Monday, January 20, 2014

Women's Hockey - Union Home & Home

RPI built on their three-point weekend against Quinnipiac and Princeton and carried that momentum into the home-and-home against Union, picking up the weekend sweep with 4-1 and 3-0 victories in Troy and Schenectady respectively.

The sweep was RPI's first this season in ECAC play (having picked up one non-conference sweep earlier on a road weekend at St. Cloud State) and Saturday's shutout at Messa Rink was Kelly O'Brien's third of the season.

Friday

Mahoney/Gruschow/Rooney
Smelker/Mari Mankey/Svoboda
Horwood/Wash/Sanders
Letuligasenoa/Walsh/Hylwa

Huhtamaki/Godin
Schilter/Banks
Behounek/Marzario

O'Brien

The Engineers put up what was perhaps their most complete game of the season on Friday, and rolled to a 4-1 victory at Houston Field House while outshooting the visiting Union Dutchwomen by a 41-14 margin.

Ali Svoboda scored twice with Laura Horwood and Madison Marzario tacking on goals, while Kelly O'Brien held Union off the board except for a 5-on-3 power play goal in the waning moments of the first period.

Svoboda's first goal came at 12:32 of the opening frame, after the Engineers spent most of the preceding game time keeping the Dutchwomen penned up in their own zone. Svoboda's backhand shot beat netminder Shenae Lundberg for a 1-0 lead, and to that point the Engineers held a 10-1 edge in shots.

RPI's second goal was all Horwood, as the freshman held the puck in at the Union blue line while her teammates changed, then skated in and through the defense all alone to put one home and give the Engineers a 2-0 lead.

Union found itself with a 5-on-3 opportunity late in the first period, with Svoboda off for hooking and Marzario off for slashing. The Dutchwomen power play, ranked fifth in the nation, made the Engineers pay with 15 seconds left in the first, cutting the score to 2-1.

While RPI wasn't able to extend the lead in the second period, they continued to outplay Union, racking up 18 shots on backup netminder Madeline Dahl, who had come in to replace Lundberg when she did not return to the game after the first period.

The Engineers shut Union down in the third period, holding the Dutchwomen to just a single shot on goal while padding their lead with two more goals.

Marzario scored just 46 seconds into the third after a Union tripping penalty put the Engineers on the power play, and Svoboda made it 4-1 less than three minutes later with another backhand shot much like her first goal.

Dahl was solid in relief for the Dutchwomen but it was not enough against an overwhelming offensive effort from the Engineers, who spent long stretches of time setting up shop in the Union zone. The flow of play on Saturday, however, would be much different than in Friday's matchup.

Saturday

Mahoney/Gruschow/Rooney
Smelker/Mari Mankey/Svoboda
Horwood/Wash/Sanders
Letuligasenoa/Walsh/Hylwa

Huhtamaki/Godin
Schilter/Banks
Behounek/Marzario

O'Brien

After the Engineers dominated play on Friday night, one might have expected to see a worn down Union squad on Saturday, but instead the Dutchwomen came out with a little extra jump and played the Engineers much more evenly than they had the night before.

It didn't help them, however, as the Engineers sent a sizable and rowdy Union fanbase home disappointed, earning a 3-0 shutout behind Kelly O'Brien's 18 saves.

It was a penalty-filled afternoon, in stark contrast to the previous night's five combined penalties, as the Engineers and Dutchwomen traded off 16 penalties in the weekend's second game.

After a number of those penalties went by in the first period with neither team able to take advantage, and Union clogging up the RPI offense's attempts to generate offense, the first period ended scoreless and with just a 5-4 edge in shots for RPI.

It looked like the game had the makings of one where one bad play might give Union a lead and let them try to coast with it, but Lauren Wash had different plans, finally breaking through for the Engineers with a power play goal at 11:35 of the second, then scoring again at 17:26, her team-leading 11th of the season, to make it a 2-0 lead. Both goals were unassisted.

Even with RPI up 2-0, the Dutchwomen had several chances to get back into the game, with the Engineers taking a late penalty in the second and two more in the third, but O'Brien held strong for the Engineers.

Seconds after killing off a late penalty in the third, during which Union pulled Lundberg for a 6-on-4 advantage, Jordan Smelker was able to break through the neutral zone after receiving a pass from Kathryn Schilter and put home and empty netter to seal the deal, giving the Engineers a 3-0 victory and their first ECAC sweep of the season.

With the four point weekend, the Engineers move into sixth place in the ECAC, just one point behind fifth-place Princeton with two games in hand.

RPI will now head back on the road to face Dartmouth and Harvard, and anything less than two points next weekend against a struggling Dartmouth squad will have to be seen as a disappointment for this Engineers team which is finally starting to find its stride, while Harvard will likely pose a bigger challenge as the Crimson look to get back at RPI for handing them a surprising loss earlier in the season.

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RPI vs. Union
ECAC Hockey Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/17/14 - 7:00pm
RPI 4, Union 1

BOX SCORES:

RECAPS:

RECORD: 9-11-2 (5-5-1 ECAC)

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RPI at Union
ECAC Hockey Game - Messa Rink (Schenectady, NY)
1/18/14 - 4:00pm
RPI 3, Union 0

BOX SCORES:

RECAPS:

RECORD: 10-11-2 (6-5-1 ECAC)

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Upcoming Games

Jan. 24 - at Dartmouth (7pm)
Jan. 25 - at Harvard (4pm)
Jan. 31 - St. Lawrence (7pm)
Feb. 1 - Clarkson (4pm)

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ECAC Standings

1. Harvard - 21 points (10-2-1) (.808)
2. Cornell - 20 points (9-1-2) (.833)
3t. Clarkson - 18 points (8-2-2) (.750)
3t. Quinnipiac - 18 points (7-3-4) (.643)
5. Princeton - 14 points (6-6-2) (.500)
6. RPI - 13 points (6-5-1) (.542)
7. St. Lawrence - 12 points (5-5-2) (.500)
8. Yale - 11 points (4-5-3) (.458)
9. Dartmouth - 9 points (4-8-1) (.346)
10. Union - 6 points (3-9-0) (.250)
11t. Brown - 4 points (1-9-2) (.167)
11t. Colgate - 4 points (2-10-0) (.167)

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