While this past weekend was the toughest overall left to be played in the regular season (on paper at least), the Engineers managed to come out of it with a point in a hard-fought 1-1 tie against St. Lawrence Saturday afternoon.
They did not fare as well Friday night, suffering a 3-1 loss at the hands of Clarkson. Unfortunately they also suffered from injury over the weekend as Taylor Mahoney was taken hard into the boards in Saturday's game and had to be helped to the locker room after a long time down on the ice.
Clarkson has been jockeying for position at the top of the standings most of the season and as the Engineers were reminded on Friday night, there's a good reason they're in the hunt for first place in the ECAC.
With the exception of a stretch in the second period, Clarkson controlled most of the game, scoring once in each period en route to defeating the Engineers 3-1 in a well-attended Greek Night game Friday night.
Clarkson wasted no time getting on the board, as Vanessa Gagnon cashed in on a rebound of Shelby Nisbet's original shot in front of Kelly O'Brien to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead.
The teams traded a series of penalties over the remainder of the first period but neither managed to capitalize on the power play opportunities.
Danielle Skirrow picked up her 13th goal of the season (and the eventual game-winner) 6:24 into the middle frame on a great individual effort. Breaking into the zone 1-on-2, she deked hard around the RPI defense and bolted to the net where she roofed the puck past O'Brien to make it 2-0.
The Engineers drew back to within one later in the second period, just a short time after a Clarkson penalty expired. After Jenn Godin dumped the puck down the near side boards, Clarkson netminder Erica Howe misplayed the puck behind the goal line, allowing Marianna Walsh to force a turnover. Walsh fed the puck into the slot where Lauren Wash was crashing hard to bury it into the open net and make it a 2-1 game.
Penalty trouble cost the Engineers a chance at tying the game in the third, as three consecutive penalties on the Engineers led to long sustained pressure and an insurance goal for Clarkson. Erin Ambrose threaded a shot through traffic from the top of the slot to make it 3-1 and Howe kept RPI from putting another on the board to make that the final on the afternoon.
After a tough fight against Clarkson on Friday, another difficult battle loomed large on Saturday, but the Engineers were able to hold on for a 1-1 tie against a strong St. Lawrence squad.
The only scoring in the game came in a span of 2:07 of the second period, in which the teams quickly traded goals and went from a scoreless tie to a 1-1 tie.
Alexa Gruschow scored shorthanded for the Engineers 1:10 into the second period, breaking in all alone on goalie Carmen MacDonald and finding an opening down low to get the puck into the net.
The Saints wasted little time in evening the score back up, as captain Kelly Sabatine made it a 1-1 game at 3:17, eventually capitalizing on a little give and go with her linemates to beat O'Brien from the top of the crease.
O'Brien held the Engineers in the game, especially early on when SLU outshot RPI 13-2 in the opening period. She finished with 36 saves on 37 shots, while MacDonald ended up with 25 saves on 26 shots as the Engineers mounted a stronger offense as the game drew on.
The Engineers appeared to have retaken the lead in the third period, but the goal was waved off by the referee for a crease violation by Taylor Horton. The replay appeared to show Horton hovering just at the top of the crease but the officials upheld the call on the ice after a video review and the goal did not count.
Physical play was the name of the game on Saturday and the officials were content to let a lot go. Unfortunately, it looks to have ended up costing both teams in terms of injuries. Taylor Mahoney went hard into the boards behind the SLU net and needed to be helped off the ice in the second period, then at the final buzzer Jordan Smelker sent SLU senior Michelle Ng into the boards near the RPI bench where she remained down on the ice for a long time, also needing to be helped off. The severity of both injuries is unclear at this point however it is likely both players will end up missing games as a result of the injuries.
The Engineers will hit the road next weekend for their last away series of the regular season at Yale (7pm Friday) and Brown (4pm Saturday). With Colgate still having to face Dartmouth and Harvard, and Princeton traveling to Clarkson and St. Lawrence, the Engineers have all but locked up 7th place, but a few points next weekend would mathematically seal the deal.
With such a tight grouping in the top three of the standings, it remains to be seen whether the Engineers would face Harvard, Clarkson, or Cornell in the playoffs (the most likely possibilities) - something that likely won't be settled until after the final weekend of the regular season in two weeks.
The chance remains that Quinnipiac or St. Lawrence could finish in 3rd place, though not as likely as the three previously mentioned - chances are good that the Saints and Bobcats will end up facing each other as the 4/5 seeds, though who would be the home team remains up in the air.
Colgate, Princeton, Yale, and Brown all mathematically remain in the hunt for the final playoff spot, but it will most likely come down to a race between Colgate and Princeton in the final two weekends of the season, barring any unusual results and major upsets.
RPI vs. Clarkson
ECAC Hockey Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/8/13 - 7pm
Clarkson 3, RPI 1
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1213/boxes/wclkren1.f08
Video Highlights (no audio): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMIw5gd87EU
Complete Game Video: http://rpitv.org/productions/542-womens-hockey-vs-clarkson
RECORD: 9-17-3 (7-9-1 ECAC)
RPI vs. St. Lawrence
ECAC Hockey Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/9/13 - 4pm
RPI 1, SLU 1 (OT)
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1213/boxes/wrenstl1.f09
St. Lawrence: http://www.stlawu.edu/athletics/saints/women%27s+hockey/story/11612
Video Highlights (no audio): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRC2MZU0HxI
Complete Game Video: http://rpitv.org/productions/543-womens-hockey-vs-st-lawrence
RECORD: 9-17-4 (7-9-2 ECAC)
1t. Clarkson - 30 points (15-3-0)
1t. Cornell - 30 points (14-2-0)
3. Harvard - 29 points (14-1-1)
4t. Quinnipiac - 24 points (11-5-2)
4t. St. Lawrence - 24 points (11-5-2)
6. Dartmouth - 19 points (8-6-3)
7. RPI - 16 points (7-9-2)
8. Colgate - 11 points (4-11-3)
9. Princeton - 10 points (4-12-2)
10. Yale - 8 points (3-11-2)
11. Brown - 6 points (3-14-0)
12. Union - 3 points (0-15-3)
Feb. 15 - at Yale (7pm)
Feb. 16 - at Brown (4pm)
Feb. 22 - Cornell (7pm)
Feb. 23 - Colgate (4pm) (Senior Night)
Mar. 1-3 - ECAC Quarterfinals