Monday, November 25, 2013

Men's Hockey - at Mercyhurst (22/23 Nov)

Road splits are usually acceptable, especially in league play, where averaging a split on the road and better at home is usually going to be enough to finish a team in the top four in the ECAC. A road split against an Atlantic Hockey team, if you're going to be one of those teams in the top four at least, is a lot less desirable, especially when you play especially poorly in the game where you lose. Mercyhurst may be expected to be one of the best teams in Atlantic Hockey this season, but the split the Engineers picked up in Erie still stings. Even though two of the goals on Friday night were empty-netters to account for the 5-2 loss, it was still a very rough game for the Engineers, even with their mirror-like 5-2 bounceback the next night.

Friday
Tinordi-Higgs-Rogic
Neal-Laliberte-Schroeder
Zalewski-Miller-Bubela
Fulton-McGowan-Bourbonnais

Leonard-Bradley
Curadi-Reno
Hampton-Dolan

Diebold

A number of changes came to the RPI lineup on Friday night, not all of them based on injury or poor play. Jake Wood and Guy Leboeuf, both of whom picked up bad penalties against Union on Saturday night the previous week, were out of the lineup, while Ryan Haggerty had a legitimate excuse for not being in the lineup - a death in the family had him home in Connecticut, and his flight to Erie was canceled, so he did not arrive in time to suit up.

Regardless of the lineup, RPI certainly came out of the gate flat and paid for it four-and-a-half minutes in by giving up the first goal of the contest to the homestanding Lakers. The Engineers got things straightened out enough to take the lead into the first intermission, however, as the first collegiate goals for defensemen Phil Hampton and Chris Bradley, coming at 8:08 and 17:30 respectively, put RPI ahead. Hampton's goal came just one second after RPI's first power play of the game had expired.

Unfortunately, the Engineers' flat play that started the first period would return in the second period, and it never seemed to go away. Despite gaining the first power play of the second period, RPI managed just five shots on goal in the middle stanza. Meanwhile, Mercyhurst scored the tying goal about 13 minutes into the second on one of 15 shots they took during that same period.

Despite the rough play from a lethargic Engineers squad, the score remained tied until there were just five minutes left in the game. As a hooking penalty to Bo Dolan expired, Mercyhurst took the lead back, putting RPI in a hole that would only get worse with the extra skater, as the Lakers added empty net goals at 18:41 and 19:42 to ice things up, 5-2. Although RPI was certainly in the game on the scoreboard until very late, this was one of those rare occasions where the inflated final tally from the empty netters may have actually better described the flow of the game.

Saturday
Neal-Higgs-Haggerty
Wood-Rogic-Tinordi
Zalewski-Miller-Bubela
Laliberte, Bourbonnais

Leboeuf-Leonard
Curadi-Hampton
Bradley-Dolan
Bokenfohr

Diebold

RPI rolled an unusual 11-forward, 7-defenseman look on Saturday, with Zach Schroeder, Mark McGowan, Travis Fulton, and Parker Reno coming out of the lineup and Ryan Haggerty, Jake Wood, Guy Leboeuf, and Craig Bokenfohr entering.

The returning players wasted no time in making up for their absences, as Leboeuf notched his third goal of the year three minutes into the game to put RPI up 1-0, then later in the period Haggerty upped his national goal scoring lead with his 14th of the year to make it 2-0 heading into the first break.

The lethargy looked like it was coming back in the second, as the Engineers registered just three shots on goal in the period, against 13 for Mercyhurst. The Lakers did score twice in the second period, bookending Haggerty's second of the night and 15th of the year (on the power play), the latter of which came in the waning moments of the second to cut the RPI lead to 3-2, a goal that looked like it could be a momentum swinger given the Engineers' difficulties and the Lakers' opportunism.

An early penalty to Mercyhurst allowed the Engineers to settle back in, however, and they turned the offense back on, peppering 15 shots in the third, two of which hit paydirt as Curtis Leonard notched his first goal of the year at 8:05 and Jacob Laliberte hitting his 3rd of the season at 13:50, both at even strength, to make it a 5-2 RPI edge. Scott Diebold made 23 saves on 25 shots in the game to pick up his 6th win of the season and salvage the weekend split for a team still striving to put together a complete 60 minutes of top-level hockey.

Other junk - For the second straight week, the Engineers dropped in the USCHO poll by four spaces, moving this time from #14 to #18 ahead of their idle week, where they are tied with Minnesota-Duluth. Other ranked ECAC teams this week are #5 Quinnipiac (split with Princeton, down one), #9 Yale (beat Colgate, lost to Cornell, no change), #10 Clarkson (idle, up one), #14 Cornell (swept Brown/Yale, up four), and #15 Union (idle, up two). St. Lawrence (3) also received votes. Other ranked teams on the RPI schedule include #1 Minnesota (no change, with just 22 first-place votes, fewer than #2 St. Cloud State, who they beat for the top spot by 1 vote), #6 Ferris State (up four, with one first place vote), #7 Boston College (no change), and #20 New Hampshire (no change). Boston University (14) and Denver (13) also received votes.

With two more goals on the weekend, Ryan Haggerty extends his national lead in total goals to 15, his nearest competitor for that title is Boston College junior Johnny Gaudreau, who has 12. Although Haggerty's goals per game total has slipped a bit - as was to be expected - he still leads the nation there with 1.15 per contest, Robert Morris junior Cody Wydo is the only other player in the nation with at least one goal per game with 11 in 11 games. Haggerty's 7 power play goals is also tops in the country, he is trailed by Northern Michigan senior Stephan Vigier with 6, then a whole slew of players who are tied for third with 4.

Haggerty is 4th in the nation in points per game at 1.54, Brock Higgs is tied for 27th in that category with 1.21. Haggerty's 20 points is tied for third nationally, trailing Gaudreau and SLU senior Greg Carey, tied with Quinnipiac freshman Sam Anas.

The Engineers are idle for Thanksgiving weekend, they return to ECAC play in two weeks hosting national runners-up Quinnipiac and then Princeton in a pair of key league matchups, the final two of the 2013 calendar year for the Engineers, who are in need of league points after dropping five of the last eight of them.

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

By winning percentage
1. Union - .833
2. Quinnipiac - .812
3. Clarkson - .667
4. Yale - .667
5. Colgate - .625
6. Cornell - .562
7. St. Lawrence - .500
8. RPI - .429
9. Harvard - .357
10. Princeton - .250
11. Brown - .250
12. Dartmouth - .000

#14 RPI at Mercyhurst
Non-Conference Game - Mercyhurst Ice Center (Erie, PA)
11/22/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Mercyhurst 5, RPI 2

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECORD: 6-5-2 (2-3-2 ECAC, 6 pts)

#14 RPI at Mercyhurst
Non-Conference Game - Mercyhurst Ice Center (Erie, PA)
11/23/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 5, Mercyhurst 2

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECORD: 7-5-2 (2-3-2 ECAC, 6 pts)

Upcoming games
06 Dec - #5 Quinnipiac
07 Dec - Princeton
13 Dec - Denver
14 Dec - Denver
15 Dec - US Under-18 Team (exhibition)

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