Monday, December 30, 2013

Regionally Speaking

Popular opinion had it that North Dakota, the perennial NCAA tournament program which is more often than not a solid part of the national championship discussion, was probably going to beat a Yale team that had backed into the tournament after a dreadful ECAC tournament showing in Atlantic City. Even though the Bulldogs had just upset one of the tournament favorites, Minnesota, luck was supposed to run out on Cinderella the next night.

Through 50 minutes, it was looking good for the favorites. They hadn't been able to unleash a great many shots on Jeff Malcolm, but a Corban Knight goal from the first period was still holding up for a 1-0 lead. Clarke Saunders had been magnificent in turning away shot after shot, accumulating 25 in the first two periods alone.

Then, Yale took momentum and wouldn't let go, shocking the college hockey world in the process. A goal with 7:35 left tied it. Then a power play tally about two and a half minutes later put the Bulldogs in front. Another two and a half minutes later, it was 3-1, and 90 seconds after that, an empty netter put the seal on a 4-1 victory that ended North Dakota's season and put Yale, for the first time in several decades, in the Frozen Four on their way to their first national championship.

With a comeback on that magnitude, you think you'd probably hear a pin-drop in the arena, especially given North Dakota's fanbase, well-known as one of the largest and best traveling in the country. Truth be told, one probably could have heard a pin-drop in Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan that day. The problem is, you could probably have heard it at the opening puck drop. And during Knight's goal. And during the second period as well.

Only 1,918 people were in attendance for one of the biggest victories in the very, very long history of Yale hockey, sitting in a building capable of seating close to 11,000.

Earlier in the year, a reported sellout crowd of 3,500 had watched the Bulldogs win an exhibition game over the Russian Red Stars in a 10-2 laugher. Yale punched its ticket to the Frozen Four in front of fewer fans than had seen their poor play in Atlantic City, a location much maligned in the ECAC for its inability to draw fans. They'd played in front of fewer fans on only four occasions before during the year - in two games at the Ivy Shootout to start their season at Brown, neither game coming against a home team that draws notoriously poor crowds to start with, in a road game at Holy Cross, and then in a road game at... Brown. Even their game at similarly light-crowd-drawing Colgate managed 1,962.

The game set the record for the lowest official attendance at an NCAA regional final since the tournament expanded to 16 teams in 2003. The very next day, in Toledo, Ohio, St. Cloud State ended a drought for its long-suffering fans by earning its first ever Frozen Four berth, taking down the ostensible local team in Miami before only 2,460 fans. If not for the poor turnout in Grand Rapids the previous day, that would have been the record for smallest regional final crowd. The original record? Set in 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin between Ferris State and Cornell at 3,102.

RPI took on Denver in the middle of a snowstorm a couple of weeks ago, and managed an attendance of 2,703, which was bigger than two NCAA tournament regional finals last season.

Six of the 10 smallest regional final crowds ever have come in the last four seasons, and if the attendance figures for the 2011 West Regional final in St. Louis had been released, it is thought that it would also rank in that bottom 10. None of these crowds eclipsed 4,000 attendees, which means RPI/Union games in Albany and Troy during the regular season have regularly been beating out games that determine Frozen Four participants. So while regional attendance has never been earth shattering - only three finals have ever cleared 10,000 - of late it has certainly appeared to be getting worse.

Over the next four days, we'll be taking a look at regionals past, present, and future, and discuss just what can be done about major NCAA games frequently being played in front of practically no one.

Friday, December 27, 2013

What's the Story?

Before we get too far out of sorts with how the Engineers have performed thus far, let's take one thing into account. This time last year, things weren't looking altogether that great - so it's important to remember where RPI was on New Year's Day last season and where they will be this season.

Then: 6-7-4 overall (1-5-2 ECAC, 4 points - tied for 11th)
Now: 8-6-4 overall (3-3-3 ECAC, 9 points - tied for 6th)

It's also worth nothing that at this time last year, Yale was 7-4-2 with a 3-3-1 record in the ECAC. That's slightly ahead of where RPI is right now. We know how their season ended up.

So this is your final warning. Stop hitting the panic button like a madman. There's plenty of hockey left to be played.

That said, it's obvious that, thus far, things haven't quite panned out the way the preseason prognosticators (ourselves included) had hoped. On the current track, the Engineers aren't exactly primed to finish in one of the top two spots in the ECAC.

What's going on? Well, quite a bit.

Offense: Early on, it seemed that RPI would probably be able to score from practically any line they put out on the ice. Over the course of the first three months, taken as a whole, that's sort of true, since there are only three forwards on the roster (Zach Schroeder, Travis Fulton, and Riley Bourbonnais) and only five skaters total (Bo Dolan and Craig Bokenfohr) who haven't scored a goal. The problem now? A whopping nine skaters have just one goal in 18 games, five of them forwards who have appeared in more than half of the team's outings.

As a matter of fact, there are only four players on the team that have potted more than three, and you can probably name them off the top of your head: Ryan Haggerty, Brock Higgs, Matt Neal, and Jacob Laliberte. Three of those guys are on the same line, and playing well together. Laliberte and Mike Zalewski are moving the puck well. After that... there's a lot of mediocre stat lines for the rest of the forwards.

Ready for a startling figure? The last time a forward not named Haggerty, Higgs, Neal, or Laliberte scored a goal was... the Colgate game on November 9. Mark McGowan scored in the second period, while that quartet pitched in with four goals (Guy Leboeuf had that bizarro shorty in that game). Before that McGowan goal, you have to go back to Johnny Rogic's opening goal against Harvard on October 29. Yes, RPI made it all the way through a 7-1 destruction of Dartmouth without a single goal from a forward outside of the aforementioned four (six from them, and one from Luke Curadi).

One has to go all the way back to the 4-2 win over New Hampshire to find the last game which featured goals by two forwards outside the top four (Rogic and Jake Wood). Before that one, every contest except the victory over BU had featured at least two other forwards on the team scoring goals.

There's no doubt that the Neal-Higgs-Haggerty line is among the best in the nation in putting the puck in the net, but the thing that was supposed to separate RPI from St. Lawrence (Carey-Carey-Martin) and Brown (Lorito-Naclerio-Lappin), for instance, really hasn't been there in the last two months. That has got to change going forward.

Fortunately, that one line has at least been enough to keep the team in games for the most part. The good news is that if they can add in help from the other groupings on the line chart - even to the tune of around a goal per game or even slightly less - it should make things a whole lot easier going forward. That's how good the Neal-Higgs-Haggerty line has been.

Defense: Let's be 100% clear. A major element of the expectations heading into the season was that the Engineers had a goaltender that was one of the best in the nation last season anchoring things between the pipes. Scott Diebold has not done poorly, as a matter of fact, he's actually performed quite well as the team's top goaltender, which has not been a great shock to anyone who's been paying attention to his play during the last two years. He had an exceptionally good weekend against Denver. But he's not Kasdorf, and no one expected him to be on that level.

Injuries to key players are a good way to blow up a season. We never really got to see what Kasdorf was capable of this year, as he wasn't called on to be huge in a shutout of Sacred Heart and got overwhelmed by a blitzing Boston College the next day before his year was in the books, victim of a freak accident before practice.

To be very fair, the Engineers have played a significant portion of their games - six, to be exact - against teams that are in the top 10 nationally in goals per game. Five of them were against teams in the top four with Boston College (#1), Union (#3) and Mercyhurst (#4) having proven across the first three months of the year that they know how to put the puck away. However, just as many games have been played against teams in the bottom 12 nationally, with Harvard (#48), Boston University (#49), Princeton (#54), and Sacred Heart (#56) having well defined problems scoring goals so far this year. Colgate, Dartmouth, and Denver are all outside the Top 40 (out of 59) as well.

RPI is 1-4-1 against Top 10 offenses. That may be par for the course for a team in the middle of the pack, but it's something one would want to see improved upon if greater things are expected. There are four more opportunities to take on teams currently scoring at a clip better than the Engineers' 3.44 goals per game - next Friday against Ferris State (#7), potentially the next night against Minnesota (#2), the Mayor's Cup game against Union, and the return ECAC engagement at Quinnipiac (#9). All of these games are set to take place in RPI's next three game weekends, and two of them are on neutral ice. The time is now for the 'D' to prove itself.

What's been the weak link? It's been noticeable that RPI gives up most of its goals from two places - counter-attacks and on blue line blasts. Denver scored basically all three of its goals in transition, and other teams, when given lots of space up at the top of the zone, have found the back of the net with some ease. The defense has got to do a better job overall of at least keeping the speed through the neutral zone down, which will cut down on the fast-break nature of counterattacking shots.

Special teams: Hard to be critical of a power play scoring on over 20% of its chances (21.4%) or a penalty kill squashing nearly 85% of opposing man advantages (84.9%). There's room for improvement in both of those figures, but at this point special teams haven't been a major problem.

Momentum and finishing: RPI's been jumping on teams this year. That's good. That shouldn't stop. However, it's plain to see that most teams that can weather the early storm and keep the Engineers limited to a goal or two in the first period are pretty well positioned going forward to fight for a result, be it a win or a tie.

The games are stark and memorable: a 3-0 lead on Harvard ended in a 3-3 tie. A 3-1 lead on Cornell with two minutes left in regulation ended in a 3-3 tie. The Engineers had leads on consecutive Friday nights against Union and Mercyhurst that ended in losses. RPI blew a 2-0 lead and a lateish 3-2 lead against Quinnipiac in settling for a tie.

If the Engineers had only closed out the Harvard and Cornell games, at home no less, their record would be 10-6-2. At 5-3-1 in league play, they'd be in 4th rather than tied for 6th. How much better does that look from here? RPI's outscoring opponents 28-5 in the first period. That's, quite frankly, insane. If you're just looking at the six full games worth of first periods thus far, RPI is potting 4.67 goals per game in first periods, and have a GAA of 0.83.

The 2nd and 3rd? Not so hot. RPI is being outscored 34-39 in those periods, and are -4 and -1 respectively in goal differential.

So to sum it up, the three things that need to improve going forward:

1. Goals from outside the top four forwards
2. Defending the counter-attack
3. Maintaining the first-period onslaught past the first intermission

And, as mentioned at the top, RPI's looking better now than they did at this time last year, standings-wise.

Don't give up just yet.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Men's Hockey - Denver, US Under-18 Team (13/14/15 Dec)

The RPI Engineers closed out their 2013 schedule with a back-to-back-to-back home helping of hockey that will be their last in Troy for over a month, for the first time taking on a program from the new NCHC in welcoming Denver to town. A pair of very evenly matched games did not turn out 100% in the Engineers favor, but both games went to overtime, producing a 2-1 loss and a 1-1 tie to complete the calendar year's competitive game slate. On Sunday afternoon, an exhibition game gave RPI fans the first opportunity to see Jake Soffer in action, and he did quite well in backstopping an unofficial 2-1 victory over the US Under-18 national development program team.

Denver (Friday)



Parker Reno was pulled from the RPI lineup in favor of Phil Hampton for the two Denver games, with most of the remainder of the forward lineup consisting of the Engineers who were healthy - Travis Fulton was the lone healthy scratch up front.

The list of injuries for the forwards grew by one almost right off the bat as Jacob Laliberte suffered a separated shoulder mere seconds into his first shift of the game, leaving the Engieners with a short bench for just about the entire contest. That didn't stop them from jumping out to a quick lead as they have done for nearly the whole season, with Brock Higgs notching his 12th goal of the year just 2:30 into the contest to give RPI the 1-0 lead that they have earned with such frequency.

On the other end, Scott Diebold stood tall in net, stopping all 13 shots that he saw during the first period. The Engineers maintained that one goal lead for 32 solid minutes thanks in part to the junior netminder's play. RPI was outshot in the first 40 minutes 26-14, and in all honesty just about all of those shots for RPI came in the first 10 minutes of the 1st period and the last five or so of the 2nd.

The lead came to an end with just over five minutes left to play in the middle frame as Denver scored a goal in transition to tie things up. That woke up an RPI offense that had been sluggish to be kind during the 2nd period, which has become a habit almost as strong as the early goals.

A lackluster third period followed which was devoid of any real sense of drama despite the tie score. Neither team appeared close to scoring in the period, which saw Scott Diebold add another 10 saves to his record for the weekend.

Ultimately, the game hinged only on a defensive lapse while Denver was in transition with about two minutes left in the overtime period. The Pioneers took advantage of out-of-position defensemen to score with a considerable amount of open ice, providing the difference in a game in which RPI did not play its best hockey but was right in until the end.

Denver (Saturday)



Laliberte was listed on the initial line chart and planned to participate in the pre-game warmup, but was quickly replaced by Travis Fulton in what ended up a lost weekend for the junior. The lineup otherwise was exactly the same as Friday night.

The Engineers outshot Denver 7-4 in the opening period on Saturday, but failed to score a first period goal for only the fourth time this season. Meanwhile, the second period struggles continued, as RPI managed only 6 shots on goal in the period.

Saturday night's game was scoreless for the first 38 minutes and change, but Denver opened the scoring on a beautiful goal highly reminiscent of Brock Higgs' highlight reel goal against Princeton as the Pioneers took a 1-0 lead in the dying minutes of the second period.

But a pair of Denver penalties for roughing combined with a Mike Zalewski roughing call put RPI on the power play seconds later, and the Engineers converted with Matt Neal scoring his 7th goal of the season with only four seconds left in the period to tie the game back up just 1:08 after Denver had taken their only lead of the weekend.

For the second straight night, the third period only brought further deadlock and not much in the way of excitement. Denver turned on the jets in the overtime period, forcing Scott Diebold to be sharp with five saves, and the game ended in a 1-1 tie. The Engineers managed only 19 shots on Saturday night, most of which did not feature a rebound from the solid Denver netminder, Sam Brittain.

The tie marked the first time this season the Engineers did not lose a game in which Ryan Haggerty failed to score a goal. Diebold put together a very solid weekend against a team that's struggling to score, but 68 saves on 71 shots is decent no matter how you slice it.

US Under-18 Team



Although exhibition rules allow a team to dress as many players as will fit on the bench, a lack of healthy forwards left RPI with just 12 up front, and with Phil Hampton seeing little ice time late in the Saturday game against Denver, only one extra defenseman suited up in Craig Bokenfohr. The biggest change, of course, was in net, where freshman Jake Soffer got his unofficial first start in net, or at least his first game action for RPI.

Soffer looked a little bit shaky on his first save, giving up a big rebound that the U-18s buried rather quickly to make it 1-0 just 66 seconds into the game, but it would be his only mistake of the evening. His team helped him have a relatively quiet first 40 minutes as Soffer faced just 9 shots in the first two periods.

Meanwhile, the game was rather chippy from the outset, and that eventually played into RPI's hands. Matt Neal scored 1:14 into the second period on the power play to make it 1-1, and Riley Bourbonnais followed up at 7:37 to make it 2-1. Neal would eventually leave with what was reported to be a dislocated elbow, a worse-case scenario for RPI to be sure, but while he would not return, he is not expected to miss time down the road.

Most notable other than the two RPI goals in the second period was the shot onslaught that the Engineers produced, unleashing 20 shots in the period alone, more than they had managed in the entire 65 minutes against Denver a night prior. That diminished sharply in the third period, as momentum changed drastically with the U-18s outshooting RPI 13-1 in the final period, but it was in the third that Soffer encouraged some optimism in the RPI faithful standing strong in net against a team that was definitely looking to get itself back into the game. He finished with 21 saves on 22 shots.

Other junk - The "one-point" weekend knocked the Engineers back out of the USCHO poll, becoming instead the top unranked vote getter for the second time in three weeks with 54, 13 away from #20 Minnesota State. Ranked ECAC teams include #6 Union (beat and tied St. Cloud State, up four), #8 Quinnipiac (idle, down one), #9 Clarkson (idle, up one), #11 Yale (idle, no change), and #15 Cornell (idle, down one). No other ECAC teams received votes this week. Other ranked teams on the RPI schedule include #1 Minnesota (up one with 32 first place votes), #2 Ferris State (up two with 12 first place votes), #7 Boston College (down one), and #17 Denver (up three). New Hampshire (18) and Mercyhurst (3) also received votes.

Despite no goals on the weekend, Ryan Haggerty continues to lead the nation in goals with 18, still five ahead of second place. He remains the only player in the country with more than one goal per game at 1.06. With 1.53 points per game, he is alone in 6th in the nation in that category, and he leads the country in power play goals (8) and is tied for the national lead in game-winning goals (4) with Matt Bailey of Alaska-Anchorage.

Brock Higgs is now on 12 goals, which is tied for 7th in the nation - one more on the weekend (the Neal goal was originally credited to him) would have tied him for 2nd. His 1.11 points per game is tied for 36th in the country.

Jacob Laliberte and Matt Neal are both sitting on 1.00 points per game, tying them for 49th in the nation there. Laliberte is 23rd in assists per game with 0.76.

RPI's team offense, thanks to a pair of one goal efforts, is now outside the national Top 10 for the first time this season at 3.44 goals per game.

The Engineers have a tall task ahead of them after the New Year, as they take on the #2 team in the country, Ferris State. The Bulldogs have the longest unbeaten streak in the nation at 15 games. Beyond that game, RPI could find itself facing off with #1 Minnesota on the Gophers' home ice if the chips fall correctly. That's a tough weekend no matter how you slice it.

ECAC Standings
1. Union - 16 points (8-1-0)
2. Quinnipiac - 14 points (6-2-2)
3. Clarkson - 12 points (6-2-0)
4. Colgate - 11 points (5-3-1)
5. Cornell - 10 points (4-3-2)
6. Yale - 9 points (3-2-3)
7. RPI - 9 points (3-3-3)
8. Brown - 7 points (3-4-1)
9. St. Lawrence - 6 points (2-4-2)
10. Harvard - 6 points (2-6-2)
11. Dartmouth - 4 points (2-8-0, -16 GD)
12. Princeton - 4 points (2-8-0, -19 GD)

#20 Denver at #18 RPI
Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
12/13/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Denver 2, RPI 1 (OT)

College Hockey Stats
RECORD: 8-6-3 (2-3-3 ECAC, 7 pts)

#20 Denver at #18 RPI
Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
12/14/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 1, Denver 1 (OT)

RECORD: 8-6-4 (3-3-3 ECAC, 9 pts)

US Under-18 Team at #18 RPI
Exhibition Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
12/15/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 2, US Under-18 Team 1


RECORD: 8-6-4 (3-3-3 ECAC, 9 pts)

Upcoming games
03 Jan - vs. #2 Ferris State (Minneapolis, MN)
04 Jan - vs. #1 Minnesota OR Colgate (Minneapolis, MN)
10 Jan - at Princeton
11 Jan - at #8 Quinnipiac
24 Jan - Dartmouth

Friday, December 13, 2013

Get Out the Fine Cutlery

We don't see an awful lot of western powers at the Field House - that's just the way it goes. We don't even really see a lot of eastern powers at the Field House either with the notable exceptions of Boston University and New Hampshire, a pair of teams that have made fairly regular appearances.

Besides the Terriers (and Cornell, who has to show up every year), consider when the last time teams that have won multiple national championships since the 1960s have been to Troy.

Lake Superior State: 1997-98 (not counting the 2009-10 RPI tournament, where they did not face RPI)
Boston College: 1994-95
Maine: 1994-95
Denver: 1981-82
North Dakota: 1981-82 (not counting the NCAA tournament appearance in 1984)
Michigan: 1976-77
Wisconsin: 1970-71
Michigan Tech: 1967-68
Minnesota: 1962-63
Michigan State: 1958-59

So... yeah, it just doesn't happen very frequently.

Now, that could all be changing in the near future. We do know that Michigan is coming to the Capital District for a game against both RPI and Union in 2015-16, so that's kind of exciting. With the new quality win bonus giving extra props for winning on the road, we may see some of these teams sooner rather than later.

But for now, it's still the first opportunity to see RPI play a team outside of Cornell and BU with multiple national titles since the Kennedy assassination... at home.

Denver also will be the first opponent from the new NCHC, which is exciting as well. Throw in the return of former RPI assistant Jim Montgomery (who also coached Luke Curadi and Milos Bubela in Dubuque), Seth Appert competing against his former team (and the team against which he earned his first win as a head coach), and the backdrop of the ECAC potentially having one of the highest non-conference records of all the conferences this season, and it's some pretty fun stuff.

Oh, and just for even more excitement for the fans, it's a three-night hockey weekend as the Engineers play an exhibition against the US Under-18 team on Sunday.

Give us no excuses. Get yourself to the Field House. And turn your speakers up so we can drop some bass.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Re-Education Through Labor

A few weeks ago, we mentioned in passing while discussing the Engineers' less-than-expected luster on their non-conference schedule that the PairWise Ranking calculations had changed fairly drastically.

If you've been following WaP over the last couple of seasons - more accurately, in two of the last three years - you should at least be somewhat familiar with the PWR. In the 2010-11 season, when the Engineers reached the NCAA tournament, we broke down week-to-week from January through to the tournament what the rankings looked like, and we did the same last February when it appeared that the Tute might be destined to overcome a terrible start and make the tournament (they didn't). Engineer Bracketology is a "micro-bracketology" effort that focuses on the Engineers and what they wanted to see happen outside of its own games in order to bolster either its chances of making the tournament or its potential seed.

This year, however, there's been a radical change to the components of the PWR, and the biggest one has to do with what was always a major topic in these micro-bracketologies: the TUC cliff.

Prior to this season, there was a distinction known as Teams Under Consideration, which ostensibly separated good teams from bad teams. Depending on the year, a TUC was either a team in the Top 25 of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) or a team with an RPI of .5000 or higher. That category has now essentially been abolished.

What does that mean? It means that instead of the PWR consisting only of TUCs, it now consists of comparisons between all 59 Division I programs.

The other three elements of PWR - RPI, common opponents (COp), and head-to-head (H2H) - are the remaining components of each comparison, of which there are now a total of 1,711 as each team is compared to every other team in the nation. This won't cause a great deal more number-crunching, realistically, since A) there's still only 16 teams in the tournament and B) the teams that will be on the bubble for an at-large bid are almost certainly going to be winning comparisons with all the teams south of at least 30th or so, barring extreme circumstances.

RPI will now more heavily weight wins on the road (by a factor of 1.2) than wins at home (0.8). Neutral ice games are weighted normally. The inverse is rue for losses at home, weighted 1.2, and losses on the road are weighted 0.8. Ties are treated as half a win, and half a loss.

RPI is also now being injected with a new bonus for quality wins. For victories over the top team in RPI, a bonus of .0500 is added. For the #2 RPI, a bonus of .0475, and so on through #20, which provides a bonus of .0025. The standard weighting for road/home/neutral ice is then applied to the bonus, and ties are again half a win, half a loss, so a quality tie produces half of the bonus it otherwise would.

So in other words, we're still going to be watching a specific set of teams - the TUC cliff has essentially been replaced by the RPI cliff, but its impact will not be nearly as wild as the TUC cliff.

There's also the numbers game, given the new lay of the land in college hockey. Last year, there were only five conferences, and thus only five automatic bids against 11 at-large bids. Now, with the demise of the CCHA and the rise of the Big Ten and the NCHC, there are six automatic bids. That changes the scope of what the PWR positioning will mean. Much of this assumes that the Atlantic Hockey champion will not be in the Top 15.

1-10: In the tournament, no matter what.
11: Almost certainly in the tournament. There would have to be upset champions in every conference for this team to be out.
12: Also likely in the tournament. Four upset champions put this team out.
13: The good side of the bubble. Good odds of being in the tournament, but three upset champions put them out.
14: Firmly on top of the bubble. Two upset champions put them out.
15: The bad side of the bubble. Just one upset champion would put this team out.
16: Out of the tournament, unless the Atlantic Hockey champion is in the Top 15 AND there are no upset champions in other conferences.
17-59: Out of the tournament without an automatic bid.

No, we're still not getting fully into PWR just yet. Why? The college hockey season unfolds over the course of five and a half months from the beginning of October through the middle of March, and while the PWR gets more important as time goes on, it doesn't really become an indicator of anything resembling a predictor of national tournament strengths until February, although it does become interesting to look at starting in a few weeks.

Here's my quickie chart for how to characterize the PWR during each month of the college hockey year:

October: Worthless.
November: Farcical.
December: Quirky.
January: Interesting.
February: Important.
March: Essential.

So we're still here sitting on quirky. There are some clearly good teams being indicated, now in the brave new PWR world, there are some clearly bad teams being indicated, but the murky middle tells us almost nothing at this point. If, following the Engineers' trip to Minnesota, they're in the PWR picture for an at-large bid, we'll fire up Engineer Bracketlogy, but not before.

However, if you want a look at what the Engineers have in terms of quality thus far, here's what we've got: two home quality ties against Quinnipiac (#8) and Cornell (#10), and a home quality win against New Hampshire (#17). Three losses (one at home, two on the road) to Boston College (#7) and Union (#9) are missed opportunities. There are games coming up in Minnesota that are likely to be possible quality opportunities against Ferris State (#4) and either Minnesota (#2) or Colgate (nearly a quality opponent at #24).

Monday, December 9, 2013

Men's Hockey - Quinnipiac and Princeton (6/7 Dec)

We've frequently mentioned the key for earning a first-round bye in the ECAC is to average 3 points in a home weekend and 2 points in a road weekend (with points against the travel partner pretty much extra), and the Engineers, as rough as the go has been in recent weeks, are still on that track - perfectly, in fact. RPI picked up another three points at home this past weekend, missing opportunities on Friday to complete a sweep against a Quinnipiac team that looked as though it was struggling but skating away with a 3-3 tie ahead of a 5-2 win over Princeton.




The Engineers basically fielded all of its healthy forwards on Friday night with several players banged up. Jake Wood was technically suspended due to a third game misconduct picked up against Mercyhurst two weeks prior, but after knee surgery he will be out until mid-January.

RPI has frequently gotten off to a quick start this season, and it was another quick start against the Bobcats that saw the Engineers ahead 2-0 six and a half minutes into the contest, both goals coming off the stick of the nation's leading scorer. Ryan Haggerty potted the game's first goal at 3:16 to make it 1-0, then was credited with the goal after Quinnipiac accidentally swept the puck into its own net off of Haggerty's skate exactly 3:25 later. RPI led in shots 10-4 after the first period, doing a good job of keeping a sluggish Quinnipiac on their toes.

The Bobcats got themselves back into things in the second as their national-best defense began frustrating the Engineers' attempts to put rubber on net. The lead was cut in half thanks to a blast from the blue line 2:12 into the period, and with about two minutes left in the second, the Bobcats drew level with a nifty goal from Sam Anas, one of the top scoring freshmen in the nation.

It was starting to look like a similar story for the Engineers - build an early lead, and then gradually lose it in the late periods. Chris Bradley and Jacob Laliberte conspired to flip the script a little 62 seconds into the third period, as a shot by Bradley from the point was redirected in front by Laliberte into the back of the cage to give RPI the lead once more at 3-2.

Unfortunately, poor discipline by the Engineers unraveled the second lead. A terribly unnecessary interference penalty drawn by Bo Dolan midway through the period produced a power play for the Bobcats that they would convert with some serious net crashing, knotting things back up at 3-3. From there, Scott Diebold was certainly called on to make some big saves, earning 23 saves in the last 40 minutes on 26 shots to keep RPI in the game.

The end result was in some respects a solid point for RPI, considering Quinnipiac's then-position as the #5 team in the nation, but the Engineers blew two leads and the Bobcats were clearly a step slower than their usual pace, which left the lost point a little disappointing for the home team.




No changes were made to the RPI lineup heading into the Saturday game with a weak and very beat-up Princeton team which had been blanked by Union the previous night. The Tigers entered the game with a six-game unbeaten streak in Troy, but dressing 10 forwards and 7 defensemen, they never appeared ready to extend that streak.

Once again, it was RPI jumping out to a quick 2-0 edge, and this time it was in an even quicker fashion than on Friday. Chris Bradley notched his second goal of the season at 3:03 of the first period, and only 23 seconds later, Brock Higgs potted his 10th of the year (with an assist to Bradley). Princeton cut the lead in half with about six minutes left in the first period, but less than two minutes later, on the power play, it was Ryan Haggerty scoring for the 18th time in just 15 games to put the Engineers ahead 3-1. RPI managed three goals on just six shots in the first, not a positive number of shots but an economical use of them at least.

3:43 into the second period, Matt Neal scored on a 5-on-3 power play to make it 4-1 as he continued to work the loose puck behind the goaltender, who thought he was controlling it. The puck squirted just behind the netminder, and Neal simply popped it into the net. Princeton earned the goal back shorthanded on the ensuing 5-on-4, but despite outshooting the Engineers 11-8 in the second period, RPI never looked ready to give up their lead.

With just over seven minutes left in the second, Higgs scored his second goal of the night in highlight-reel fashion, stealing the puck in the neutral zone and single-handedly outmaneuvering two different defenders while cutting to the net, sliding the puck home through the five-hole to make it 5-2.

The Engineers controlled the puck for much of the third period, though they were content to mostly hold the puck in the Princeton zone as they cruised to victory. They managed 10 shots in the final 20 minutes and on a couple of occasions came close to increasing their lead, but the lack of action in the period was just fine for a team holding a three-goal lead over a demoralized and hurting team.

Other junk - With the three-point weekend, the Engineers re-enter the USCHO poll this week after falling out during their bye week, once more ranked #18 in the nation, just where they had been after the Mercyhurst games. Other ranked ECAC teams include #7 Quinnipiac (tied RPI and lost to Union, down two), #8 Clarkson (swept SLU, up two), #10 Union (swept Princeton/Quinnipiac, up one), #11 Yale (lost to Dartmouth and tied Harvard, down three), and #14 Cornell (tied Colgate, up one). Colgate (6) and St. Lawrence (3) also received votes. Other ranked teams on the RPI schedule are #2 Minnesota (down one with 14 first place votes), #4 Ferris State (up two with 3 first place votes), #6 Boston College (up three), and #20 Denver (previously unranked). New Hampshire (45) and Mercyhurst (8) also received votes.

Ryan Haggerty's 1.60 points per game is tied for 3rd in the nation with Mercyhurst junior Matthew Zay, behind SLU's Greg Carey (1.94) and BC's Johnny Gaudreau (1.75).

Haggerty now sits at 18 goals for the season, five more than the tie for 2nd nationally as Gaudreau, SLU's Matt Carey, and Quinnipiac's Sam Anas each have 13. He is the only player in the nation averaging a goal per game or more at 1.20. Haggerty also leads the nation in power play goals with 8, and is tied for first in game-winning goals with 4.

Meanwhile, Brock Higgs is tied for 9th in the nation in goals (with 7 other players) with 11.

Overall, the RPI offense is now 7th in the nation, scoring 3.75 goals per game with 60 in 16 contests.

Craig Bokenfohr is the only skater on the RPI roster that has yet to record a point this year, he has appeared in only one game. Bokenfohr, Bo Dolan, Zach Schroeder, Travis Fulton, and Riley Bourbonnais are the only skaters that have yet to score a goal.

As we mentioned last week, the Engineers have earned a result in every game in which Haggerty has scored a goal, and lost every game in which he has not, and that continued this weekend.

Next weekend, the Engineers wrap-up their calendar year 2013 schedule with the battle of the assistants, as former Denver assistant Seth Appert leads RPI against former RPI assistant Jim Montgomery and Denver. A bonus matchup on Sunday features the Engineers in an exhibition game against the US Under-18 team, which counts new NHL player Jerry D'Amigo and Ryan Haggerty as alums.

ECAC Standings
1. Union - 14 points (7-1-0)
2. Quinnipiac - 14 points (6-2-2)
3. Clarkson - 12 points (6-2-0)
4. Colgate - 11 points (5-3-1)
5. Cornell - 10 points (4-3-2)
6. Yale - 9 points (3-2-3)
7. RPI - 9 points (3-3-3)
8. Brown - 7 points (3-4-1)
9. St. Lawrence - 6 points (2-4-2)
10. Harvard - 6 points (2-6-2)
11. Dartmouth - 4 points (2-7-0)
12. Princeton - 4 points (2-8-0)

#5 Quinnipiac at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
12/6/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 3, Quinnipiac 3

College Hockey Stats
RECORD: 7-5-3 (2-3-3 ECAC, 7 pts)

Princeton at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
12/7/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 5, Princeton 2

College Hockey Stats

RECORD: 8-5-3 (3-3-3 ECAC, 9 pts)

Upcoming games
13 Dec - #20 Denver
14 Dec - #20 Denver
15 Dec - US Under-18 Team (exhibition)
03 Jan - vs. #4 Ferris State (Minneapolis, MN)
04 Jan - vs. #2 Minnesota OR Colgate (Minneapolis, MN)

Women's Hockey - at Princeton & Quinnipiac (6/7 Dec)

After picking up a sweep in St. Cloud, RPI returned to ECAC action for one more weekend of hockey to close out the 2013 portion of the season. Unfortunately for the Engineers, Princeton and Quinnipiac handed them a pair of losses by 4-1 and 3-1 margins respectively to end the year on a sour note.


Smelker/Mari Mankey/Svoboda
Mahoney/Missy Mankey/Walsh



Denna Laing scored twice for Princeton and the Tigers outshot RPI by a 30-16 margin to win 4-1 on Friday afternoon. The win snapped a six-game winless streak for the Tigers, and dropped the Engineers back below .500 in ECAC play.

Princeton wasted little time getting on the board, scoring their fourth shorthanded goal of the season (only BC and Northeastern have more after this weekend) at 2:04 of the first period.

Mari Mankey evened things up at 12:52, scoring unassisted after Jordan Smelker blocked a Princeton shot in the RPI zone. It would be one of only three RPI shots in the period, with Princeton putting 12 shots on the RPI net.

Mankey's goal would prove to be RPI's only on the afternoon. Jaimie McDonnell put Princeton back on top late in the first, putting home a rebound after Ali Pankowski's shot deflected off an RPI defensemen. 

A scoreless second period saw a more equitable shot distribution of seven for each team, but Princeton would extend their lead to 3-1 on Laing's second goal.

The Tigers tacked on an empty netter in the game's final minutes to put the game away and pick up their fifth win in ECAC play. With the win, Princeton moved to 5-4-1 in league, while RPI fell to 3-4-0.


Smelker/Mari Mankey/Svoboda



Saturday's game saw the Engineers again get outshot and outscored, this time by a nationally-ranked Quinnipiac squad. After a decent first period for the Engineers, a goal at 0:36 of the second period put the Bobcats ahead 1-0.

The goal came after QU gained the RPI zone right off the opening faceoff and held it, winning several puck battles until Emma Woods eventually found a rebound on her stick and put it past Kelly O'Brien for the lead.

Nicole Brown extended the lead to 2-0 later in the second period, roofing a shot over O'Brien after Morgan Fritz-Ward made a nifty move to put the puck through her legs to feed her winger the puck.

Things went from bad to worse in the third period when an early penalty led to a Quinnipiac power play goal and a 3-0 lead. Shiann Darkangelo picked up the goal by tipping a shot from the point past O'Brien.

The Engineers avoided the shutout with a Taylor Mahoney power play goal at 12:36 of the third, but again RPI would only muster one goal in the game.

RPI will now be off for a month, returning to action with a weekend series at Providence the first week of January.


RPI at Princeton
ECAC Hockey Game - Baker Rink (Princeton, NJ)
12/7/13 - 4:00pm
Princeton 4, RPI 1



RECORD: 6-9-1 (3-4 ECAC)


RPI at Quinnipiac
ECAC Hockey Game - TD Bank Sports Center
12/8/13 - 4:00pm
Quinnipiac 3, RPI 1



RECORD: 6-10-1 (3-5 ECAC)


Upcoming Games

Jan. 4 - at Providence (7pm)
Jan. 5 - at Providence (4pm)
Jan. 10 - Quinnipiac (7pm)
Jan. 11 - Princeton (4pm)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Violent Overthrow

It's good to be the king - and if you haven't been paying attention, that's who's coming to town tonight.

Yale may be the national champions, Union might have the last two whatever you call them cups that come with the automatic invitation to the big dance. But Quinnipiac are the real undisputed kings of the ECAC, at least since November 2012. The Bobcats are 23-3-4 in league play since the start of last season. That's dropping a grand total of 10 league points out of a possible 60. That's insane. Put in perspective, RPI's already managed to drop 8 this year alone, and they aren't the dregs of the conference (yet).

But to quote the bard, to be the man (woooo!) you've gotta beat the man. Quinnipiac won last year's whatever you call it cup for finishing the regular season in first place. They're at the top of the table now. They're ranked #5 in the nation. If you want to win anything, you're going to need to knock them off the top first.

Some have said the Engineers were the team to beat this year. They haven't shown it yet. Tonight's a great opportunity to do just that.

The women draw a Princeton team that's fresh off getting punched in the mouth twice by the #1 team in the universe, Minnesota. They've scored four goals in their last six, but check out this run they've had. Boston College. Clarkson. St. Lawrence. Quinnipiac. Two against Minnesota. And bear in mind, they managed ties with BC and the Q. The Engineers had best be on their best behavior tonight, because the Tigers surely see in RPI the easiest team they've had of late, not that it's a major slur against the Tute to say so.

Tomorrow afternoon (yes, it's a matinee) against Princeton for the men represents a game they should win. Princeton, as has been their issue for the last several seasons, has a lot of injuries. They've been getting killed by pretty much everyone, except their upset win over Quinnipiac. And guess what? If they can beat Quinnipiac, they can beat RPI, you'd better believe it. Heck, that's pretty much all they've done in Troy for the last several seasons. But if you want a statement game, here's one to make it in, especially if tonight's game goes well.

As for the women against the Q tomorrow? Well, look, the Bobcats are still very, very good. They may not be fast out of the gate in ECAC play, but they're 12-2-5. It's a challenge to say the least.

Both teams have had their ups and downs. But as the saying goes, sometimes, you just need to stop complaining and start a revolution.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Haggerty Effect

Ryan Haggerty is currently scoring at a clip of 1.15 goals per game. That's tops in the nation, and that's good for RPI. Why?

RPI when Ryan Haggerty scores a goal: 7-0-2
RPI when Ryan Haggerty doesn't score: 0-5-0

Kinda stark, isn't it? The latter figure includes the first game at Mercyhurst, where Haggerty was a healthy scratch due to a death in the family and a cancelled flight to Erie.

Now, that's not to say that the team relies wholly on Haggerty for its offense. It's worth pointing out that Brock Higgs has been humming right along on the goal scoring as well, currently tied for 16th in the country at 0.64 goals per game. With 9 goals on the year, he's already tied his career high (attained during his freshman season), and is only slightly below the pace Chase Polacek set in 2009-10, a 26-goal season that is the most for an Engineer in the current millennium.

That's important - after all, hockey's a team sport and Ryan Haggerty is but one man. The Engineers have only five skaters on their roster who haven't scored a goal in the first 14 games of the year. They're getting goals from all over. But the numbers when the goal leader doesn't get involved are very black and white.

It won't last in such an extreme, of course. Eventually this year, the Engineers will lose a game in which Haggerty scores. They'll eventually pull out a result without him.

Let's be plain. Haggerty's rate is going to be hard to maintain for the remainder of the season. A quick whirl on College Hockey Stats tells us that no player who appeared in at least 75% of his team's contests has managed to finish the season scoring a full goal per game or more in the last 10 years - the closest was Minnesota's Ryan Potulny in 2005-06, when he registered 38 goals in 41 games, a 0.93 goals per game average.

But if, somehow, he can maintain the current rate of 1.15 per game (down from earlier in the year already), and appear in every game from here on out, he'd finish the regular season and the first two games of the playoffs (the only ones guaranteed to any ECAC team) with a total of either 40 or 41 goals, depending on what you want to do with the remainder, and there'd still be as many as seven potential games left in the chamber after that.

That would put Haggerty in some pretty rare air as far as the school record for goals in a season is concerned.

1. Frank Chiarelli - 55 (1951-52)
2. John Carter - 43 (1984-85)
3. Bob Brinkworth - 41 (1961-62)
4. Paul Midghall - 40 (1957-58)
5. Ray Belasky - 37 (1958-59)

Now, it's worth mentioning that the game is very different than it was in the 1950s and 1960s, when four of those marks were set. Those guys played in a lot fewer games and were part of much higher scoring contests back then. Chiarelli's record, of course, is part of a national mark which will never be broken in terms of goals per game, averaging a hat trick per game (and he had 9 that year) at 3.06.

Even if he drops back to Polacek's 2010 pace for the rest of the year, we're still talking 30 goals on the campaign for the first time since Brad Tapper in 1999-2000. In the last 10 seasons, here's the total number of 30 goal scorers:

2003-04: 1 (Junior Lessard, UMD - Hobey Baker winner)
2004-05: 1 (Brett Sterling, CC - Hobey Hat Trick)
2005-06: 3 (Chris Collins, BC in HHT)
2006-07: 3 (Ryan Duncan, UND was Hobey Baker winner)
2007-08: 4 (All three of the HHT, including Kevin Porter, Michigan, who won)
2008-09: 1 (Jacques Lamoureux, Air Force - Hobey finalist)
2009-10: 1 (Cam Atkinson, BC - HHT)
2010-11: 2 (both in HHT)
2011-12: 2 (Austin Smith, Colgate in HHT)
2012-13: 0 (Greg Carey, SLU came closest with 28)

18 30-goal scorers in the last decade, all but two of them were in the final 10 for the Hobey Baker Award, 11 of them made the Hobey Hat Trick, and three won the award.

It's a little early to be discussing Hobey favorites, but... it's hard to say that the goal-fest hasn't at least positioned Ryan Haggerty well early on to be part of the discussion down the road.

Just 14 games in - and it's only 13 games technically for Haggerty - we're already scoping out this list for the top 10 goal-scoring seasons for Engineers in the last 10 years.

26 - Chase Polacek (2009-10)
21 - Chase Polacek (2010-11)
16 - Kirk MacDonald (2004-05)
16 - Oren Eizenman (2005-06)
15 - Ryan Haggerty (2013-14)
15 - Paul Kerins (2009-10)
14 - Kevin Croxton (2005-06)
14 - Tyler Helfrich (2010-11)
13 - Jonathan Ornelas (2005-06)
12 - Kirk MacDonald (2006-07)

Perhaps that's even the best chart for exactly what we're looking at in Troy right now.

Monday, December 2, 2013

ECAC Power Rankings - November 2013

As has been mentioned about a million times now, we typically do power rankings at the end of November, December, and January as benchmarks for where teams in the ECAC are during points of the season where it can be fairly accurately determined for all 12 teams (October being out due to a lack of Ivy participation, February out because the standings are all that matters). So here's November's entry. Bottom line? The league's pretty deep.

1. Quinnipiac (13-2-2, 6-1-1 ECAC): Not much to complain about in Hamden for sure. We said before the season started that the Bobcats' loss of a whole host of seniors from last year wasn't likely to be a big problem, and that's pretty much been the case. Quinnipiac has scored more than two goals for every goal they've allowed this season, which more than gets the job done. That fresh, new blue line look? Let's just say it's working. Sophomore Michael Gartieg is 2nd in the nation with a 1.64 GAA, but only 32nd in save percentage at .915. When the top defense in the country is rolling a goaltender ranked that far down in save percentage, you know the defensemen are more than doing their job.

2. Yale (6-2-2, 3-1-2): The questions about Yale's ability to keep the puck out of the net may not have been 100% solved, but it does look like they believe they have an answer in Alex Lyon. The freshman has been between the pipes for each of the Bulldogs' last four games, which have seen Yale go 3-1 while never giving up three goals in a game. Prior to that defensive stand, and during most of it as well, the puck hasn't had much of a problem hitting the back of the net offensively, which is something that'll always give a team a fighting chance even if the defense isn't fully stable.

3. Cornell (7-4-1, 4-3-1): Almost put the Big Red second by virtue of their 2-1 home victory over the Bulldogs, but regardless, this team has bounced back nicely from their early ECAC hiccups. The Big Red had won four straight contests before falling to Boston University on Thanksgiving weekend, during which time they showed the ability to score goals while displaying some flexibility in net as freshman Mitch Gillam got his first start against Niagara, picking up the victory (and, incidentally, scoring a goal). Their October road sweep at Nebraska-Omaha is looking much better now as well, given the hot streak UNO has embarked upon since.

4. Union (8-3-2, 5-1-0): After a shaky start, the Dutchmen have re-established themselves at just about the right time to put themselves in position to take another run at the top spot in the ECAC that eluded them during the regular season last year. A 7-1 record since the start of November will do that, especially since so many of those games were ECAC contests. The goaltending still isn't where the Dutchmen have been used to over the last three or four years, but the defense in front of that goaltending has been superb and the offense is getting the job done, with a huge assist from Shayne Gostisbehere back at the point, who has proven to be a danger to score every time he's touching the puck.

5. Clarkson (10-3-1, 4-2-0): If there's one knock on Clarkson's torrid start to the season, it's the quality of opponent that they've been taking down - KRACH ranks their schedule thus far as the easiest among the teams in the top half of the nation in that ranking nationally. Indeed, the Knights' only true quality win thus far was a 3-2 home victory over Cornell. Two other games against top opponents were losses to New Hampshire and Yale. They'll have the opportunity to prove that their solid defense against weaker opponents is no slouch with some of the games they have coming up - notably, St. Lawrence's dynamite attack and three straight games (yes, that's a thing somehow) against UMass-Lowell.

6. Colgate (7-7-1, 5-3-0): If you saw the Raiders in their loss to RPI, you're probably wondering just how it is that they're in the top half of the league's power ranking. Well, consider the Raiders to be the anti-Knights, because their schedule so far is the 4th most difficult in the entire nation according to KRACH. They've played Ferris State and St. Cloud State twice each, Quinnipiac, and Yale, and yet they still have a .500 record. That doesn't happen by accident. The defense could be better, but Colgate's super sophomores are proving that they do have the ability to carry this team at least somewhat, and the body of work suggests that their stinker against RPI was an exception and not the rule.

7. St. Lawrence (8-6-2, 2-2-2): We warned you not to read into the question marks surrounding Greg Carey's ability without Kyle Flanagan. He's doing just fine, thank you very much, at 1.81 points per game, tops in the country. The Saints may just be one of the most exciting teams in the conference, if only because they've engaged in wild shootouts with almost everyone. As dynamic and strong as the Carey line has been (Greg and his brother Matt, usually paired with junior Chris Martin), the SLU defense has frequently left a lot to be desired. They've limited opponents to less than three goals only five times this season, and the first three were in the first three games (Maine twice, and Ferris State). That contributes to the four losses the team has suffered when notching three of their own.

8. RPI (7-5-2, 2-3-2): Although they boast a strong offense and the nation's leading goal scorer in Ryan Haggerty, the Engineers have played a number of games, especially recently, that were huge let downs. It's hard to say exactly how much of an impact the loss of Jason Kasdorf has played in the Engineers' inability thus far to live up to expectations since Scott Diebold hasn't been terrible, but of late his numbers have dropped dramatically. Many of RPI's wins are against some pretty low-end competition, and some of the losses are against supposedly lesser teams as well (3 of Harvard's 5 points in 8 ECAC games are from the Engineers, for instance). The "three goal" rule has been almost completely hard and fast for the Engineers - 7-1-2 when they score three or more, 0-4-2 when they give up three or more.

9. Harvard (4-6-1, 2-5-1): The Crimson looked like they were pretty game for a decent season after opening up with three excellent showings in their first three games, one against Bentley and two against RPI. Other than a 6-3 victory over New Hampshire, it's been nothing but pain since then, including becoming the first casualty of a Dartmouth team that was struggling something fierce on defense. That one win over an improving Wildcat team gives Harvard the edge over Brown, who plays the Crimson on Friday, but it's a razor-thin difference. Senior netminder Raphael Girard has top 10 numbers nationally in GAA and save percentage, but none of that means anything when Harvard's young, talented forwards just aren't putting the puck in the net enough to produce results. The one goal last Saturday against a Dartmouth team that had managed to keep the opposition under five on only three previous occasions (each time giving up three) is hopefully the bottom if you're a Harvard fan.

10. Brown (3-6-1, 1-4-1): There's little denying that the Lorito-Naclerio-Lappin line has been very good for the Bears early on this season. Unfortunately, defense and special teams have not been able to back up that production, and neither has most of the rest of the offense. The Bears have given up at least three goals in every single game they've played this season, and as time goes by, more and more teams seem to be placing their emphasis on stopping that top line of the Bears and forcing the team to diversify their attack, which hasn't really come to fruition yet. Aside from Brown's upset victory over Yale that got their season underway in New Jersey on October 25, their only two victories are against two other Ivy League teams going through some extreme struggles right now, Princeton and Dartmouth.

11. Princeton (3-10-0, 2-6-0): All is not well if you're an Ivy League team and you're the first one in the conference to 10 losses on the year, although Princeton with their January exam schedule forcing games into November can frequently be a solid candidate for such an honor if it is to be had by an Ivy. Nonetheless, the Tigers have been genuinely bad for just about the entire season so far, led by a defense that ranks 55th out of 59 teams in the country, and an offense that ranks 52nd. They're in the bottom half of the country on the power play and penalty killing. Two of their three victories are against Dartmouth, the only team in the league hurting worse right now. Injuries are a big part of the problem, with star player Andrew Calof out until probably just before New Year's, but there's very little going right anywhere for the Tigers right now.

12. Dartmouth (1-8-0, 1-6-0): Ick. We might have crowed about having predicted Quinnipiac's strong play and Greg Carey's beastly numbers, but we may have screwed up royally with Dartmouth. After nine games, the Big Green have just 22 goals, just 7 more than RPI's Ryan Haggerty has alone. 47th nationally in offense and just two from the bottom in defense, neither side of the puck is functioning right now. That makes it all the more maddening that the Big Green somehow boasts the 2nd best power play in the entire country and has just one win in 9 games to show for it. Pretty much all facets Dartmouth's game have, in the past, shown themselves to be better than they've been so far, but other than on the man advantage (which accounts for 10 of those 22 goals), it's been an awful lot of heartache so far in Hanover.

Women's Hockey - at St. Cloud State (29/30 Nov)

Before last weekend's short respite, we noted that the Engineers were difficult to pin down. They did nothing to change that notion this weekend, winning two games against St. Cloud State by scores of 4-1 and 2-1 despite being outshot 77-41 on the weekend.

Kelly O'Brien was excellent in net for the Engineers, turning away 75 of 77 shots faced, including a career-high 44 saves on Friday afternoon, while many of the players had the opportunity to earn a road sweep in front of their family and friends in St. Cloud.


Smelker/Mari Mankey/Svoboda
Letuligasenoa/Missy Mankey



RPI grabbed a 1-0 lead late in the first and held onto it until a 3-goal third period lifted them to an eventual 4-1 victory over St. Cloud State on Friday night, but it was Kelly O'Brien who stole the show with 44 saves on 45 shots.

Alexa Gruschow gave the Engineers that 1-0 lead at 17:59 of the first, first feeding Jordan Smelker for a shot then collecting Smelker's rebound and putting it past netminder Julie Friend.

O'Brien was called on to keep the Engineers in the game through the second period, which saw the Engineers outshot by a whopping 15-2 margin.

With some adjustments made during the intermission, RPI came out with a stronger third period and saw their lead doubled to 2-0 about five minutes in when Toni Sanders received a pass from Lauren Wash behind the Huskies' net and beat Friend up high.

St. Cloud State cut RPI's lead to 2-1 at 11:04 of the third with a power play goal by Payge Pena out of a scrum in front of O'Brien.

Wash scored a power play goal of her own with 2:19 remaining in regulation, with a little give and go from Jenn Godin to set her up for the shot.

Ali Svoboda put the game away with an empty net goal 32 seconds later, putting the Engineers up by the final 4-1 margin.

O'Brien was named the game's first star, making 14, 15, and 16 saves in the three periods respectively, while Toni Sanders (1G, 4 shots) was the game's second star and SCSU's Payge Pena (1G) was third star. 


Smelker/Mari Mankey/Svoboda
Letuligasenoa/Missy Mankey/Hylwa



RPI jumped out to an early lead thanks to two power play goals in the first period on Saturday, and O'Brien made the lead hold through the remainder of the game as RPI held on for a 2-1 victory where they were once again outshot.

The Engineers scored on their first two power plays of the game, with Smelker picking up the first as a pass from Kathryn Schilter found her all alone on the doorstep.

Heidi Huhtamaki picked up the second assist on the play, and would also figure in the second goal, earning the primary helper on a Madison Marzario goal, a slap shot from the point which got past Katie Fitzgerald to make it 2-0.

A long 5-on-3 chance for the Huskies late in the first was successfully killed by the Engineers, and the second period passed with just one penalty on each team and no scoring. RPI was held to six shots in each of the first two periods.

A shorthanded goal got SCSU on the board in the third period, with Molli Mott scoring for the Huskies early in the period. O'Brien turned away the remaining shots, making 10 saves in the third period and 25 overall for her sixth win of the season.

RPI has one weekend of ECAC play at Princeton and Quinnipiac remaining before a month-long holiday break. Game times are 7pm Friday against Princeton and 4pm Saturday against Quinnipiac.


RPI at St. Cloud State
Non-Conference Game - Herb Brooks National Hockey Center (St. Cloud, MN)
11/29/13 - 4:07pm


RECORD: 5-8-1 (3-3 ECAC)


RPI at St. Cloud State
Non-Conference Game - Herb Brooks National Hockey Center (St. Cloud, MN)
11/30/13 - 4:07pm


RECORD: 6-8-1 (3-3 ECAC)


Upcoming Games

Dec. 6 - at Princeton (7pm)
Dec. 7 - at Quinnipiac (4pm)
Jan. 4 - at Providence (7pm)
Jan. 5 - at Providence (4pm)