Monday, December 9, 2013

Men's Hockey - Quinnipiac and Princeton (6/7 Dec)

We've frequently mentioned the key for earning a first-round bye in the ECAC is to average 3 points in a home weekend and 2 points in a road weekend (with points against the travel partner pretty much extra), and the Engineers, as rough as the go has been in recent weeks, are still on that track - perfectly, in fact. RPI picked up another three points at home this past weekend, missing opportunities on Friday to complete a sweep against a Quinnipiac team that looked as though it was struggling but skating away with a 3-3 tie ahead of a 5-2 win over Princeton.

Quinnipiac
Neal-Higgs-Haggerty
Laliberte-Zalewski-Bubela
Tinordi-McGowan-Bourbonnais
Fulton-Rogic-Schroeder

Leboeuf-Leonard
Bradley-Dolan
Curadi-Reno

Diebold

The Engineers basically fielded all of its healthy forwards on Friday night with several players banged up. Jake Wood was technically suspended due to a third game misconduct picked up against Mercyhurst two weeks prior, but after knee surgery he will be out until mid-January.

RPI has frequently gotten off to a quick start this season, and it was another quick start against the Bobcats that saw the Engineers ahead 2-0 six and a half minutes into the contest, both goals coming off the stick of the nation's leading scorer. Ryan Haggerty potted the game's first goal at 3:16 to make it 1-0, then was credited with the goal after Quinnipiac accidentally swept the puck into its own net off of Haggerty's skate exactly 3:25 later. RPI led in shots 10-4 after the first period, doing a good job of keeping a sluggish Quinnipiac on their toes.

The Bobcats got themselves back into things in the second as their national-best defense began frustrating the Engineers' attempts to put rubber on net. The lead was cut in half thanks to a blast from the blue line 2:12 into the period, and with about two minutes left in the second, the Bobcats drew level with a nifty goal from Sam Anas, one of the top scoring freshmen in the nation.

It was starting to look like a similar story for the Engineers - build an early lead, and then gradually lose it in the late periods. Chris Bradley and Jacob Laliberte conspired to flip the script a little 62 seconds into the third period, as a shot by Bradley from the point was redirected in front by Laliberte into the back of the cage to give RPI the lead once more at 3-2.

Unfortunately, poor discipline by the Engineers unraveled the second lead. A terribly unnecessary interference penalty drawn by Bo Dolan midway through the period produced a power play for the Bobcats that they would convert with some serious net crashing, knotting things back up at 3-3. From there, Scott Diebold was certainly called on to make some big saves, earning 23 saves in the last 40 minutes on 26 shots to keep RPI in the game.

The end result was in some respects a solid point for RPI, considering Quinnipiac's then-position as the #5 team in the nation, but the Engineers blew two leads and the Bobcats were clearly a step slower than their usual pace, which left the lost point a little disappointing for the home team.

Princeton
Neal-Higgs-Haggerty
Laliberte-Zalewski-Bubela
Tinordi-McGowan-Bourbonnais
Fulton-Rogic-Schroeder

Leboeuf-Leonard
Bradley-Dolan
Curadi-Reno

Diebold

No changes were made to the RPI lineup heading into the Saturday game with a weak and very beat-up Princeton team which had been blanked by Union the previous night. The Tigers entered the game with a six-game unbeaten streak in Troy, but dressing 10 forwards and 7 defensemen, they never appeared ready to extend that streak.

Once again, it was RPI jumping out to a quick 2-0 edge, and this time it was in an even quicker fashion than on Friday. Chris Bradley notched his second goal of the season at 3:03 of the first period, and only 23 seconds later, Brock Higgs potted his 10th of the year (with an assist to Bradley). Princeton cut the lead in half with about six minutes left in the first period, but less than two minutes later, on the power play, it was Ryan Haggerty scoring for the 18th time in just 15 games to put the Engineers ahead 3-1. RPI managed three goals on just six shots in the first, not a positive number of shots but an economical use of them at least.

3:43 into the second period, Matt Neal scored on a 5-on-3 power play to make it 4-1 as he continued to work the loose puck behind the goaltender, who thought he was controlling it. The puck squirted just behind the netminder, and Neal simply popped it into the net. Princeton earned the goal back shorthanded on the ensuing 5-on-4, but despite outshooting the Engineers 11-8 in the second period, RPI never looked ready to give up their lead.

With just over seven minutes left in the second, Higgs scored his second goal of the night in highlight-reel fashion, stealing the puck in the neutral zone and single-handedly outmaneuvering two different defenders while cutting to the net, sliding the puck home through the five-hole to make it 5-2.

The Engineers controlled the puck for much of the third period, though they were content to mostly hold the puck in the Princeton zone as they cruised to victory. They managed 10 shots in the final 20 minutes and on a couple of occasions came close to increasing their lead, but the lack of action in the period was just fine for a team holding a three-goal lead over a demoralized and hurting team.

Other junk - With the three-point weekend, the Engineers re-enter the USCHO poll this week after falling out during their bye week, once more ranked #18 in the nation, just where they had been after the Mercyhurst games. Other ranked ECAC teams include #7 Quinnipiac (tied RPI and lost to Union, down two), #8 Clarkson (swept SLU, up two), #10 Union (swept Princeton/Quinnipiac, up one), #11 Yale (lost to Dartmouth and tied Harvard, down three), and #14 Cornell (tied Colgate, up one). Colgate (6) and St. Lawrence (3) also received votes. Other ranked teams on the RPI schedule are #2 Minnesota (down one with 14 first place votes), #4 Ferris State (up two with 3 first place votes), #6 Boston College (up three), and #20 Denver (previously unranked). New Hampshire (45) and Mercyhurst (8) also received votes.

Ryan Haggerty's 1.60 points per game is tied for 3rd in the nation with Mercyhurst junior Matthew Zay, behind SLU's Greg Carey (1.94) and BC's Johnny Gaudreau (1.75).

Haggerty now sits at 18 goals for the season, five more than the tie for 2nd nationally as Gaudreau, SLU's Matt Carey, and Quinnipiac's Sam Anas each have 13. He is the only player in the nation averaging a goal per game or more at 1.20. Haggerty also leads the nation in power play goals with 8, and is tied for first in game-winning goals with 4.

Meanwhile, Brock Higgs is tied for 9th in the nation in goals (with 7 other players) with 11.

Overall, the RPI offense is now 7th in the nation, scoring 3.75 goals per game with 60 in 16 contests.

Craig Bokenfohr is the only skater on the RPI roster that has yet to record a point this year, he has appeared in only one game. Bokenfohr, Bo Dolan, Zach Schroeder, Travis Fulton, and Riley Bourbonnais are the only skaters that have yet to score a goal.

As we mentioned last week, the Engineers have earned a result in every game in which Haggerty has scored a goal, and lost every game in which he has not, and that continued this weekend.

Next weekend, the Engineers wrap-up their calendar year 2013 schedule with the battle of the assistants, as former Denver assistant Seth Appert leads RPI against former RPI assistant Jim Montgomery and Denver. A bonus matchup on Sunday features the Engineers in an exhibition game against the US Under-18 team, which counts new NHL player Jerry D'Amigo and Ryan Haggerty as alums.

ECAC Standings
1. Union - 14 points (7-1-0)
2. Quinnipiac - 14 points (6-2-2)
3. Clarkson - 12 points (6-2-0)
4. Colgate - 11 points (5-3-1)
5. Cornell - 10 points (4-3-2)
6. Yale - 9 points (3-2-3)
7. RPI - 9 points (3-3-3)
8. Brown - 7 points (3-4-1)
9. St. Lawrence - 6 points (2-4-2)
10. Harvard - 6 points (2-6-2)
11. Dartmouth - 4 points (2-7-0)
12. Princeton - 4 points (2-8-0)

#5 Quinnipiac at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
12/6/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 3, Quinnipiac 3

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO
RECORD: 7-5-3 (2-3-3 ECAC, 7 pts)

Princeton at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
12/7/13 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 5, Princeton 2

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECORD: 8-5-3 (3-3-3 ECAC, 9 pts)

Upcoming games
13 Dec - #20 Denver
14 Dec - #20 Denver
15 Dec - US Under-18 Team (exhibition)
03 Jan - vs. #4 Ferris State (Minneapolis, MN)
04 Jan - vs. #2 Minnesota OR Colgate (Minneapolis, MN)

No comments:

Post a Comment