Thursday, January 3, 2013

Men's Hockey - at St. Cloud State, Sacred Heart (27/28 Dec, 31 Dec)

The Engineers returned to action with three games in the span of just five days after having a 19-day layoff for the holidays, heading to Minnesota for the second time this season before returning home to host the worst team in the nation by practically every metric. They did well in the North Star State, surprising St. Cloud State 4-3 before dropping a tough-fought 2-1 decision on Thursday and Friday, then returned home on short rest to soundly defeat winless Sacred Heart 6-2.

St. Cloud State (Thursday)
Lee-Laliberte-Haggerty
Higgs-McGowan-Neal
Zalewski-Miller-Bubela
Tinordi-Rogic-O'Grady

Leonard-Bailen
Leboeuf-Bradley
Curadi-Dolan

Kasdorf

The big roster change involved the return of Mark McGowan from his bout with mono, he was placed on a line with Brock Higgs and Matt Neal, splitting the "NHL line."

The early part of the first period was largely a feeling-out process for both teams, neither really grasping the upper hand over the other until about 15 minutes in, when St. Cloud scored on a bang-bang play in front of Kasdorf to put the Huskies up 1-0. Just under three minutes later, the Huskies would score again, and just like that, RPI was down 2-0 heading into the locker room and it looked like bad news was in store as the hosts were rolling and nearly notched a third before intermission.

However, it was the Engineers that came out of the locker room looking fired up and ready to go, with St. Cloud looking distinctively off at the same time. Ryan Haggerty scored just under two minutes into the second period to cut SCSU's lead in half, and just about four minutes later a nifty power goal in the slot by Milos Bubela tied the game up at two. Almost exactly three minutes after that, Bubela redirected in a blast from the point by Curtis Leonard to complete the comeback and put RPI up 3-2.

Jason Kasdorf played well in net, but was forced out of the game with a shoulder injury in the waning seconds of the second period after racing to his right to try and make an impossible save on a wide open net. The shooter missed the net anyway, but Kasdorf would leave and not return. Scott Diebold came on in relief.

Diebold had to be sharp in the third period, though his lone blemish led to a tie game with about seven and a half minutes left to play. But the Engineers didn't back down. Despite a lousy performance on what would prove to be their only power play opportunity of the entire game (there were only three penalties called total), RPI would retake the lead about a minute later, with 2:12 left on the game clock, as Mark McGowan would score a five-hole goal in his first game back to give RPI the late lead. Diebold and the Engineers survived the last minute of the game with the extra attacker, and they skated away with the upset 4-3 victory in St. Cloud. In addition to Bubela's two goals, Mike Zalewski picked up three assists on the evening, giving him four on the season to that point.


St. Cloud State (Friday)
Lee-Laliberte-Haggerty
Higgs-McGowan-Neal
Zalewski-Miller-Bubela
Tinordi-Rogic-O'Grady

Leonard-Bailen
Leboeuf-Bradley
Curadi-Dolan

Diebold

With Kasdorf apparently OK but the team erring on the side of caution - Appert mentioned before the game that he wanted the team doctors in Troy to look at his shoulder before putting him back on the ice - Scott Diebold continued to hold down the fort for the Engineers in net.

The home crowd groaned and began expecting more of the same just 2:43 into the contest as Matt Tinordi scored to put the upstart visitors ahead 1-0, and that is where the score stayed throughout the game's first half. The Engineers weathered two penalty kills in the first period, and carried the lead well into the second period. That's where SCSU began their attack, which RPI continued to withhold until a cross-checking call against Zalewski gave the Huskies their third power play of the game, and first of the second period. That was the tonic they needed to break through against Diebold and finally tie the game over 30 minutes after Tinordi's goal.

RPI could have potentially reached the locker room with the game still knotted, but some very poor defensive play late in the second period cost them as St. Cloud took advantage of a situation where they were playing to the buzzer, scoring with 23 seconds remaining in the second to go up 2-1. All told in the middle stanza, Diebold stopped 13 of 15 shots.

Meanwhile, the Engineers appeared to be running out of steam but still played acceptable defense. Helped out by a bevy of broken sticks on golden SCSU scoring opportunities, they still limited the Huskies to just four shots in the third period, but on the other side of the coin, they could only muster four themselves. Unable to get much going with the extra attacker, the Engineers can at least say they fought to the very last to get the tying goal - avoiding an empty-netter on yet another broken stick by St. Cloud - but had to settle for the series split.

Sacred Heart
Lee-Laliberte-Haggerty
Higgs-McGowan-Neal
Zalewski-Miller-Bubela
O'Grady-Rogic-Burgdoerfer

Leonard-Bailen
Leboeuf-Bradley
Curadi-Dolan

Merriam

Kasdorf's injury, while apparently not overly serious, were enough to at least suggest that a different goaltender get the start against the basically consensus worst team in America, Sacred Heart (only one computer model does not have the Pioneers in 59th - that one has them 58th). That honor fell to senior Bryce Merriam. Meanwhile, a stomach flu claimed Matt Tinordi, who sat out in favor of Greg Burgdoerfer, who was returning from an injury of his own.

RPI, despite the short turnaround, came out of the gate flying. The Engineers dominated the early part of the game, but it still took a little over seven minutes for them to break on the board. Jacob Laliberte scored into an open net off a rebound from a Ryan Haggerty shot to make the score 1-0. About seven minutes later, with RPI still controlling play, Sacred Heart got themselves onto the board with a nice goal in transition, going to Merriam's right in a two-on-one that evened the score.

That was as close as the Pioneers were going to get. Three minutes later, with just under two minutes left in the first period, Milos Bubela unleashed a wicked wrister in the slot that found the back of the net to make it 2-1 RPI.

Things opened up in the second period, as the Engineers scored three consecutive goals in 8:40 to break the game wide. C.J. Lee netted his first of the year on the power play 53 seconds in to make it 3-1. Then about five minutes later, Greg Burgdoerder notched his second of the season with a put-back of a Nick Bailen shot to make it 4-1. Finally, Bubela scored an emphatic goal, streaking up the side boards and cutting straight to the net to jam it home to put the Engineers ahead 5-1. It was nearly 6-1 shortly thereafter, but a goaltender interference call after review nullified the tally.

Sacred Heart scored their second goal late in the second period, again in transition, but RPI was rolling by this point. Zalewski's third goal of the season, on the power play, finished the scoring in the third period, but by that point the Engineers were ramping down and cruising to their third win in five games. Frequently, RPI has played down to the level of poor opponents in the recent past, that certainly was not a problem on New Year's Eve.

Other junk - Ranked teams in the ECAC this week include #5 Quinnipiac (up four), #8 Dartmouth (up two, with one first place vote), #12 Cornell (down one), #13 Union (no change), and #17 Yale (down two). Also receiving votes were Colgate (50) and Harvard (10). Other ranked teams on the RPI schedule include #4 New Hampshire (down two), #9 Boston University (down three), #14 Minnesota State (up four), and #15 St. Cloud State (up one). Ferris State (47) also received votes.

All skaters on the roster have registered at least one point, with the exception of Andrew Commers (one game), Phil Hampton (three games), and Chris Bradley (15 games). All forwards have registered at least one goal with the exception of Commers, Travis Fulton (six games), and, surprisingly, Brock Higgs (16 games).

Jason Kasdorf, despite playing well in his two periods of play against St. Cloud, fell to a 1.63 GAA (6th in the nation) and .937 save percentage (11th).

Milos Bubela is fifth in the ECAC in freshman scoring nationally, trailing the Spink twins at Colgate, along with Colgate's Kyle Baun and Harvard's Jimmy Vesey.

Nick Bailen is tied for 13th in the nation in scoring among defensemen, third in the ECAC behind Union's Shayne Gostisbehere and Greg Coburn.

The Engineers still have a tough road ahead of them, with the next three games on their schedule coming on the road against opponents ranked in the top 10 nationally. Boston University, New Hampshire, and Quinnipiac beckon, which adds to the Engineers' already difficult schedule to date.

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


RPI at #16 St. Cloud State
Non-Conference Game - National Hockey and Event Center (St. Cloud, MN)
12/27/12 - 8:00pm

RESULT: RPI 4, St. Cloud State 3

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS
RPI
Troy Record
Albany Times Union
St. Cloud Times
Associated Press

VIDEO
Highlights (YouTube)

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


RPI at #16 St. Cloud State
Non-Conference Game - National Hockey and Event Center (St. Cloud, MN)
12/28/12 - 8:00pm

RESULT: St. Cloud State 2, RPI 1

BOX SCORES
Associated Press

VIDEO
Highlights (YouTube)

RECORD: 5-7-4 (1-5-2 ECAC, 4 points)


Sacred Heart at RPI
Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
12/31/12 - 4:00pm

RESULT: RPI 6, Sacred Heart 2

RECORD: 6-7-4 (1-5-2 ECAC, 4 points)

Upcoming games
04 Jan - at #9 Boston University
05 Jan - at #4 New Hampshire
11 Jan - at #5 Quinnipiac
12 Jan - at Princeton
18 Jan - Colgate

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