Monday, January 7, 2013

Women's Hockey - Dartmouth & Harvard (4/5 Jan)

Harvard and Dartmouth have historically been one of the toughest pairs of opponents on the ECAC schedule, but it's been a down season for the Big Green, who are hovering near the middle of the pack in the conference standings. Harvard, meanwhile, is undefeated in league play and ranked #4 in the country.

It was not terribly surprising, then, that RPI managed to take a 2-1 victory over Dartmouth on Friday before falling to Harvard by the same score on Saturday. Overall, it was a good weekend of hockey for the Engineers, with two hard-fought games resulting in a big win and a loss that could easily have gone either way.

Dartmouth
Smelker/Horton/Svoboda
Mahoney/Gruschow/Mari Mankey
Sanders/Wash/Walsh
Letuligasenoa/Missy Mankey

Daniels/Banks
Le Donne/Godin
Schilter/Marzario

O'Brien

After much of the Engineers' season has been spent struggling on special teams (especially the penalty kill), RPI returned from the holiday break with a top-notch special teams performance, scoring shorthanded and power play goals en route to a 2-1 victory over Dartmouth.

A scoreless first period saw the Engineers successfully kill a pair of penalties and rack up an 8-3 advantage in shots over Dartmouth, which had trouble generating any sustained pressure in the period.

The second period saw the Big Green put up ten shots, however most of the ten came on a pair of power play opportunities, with Dartmouth again struggling to generate opportunities at even strength.

With Ali Svoboda off on a tripping call and the faceoff in the Engineers' zone, Dartmouth won the puck back to the point where Taylor Horton took it from the defenseman and broke down ice with Jordan Smelker on a 2-on-1. After a couple of quick moves with the puck, Horton fired it five-hole where it just squeaked through Lindsay Holdcroft's pads for a shorthanded goal and a 1-0 lead.

Lauren Wash doubled RPI's lead about seven minutes later with a power play tally, forcing home a rebound off Alexa Gruschow's shot with both teams crashing the crease hard. It was Wash's fifth goal of the season and Gruschow's team-leading ninth assist.

A pair of RPI penalties early in the third period turned the momentum back in Dartmouth's favor, and the Big Green cut the RPI lead in half at 6:39 when Jenna Hobeika was able to roof a third try at a rebound just past Kelly O'Brien's glove hand to make it 2-1.

Dartmouth pressured hard in the latter half of the third period, outshooting the Engineers 14-4 in the final frame, but O'Brien and the RPI defense held strong to keep the score at 2-1 and give the Engineers a well deserved victory on Friday night.

Harvard
Smelker/Horton/Svoboda
Mahoney/Gruschow/Mari Mankey
Sanders/Wash/Walsh
Letuligasenoa/Missy Mankey

Daniels/Le Donne
Banks/Godin
Schilter/Marzario

O'Brien

After Friday night's win, the Engineers faced a tougher test on Saturday afternoon as the fourth-ranked and undefeated in ECAC play Harvard Crimson arrived in Troy after shellacking Union 9-0 the night before.

There would be no blowout for the Crimson on Saturday, however, as RPI held the potent Harvard offense (averaging over four and a half goals per game in league play) to two goals, and an inability to convert on a long 5-on-3 ended up costing the Engineers a chance of at least a tie as they lost 2-1.

The first period went by extremely quickly, with a strech toward ten minutes without a whistle and no penalties or goals to slow things down. Neither team had many quality chances in the frame, which only saw a 6-4 shot tally in favor of Harvard despite the back-and-forth play.

Kalley Armstrong opened up the scoring just 2:54 into the second period, after being allowed to float undetected to within about five feet of O'Brien for a one-time feed from behind the net which the RPI netminder had no chance to stop.

RPI outshot the Crimson 8-7 in the second and Mari Mankey was able to knot the score at one in the latter minutes of the frame, scoring from an improbable angle right along the goal line with a shot that appeared to deflect into the net off Harvard goalie Emerance Maschmayer's pads.

Harvard turned up the pressure in the third and scored what would end up the game winner at 5:56 on the power play, with Kelly Romatoski threading a shot through a crowd from the point to make it 2-1.

The Engineers had a golden opportunity to tie things up late in the period when consecutive Harvard penalties resulted in a long 5-on-3, but the top ranked (in ECAC play - second nationally) Harvard penalty kill held RPI at bay to keep it a 2-1 game.

In all it was a great effort from the Engineers and not a bad result against a team that outscores their opponents by over three goals a game on average. If the Engineers continue the level of play exhibited this weekend in the remainder of the ECAC schedule, a once-questionable chance of making the playoffs looks to be a much more likely scenario.

RPI will have its final non-conference matchup of the season next weekend as they host Providence (7pm Friday, 4pm Saturday) for a weekend set. The Friars sport a .500 record but were handily defeated by Harvard and Dartmouth on opposite ends of the holiday break and have struggled against stronger opponents, picking up their wins against Vermont, Maine, Union, and Yale, for example.

After Providence, the Engineers get right back into the thick of it with a rematch on the road against Harvard and Dartmouth before the Union home-and-home and remainder of the league schedule.

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RPI vs. Dartmouth
ECAC Hockey Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/4/13 - 7pm
RPI 2, Dartmouth 1

BOX SCORES:
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/womens-hockey/2013/01/04/dartmouth-vs-rensselaer/
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1213/boxes/wdarren1.j04

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2013/1/4/WICE_0104133556.aspx
Dartmouth: http://www.dartmouthsports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=205875961
Video Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_Yr6z_51MM

RECORD: 6-11-2 (4-5-0 ECAC)

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RPI vs. Harvard
ECAC Hockey Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/5/13 - 4pm
Harvard 2, RPI 1

BOX SCORES:
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/womens-hockey/2013/01/05/harvard-vs-rensselaer/
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1213/boxes/wharren1.j05

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2013/1/5/WICE_0105133422.aspx
Harvard: http://www.gocrimson.com/sports/wice/2012-13/releases/20130105cgzzff
Video Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpvyLXm-4_o

RECORD: 6-12-2 (4-6-0 ECAC)

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ECAC Standings

1. Harvard - 18 points (9-0-0)
2. Quinnipiac - 17 points (8-3-1)
3. Cornell - 16 points (8-2-0)
4. Clarkson - 14 points (7-1)
5. St. Lawrence - 12 points (6-2-0)
6. Dartmouth - 9 points (4-4-1)
7. RPI - 8 points (4-6-0)
8. Princeton - 6 points (2-8-2)
9t. Brown - 4 points (2-6-0)
9t. Colgate - 4 points (1-7-2)
11t. Yale - 3 points (1-6-1)
11t. Union - 3 points (0-7-3)

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Upcoming Games

Jan. 11 - Providence (7pm)
Jan. 12 - Providence (4pm)
Jan. 18 - at Harvard (7pm)
Jan. 19 - at Dartmouth (4pm)

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