-4)
7. St. Lawrence - 17 pts (8-9-1)
8. Yale - 15 pts (7-10-1)
9. Dartmouth - 15 pts (6-9-3)
10. Princeton - 13 pts (5-10-3)
11. RPI - 13 pts (5-10-3)
12. Brown - 12 pts (5-11-2)

RPI at Harvard
ECAC Game - Bright Hockey Center (Boston, MA)
2/10/12- 7:00pm
RESULT: RPI 2, Harvard 2 (OT)



RECORD: 7-19-3 (4-10-3 ECAC, 11 pts)

RPI at Dartmouth
ECAC Game - Thompson Arena (Hanover, NH)
2/11/12 - 7:00pm
RESULT:  RPI 2, Dartmouth 1



RECORD: 8-19-3 (5-10-3 ECAC, 13 pts)

Upcoming games
16 Feb - Quinnipiac
17 Feb - Princeton (Senior Night)
24 Feb - at Colgate
25 Feb - at #12 Cornell
02 Mar - ECAC First Round, Game 1 (site/opponent TBD)

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.



Le Donne/Marzario


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.



Le Donne/Vadner


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.


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



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


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



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


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

Upcoming Games

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

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Where We Stand

Following last night's 4-2 loss to Harvard, there are three games left in the women's hockey season. The Engineers face Dartmouth this afternoon in Troy, and travel to Princeton and Quinnipiac next weekend to finish the season.

RPI (5-12-2 ECAC) sits in a three-way tie for 8th with Brown (4-11-4) and Colgate (5-12-2). The Bears and Raiders play each other this afternoon in Providence.

The Engineers lose the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Bears due to an 0-1-1 record against Brown this season. As we will shortly see, RPI cannot realistically make the playoffs in any way, shape, or form if they have the same number of points as the Bears.

The tiebreaker with Colgate is unknown. The teams split the season series and have the same number of league wins, so it goes to the record against Top 4 teams. Both teams have lost all of their games against Top 4 and potential Top 4 teams, though both have games remaining (Dartmouth at RPI today, St. Lawrence/Clarkson at Colgate next week). If neither team picks up a point in those three remaining games, the tiebreak moves to Top 8, which is also in the air because all three of both teams remaining games are against Top 8 teams (with the possible exception of Colgate at Brown today).

The three-way tie will not settle out until this afternoon's Brown-Colgate game, but the Engineers will not win it. RPI has a 1-2-1 record against the sides for 3 points, Brown and Colgate also have a total of three points going into their game, so the winner of that game will win the three-way tiebreak, or a tie would have both of them dropping RPI into 10th.

Thus, in order for the Engineers to be in playoff position following this afternoon's game, they must beat Dartmouth and see Brown and Colgate tie (or at worst, Colgate win). A loss or tie with Dartmouth is guaranteed to push the Engineers into 9th or 10th (the lowest position they can finish).

RPI can technically finish as high as seventh place, but this would require a sweep of the remaining three games and for Princeton to lose to St. Lawrence and Union as well. The Engineers would then win a tiebreak with the Tigers for 7th place. The only way RPI can win a tiebreak with Brown is in a three-way tiebreak with Princeton (which would require Brown to run the table as well). The Engineers would also win a three-way tie-break with Princeton and Colgate.

On the other side of the table, Cornell (17-2-0) is in first place by five points, and can clinch the #1 seed with a win or tie over last-place Yale this afternoon. The #8 seed would then travel to Ithaca in two weeks.