Friday, November 22, 2013

Show No Mercy

Last year's series against Mercyhurst came when RPI was at absolute rock bottom. They'd lost five games in a row and were winless in seven. Two of them were bad losses to Union. The last two were win 4-0 losses on the road to Dartmouth and Harvard, the latter of which included a "message sending" game in which a number of players were healthy scratches.

Then, the Lakers. A weekend before Thanksgiving. Two wins heading into a two week break for the holiday. It was the start of a 5-2-2 stretch through New Year's, the start of a fire that eventually led to a 2nd place finish in the ECAC for a team that was 0-4-0 in league play at that point. The Saturday game against Mercyhurst was the first start for a young goaltender named Jason Kasdorf, who made 30 saves on 31 shots.

Let us hope that, for this year's version of the Engineers, their rock bottom is now - because where they are now, as rough as last weekend was, is quite far ahead of where they were this time last year.

If nothing else, the hijinks that ended Saturday's game against Union did reveal one key fact about RPI. They're ticked off. Woe be to the team that has the misfortune to go up against a team that has shown at minimum, a competent defense, and an offense that has had the ability to score in bunches, that's PO'd to boot.

That team happens to be Mercyhurst once again. This time, it's on their ice, and this time, they come into this game as one of the favorites in Atlantic Hockey. There are always teams in that conference that are pushovers, but the top teams now invariably present a solid challenge to most teams from the more established conferences.

Nonetheless, for a team ranked in the Top 20 looking for a response to last weekend, these games are important - for the soul as much as for the national jockeying for position.

If this team is going to reach its goals for the year, last weekend needs to be a hiccup instead of a trend. Getting back to it and picking up wins right away is important for that to be true. Let's get to it.

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