Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Men's Hockey - Saint Mary's (5 Oct)

The annual exhibition game against a top Canadian program is in the books, and as usual, the actual result of the game - 5-1 in favor of the Engineers - tells us very little about anything. There are various reasons for this, not the least of which include the extended bench which the Engineers will not have going forward (and which the opposition did not enjoy) and the various juggling of lines that went on for both teams during the course of the game. However, it was at least an opportunity to see the freshmen in action for the first time and get a look at how the team appears out on the ice. The freshmen show promise, but the team as a whole was a touch rusty.

Saint Mary's
Wood, DeVito



The only two players on the roster who did not dress for this game were assistant captain Brock Higgs, who was resting a hand injury picked up in practice (Appert mentioned that if it had been an important game, he would have played), and Chris Bradley, who likely was simply a victim of not having enough room on the bench for him, which is typically the reason why there are some scratches in the exhibition.

Additionally, freshman goaltender Jake Soffer did not get to log any ice time during the game, despite reports that he would see some action.

It didn't take long for the fireworks to begin - just 1:29 into the game, Mike Zalewski grabbed the puck and entered the zone all by himself, and was interfered with by the goaltender, resulting in a penalty shot. Zalewski calmly and slowly circled to the left, moved back in, and after dekeing the goalie, softly moved to his backhand and placed it in the back of the net to give RPI the early 1-0 advantage.

Five minutes later, after a significant Saint Mary's push was weathered, the Engineers potted a power play goal thanks to a nifty laser of a shot by Ryan Haggerty that beat the goaltender on the short side to make it 2-0 on two shots for the Engineers.

Despite the lead, the first period was generally out of sorts for RPI, as turnovers galore helped the Huskies maintain good control of the puck in the Engineers' zone. The defense, especially the blueliners, helped things stay pretty firm for the most part, but a turnover did directly lead to what would be Saint Mary's only goal of the game as a turnover in the RPI zone produced a shot that deflected off a defenseman and past Kasdorf, who was moving from left to right in anticipation of the puck's direction before it was deflected.

Between the end of the first period and the first three minutes of the second, RPI racked up five penalties, including two in quick succession early in the second that led to a 5x3 for the Huskies, and another penalty after that long two-man disadvantage was over. Despite the lack of discipline and lackadaisical play, the Engineer penalty kill was strong all night, completing the evening with a perfect 7-for-7 showing, even though SMU appeared more than competent on the man advantage.

And once more, despite the rusty play, RPI capitalized with another pair of goals in the middle frame, with Mark McGowan scoring on the power play about six-and-a-half minutes in to make it 3-1, followed by a Jake Wood goal exactly two minutes later created by an optimistic shot from Zach Schroeder along the boards near the goal line.

Matt Tinordi picked up a late power play goal to give RPI four goals off penalties and three power play tallies on the night. Chippiness picked up late, but nothing major took place that would cause problems going forward. The Engineers appeared to emerge from the game without sustaining any major injuries - Zalewski skated off the ice gingerly after going down on RPI's second power play in the first period, but returned for the second and third periods, while Ryan Haggerty also was slow to skate off during the third period but ultimately didn't miss a shift.

With the first game conditions matchup out of the way, attention now moves to the season-opening non-conference games, the first of which takes place on Saturday at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport against one of the worst teams in the nation last year, Sacred Heart. That's followed up on Sunday afternoon with a game against a decidedly more difficult opponent, Boston College.

Other junk - This season, the Engineers begin the year with a national ranking, 15th according to the USCHO.com poll with 266 votes. Other ranked ECAC teams are #6 Yale (with eight first place votes), #10 Quinnipiac (with one first place vote), and #16 Union. Cornell (80 votes), Harvard (18), Brown (4), and Dartmouth (2) also received votes. Other teams on RPI's schedule ranked this week include #4 Boston College, #5 Minnesota (with one first place vote), #13 New Hampshire, #17 Denver, and #19 Boston University. Ferris State (67 votes) and Mercyhurst (10) also received votes.

Saint Mary's at #15 RPI
Exhibition Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/5/12 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 5, Saint Mary's 1

College Hockey Stats

RECORD: 0-0-0 (0-0-0 ECAC)

Upcoming games
12 Oct - at Sacred Heart (Bridgeport, CT)
13 Oct - at #4 Boston College
18 Oct - at #19 Boston University
19 Oct - Sacred Heart
26 Oct - #13 New Hampshire

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