Monday, September 30, 2013

Women's Hockey - Brock (29 Sep)

It was a hat trick for Jordan Smelker at the Field House Sunday afternoon the captain of the Engineers led the team to a 9-0 exhibition win over the Badgers of Brock University. Five other Engineers had multiple-point games and the Engineers outshot the visiting Badgers 48-13 en route to closing out the exhibition portion of the 2013 schedule.




Five goals in just over five minutes of game time made for a furious rush which turned a scoreless affair into a 5-0 drubbing just past three minutes into the second period.

Smelker's first was also the first of the day at 17:58 of the first, a quick shot off a perfect pass from Ali Svoboda which left the Brock goaltender little chance of stopping it. Toni Sanders made it 2-0 just 24 seconds later, scoring off a scrum in front of the Brock net where most players had lost track of the puck.

The scoring continued unabated to start the second, with Alexa Gruschow outskating the Brock defense to free herself on a shorthanded breakaway and make it 3-0 at 1:27. Nona Letuligasenoa picked up the Engineers' fourth goal, taking the puck from behind the net and firing a quick backhander which caught netminder Julia Ouroumis by surprise.

Taylor Mahoney notched the fifth goal, picking up the puck after a faceoff win by Svoboda and quickly blasting a shot past Ouroumis. The Engineers were unable to convert on a pair of power play opportunities after Mahoney's goal, but Smelker proceeded make it 6-0 on her second of the afternoon at 9:55, powering past the Brock defense in much the same way as Gruschow had earlier, carrying the puck across the crease and making the ensuing backhander look easy.

Three more goals in the third period finished things off for the Engineers, starting with Smelker's hat trick goal at 9:25, where she took control of a Brock turnover on the near side boards, flipped the puck to Svoboda and headed for the net just in time to receive another precise pass for an easy goal. Lauren Wash scored RPI's 8th after another 24 second gap, forcing home a rebound on another scrum in front of the Brock net, and Svoboda scored one of her own to go with her three assists at 15:46, a wrister from the slot that found its way through traffic and wound up top shelf in the back of the net.

The exhibition schedule over, the Engineers now travel to Pittsburgh for a non-conference weekend at Robert Morris. The Colonials have been a fixture on RPI's schedule, appearing all but one season since 2005-2006. Since that one season off in 2010-11, the Engineers have been 0-3-1 against RMU, so this coming weekend should prove a much tougher test for the Engineers than their exhibition matchups. Game times for next weekend are 7pm Friday and 3pm Saturday.


RPI vs. Brock
Exhibition Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
9/29/13 - 3:00pm
RPI 9, Brock 0

RPI: not posted

Complete Game:

RECORD: 0-0 (0-0 ECAC)


Upcoming Games

Oct. 4 - at Robert Morris (7pm)
Oct. 5 - at Robert Morris (3pm)
Oct. 11 - Boston University (7pm)
Oct. 12 - Northeastern (4pm)
Oct. 19 - Vermont (3pm)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Knowledge and Thoroughness

We're closing in on a week out from our first opportunity to see the men's team in action - next Saturday against St. Mary's - so it's time you armed yourself with a little bit of information. Below are the names you should know for the upcoming ECAC campaign - the top 10 returning players within the conference in each offensive and goaltending category. Figures below represent totals accrued from in-league play only.

Greg Carey, St. Lawrence - 30
Kenny Agostino, Yale - 25
Andrew Calof, Princeton - 25
Jeremy Wick, St. Lawrence - 21
Matt Lorito, Brown - 21
Daniel Carr, Union - 19
Tyler Sikura, Dartmouth - 19
Shayne Gostisbehere, Union - 18
Matt Neal, RPI - 17
Justin Baker, St. Lawrence - 17

Greg Carey, St. Lawrence - 18
Jeremy Wick, St. Lawrence - 11
Kenny Agostino, Yale - 11
Joe Zarbo, Clarkson - 10
Andrew Calof, Princeton - 10
Jordan Samuels-Thomas, Quinnipiac - 10
Jimmy Vesey, Harvard - 9
Matt Lorito, Brown - 9
Daniel Carr, Union - 9
Mike Zalewski, RPI - 8

Andrew Calof, Princeton - 15
Justin Baker, St. Lawrence - 15
Shayne Gostisbehere, Union - 15
Kenny Agostino, Yale - 14
Joakim Ryan, Cornell - 13
Tyler Sikura, Dartmouth - 13
Jacob Laliberte, RPI - 12
Matt Neal, RPI - 12
Dennis Robertson, Brown - 12
Matt Lorito, Brown - 12
Greg Carey, St. Lawrence - 12

Power Play Points
Greg Carey, St. Lawrence - 16
Tylor Spink, Colgate - 11
Justin Baker, St. Lawrence - 11
Mat Bodie, Union - 9
Matt Neal, RPI - 9
Jeremy Wick, St. Lawrence - 9
Tyson Spink, Colgate - 9
Ryan Haggerty, RPI - 8
Allan McPherson, Clarkson - 8
Daniel Carr, Union - 8
Kenny Agostino, Yale - 8

Power Play Goals
Greg Carey, St. Lawrence - 9
Jeremy Wick, St. Lawrence - 6
Allan McPherson, Clarkson - 4
Kyle Baun, Colgate - 4
Tylor Spink, Colgate - 4
Jordan Samuels-Thomas, Quinnipiac - 4
Daniel Carr, Union - 4
Spiro Goulakos, Colgate - 3
T.J. Moor, Clarkson - 3
Nick Lappin, Brown - 3
(Ryan Haggerty, RPI - 3)

Short-Handed Points
Andrew Ammon, Princeton - 2
Brock Higgs, RPI - 2
Tyler Sikura, Dartmouth - 2
Andrew Calof, Princeton - 2
Kyle Essery, St. Lawrence - 2

Defenseman Scoring
Shayne Gostisbehere, Union - 18
Justin Baker, St. Lawrence - 17
Joakim Ryan, Cornell - 15
Tommy Fallen, Yale - 13
Dennis Robertson, Brown - 13
Mat Bodie, Union - 11
Paul Geiger, Clarkson - 10
Spiro Goulakos, Colgate - 9
Alec Rush, Princeton - 8
Curtis Leonard, RPI - 8

Goals Against Average
Jason Kasdorf, RPI - 1.39
Cab Morris, Dartmouth - 2.15
Andy Iles, Cornell - 2.31
Spencer Finney, Colgate - 2.75
Raphael Girard, Harvard - 2.80
Charles Grant, Dartmouth - 2.84
Greg Lewis, Clarkson - 2.98
Matt Weninger, St. Lawrence - 3.01
Eric Mihalik, Colgate - 3.05

Save Percentage
Jason Kasdorf, RPI - .945
Andy Iles, Cornell - .917
Cab Morris, Dartmouth - .916
Raphael Girard, Harvard - .916
Matt Weninger, St. Lawrence - .910
Charles Grant, Dartmouth - .909
Eric Mihalik, Colgate - .902
Greg Lewis, Clarkson - .901
Spencer Finney, Colgate - .901

Returning Goals Per Game (difference from last year)
Clarkson - 2.45 (-0.19)
RPI - 2.23 (-0.54)
St. Lawrence - 2.18 (-0.60)
Quinnipiac - 1.86 (-1.46)
Yale - 1.86 (-0.87)
Dartmouth - 1.86 (-0.69)
Brown - 1.86 (-0.59)
Union - 1.77 (-1.14)
Princeton - 1.72 (-0.64)
Colgate - 1.63 (-0.73)
Harvard - 1.22 (-0.83)
Cornell - 1.18 (-1.05)


And, while we're at it, a look at the top returning players around the nation. ECAC players are in bold, RPI's top returners are included for comparison where they're outside the top 10, and players in italics are those from outside of the league that the Engineers are scheduled to get a look at this season.

Points per game
Johnny Gaudreau, Boston College - 1.46
Greg Carey, St. Lawrence - 1.34
Ryan Walters, Nebraska-Omaha - 1.33
Andrew Calof, Princeton - 1.23
Kevin Roy, Northeastern - 1.17
Matt Leitner, Minnesota State - 1.15
Brett Gensler, Bentley - 1.14
Kenny Agostino, Yale - 1.11
Kevin Goumas, New Hampshire - 1.11
Nic Kerdiles, Wisconsin - 1.03
(Matt Neal, RPI - 0.88)

Goals per game
Greg Carey, St. Lawrence - 0.74
Matt Lorito, Brown - 0.61
Johnny Gaudreau, Boston College - 0.60
David Glen, Penn State - 0.59
Kevin Roy, Northeastern - 0.59
Ryan Walters, Nebraska-Omaha - 0.56
Cody Wydo, Robert Morris - 0.55
Brandon Nunn, Holy Cross - 0.55
Michael Mersch, Wisconsin - 0.55
Jonny Brodzinski, St. Cloud State - 0.52
(Ryan Haggerty/Mike Zalewski, RPI - 0.33)

Assists per game
Johnny Gaudreau, Boston College - 0.86
Kevin Goumas, New Hampshire - 0.84
Andrew Calof, Princeton - 0.77
Ryan Walters, Nebraska-Omaha - 0.77
Matt Leitner, Minnesota State - 0.73
Max Gardiner, Penn State - 0.70
Nic Kerdiles, Wisconsin - 0.69
Brett Gensler, Bentley - 0.69
Alexander Krushelnyski, Colorado College - 0.67
Tanner Fritz, Ohio State - 0.65
(Matt Neal, RPI - 0.65)

Power Play Goals
Greg Carey, St. Lawrence - 14
Chris Bodo, Mercyhurst - 10
Kyle Gibbons, Canisius - 9
Michael Colavecchia, RIT - 8
Matt Lorito, Brown - 8
Danny O'Regan, Boston University - 8
Jacob Laliberte, RPI - 7
Cody Ferriero, Northeastern - 7
Alex Grieve, Bentley - 7
David Morley, St. Cloud State - 7

Points per game (Defensemen)
Trevor van Riemsdyk, New Hampshire - 0.85
Greg Noyes, RIT - 0.76
Joey LaLeggia, Denver - 0.74
Shayne Gostisbehere, Union - 0.72
Steve Weinstein, Bentley - 0.71
Nolan Zajac, Denver - 0.70
Michael Matheson, Boston College - 0.69
David Makowski, Denver - 0.69
Mat Bodie, Union - 0.69
Justin Baker, St. Lawrence - 0.68
(Curtis Leonard, RPI - 0.43)

Goals Against Average
Connor Hellebuyck, UMass-Lowell - 1.37
Ryan McKay, Miami - 1.39
Jason Kasdorf, RPI - 1.62
Adam Wilcox, Minnesota - 1.88
Jay Williams, Miami - 1.94
Joel Rumpel, Wisconsin - 1.96
Frank Slubowski, Western Michigan - 2.00
Stephon Williams, Minnesota State - 2.00
Steven Summerhays, Notre Dame - 2.01
Jon Gillies, Providence - 2.08

Save Percentage
Connor Hellebuyck, UMass-Lowell - .952
Ryan McKay, Miami - .946
Jason Kasdorf, RPI - .935
Jon Gillies, Providence - .931
Kevin Murdock, Lake Superior - .930
Joel Rumpel, Wisconsin - .929
Tony Capobianco, Canisius - .929
Jake Hildebrand, Michigan State - .928
C.J. Motte, Ferris State - .927
Sean Maguire, Boston University - .926

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Know Your Enemy: Brown

This year's final entry in the Know Your Enemy journal is one that has left RPI fans shaking their heads at the end of the season twice in the last four years. For a team that the Engineers have fairly regularly dispatched with some ease in the regular season, the playoffs sure have been a completely different story. Last year's Brown team, however, was one of the best in recent memory, and the future seems to hold good things for the Bears - provided that they get some more goaltending.

Nickname: Bears
Location: Providence, RI
Founded: 1764
Conference: ECAC (Ivy League)
National Championships: 0
Last NCAA Appearance: 1993
Last Frozen Four: 1976
Coach: Brendan Whittet (5th season)
2012-13 Record: 16-14-6 (7-9-6 ECAC, 7th place)
Series: RPI leads, 57-24-7
First Game: December 28, 1951 (Troy, NY)
Last RPI win: March 16, 2013 (Troy, NY)
Last Brown win: March 17, 2013 (Troy, NY)

2013-14 games: February 8, 2014 (Troy, NY); February 28, 2013 (Providence, RI)

Key players: G Marco DeFilippo, sr.; F Garnet Hathaway, sr.; F Mark Hourihan, sr.; D Dennis Robertson, sr.; D Matt Wahl, sr.; D Joey de Concilys, jr.; F Matt Harlow, jr.; F Ryan Jacobson, jr.; F Massimo Lamacchia, jr.; F Matt Lorito, jr.; F Nick Lappin, so.; F Mark Naclerio, so.; D Brandon Pfeil, so.; F Andrew Doane, fr.; D Tyler Wood, fr.

Key losses: G Anthony Borelli, D Richie Crowley, F Chris Zaires, F Jeff Ryan

Previous KYE installments:
Brown's win in Game 1 of the ECAC quarterfinals was their first over RPI in just over three calendar years - the previous win had been Game 3 of the ECAC First Round in 2010. Brown's last regular-season win over RPI came on January 29, 2010 in Providence, and their last regular-season win in Troy was all the way back on January 2, 2004 - a 1-0 victory.

More than anything, those stats simply put an exclamation point on just how much success RPI typically has against Brown. The lack of losses in Troy is especially stunning when you consider just how bad some of those RPI teams were after 2004 - and it makes the playoff successes that Brown had in 2010 and 2013 even more difficult to take.

The Bears made their first appearance in the ECAC championship game in 20 years last season, shocking high-powered Quinnipiac in the semifinals with a shutout, but failing to muster any major offense or defense against Union in the title game. Needing the Whitelaw Cup to go to the NCAA tournament (a win which, in hindsight, would have displaced their travel partners, Yale, from the field - think about that one for a while), the loss was undoubtedly disappointing but came at a point beyond which most observers thought the team capable.

The engine that made Brown a contender was Borelli - a revelation in his senior year when he displaced DeFilippo as the top goaltender the weekend Union and RPI came to Providence. Having started just two games in his previous three seasons, Borelli managed to keep the Bears around long enough to salvage ties in both games that weekend where they'd fallen behind, a trend that would continue for much of the rest of the season, and as time went on, Brown started winning games they'd previously been tying, and tying games they'd previously lost.

With the exception of a sub-par Capital District road weekend, the Bears picked up points in every single ECAC weekend after Borelli became the starting goaltender. That led into the team's first home playoff series since 2005, a relatively easy sweep of a punchless Clarkson team. Then, the Bears essentially snuck out of Troy with a 2-1 series victory after holding on for dear life in Game 1 and Game 3 victories that bookmarked a 6-2 beatdown in Game 2.

Offensively, Brown is encountering a renaissance, and it's led by Lorito, one of the top offensive threats in the league. Last season, he paired largely with Naclerio and Lappin, helping them become the team's second and fourth leading scorers. Hathaway, Robertson, and Harlow all return as key parts of Brown's offense this season.

Robertson, one of the better two-way defensemen in the league, is part of a far better than average blue-line showing that includes Wahl and Pfeil. The biggest question, though, is in net. DeFilippo had been rather shaky early last season, which made it all the more easy for Borelli to swoop in and take the top spot. The Bears do add a freshman goaltender, Tyler Steel, but presumably DeFilippo will get a second chance to be Brown's top netminder in his senior season.

That won't matter to RPI, since the Bears are, perhaps frustratingly, the last team they will see on their schedule - it will have been nearly 11 full months from the early playoff exit when the Engineers get their chance for revenge, and it will be at home in the Big Red Freakout!, something that should play into their hands nicely. The goaltending situation is likely to have some kind of solid answer by then. Whether that answer has them winning games the way Borelli managed is yet to be seen.

The question for Brown this season is thus - can they do something similar to what St. Lawrence did last season, and get enough offense to make what could be a mediocre defense hold up? If so, Brown can certainly find itself shooting for the stars with an outside shot at being a first-round bye contender. If not, treading water is going to be perhaps as much as they can hope for.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Our Ballot

This is the fourth consecutive year that Without a Peer has had a vote in the annual ECAC preseason media poll... and by tradition, I usually share my ballot with the WaP readers in the interest of full openness about our little section of the poll.

I've always tried to be very, very serious with my ballot, because frequently as a fan, you always tend to look at your team in the most positive light possible. The worst place is always trying to figure out where to put your own team, because you A) don't want to be overly hard on them, and B) you don't want to look like you're being a homer. B is more scary than A when you're trying to cast off the partisan nature of running a fan blog and be dead-set honest with your assessment on how the league appears ready to turn out before the season begins.

That's why this year's poll may have been the most difficult one to fill out, as you're about to see. Our yearly "Know Your Enemy" series (which concludes tomorrow) helps me put this together, since it takes a microscope to each team in the league to find out what made them work last year, what will be missing, what returns, and what the prospects are, and that was key again this season in being able to rank the teams from 1-12. We don't mean to insult anyone, obviously, this is just the way we see things. Along the way, you find teams that you can't believe you're ranking so low, but someone has to be there, and when you can't find a way to put them ahead of other teams... there you have it.

So without further ado, the ECAC as I see it with the 2013-14 season about ready to get underway...

1. RPI - I tried to not put the bullseye on the Engineers' back. I spent the better part of a month trying to convince myself that someone else needed to be here, especially with two strong teams coming out of the national championship game, but at the end of the day, there's one truth about RPI that I cannot avoid. Simply, there is no other team in the league that returns established scoring ability (and much of its scoring from last year), established defensive capabilities, and has a solid, known quantity in net. Every other team is missing at least one of those. RPI's offense and defense may not individually be the best in the ECAC but as combined, they provide the best balance. Toss in a clear top goaltender heading into the season and we've got the team to beat.

2. Quinnipiac - The knock on the Bobcats from a number of quarters is that they graduated a heck of a lot of seniors last year. True. But they bring back basically all of the offense from last year and even augment it with solid recruits. Their issue is with defense, though they have a number of potential answers all around. This will be a younger team than last year's squad that romped in the ECAC, but there are enough known quantities with this team that they will continue to be dangerous, if vulnerable early in the season until the blueliners begin to gel as a unit. This is where the Q's non-Ivy status helps, as their first month of non-conference competition will help that happen.

3. Yale - The national champions are basically Quinnipiac with a more established d-corps but no immediately obvious answers in net. Practically since Keith Allain took charge in New Haven, the question has been between the pipes, and as we come into this season there isn't a real solid answer. If any of the goaltenders can get hot, however, the Bulldogs are as dangerous as anyone in the nation, as well evidenced by last year's championship run. The core of last year's scoring is back for more this season, which is going to cause headaches for even the best defensive teams in the ECAC. However, if this team gets into track meets repeatedly, that will not be beneficial for their long-term success.

4. Dartmouth - Another case where offense rules. I don't think the Big Green have as big of a problem in net as some have suggested, in fact, they have two very decent options there that really should not be causing much in the way of problems. Dartmouth gets ranked below Quinnipiac and Yale, however, on the explosiveness of their offense. It's a strong unit, it just isn't quite on the level of the Connecticut schools. They make up for that with more balance to that attack. Sometimes, having many skaters scoring a few goals is just as good as having a few skaters with many goals. That's going to be a very underrated element of Dartmouth's game that will probably see them coming away with two points more often than not.

5. Cornell - This is fairly low for the Big Red, but it represents a nexus of the team's late-year resurgence last season, their struggle to score goals, and their usual positioning as one of the league's top teams. Cornell isn't staying down for long, and while they have some questions to answer offensively, chances are pretty good they'll at least find enough answers to finish in the top half of the league for the 14th time in 15 seasons. The defense that has keyed the program's long-term success returned late last year, this ranking is indicative of a need to determine exactly where the offense is going to be coming from. They have many options, which is cause for optimism in Ithaca.

6. Union - Plenty of ability here to fill the gaps on offense, but those gaps accompany a Quinnipiac-level of concern on defense, with a likely competent but mostly untested goaltender and a defensive unit keyed by two of the best d-men in the conference but lacking in experience outside of them. This is not a mediocre team by any stretch of the imagination, however, and that more than anything speaks to the increasing depth in the ECAC that they are here in sixth. Rick Bennett's third season with the reins will be more difficult than the last two, but don't count him out - he's already proven that he can squeeze more from his teams than what appears to exist on paper.

7. St. Lawrence - It's very, very difficult to put a team with a pre-season Hobey Baker candidate this far down the list, but if anything, it's another testament to how good the league may be overall this season. As you'll see below, we've got two Saints in our selections for Preseason All-ECAC, and yet, here they are. That probably means that SLU will have the capacity to surprise, but they need to be able to spread the offense out a little bit more than they have in recent seasons, and they need a better than average performance from their goaltending in order to be competitive on the level that they were for a good chunk of last season - especially last February.

8. Harvard - Word came down in August that the players who left the team last season due to the cheating scandal would be returning this year, which represents a huge shot in the arm for a team that really needed it. The Crimson have a lot of young talent that were the heart of the team last year, but unfortunately that talent had very little in the way of support. The returning players should provide that support, and while this remains a very young, very raw program, it's one that has a bright future. That future should begin this year with a rise out of the doldrums of the league, and while there's likely still a learning curve ahead for Harvard, their special teams should prove considerably more difficult to deal with as compared to last year's train wreck, and that alone will have the Crimson competitive in games that were laughers last season.

9. Brown - This is an increasingly talented Bears team, but the ability to find solid goaltending has, over the years, been the major bugaboo in Providence and it's something that is going to be hurtful for this program again unless they can get it figured out as early as they did last year. It's a team with a couple of very good impact players who should be among the best in the league, and a team with a fairly decent defensive capability overall. The problem foreseen here is the lack of a known quantity in net combined with a lower level of talent among the supporting cast members as opposed to, say, Union or SLU. Still, no one should overlook this team, which does have the capacity to be a solid home-ice team this season if one of the teams above slips up.

10. Colgate - Still a very, very young team that has some growing pains to suffer through before what should be a couple of outstanding campaigns in the near future. In fact, the Raiders have the young offensive punch to potentially do what RPI did last year on the backs of sophomores and freshmen - they simply need the defense and goaltending to come along as well, which isn't a sure bet. It's a feel-good team with a captain who is winning his fight with Hodgkins lymphoma, but that leadership is going to have to be bold enough to translate into hard fought victories in games where the team came up short last year. This squad ran out of gas late last season, the defense is going to need to be strong for games where the goals aren't coming, which will crop up from time to time on young teams.

11. Clarkson - Offensively this team doesn't lose much but they still have a lot to do in that area in order to be a regular threat, as evidenced by the epically bad goal drought that the team ended last season with. Defensively, it's kind of a mess as well, although the Golden Knights do return a more experienced defensive group. However, as with the offense, experience means nothing if it doesn't bring with it improvement, and that's really needed all around in Potsdam, especially between the pipes. Clarkson at their best recently has been just enough to get by, but at their worst, it has been terrible in recent seasons. Without growth in all facets of the game, and the team's depth, this will be another tough season for the Knights.

12. Princeton - There really doesn't seem like there's lots and lots to love with the Tigers right now. Outside of one stud forward (who will steal this team some games on his own), there are question marks abounding with Princeton, more really than with any other team in the league, because the offense, defense, and goaltending is all only slightly above suspect this year. None of them are truly bad, and in that sense, the Tigers are kind of the inverse of RPI in that Princeton's offense and defense are not by themselves the worst in the league, but as combined they really don't rise to the level that would see any kind of guaranteed success. The good news is that they're not a clear-cut last place program, which means there's some room for them to finish out of the cellar.

The preseason poll also includes the all-ECAC selections, and these are the ones I came up with:

G - Jason Kasdorf, RPI: The last couple of years, we've been hesitant on exactly who the top returning goalie in the league is. That's not the case this year - Kasdorf's outstanding rookie season was far better than the campaigns of any returning goaltender last year. The only other netminder with a case, based on his full collegiate experience, is Cornell's Andy Iles. But Kasdorf was the only returning goalie who regularly carried his team to victories last season and had far better numbers in goals allowed and save percentage than any current netminder.

D - Shayne Gostisbehere, Union: While many thought the hard-nosed blueliner who became a revelation in his freshman year in Schenectady was ready to bail out after just two years, Gostisbehere returns for his junior season as the clear cut top defenseman in the ECAC right now. His rough and tumble presence up against some of the top forwards in the league gives the Dutchmen a serious edge, forcing the opposition to be solid offensively across many scoring lines - that alone can be enough to keep a team in games against tough competition.

D - Justin Baker, St. Lawrence: Probably the most difficult decision on this year's ballot was this spot, which was between Baker and Union's Mat Bodie. While Bodie gives the Dutchmen outstanding leadership from the point, Baker's two-way ability was an important link to success for the Saints last year, giving the team a connection for their wildly successful top line. Baker's importance on defense is just as important, and he returns this season as a key element in a SLU team that will be on the razor's edge between a great year and a tough one.

F - Greg Carey, St. Lawrence: Hard not to take the top returning goal scorer in the nation as one of the top three forwards in the league. Some would say that Carey's mind-blowing offensive numbers last season were a function of the graduated Kyle Flanagan's outstanding play. That would be foolish in the extreme - Carey has a prove track record of success across his three years in Canton even when Flanagan is not playing, which was more often than the Saints would have liked over the years. His ability commands absolute attention whenever he's on the ice, let alone carrying the puck.

F - Andrew Calof, Princeton: Easily one of the top talents in the east, Calof is going to be Princeton's best player this season and it's not even going to be close. On another team, with a stronger supporting cast, he'd already be in the discussion nationally for the Hobey Baker Award - ironic, perhaps, since Princeton was Hobey Baker's home - but that doesn't diminish the fact that he's the only individual forward in the league who's in the same area code as Carey in terms of being dangerous to contend with whenever he's on the ice. He's going to keep Princeton from being pushovers, that's for sure.

F - Kenny Agostino, Yale: Another tough call here between Agostino and Brown's Matt Lorito, especially with the strong collection of offense at Yale potentially helping Agostino excel more than he would if he were in Lorito's position. However, it's hard to argue with a guy who's already reached 100 points for his career after just three seasons being in this position. The Bulldogs are national champions in part because Agostino was able to define himself as being one of the best forwards on a team full of good ones, and his return helps keep Yale among the best teams in the nation, to say nothing of the ECAC.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Women's Hockey - Ottawa Jr. Senators (22 Sep)

As has been customary since 2007 (exception: last year) the Engineers returned to the ice for a new season in an exhibition matchup against a Canadian squad - this year facing the Ottawa Jr. Senators for the first time.

After they were shutout 6-0 by Union on Saturday afternoon, it was no surprise that the Senators didn't offer very stiff competition for the Engineers, instead serving the usual purpose of letting the team get a feel for line combinations and game action before the games start counting. RPI won the exhibition matchup 5-0, with a significant 60-10 edge in shots on goal.

Smelker/Mahoney/Mari Mankey
Letuligasenoa/Hylwa/Missy Mankey



There were only two penalties in this affair - which flew by in well under two hours - so the opportunity to see special teams play was limited. That didn't stop it looking like an Engineers power play for most of the afternoon Sunday.

The Senators did a pretty remarkable job keeping the score to 1-0 after one and 2-0 after two before the Engineers went on to score three goals in the third to turn it into an official rout.

Freshman Laura Horwood opened the scoring early in the first period, capitalizing on one of the first of several odd-man rushes by the third line, on which she was joined by Lauren Wash and fellow freshman Katie Rooney.

Newly-appointed captain Jordan Smelker doubled the lead to 2-0 on an unassisted goal at the midpoint of the second period. She had a number of quality plays over the course of the game, also picking up an assist on the final goal of the game.

Ali Svoboda had a great start to the third period, picking up a pair of goals less than four minutes apart. The first was scored almost immediately after a faceoff win by Alexa Gruschow which was funneled to Svoboda through Toni Sanders. The second goal came on the rush after a blast of a shot by Sanders and a rebound attempt by Gruschow before Svoboda put the third chance home.

Freshman Heidi Huhtamaki capped off a solid debut on the blue line with a goal of her own in the game's final minutes, lobbing a long-distance wrister through traffic which may have been deflected on its way to the back of the net.

Overall, the team looked like one might expect in an opening exhibition - fast-paced but prone to some missed passes and miscues. With the Senators penned in their own zone as long as they were, there was little opportunity to see the team play defense. As always, it's hard to evaluate where a group stands in an early exhibition, but the freshman looked comfortable on the ice and upperclassmen like Svoboda, Smelker, and Gruschow helped drive the pace and maintain momentum.

RPI will take advantage of one more exhibition tuneup next Sunday at 3pm against Brock University before hitting the road for a non-conference pair in the Pittsburgh area against Robert Morris. The non-conference schedule continues with games against BU, Northeastern, Vermont, and UConn (x2) before the ECAC schedule opens up on November 1st against Harvard.


RPI vs. Ottawa Jr. Senators
Exhibition Game – Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
9/22/13 - 1:00pm
RPI 5, Senators 0


Complete Game Video:

RECORD: 0-0 (0-0 ECAC)


Upcoming Games

Sep. 29 - Brock (3pm)
Oct. 4 - at Robert Morris (7pm)
OCt. 5 - at Robert Morris (3pm)
Oct. 11 - Boston University (7pm)
Oct. 12 - Northeastern (4pm)
Oct. 19 - Vermont (3pm)

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Fifth of WaP

It's hard to believe, but we're approaching Without a Peer's fifth season of existence. The Engineers - both the men and the women - officially look 100% different from the teams we started covering back in the dying weeks of 2009.

If you're wondering where the champagne corks have been this summer in-between the usual Know Your Enemy series, there's a pretty good reason for it all... life for your humble editors has continued to become busier and busier.

Gary, our women's correspondent, passed his professional engineer's exam earlier this year, and his work and travel schedule has picked up considerably since then. I've also been promoted at my position with the NY Senate, which makes for a touch more work for me as well.

Both of us have recently purchased new homes in Troy, mine closing early this month. On top of everything, I'm getting married in October... just in time for the start of the hockey season, in fact, the ceremony should be concluding around the same time the puck drops for the men's first non-exhibition game. A week and a half in the Caribbean follows.

Great timing, right? Well, for my professional life, it does make sense.

Fortunately, there hasn't been a great deal to talk about this offseason, at least from RPI's perspective. Other than the departure of a sophomore-to-be who played in just a few games last year, there hasn't been any major news to break. For the second year in a row, the offseason has been pretty mellow, even with the realignment that had us reporting every other week two summers ago now going into effect.

But have no fear. WaP isn't going away, not by a longshot. We'll continue to have full coverage of both men's and women's hockey this season with assistance from some of the many people who make WaP work, and we have a couple of new features that we're hoping to add in the coming weeks.

In the meantime... HOCKEY ON SUNDAY!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Know Your Enemy: Yale

Well, what is there to say about these guys? Oh, nothing important. They only won the ECAC's first national championship in almost a quarter-century. Beat four higher-ranked teams to do it. Nothing major. And the scary part is - aside from the goaltender who registered only the third national championship game shutout since the early 1970s and a couple of top scorers... this team returns a surprising amount of firepower from the one that sat on top of the college hockey universe in 2013.

Nickname: Bulldogs
Location: New Haven, CT
Founded: 1701
Conference: ECAC (Ivy League)
National Championships: 1 (2013)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2013
Last Frozen Four: 2013
Coach: Keith Allain (8th season)
2012-13 Record: 22-12-3 (12-9-1 ECAC, 3rd place)
Series: RPI leads, 55-40-6
First Game: January 22, 1909 (Albany, NY)
Last RPI win: February 16, 2013 (Troy, NY)
Last YU win: November 11, 2011 (Troy, NY)

2013-14 games: February 7, 2014 (Troy, NY); March 1, 2014 (New Haven, CT)

Key players: F Kenny Agostino, sr.; F Clinton Bourbonais, sr.; F Jesse Root, sr.; D Gus Young, sr.; D Tommy Fallen, jr..; D Matt Killian, jr.; F Trent Ruffolo, jr.; F Carson Cooper, so.; D Ryan Obuchowski, so.; D Rob O'Gara, so.; F Stu Wilson, so.; D Mitch Witek, so.; F Frank DiChiara, fr.; F Michael Doherty, fr.; F John Hayden, fr.; G Alex Lyon, fr.

Key losses: G Jeff Malcolm, F Andrew Miller, F Antoine Laganiere, F Josh Balch, D Colin Dueck

Previous KYE installments:
Even five months removed from seeing the Elis hoist the NCAA championship trophy, it still seems a touch surreal. The national champions are from the ECAC. And it's Yale - a team that we weren't sure had what it took to even run for an ECAC championship (and ultimately, they didn't), and a team that the Engineers not only finished ahead of in the ECAC standings, but also defeated twice by a combined score of 10-2.

No one gave the Bulldogs (who backed into the NCAA tournament at the last moment after failing to score a single goal in two games in Atlantic City against Union and Quinnipiac and needed Michigan to lose to Notre Dame in the CCHA championship to make the tournament) any chance whatsoever to beat Minnesota. They did in overtime. Conventional wisdom had them falling to North Dakota the next day. They scored four goals in the last eight minutes of the game to reach the Frozen Four.

Then came UMass-Lowell, winners of 14 of their last 15 games with just three goals given up in their last five - Yale wasn't going to beat them, surely. It took overtime, again, but Yale made it three wins in games they were supposed to lose. Although all bets were off at that point, they were taking on a Quinnipiac team that had dominated them three times earlier in the year. By the time Jeff Malcolm was holding the national championship trophy on his birthday, the naysayers didn't have much more to say.

Malcolm was key for Yale. Part of the reason that the Engineers (and for that matter, the Bobcats) were able to dominate the Bulldogs was an injury that kept Malcolm sidelined for both Quinnipiac games and the game in Troy, all three part of a five-game losing streak that saw the Elis slip from the top reaches of the league in dismal fashion. Once Malcolm returned, the Bulldogs won every game they played for the rest of the year, with the exception of the aforementioned Atlantic City debacle.

In many ways, Malcolm's emergence as a solid option in net for Yale was the continuation of what has been a common thread over the last several seasons. Frequently, they're a team that comes into the season and the outlook is... "boy, this team has a whole lot of offense. If they can figure out the situation in net, they can be really dangerous." And as a matter of fact, we've said pretty much the same thing in each of the last three editions of Know Your Enemy for the Bulldogs.

And... yes, we are going to make it four. Yale returns an embarrassment of riches on offense, especially between Agostino and Root, but a total of five returning players had seven or more goals last year, and eight had 10 or more points. That's the kind of diverse scoring ability you need to be successful. They add to that diversity with Hayden, a 3rd round selection in the NHL Entry Draft, and DiChiara, one of the top scorers in the USHL last year.

The question comes between the pipes, and this year it's a major issue that needs a definitive answer. Connor Wilson has seen very limited playing time in his first two years in New Haven, and was not strong at all in the games he played last year. That means it's almost certainly going to fall to Lyon or Patrick Spano, the other freshman goaltender coming to campus, to establish themselves quickly.

RPI's success against Yale last year was not terribly unique - the Engineers have picked up at least one win over the Bulldogs in each of the last four years, and those were by and large some pretty decent seasons for Yale. As we've mentioned in previous years, RPI-Yale has turned into a must-see event in the ECAC, with both teams playing an up-tempo, speed-based style, games turn into barnburners with plenty of nifty goals from both sides. It is to RPI's disadvantage that this year's games both come late into the season, giving Yale plenty of time to answer its yearly goaltending question before facing RPI's solid offense, but regardless, it's going to be a challenge for Jason Kasdorf and the RPI defense to keep the Yale offense in check.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Know Your Enemy: St. Lawrence

There may have never been any more solid evidence of how much Kyle Flanagan deserved to be considered for the Hobey Baker Award (as Seth Appert had pushed for as hard as you'll see an opposing coach push) than to examine just what his absence meant to St. Lawrence late last year when he had an emergency appendectomy at the worst possible time (not that those things are something you can plan for). It may have doomed a team that looked for quite some time like they could beat anyone. Now, they must move on from him for good.

St. Lawrence
Nickname: Saints
Location: Canton, NY
Founded: 1856
Conference: ECAC
National Championships: 0
Last NCAA Appearance: 2007
Last Frozen Four: 2000
Coach: Greg Carvel (2nd season)
2012-13 Record: 18-16-4 (9-9-4 ECAC, 5th place)
Series: SLU leads, 76-54-6
First Game: January 3, 1951 (Troy, NY)
Last RPI win: March 2, 2012 (Troy, NY)
Last SLU win: November 5, 2011 (Canton, NY)

2013-14 games: February 1, 2014 (Canton, NY); February 21, 2014 (Troy, NY)

Key players: D Riley Austin, sr.; D Justin Baker, sr.; F Greg Carey, sr.; F Kyle Essery, sr.; D Pat Raley, sr.; G Matt Weninger, sr.; F Jeremy Wick, sr.;  F Patrick Doherty, jr.; F Gunnar Hughes, jr.; F Chris Martin, jr.; F Tommy Thompson, jr.; F Alex Hagen, so.; F Sean McGovern, so.; F Brian Ward, so.; F Matt Carey, fr.; D Mitch Eden, fr.; D Ben Masella, fr.; F Drew Smolcynski, fr.

Key losses: F Kyle Flanagan, D George Hughes, D Jordan Dewey, D Mac Stratford, D Matt Dyer

Previous KYE installments:
Greg Carey, Flanagan, and Wick were certainly one of the most potent lines in the entire country last year, if not the very best in the land. Carey and Flanagan combined for 98 points and were 3-4 in scoring nationwide. So when Flanagan's surgery came just prior to the last weekend in the regular season and the Saints hopeful to finish as high as second in the conference, the big question was how SLU would look without their leader.

The weekend could not have gone much worse. After having scored at least two goals in each of their previous 16 games, SLU mustered only two on the entire weekend, falling 5-1 and 4-1 to Union and RPI respectively. The Saints ended up as the 6th seed in the ECAC Tournament. After Flanagan returned, he helped the Saints spank a floundering Colgate squad (he had four points in Game 2 alone), but SLU was quickly dispatched in the quarters by a Yale team ready to go on to bigger and better things. The Saints were outscored 9-1 in the two-game sweep.

Beyond Flanagan's graduation, St. Lawrence also loses a key cog in George Hughes, whose puck distribution efforts were important for the Saints' offense. Hughes was also one of four seniors on the blue line last year - all four played in at least 31 of SLU's 38 games. Both Flanagan and Hughes were All-Americans last year.

Fortunately for the Saints, the defense still manages to return three seniors who also met that benchmark with Austin, Baker (another puck distributor), and Raley. They will be part of the core of an upperclassman-laden team that returns eight of its top 10 scorers from last season, all of which will be juniors and seniors this season and all of which had at least 10 points last year.

The question marks here revolve around how integral a role Flanagan played in the success of his linemates and his team. Greg Carey (who is joined this year by his brother Matt, a redshirt last season) has had a phenomenal career on his own (and was also an All-American last year), averaging over a point per game across his first three seasons, a rarity in this day and age. He returns as one of the most dangerous players in the nation, to say nothing of the league. Wick's numbers had been more pedestrian prior to last season.

Weninger comes into his fourth season as the Saints' top goaltender. He's not a star by any stretch of the imagination, but he does enough to keep SLU in games long enough for their offense to have a shot to win. Sometimes, that's all you can ask for, but he'll rarely steal a game himself - at least, that's been the experience in the last three seasons.  Unless he steps up for his senior year and shows us another side (as Paul Karpowich did up the road two years ago), that means SLU's offense can't take too many nights off.

The incoming class isn't exactly full of standouts (although Ward, who spent a semester at Dartmouth in 2011-12 but did not play due to injury, was one of the top scorers in the USHL last year), but St. Lawrence's 2014 arrivals are already looking very, very solid. They aren't likely to be pushovers this season even if Carey is unable to replicate the role Flanagan played last year - and they aren't likely to be pushovers in the near future even after he graduates.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Know Your Enemy: Clarkson

Between the inception of the ECAC in 1961-62 and the league's 40th season in 2002 - Mark Morris' final full season behind the bench - Clarkson finished outside the top half of the league standings only once,  in 1974, when they were 9th in a league of 16 teams (in other words, barely). Since that anniversary, however, finishing in the bottom half has become the norm, happening no less than nine times in 11 seasons. It's been true for quite some time that this isn't your father's Clarkson.

Nickname: Golden Knights
Location: Potsdam, NY
Founded: 1896
Conference: ECAC
National Championships: 0
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008
Last Frozen Four: 1991
Coach: Casey Jones (3rd season)
2012-13 Record: 9-20-7 (8-11-3 ECAC, 9th place)
Series: Clarkson leads, 84-48-8
First Game: January 24, 1925 (Troy, NY)
Last RPI win: March 1, 2013 (Troy, NY)
Last CU win: March 3, 2012 (Potsdam, NY)

2013-14 games: January 31, 2014 (Potsdam, NY); February 22, 2014 (Troy, NY)

Key players: D Alex Boak, sr.; F Jarrett Burton, sr.; F Will Frederick, sr.; F Allan McPherson, sr.; F Ben Sexton, sr.; D James Howden, jr.; D Sam Labrecque, jr.; F Joe Zarbo, jr.; F Simon Bessette, so.; D Paul Geiger, so.; G Greg Lewis, so.; F Pat Megannety, so.; F Jordan Boucher-Gould, fr.; D Jason DeHaas, fr.; F Troy Josephs, fr.; D Bryan Sinz, fr.

Key losses: D Andrew Himelson, D Nik Pokulok

Previous KYE installments:
The Golden Knights were a quirky team last year. Outside the ECAC, they had a brutal 1-9-4 record - the one win coming in a non-conference game in Lake Placid against St. Lawrence. To wit, Clarkson hasn't won a game against a non-ECAC opponent since a 5-0 win over Holy Cross on November 27, 2011, and they haven't won a non-league game against a non-Atlantic Hockey team since a 2-1 win over Lake Superior State exactly one year earlier on November 27, 2010.

Early in the season, within the league, they were getting the job done. After opening the season 0-4-3 (including 0-2-3 against Atlantic Hockey teams), the Knights picked up 3 points in their first league weekend at Yale and Brown en route to a respectable 3-3-1 league mark by the end of December, and the Knights even stuck around in decent position in the league standings into the month of February, holding a 6-6-3 record in the ECAC by the time they hosted RPI for the first time.

That game was the second half of a Capital District weekend that had already featured a win over Union that gave the Knights points in five of their last six games, even despite the team's weak defense. But following RPI's 6-2 demolition of Clarkson in Potsdam, the team limped home with a 2-4-0 record in the stretch, dooming them to the bottom four.

Most ignoble was the complete lack of offense at the end of the season. After Bessette scored with 1:29 left in the second period in a 6-2 home loss to last place Harvard, the Knights would go 218:40 without scoring again - over three and a half games without lighting the lamp. That stretch included a completely goalless final weekend of the season in the Capital District and a shutout in Game 1 at Brown. During the drought, the team allowed a total of 18 goals, only one of which was placed in an empty net, and the drought only ended in what was the team's final outing of the year as they were swept by Brown.

That's no way to end a season at all. But there's good news for Clarkson stalwarts - last year's team was very, very young. They lost almost no one to graduation as they return all of their top eight scorers. That's the good news. The bad news is that none of those scorers eclipsed the 30-point mark, with McPherson leading the way at 25. Zarbo (13) and Burton (12) were the only scorers to pump in more than 10 goals, while Sexton was kept from loftier totals due to injuries that have plagued his career in Potsdam. Those four plus impressive sophomore Megannety will be key to the Clarkson attack, which should at least be somewhat improved. Expect NHL draftee Josephs to make early contributions as well. Clarkson has the least amount of offense to make-up from graduation losses of anyone in the ECAC - which is what you would expect from a team that graduated just one forward who had all of six points last year.

The offense, however, is going to be fairly irrelevant if the Knights can't improve on their defense from last year. Lewis was pulled from his cage in both games against RPI last year - in two games against the Engineers, he allowed 8 goals on a total of 23 shots across 43:39 of playing time, which computes to an 11.00 GAA with a .652 save percentage. That was far worse than his season numbers, of course, at 3.02 and .898, but neither of those are sparkling either.

Lewis simply must be better than he was last year, because Clarkson's options in net are limited. They bring in a 21-year-old freshman from the NAHL - a lower-tiered junior league - and a 20-year-old Finnish goaltender who was announced in late July. That's the only real backing Lewis has as of now after classmate Andrew Hunt left Clarkson in June. He'll have to do it with a d-line group that includes just one senior and is likely to include a sophomore and two freshmen.

Offensively, this looks like a team that will be fine, especially once the season gets into full swing, which presents a challenge for RPI since "full swing" is exactly where the season will be once the Engineers meet up with the Knights. The defense has a lot to prove, though, and unless Lewis can keep RPI from eating him alive as they did last year, it'll be another long couple of games for Clarkson.