Monday, January 28, 2013

Women's Hockey - Union Home & Home (25/26 Jan)

When looking to stay ahead of the pack fighting for the final playoff spots in the ECAC, it helps to beat the teams the rest of the league is beating. This weekend, the Engineers did just that, sweeping Union handily (2-1, 2-0) for a four-point boost in the standings.

In so doing, RPI has built a six point lead to sit comfortably in seventh place, and inched closer to 6th place Dartmouth who the Engineers now trail by just three points.

Friday
Smelker/Horton/Svoboda
Cox/Gruschow/Mari Mankey
Wash/Mahoney/Walsh
Letuligasenoa/Sanders

Daniels/Le Donne
Banks/Godin
Schilter/Marzario
Middlebrook

O'Brien

Union has been fighting to move up in the ECAC world over the past several seasons, but it has been a hard road for the Dutchwomen who have struggled to pick up league points. They gave RPI a test on Friday evening, but Taylor Horton's two goals proved enough to give RPI a 2-1 victory in the opening half of the weekend's home-and-home in Schenectady.

Horton opened the scoring late in the opening period, putting home a pass from Jordan Smelker on the power play to give RPI a 1-0 lead.

The Dutchwomen tied the score almost a full period later, with Kelly McGrath putting a point shot past Kelly O'Brien on the power play to make it a 1-1 game.

Horton notched the game winner (and her team-leading 11th goal of the season) at 5:24 of the third period, cashing in on an opportunity close in on Union netminder Shenae Lundberg for the 2-1 lead.

The Engineers held off a late push by Union with the extra attacker to earn the 2-1 win. Union ended up outshooting RPI by a 13-10 margin in the third period. Lundberg finished with 28 saves in the loss while O'Brien stopped 23 for the win.

Oddly enough, with the game's result, the two teams ended up sharing the same overall record (7-15-3) however the difference in ECAC records was notable, with RPI holding a 5-7-1 league mark compared to Union's 0-10-3.

Saturday
Smelker/Horton/Svoboda
Cox/Gruschow/Mari Mankey
Wash/Mahoney/Walsh
Letuligasenoa/Sanders

Daniels/Le Donne
Banks/Godin
Schilter/Marzario
Middlebrook

O'Brien

While Union put up a good fight against RPI on Friday evening, it was all Engineers on Saturday afternoon, as RPI held Union to five shots in the opening 40 minutes en route to a 2-0 shutout at Houston Field House.

Lundberg kept the Dutchwomen in the game despite the puck spending the vast majority of the game in the Union end of the ice, tallying 31 saves on the afternoon, but one of the two she missed came just 59 seconds into the game.

After the Engineers held the Union zone from the opening faceoff, Toni Sanders broke out of a pileup along the near side boards and fired a shot through a screening defender to beat Lundberg top-shelf for the early 1-0 lead.

What ensued after the opening goal can best be described as something that looked like a period-long power play for the Engineers, where Union was credited with two shots on goal but they were on dump-ins down the ice which found their way on net.

RPI peppered Lundberg with 15 shots in the period, finally breaking through for a second goal at 16:09 when Mariana Walsh picked up the first of her career, banging home a loose puck in front of the Union net after several tries were turned aside by the Union goalie.

RPI's momentum was slowed somewhat in the second period by a series of consecutive penalties, but the Engineer defense continued to stifle the Dutchwomen, holding them to three shots on goal despite having three power play opportunities.

Union's best opportunity came early in the third period where they got possession set up in the RPI zone and quickly put a handful of shots on O'Brien, but it was short-lived as RPI soon regained control and kept up pressure on Union for most of the third period.

RPI never managed to definitively put the game away as they couldn't extend the lead beyond two, and found themselves several times with nobody near the net looking for deflections and rebounds. Without the traffic out front, Lundberg made short work of most of the Engineers' scoring chances.

Union pulled the goalie for the final two minutes of regulation, looking to get on the board, but neither they nor the Engineers managed a goal in the stretch - although RPI held the Union zone for nearly a minute with the net empty, they couldn't get a shot on goal in that time.

While four points are four points, the Engineers continue to have trouble scoring, having not notched more than two goals in any of their past eight games. On the brighter side, Kelly O'Brien earned her second shutout of the season in Saturday afternoon's contest.

RPI takes to the road for games at Colgate (7pm Friday) and Cornell (4pm Saturday) next weekend. The Raiders are tied for eighth place, six points back of RPI, so a win in Hamilton would help solidify that lead for RPI.

Cornell has been the strong team we have come to expect the past several seasons, currently tied with Quinnipiac for second in the ECAC behind Harvard, and should prove to be a very difficult challenge for the Engineers on Saturday.

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RPI at Union
ECAC Hockey Game – Messa Rink (Schenectady, NY)
1/25/13 - 7pm
RPI 2, Union 1

BOX SCORES:
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/womens-hockey/2013/01/25/rensselaer-vs-union/
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1213/boxes/wrenuni1.j25

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2013/1/25/WICE_0125131828.aspx
Union: http://www.unionathletics.com/news/2013/1/25/WICE_0125130629.aspx

RECORD: 7-15-3 (5-7-1 ECAC)

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RPI vs. Union
ECAC Hockey Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/26/13 - 4pm
RPI 2, Union 0

BOX SCORES:
USCHO: http://www.uscho.com/box/womens-hockey/2013/01/26/union-vs-rensselaer/
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1213/boxes/wrenuni1.j26

RECAPS:
RPI: http://www.rpiathletics.com/news/2013/1/26/WICE_0126135157.aspx
Union: http://www.unionathletics.com/news/2013/1/26/WICE_0126131238.aspx
Video Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Va-32yPfU0

RECORD: 8-15-3 (6-7-1 ECAC)

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ECAC Standings

1. Harvard - 28 points (14-1-0)
2t. Cornell - 24 points (12-2-0)
2t. Clarkson - 24 points (12-2-0)
4. St. Lawrence 19 points (9-4-1)
5. Quinnipiac - 17 points (8-5-1)
6. Dartmouth - 16 points (7-6-2)
7. RPI - 13 points (6-7-1)
8t. Colgate - 7 points (2-9-3)
8t. Yale - 7 points (3-10-1)
10t. Brown - 6 points (3-11-0)
10t. Princeton - 6 points (2-10-2)
12. Union - 3 points (0-11-3)

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Upcoming Games

Feb. 1 - at Colgate (7pm)
Feb. 2 - at Cornell (4pm)
Feb. 8 - Clarkson (7pm)
Feb. 9 - St. Lawrence (4pm)

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