Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Men's Hockey - Harvard, at Harvard/Dartmouth (29 Oct, 1/2 Nov)

The Engineers played a rare (very rare) 3-games-in-5-days schedule to open the ECAC season and complete their entire season series with the Harvard Crimson, and the results were fairly mixed. A difficult home tie on Tuesday was followed by a tough loss at Harvard on Friday and a big road win over a struggling Dartmouth team on Saturday. That starts the Engineers off with a .500 record in league play through 3 games, a position they're going to need to improve on going forward.

Harvard - Tuesday
Tinordi-Higgs-Rogic
Laliberte-McGowan-Haggerty
Zalewski-Neal-Bubela
Wood-Miller-Schroeder

Leboeuf-Dolan
Leonard-Bradley
Curadi-Reno

Diebold

There were no changes in the RPI lineup from the previous Saturday's victory over New Hampshire - the lines and the players were exactly the same. As it turned out, much of the gameflow from the UNH game ended up being exactly the same, too.

It got underway with an early goal by Johnny Rogic - not quite as early as his first minute tally against the Wildcats, but plenty quickly nonetheless at 4:33 of the first period, giving RPI a 1-0 lead on their very first shot of the game. Ryan Haggerty added another goal, his 9th of the season, about two and a half minutes later on RPI's second shot of the game during the first power play opportunity for either team to make it 2-0. The score was actually a bit of a reversal in fortunes, as Harvard controlled the opening faceoff and then pinned the Engineers in their own zone for a good chunk of the game's opening moments.

Brock Higgs netted his 3rd goal of the campaign at 15:30, and it looked as though the Engineers were ready to start putting the hammer down with a commanding 3-0 lead, given that the Crimson did not appear likely to break through against Scott Diebold any time soon.

The Crimson did eventually make that breakthrough seven minutes into the second period as the tide of the game slowly turned very much in Harvard's favor during the course of the middle frame. RPI was still putting pucks on net in the 2nd, forcing Steve Michalek to make 11 saves in the period, but gradually the Crimson started winning more puck battles and owning the puck more frequently. Despite the trailing off in intensity, the Engineers still had a 3-1 lead heading into the third period.

The final 20 minutes of regulation was almost a complete collapse for the Engineers as they finished blowing the three-goal lead they'd earned in the first 15 minutes. Harvard scored three minutes into the third to cut the remaining RPI lead in half, then proceeded to completely dominate play for the remaining 17 minutes, earning the tying goal at 10:48 and on many occasions coming close to taking the lead.

RPI, fortunate to survive the third without completing their collapse, seemed to wake up in the overtime period, nearly gaining back the league point they'd coughed up in the third period but ultimately failing to record even a single shot on goal in the extra five minutes. In all honesty, Harvard probably deserved the win more than RPI, but given the 3-0 edge the Engineers held, the tie was probably more difficult to swallow for the home team than for the Crimson.

Harvard - Friday
Tinordi-Higgs-Rogic
Laliberte-Schroeder-Haggerty
Zalewski-Neal-Bubela
Wood-McGowan-DeVito

Leboeuf-Dolan
Leonard-Bradley
Curadi-Reno

Diebold

Despite the lethargic play for most of the Tuesday game, only one substitution was made in the lineup as Jimmy DeVito came in to replace Mark Miller, who sat out a game for the first time in his collegiate career. Zach Schroeder was moved up to center the second line, while Mark McGowan took Miller's place centering the fourth line.

As has become the norm, the Engineers started Friday's game off quickly, unleashing a number of shots toward Harvard netminder Raphael Girard, but unlike most of their previous games, there was no breakthrough in the first 20 minutes. After failing to score on two power play opportunities in the first five minutes of the game, RPI started to back off considerably, especially once forced to kill a 1:49 5-on-3 opportunity for Harvard. They escaped the long kill unscathed, and there was no score after one period.

Harvard got all the offense they would need off the opening faceoff in the second period, scoring just 19 seconds into the middle stanza to take a 1-0 lead. From there on, they needed just 15 saves from Girard for the final 40 minutes of play to secure two points and a 3-1 series win over the Engineers in just four days time. RPI did not seem to be close to even threatening to score in the final two periods. Harvard would pick up an empty net goal with just over a minute left in the game to secure the victory.

Scott Diebold actually had a very good game and could hardly be blamed for the loss - he stopped 30 of 31 shots as a hard-luck loser, actually improving both his GAA and his save percentage despite losing. Oddly, there were no penalties called in the second or third periods after the teams had combined for five during the first 15 minutes of the first period.

Dartmouth
Tinordi-Higgs-Rogic
Zalewski-Neal-Haggerty
Laliberte-McGowan-Schroeder
Bourbonnais-Miller-DeVito

Leonard-Bradley
Leboeuf-Dolan
Curadi-Reno

Diebold

Mark Miller's return dovetailed with Milos Bubela following his lead from the previous night and sitting out for the first time in his collegiate career. Riley Bourbonnais made his college debut as well, replacing Jake Wood in the lineup.

Desperately in need of some points to salvage what was becoming a lost week, the Engineers weathered an early storm by killing off a penalty to Bo Dolan that came 4 minutes into the affair, then about a minute later went up 1-0 on Ryan Haggerty's national leading 10th goal of the season. That was followed just 13 seconds later by Brock Higgs' 4th goal of the year to make it 2-0 RPI. The senior would pick up a second goal on RPI's first power play of the evening at 16:23 to give the Engineers a 3-0 first period lead for the third time in five games. Notably, Haggerty picked up his first assist of the season on Higgs' second goal.

The onslaught continued in the second period, as Matt Neal scored his 2nd of the year just 1:32 in to make it 4-0, and Higgs completed the hat trick later in the period for his 6th goal of the season, like his second one on the power play, giving RPI a 5-0 lead through two periods.

In previous games, the Engineers had maintained cruise control with big leads in the 3rd period, but they continued pouring it on. Jacob Laliberte lit the lamp for the first time this year at 5:26 to make it 6-0. Dartmouth got one back on the power play following a hitting from behind call to Curadi with just over five minutes left to play to scuttle Scott Diebold's shutout efforts, but Curadi made up for it by scoring his first collegiate goal on a blast from the blue line on RPI's subsequent power play chance just over two minutes later to make the final score 7-1.

Diebold was brilliant again, stopping 31 of 32 shots on the evening for a road weekend total of 61 for 63 on saves.

Other junk - Given the up-and-down nature of the weekend, it's not too shocking to see that RPI has not moved at all in the USCHO poll this week, staying at #10 for the second consecutive week. Other ranked ECAC teams this week are #5 Quinnipiac (swept at Colgate/Cornell, up two), #9 Yale (tied SLU and beat Clarkson, up two), #15 Cornell (beat Princeton and lost to Quinnipiac, down one), and #16 Clarkson (beat Brown and lost to Yale, up one). St. Lawrence (34 votes), Union (30), Harvard (22), and Brown (8) also received votes. Other teams on the Engineers' schedule that are ranked include #1 Minnesota (all 50 first place votes, no change), #8 Boston College (no change), #17 Boston University (up one), and #19 Ferris State (previously unranked). New Hampshire (13) also received votes.

Ryan Haggerty's 10 goals is the most in the nation, his closest trailer is Miami's Riley Barber with 8. His 1.25 goals per game leads the nation, and he's one of five players in the country scoring a goal per game or higher.

Haggerty is also tied (with seven other players) for the national lead in power play goals with 4. Brock Higgs is tied with 16 players nationally who are right behind with 3.

Scott Diebold's 1.58 GAA is fifth in the nation, while his .946 save percentage has him tied for fourth.

RPI is tied with Union for the 6th highest scoring offense in the nation (4.00 GPG), and with Denver and UMass-Lowell for the 9th strongest team defense (2.12 GAA). The 1.88 GPG average scoring margin is fourth in the country, behind Minnesota, Providence, and Quinnipiac.

The Engineers' discipline has been superb on a national level - only UConn takes fewer penalty minutes per game.

Next up for RPI is the home weekend against Central New York - Cornell and Colgate. Home points are always a must, but they're even more important now with most of the league having a game in hand over the Engineers, as well as the 1 point showing for the season against Harvard.

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

Harvard at #10 RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/29/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 3, Harvard 3

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECORD: 4-1-1 (0-0-1 ECAC, 1 pt)

#10 RPI at Harvard
ECAC Game - Bright Hockey Center (Boston, MA)
11/1/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Harvard 2, RPI 0

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats

RECORD: 4-2-1 (0-1-1 ECAC, 1 pt)

#10 RPI at Dartmouth
ECAC Game - Thompson Arena (Hanover, NH)
11/2/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 7, Dartmouth 1

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats

RECORD: 5-2-1 (1-1-1 ECAC, 3 pts)

Upcoming games
08 Nov - #15 Cornell
09 Nov - Colgate
15 Nov - Union
16 Nov - at Union
22 Nov - at Mercyhurst

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