Monday, January 28, 2013

Men's Hockey - vs. Union (26 Jan)

Even when you're playing well, you can still be stopped - that much we've learned over the last couple of months when it pertains to the Engineers. On Saturday, RPI played well for the most part against a team that certainly was not playing well largely speaking, but when it came to going up against one of the better teams on the power play and the penalty kill in the nation, the difference was made, and despite playing a tight game for much of the night, a questionable late penalty provided the opening for Union to pick up a 3-2 win in the inaugural Mayor's Cup game.

Union
Lee-Laliberte-Haggerty
Zalewski-Higgs-Bubela
Neal-McGowan-Tinordi
Rogic-Miller-O'Grady

Leonard-Bailen
Leboeuf-Bradley
Curadi-Dolan

Kasdorf

Greg Burgdoerfer came out of the lineup for Brock Higgs, and essentially all of the centers were juggled to make an accommodation for it.

Guy Lebeouf's cross-checking penalty two minutes into the game put Union on the power play for the first time, and they delivered the game's first goal with a shot from the point that glanced off Jason Kasdorf's glove and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. That was about the only high point for the Dutchmen during the first period, as RPI controlled the puck well after going down on the scoreboard. Troy Grosenick made the difference, stopping all 16 shots that he saw in the first period, keeping Union ahead despite the 16-7 shot differential.

RPI got themselves on the board quickly in the second as Ryan Haggerty notched his 10th goal of the year just 16 seconds into the period to tie the game up. After that, things settled in with both teams getting plenty of possession opportunities in the attacking zone, but fewer decent scoring opportunities both ways.

The third period was where things started to unravel. Early in the period, icing was called against the Engineers despite a Union player choosing not to play the puck in the neutral zone. The ensuing faceoff (after an RPI timeout) was won by the Dutchmen, and just a few seconds later resulted in Union's second goal of the contest.

The Engineers didn't give up, but the power play was very ineffective all night long thanks to some good penalty killing by Union. RPI had two opportunities on the man advantage after going down 2-1, but they could not convert on either, going 0-for-5 on the evening.

RPI was fortunate not to go down a man or even worse just a few minutes after falling behind, as an Engineer basically assaulted Grosenick behind the play, shaking up the goaltender for a little bit. Nothing was called.

Mark McGowan's fifth goal of the year, and second in as many games, lifted RPI back into a tie at just the right time, putting the score at 2-2 with just under five minutes to play. Things started shifting down toward the Union end just a little following the goal, and as time ticked down it started to appear as though overtime was inevitable.

Then, against play, Union brought the puck down ice. Nick Bailen, marking the man with the puck, shoved him down at the blue line, and was whistled for interference despite the fact that the puck was sitting at both men's feet. The penalty came with 1:23 left in regulation, and put Union in exactly the position they wanted to be in late in the game - on special teams. Just under a minute later, with 37 seconds left until overtime, the Dutchmen scored their second power play tally of the game, lifting them to a 3-2 victory - though RPI nearly scored on a late flurry off the ensuing faceoff.

Other junk - Quinnipiac very nearly earned the #1 ranking in the nation this week, as it is they are ranked #2 with 22 first place votes after defeating UConn on Tuesday. Other ranked ECAC teams include #8 Yale (beat Cornell and lost to Colgate, no change), #16 Dartmouth (lost to SLU and beat Clarkson, down four), and #18 Union (beat Harvard and RPI, up one). Also receiving votes were Colgate (19) and Cornell (5). Other ranked teams on the RPI schedule are #3 New Hampshire (up one), #11 Boston University (no change), #12 St. Cloud State (up four), and #15 Minnesota State (down one). Also receiving votes was Ferris State (42).

RPI has had the most difficult schedule in the ECAC (and 12th most difficult in the nation) according to KRACH, but the way forward from here is significantly easier than it has been on the whole so far. The Engineers will not leave the state of New York until March at the earliest (if at all), and face only two teams currently ranked nationally the rest of the way - Dartmouth and Yale, both at home. That could be beneficial going forward, especially since RPI has been playing some very good hockey of late, even in defeat.

Most immediately, it's Freakout! weekend, which produces two games RPI will need to bounce back into a home-ice playoff spot. Sitting in 11th but only 4 points out of 5th, a game against last-place Harvard at home is followed by Freakout! against nationally ranked but also struggling Dartmouth. For the Engineers, the time is now to make a move.

ECAC Standings
1. Quinnipiac - 23 points (11-0-1)
2. Yale - 17 points (8-4-1)
3. Dartmouth - 15 points (7-5-1)
4. Union - 15 points (6-4-3)
5. Princeton - 13 points (5-4-3)
6. Colgate - 11 points (5-6-1)
7. St. Lawrence - 11 points (4-5-3)
8. Clarkson - 10 points (4-6-2, 0 GD)
9. Cornell - 10 points (4-6-2, -6 GD)
10. Brown - 10 points (3-6-4)
11. RPI - 9 points (3-6-3)
12. Harvard - 6 points (3-11-0)

#19 Union vs. RPI
Non-Conference Game - Times Union Center (Albany, NY)
1/26/13 - 7:30pm

RESULT: Union 3, RPI 2

BOX SCORES
RECORD: 8-11-5 (3-6-3 ECAC, 9 points)

Upcoming games
01 Feb - Harvard
02 Feb - #16 Dartmouth (Big Red Freakout!)
08 Feb - at St. Lawrence
09 Feb - at Clarkson
15 Feb - Brown

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