Monday, February 11, 2013

Men's Hockey - at St. Lawrence/Clarkson (8/9 Feb)

After enduring a difficult first two months to the season, the Engineers have picked the right time to come alive, and as a result, they find themselves right in the thick of the hunt for a home-ice playoff spot with three weeks left in the regular season. As part of the recent renaissance, RPI picked up a sweep in the North Country, battling against a tough St. Lawrence squad on Friday night to nab an overtime victory, 4-3, before coming back the next night in Potsdam and embarrassing Clarkson in their own house, 6-2.

St. Lawrence
Lee-Laliberte-Haggerty
Zalewski-Higgs-Bubela
Neal-McGowan-Tinordi
Rogic-Miller-Burgdoerfer

Leonard-Bailen
Leboeuf-Bradley
Curadi-Dolan

Kasdorf

Johnny Rogic returned to the lineup after serving his one game suspension for a hit from behind in the Harvard game a week prior. He replaced Andrew Commers. Otherwise, RPI dressed exactly the same lineup as they had for Freakout.

Jason Kasdorf's shutout streak came to an end early on a power-play tally by St. Lawrence's top line just 2:20 into the game, a goal that was had only seven seconds into a slashing call against Mark Miller. But the Engineers would get that goal back on their first power play opportunity five minutes later, as Matt Neal potted his fifth of the season about a minute into a hooking call against the Saints, making the score 1-1.

RPI would run their power play total to 2-for-2 just two and a half minutes later as Ryan Haggerty notched his 11th goal of the year during an interference call against SLU to put the Engineers up 2-1 midway through the first. RPI dominated possession in the first 20 minutes, outshooting the home side 13-5.

The second period featured more of the same, although St. Lawrence finally got some good opportunities off on Kasdorf as well. Again, an early penalty, this time a hooking call on Milos Bubela, cost RPI as SLU's top line again converted, knotting the score at 2-2 with all four goals coming on the power play.

The Engineers picked up their third power play of the night late in the second period, and while they didn't make it a combined five-for-five on the man advantage, they did get a goal out of the situation as Nick Bailen scored his sixth goal of the season during what was technically even strength, but was certainly assisted by the fact that RPI had just been on the power play, the goal coming just five seconds after the expiration of the minor.

The RPI penalty kill finally got some conversions in the third period, killing a pair of penalties that helped put the Saints on a 5-on-3 power play for over a minute, but they escaped unharmed. Eventually, however, the Engineers' lack of discipline caught up with them, as SLU scored the tying goal on the power play with just under 7 minutes left to play. The penalty kill was then called upon a fourth time in the final frame just under a minute later, but they held strong to preserve the tie.

As the game progressed into overtime, it seemed that the Engineers were mostly just hanging in there at the end, but C.J. Lee's determination to stick with the play midway through the extra period of hockey paid off as he took a wide-angle shot that caromed in off the goaltender's back 2:31 into overtime to lift RPI to a hard-fought 4-3 overtime win.

The victory was the first since December 27th against St. Cloud State in which the Engineers pulled out a win despite giving up the game's first goal - their fifth such victory of the year. It was also their first win in Canton in their last four tries, and their previous victory had been in overtime as well, a 7-6 thriller in the 2008-09 season.

Clarkson
Lee-Laliberte-Haggerty
Zalewski-Higgs-Bubela
Neal-McGowan-Burgdoerfer
Rogic-Miller-Commers

Leonard-Bailen
Leboeuf-Bradley
Curadi-Dolan

Kasdorf

One major setback from Friday night's game was a knee injury to Matt Tinordi. It is unknown how long the junior will be sidelined, early indications are that he may miss a few games as the team enters the final stretch. Andrew Commers took his place in the lineup, with Greg Burgdoerfer moving up to third-line duty.

With two points on the weekend already, RPI came into Potsdam ready to go and they pretty much jumped on the home team, which was tied with the Engineers coming into the evening due to their own victory the previous night over Union. Although it took RPI over 12 minutes to get themselves on the scoresheet, the dominance was clear practically from the beginning that the Engineers were the dominant side on the evening.

After failing to score on an early power play chance and then killing a penalty of their own, RPI opened the scoring with a goal by Bo Dolan, then got two more in quick succession - Ryan Haggerty's 12th goal of the year and Matt Neal's 6th, with all three goals coming in a span of 4:17, quickly getting the Engineers up to a 3-0 edge.

After the Golden Knights took a penalty with two seconds remaining in the first period, the Engineers went right back to work early in the second, with Jacob Laliberte scoring his 8th goal of the year 42 seconds in to put RPI up 4-0. After another Clarkson penalty, Nick Bailen notched his second of the weekend five seconds into the power play and just about a minute and a half after Laliberte's goal to give RPI the 5-0 lead after just 22 minutes of gametime, and on just 10 total shots. That spelled the end of Clarkson netminder Greg Lewis' night, and senior Cody Rosen came on in relief. That stemmed the tide at least a little bit, especially since the Engineers got yet another power play just seconds after Bailen's goal, but were they were unable to convert.

Bailen's second goal of the night at 9:08 put RPI up 6-0, and from there the Engineers were essentially on cruise control.

With things well in hand, Kasdorf's other shutout streak ended in the third period as the freshman gave up his first even-strength goal since early in the third period against Union at the Times Union Center, a stretch of over four full contests, at 8:06 of the third period. Clarkson picked up a second goal just 1:02 later, but a massive comeback was not in order as RPI, despite a lackadaisical third period, did not give up any more. They were helped by a major penalty against a Clarkson forward with under five minutes to play, and the final minutes played out with the Engineers basically just passing the puck around in the Clarkson zone.

The sweep was RPI's fourth ever in the North Country, and their first since the 2004-05 season. It was also the third time in four seasons that the team swept a road weekend.

Other junk - RPI received a vote in the USCHO poll for the first time since October, with one of 40 voters choosing the Engineers as the 20th best team in the nation, which is all of one vote. On a much larger front, Quinnipiac is the #1 team in the country for the first time, garnering 41 of 50 first place votes after sweeping Cornell and Colgate. #10 Yale (idle due to the snowstorm, no change) and #17 Dartmouth (tied Harvard, no change) were the only other ranked ECAC teams this week, a seasonal low for the conference. Union (40 votes, ex-18th), Colgate (2) and St. Lawrence (2) also received votes. Other teams on the RPI schedule ranked this week were #5 New Hampshire (down one), #8 St. Cloud State (no change), #9 Minnesota State (up two), and #13 Boston University (no change). Ferris State (12) also received votes.

Despite the two wins, Kasdorf's numbers dropped on the national level. His save percentage dipped to .938 and his goals against average is down to 1.60. That makes him sixth in the nation on the former category and fourth on the latter.

With four straight wins, the Engineers are on the nation's longest current win streak, and fourth longest unbeaten streak.

Twin challenges at home for RPI this week as Brown and Anthony Borelli come to town. The Bears' senior netminder has keyed the Bears' small resurgence this season in a similar fashion as did Jason Kasdorf, with slightly better numbers in almost exactly the same amount of time between the pipes. That's followed by a visit from Yale, a team that can score in bunches. Although playing at home, these teams present a solid challenge for the Engineers, but fortunately they are playing as well as anyone in the league right now.

The standings below are adjusted for actual tiebreakers now with the end of the season coming up. RPI is in a three-way tie for third. They lose that three-way tie to Princeton, but have the edge on Dartmouth right now thanks to, essentially, their tie with Quinnipiac (third tiebreaker is record against the Top 4).

ECAC Standings
1. Quinnipiac - 30 points (14-0-2)
2. Yale - 19 points (9-5-1)
3. Princeton - 17 points (7-6-3)
4. RPI - 17 points (7-6-3)
5. Dartmouth - 17 points (7-6-3)
6. St. Lawrence - 16 points (6-6-4)
7. Union - 16 points (6-6-4)
8. Clarkson - 15 points (6-7-3)
9. Colgate - 13 points (5-8-3)
10. Brown - 13 points (4-6-5)
11. Cornell - 10 points (4-10-2)
12. Harvard - 7 points (3-12-1)

RPI at St. Lawrence
ECAC Game - Appleton Arena (Canton, NY)
2/8/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 4, St. Lawrence 3 (OT)

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECORD: 11-11-5 (6-6-3 ECAC, 15 points)


RPI at Clarkson
ECAC Game - Cheel Arena (Potsdam, NY)
2/9/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 6, Clarkson 2

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO


RECORD: 12-11-5 (7-6-3 ECAC, 17 points)

Upcoming games
15 Feb - Brown
16 Feb - #10 Yale
22 Feb - at Cornell
23 Feb - at Colgate
02 Mar - Clarkson

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