Monday, November 18, 2013

Men's Hockey - Union (15/16 Nov)

The frustration continues to mount for RPI fans when it comes to their rivals from Union - no matter how promising the outlook, no matter who's hot and what the stats are, the Dutchmen continue to find ways to win games in the rivalry series. Although both games were closely played on the ice, once again RPI fell twice, 4-3 and 4-1, to fall behind in the race for the top of the ECAC.

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

Leonard-Bradley
Leboeuf-Hampton
Curadi-Reno

Diebold

Milos Bubela returned to the lineup on Friday, replacing Jake Wood. Otherwise, the Engineers went with the same lineup that had smoked Colgate on the previous Saturday.

If you're a believer in omens, Friday's game in Schenectady started off pretty well. With Luke Curadi in the penalty box on an interference call, Brock Higgs scored a shorthanded goal that was quite reminiscent of the double shorty slayings by Ben Barr on Union goaltender Kris Mayotte in the 2003 playoffs. After a clearance, the Union netminder played the puck basically into Higgs, who shot it into an open net to kick off the scoring for the Engineers and give them a 1-0 lead five minutes in.

That was the only lead the Engineers would ultimately enjoy on the weekend, as Union scored on their second power play opportunity of the evening about nine minutes later to tie the score. The Engineers took three penalties in the first period against none for Union, eventually being assessed the game's first four minor penalties in a row.

Union grabbed the lead a little over midway through the second period of what had been a very evenly played contest, then jumped on a lax RPI team in the first two minutes of the third period to build a commanding 4-1 lead, notching two goals in 44 seconds to take full advantage of an Engineer squad that came out for the final period very flat.

RPI did not back down, but they would be unable to overcome the three-goal deficit in full. Matt Neal scored a pair of goals, one coming two minutes after the Dutchmen had gained the three-goal edge, and a second coming with about eight minutes left in the third period, certainly giving RPI the time and the opportunity they needed to tie the score. A late power play for RPI was not converted, and despite some good opportunities with Diebold out of the net for the last two minutes of the game, the tying goal was not to be had.

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

Leonard-Bradley
Leboeuf-Dolan
Curadi-Reno

Diebold

Bo Dolan and Jake Wood returned to the lineup on Saturday night, replacing Phil Hampton and Jimmy DeVito respectively, the latter of which sustained an undisclosed injury on Friday night.

The first period on Saturday was some of the finest back and forth hockey you'll see. Neither team broke onto the scoring sheet, but there was plenty of action both at even strength and on special teams, as both squads failed to score with two power plays in the opening 20 minutes. Shots were even at 8-8 in what was shaping up to be a tremendous game between a pair of heavyweight contenders.

If there was a major letdown for RPI in this game, it was on penalties early in the second period, as Union took advantage of a holding call against Parker Reno a minute and a half into the period to score the first goal, then scored almost right off the faceoff for a penalty to Milos Bubela two minutes later.

Brock Higgs scored his second goal of the weekend with just over five minutes left in the period to cut Union's lead to 2-1. The goal came at even strength, but was in part generated by a Union penalty since the Engineers kept the puck in the Union zone after their penalty had expired, and the Union goaltender was missing his stick. Ultimately, a scrum in front of the crease ended with the puck in the back of the net.

The 2-1 Union edge heading into the third set up the possibility for another classic finish. as the same scoreline had carried into the third period the previous evening. RPI even got two power play opportunities during the first half of the third, but both chances were abysmal. The Dutchmen then took advantage of a couple of bad penalties by Guy Leboeuf, both holding calls, to take a 4-1 lead in the third period for the second straight night. The major difference this time was when the 4-1 lead came - on Friday, it was early in the period, on Saturday, it was quite late, both goals by Shayne Gostisbehere on some very nice work at the blue line with under five minutes to play and just over a minute apart.

From there, things got very, very ugly. An uncalled charge behind the Union net by Ryan Haggerty led to Haggerty being clotheslined from behind by Union's captain, causing a scrum that saw Haggerty, Higgs, and two Dutchmen essentially tossed from the game with misconducts. In the game's final minute, two different scrums led to a further six players being given misconducts or game misconducts. A total of 151 penalty minutes were doled out in the final 3:13 of game time, as neither team finished the contest with really any drop of honor or respectability - Union proved to be less than humble in victory, the Engineers far from gracious in defeat.

Other junk - After three straight weeks at #10, being swept naturally caused a drop in the USCHO rankings for the Engineers, now down to #14. Also ranked from the ECAC this week are #4 Quinnipiac (swept Harvard/Dartmouth, up two with two first place votes), #9 Yale (beat Sacred Heart, no change), #11 Clarkson (beat Cornell and lost to Colgate, no change), #17 Union (previously unranked), and #18 Cornell (lost to Clarkson and beat St. Lawrence, up one). St. Lawrence (53 votes, ex-#17), and Colgate (4) also received votes. Ranked teams on RPI's schedule include #1 Minnesota (no change, up to 47 first place votes), #7 Boston College (no change), #10 Ferris State (up four), and #20 New Hampshire (previously unranked). Denver (11) and Boston University (4) also received votes.

Despite failing to register a goal on the weekend, Ryan Haggerty's 13 goals continues to lead the nation, with four players in second with 10 each. He has, however, been overtaken in total goals per game by Robert Morris junior Cody Wydo, who has 10 goals in 9 games to Haggerty's 13 in 12. His 6 power play goals is tied for most in the nation with Northern Michigan's Stephan Vigier.

Brock Higgs, meanwhile, is tied with four other players for 6th in the nation with 9 goals on the campaign, and tied for 7th in goals per game at 0.75.

RPI's team defense has plummeted from 10th to 20th at 2.25 GAA, and in a complete reversal of fortunes aided in part by the hijinks late on Saturday night, the Engineers, in the span of two weeks, have gone from the 2nd least penalized team in the nation to the 7th most penalized.

The Engineers have two weeks to lick their wounds before getting back into ECAC play - this week they travel to Mercyhurst for the first time in school history, an opportunity to bounce back from a difficult weekend before taking Thanksgiving weekend off and then welcoming one of the best teams in the nation to Houston Field House, undefeated in league play Quinnipiac.

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

#10 RPI at Union
ECAC Game - Messa Rink (Schenectady, NY)
11/15/13 - 7:30pm

RESULT: Union 4, RPI 3

BOX SCORES

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

Union at #10 RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
11/16/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Union 4, RPI 1

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECORD: 6-4-2 (2-3-2 ECAC, 6 pts)

Upcoming games
22 Nov - at Mercyhurst
23 Nov - at Mercyhurst
06 Dec - #4 Quinnipiac
07 Dec - Princeton
13 Dec - Denver

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