Friday, February 28, 2014

The Bitter End

So this is what it all comes down to. RPI's in a good spot to be playing at home next weekend, as long as they scrape together a couple of points in a historically successful road trip at Brown and Yale this weekend.

The last two days, we've laid everything out. Nothing left to do now but play the games. Hopefully, we'll be seeing some more hockey next week at the Field House.

Here you go, Breaking Bad fans. The end is nigh.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Where We Stand (27 Feb)

Two games left. Two games separating RPI from the playoffs. Two games left to finish all the way up in 5th with a date against the Tigers or down to 9th and a road trip.

Best-case scenario with:
4 points - 5th place. It'll require some help from Union, Quinnipiac, and Princeton, but it's possible. Yale could even pick up a point against Union, as long as the Engineers stay in front of the Golden Knights.
3 points - 6th place. RPI would either lose the tiebreaker to Yale or would not catch the Bulldogs. They would need to keep Clarkson behind them since the Knights would win any tiebreaker.
2 points - 7th place. RPI can't defeat Clarkson in a tiebreaker. Depending on how the Engineers got to 21 points, they might need help from Union on Saturday, or they might have earned it on their own.
1 point - 7th place. If they tie Brown, they'll win the tiebreaker, but if they lose to Brown and then tie Yale, they can still distance themselves from the Bears. As long as RPI can also keep themselves ahead of SLU, they'll be the 7 seed.
0 points - 8th place. At that point, they just need to make sure SLU finishes with less than 19 points.

Worst-case scenario with:
4 points - 7th place. If Yale can win against Union and Clarkson gets at least a couple points this weekend, RPI won't even move up the ladder with a sweep.
3 points - 7th place. Clarkson would only need at least one point to move back in front of RPI and Yale can skate through on the ECAC wins tiebreaker.
2 points (lose to Brown, beat Yale) - 8th place. After losing to Brown, the Engineers no longer control their destiny for 7th.
2 points (any other combination) - 7th place. They'd hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against Brown and would not be able to drop lower than 7th.
1 point (tie Brown, lose to Yale) - 8th place. Beating Brown would ensure that RPI would win a tiebreaker involving Brown, but a two-way tie with SLU at 20 points for 7th place would be a loss for the Engineers. RPI would drop to 8th.
1 point (lose to Brown, tie Yale) - 9th place. Brown would have secured the three-way tiebreaker on Friday with the win over RPI and since SLU would have had to have swept to wind up with 20 points, SLU would take the two-way tiebreaker as well, dropping RPI to 9th.
0 points - 9th place. Both Brown and SLU could pass RPI in that scenario.

The rest of the league...
Union (33 points) has sewn up first place. That win over St. Lawrence on Saturday was more than enough to distance themselves from everyone else.

Colgate (27 points) will definitely have next weekend off. Their magic number for clinching the #2 seed is 3, which they can accomplish on Friday with a win and Quinnipiac non-win or a tie and a Quinnipiac loss.

Quinnipiac (25 points) can finish as low as 6th by losing out, having Clarkson win out, Yale win out, and Cornell pick up at least two points. Since they don't play either Cornell or Yale, they're the only team with the destiny for third place in their hands.

Cornell (24 points) can still catch and pass Colgate to finish in 2nd, but they can't be caught by RPI so they can only fall as far as 6th. They also have the season sweep of Yale, so any two points this weekend at home against Dartmouth and Harvard guarantees the Big Red a bye.

Yale (22 points) can move into 3rd place with a little luck / help. They can also be caught by Clarkson and RPI, potentially dropping them as low as 7th place.

Clarkson (21 points) would win a tiebreaker with Quinnipiac if they can sweep this weekend and the Bobcats also lose to St. Lawrence, so they do have a chance at 3rd. They swept Brown, so they can only drop down to 7th.

Brown (17 points) can only climb to 7th, but they control their own destiny for 7th. A win on Friday gives them the tiebreaker against the Engineers. They haven't yet clinched a home playoff spot and can indeed fall as far as 11th if Dartmouth and Harvard both do extremely well on their trip to Cornell / Colgate.

St. Lawrence (16 points) can move past RPI and can win a tiebreaker against the Engineers in the right circumstances, so they still have a chance for 7th. They can also be passed by the Big Green and Harvard if things go wrong.

Dartmouth (14 points) has a much better shot at 8th than their travel partner, but both teams have a tough road in front of them. Realistically, they own the tiebreaker over St. Lawrence in the race for 9th at the very least.

Harvard (14 points) can potentially climb to 8th, but it would be quite difficult. Luckily, they have nothing left to lose.

Princeton (8 points) is guaranteed to be playing the #5 seed, whomever that ends up being.

Two-way Tiebreakers (leading team listed first):
Colgate-Quinnipiac: Colgate tied up the season series. If Colgate ties out and Quinnipiac sweeps SLU and Clarkson, then Quinnipiac wins on ECAC wins. If Colgate gets swept and Quinnipiac ties out, then Colgate wins on ECAC wins. Any other combination will go to Record vs Top 4. Colgate got an extra point versus Union, an extra point versus Cornell, and they swept Clarkson, which Quinnipiac can't also do if the Knights are going to finish with a bye. The only way the Bobcats win this on Record vs Top 4 is if Yale takes the final bye spot.
Colgate-Cornell: Head-to-head for Colgate

Quinnipiac-Cornell: Quinnipiac wins. They win by ECAC wins unless Quinnipiac has one more tie this weekend than Cornell does, then it goes to Record vs Top 4. Quinnipiac leads that with 4 points earned against Union and Colgate compared to Cornell's one. There's no way for anyone else to be in a bye position if it's a Bobcats-Big Red two-way tie, so the tiebreaker goes to Quinnipiac.
Quinnipiac-Yale: Quinnipiac by head-to-head
Quinnipiac-Clarkson: Clarkson on ECAC wins

Cornell-Yale: Cornell by their head-to-head sweep
Cornell-Clarkson: Clarkson on ECAC wins

Yale-Clarkson: Clarkson on ECAC wins
Yale-RPI: If it's a tie at 22 points, Yale wins on ECAC wins. If it's a tie at 23 points, it goes to Record vs Top 4. If Cornell can hold on to a Top 4 spot (the only way they don't is if Clarkson ends up with the same or higher number of points), then RPI wins 2-3-3 vs 2-4-2. If Clarkson ends up in 3rd / 4th, then Yale wins 3-3-2 vs 1-4-3.

Clarkson-RPI: Clarkson on head-to-head
Clarkson-Brown: Clarkson on head-to-head

RPI-Brown: A tie on Friday followed by RPI losing to Yale and Brown beating Union gives this to RPI on head-to-head. A win by Brown on Friday gives this to Brown on ECAC wins.
RPI-St. Lawrence: A tie at 20 points gives this to SLU by ECAC wins. A tie at 19 goes to Record vs Top 4. SLU is at a disadvantage with RPI having 3 points against Colgate and Union instead of SLU's 2. But, the Saints already have a 2-1 edge against Quinnipiac with a game to play, Cornell (where RPI is beating SLU 3-1) can be knocked out, they would have 1 vs Yale as opposed to RPI's 0... That's a long-winded way of saying that it matters depending on who else is in the Top 4. RPI could win it outright with SLU not beating Quinnipiac and Cornell staying in the Top 4. They could lose it outright if that previous sentence were completely backwards from reality. It could go Top 8 if SLU does beat Quinnipiac and Cornell does stay in 4th. It's a bit of a mess.

Brown-St. Lawrence: Brown by head-to-head
Brown-Dartmouth: If it's a tie at 17 points, Brown by ECAC wins. If it's a tie at 18 points, it goes to Record vs Top 4. Brown leads with 2 points against Colgate and a game-to-go against Union. Dartmouth has a chance with games against both Colgate and Cornell (that'd guarantee them 2 more points against each, but it could knock Cornell out of a Top 4 spot). Brown has two chances to survive that battle. If their point this weekend comes via a tie with Union and Quinnipiac stays in a bye position, then they can't lose on Points vs Top 4. If Quinnipiac does fall to 5th or 6th, then Brown cannot win this tiebreaker on Points vs Top 4. If Brown ties RPI instead and Quinnipiac maintains a Top 4 spot? Well, that's complicated. I'll deal with it after Friday's games.
Brown-Harvard: Brown by head-to-head

St. Lawrence-Dartmouth: Dartmouth on ECAC wins unless Dartmouth ties out and SLU gets swept. In that case, Union, Colgate, and Quinnipiac are all guaranteed spots and those 4 points that the Saints have earned there are enough to give them the win on Record vs Top 4.
St. Lawrence-Harvard: St. Lawrence on head-to-head

Dartmouth-Harvard: If Dartmouth ties out and Harvard wins exactly one game, then it goes to Record vs Top 4. Harvard would lose unless the team that the Crimson beat stays in the Top 4 (aka they beat Cornell and the Big Red stay in 4th with 25 points OR they beat Colgate), Quinnipiac stays in the Top 4, and Yale does not earn a bye. Explained as follows: neither team has points against Union or Colgate yet, but Dartmouth would be guaranteed a point. Dartmouth also already tied Cornell in Hanover, so if the Big Red stay in the Top 4, then Dartmouth would be guaranteed 3 points while Harvard would only have 2. If Quinnipiac stays in line for a bye, then Harvard would pick up a point there to make it 3 each. Then it would go to Record vs Top 8. If the tie comes about in any other fashion than Dartmouth tying twice and Harvard winning exactly once, then Dartmouth wins on ECAC wins. Suffice it to say that it's not exactly likely that Harvard is going to win this tiebreaker.

Three-way Tiebreakers:
Colgate-Quinnipiac-Cornell: Colgate wins on head-to-head. Quinnipiac would take 3rd as said above and Cornell finishes 4th.

Quinnipiac-Cornell-Yale: Cornell wins because they swept the Elis, instead of giving up a point at home. Quinnipiac wins the resulting tiebreaker.

Quinnipiac-Cornell-Clarkson: Clarkson on ECAC wins since all three teams split against each other. Quinnipiac wins the resulting tiebreaker.

Quinnipiac-Yale-Clarkson: Quinnipiac on head-to-head. Clarkson wins the resulting tiebreaker.

Cornell-Yale-Clarkson: Cornell on head-to-head. Clarkson wins the resulting tiebreaker.

Yale-Clarkson-RPI: Clarkson on head-to-head. For the resulting tiebreaker, if it's at 22 points, then Yale wins on ECAC wins. If it's at 23 points, then RPI wins on Record vs Top 4 (Clarkson wouldn't have been able to knock out Cornell).

Clarkson-RPI-Brown: Clarkson on head-to-head. Brown wins the resulting tiebreaker on ECAC wins.

RPI-Brown-SLU: Brown or RPI wins on head-to-head depending on the game result Friday. An RPI tie on Friday gives them the three-way win. A Brown win also gives them the three-way win. Brown-St. Lawrence in the resulting tiebreaker goes to Brown. RPI-SLU in the resulting tiebreaker is a mess.

Brown-SLU-Dartmouth: Brown on head-to-head. Dartmouth wins the resulting tiebreaker on ECAC wins.

Brown-SLU-Harvard: Brown on head-to-head. SLU wins the resulting tiebreaker on head-to-head.

Brown-Dartmouth-Harvard: Brown on head-to-head. Dartmouth wins the resulting tiebreaker on ECAC wins.

SLU-Dartmouth-Harvard: SLU on head-to-head. Dartmouth-Harvard depends on how this tie gets there.

Four-way Tiebreakers:
Quinnipiac-Cornell-Yale-Clarkson: Cornell on head-to-head. Then Quinnipiac, then Clarkson, then Yale.

Brown-St. Lawrence-Dartmouth-Harvard: Exactly that order. Brown then SLU on head-to-head. Dartmouth would beat Harvard on ECAC wins.

Thanks for reading. Go Red!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Who's It Gonna Be?

Everyone ends up having to win at least one best of 3 playoff series in order to do anything - and, as we've found in the last several years, it can be all about who you get that plays a big role in whether you can advance, regardless of where the game is played.

Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, RPI is guaranteed to be playing in the first round, and are very likely to be playing that first round at home barring a complete disaster. There are five teams they could possibly face off with in the first round, and all of the others are still potential quarterfinal opponents.

Possible finishes: 7th to 11th
Season series: 2-0
* In Troy: RPI 4, Brown 1
* In Providence: Friday
Last 10 games: 4-6-0
* Offense: 2.2 goals per game
* Defense: 2.6 goals per game
* Power play: 5-for-38 (13.2%)
* Penalty kill: 26-for-38 (68.4%) 
* Won 2 of last 3, follows 4-game losing streak

Perhaps on a historical level, RPI shouldn't really want any part of Brown. After all, the Bears were responsible for two of the last three playoff upsets of the Engineers in Troy. And yet, at risk of jinxing Friday's game, RPI has certainly had their way with Brown during the regular season.

They haven't lost to the Bears in regulation during the regular season in over a decade - a 1-0 loss in Troy on January 2, 2004 was the last time it happened (the only Brown win since then was a 4-3 overtime victory in Providence in 2010, notorious for its ending when the Engineers were called for two highly questionable penalties in the last 10 seconds of regulation in a tied game).

RPI has a points earned edge of 35-5 against Brown in the last 10 years, and that's a stretch that included some pretty rough Engineer squads. But when meeting in the playoffs in that time period, Brown is 3-0. They swept a series in Providence in 2005, and picked up 3-game wins in Troy in 2010 and 2013. That gives RPI an overall record in that time frame of 2-6, meaning that the Bears have won more playoff games against the Engineers in the last decade than they've earned ECAC points against them. Wrap your head around that dichotomy for a while.

The Bears have been finishing well as of late and this season appears to be no different. Obviously, RPI can help throw a wrench into that situation on Friday with a win. That said, their penalty kill looks like it can potentially be exploited, and despite the bad history that is very recent, the Bears might not be a terrible opponent for the Engineers should they draw them in the first round, especially given some of the other options. That history could certainly be an X-factor, of course.

Brown is one team that the Engineers could potentially be travelling to should they have a disastrous final weekend and end up in 9th.

St. Lawrence
Possible finishes: 7th to 11th
Season series: 2-2
* In Canton: RPI 4, St. Lawrence 3
* In Troy: St. Lawrence 4, RPI 0
Last 10 games: 4-4-2
* Offense: 3.1 goals per game
* Defense: 3.0 goals per game
* Power play: 11-for-45 (24.4%)
* Penalty kill: 34-for-42 (81.0%)
* Unbeaten in 4 of last 6

One good glance at these figures, combined with the way the game between the Engineers and Saints played out on Friday of last week, and there should be no way that anyone in Troy would want anything to do with the Saints whatsoever. Their power play is lethal, and that's even after going 0-for-the weekend against RPI and Union. They boast the best offense down the stretch against any team the Engineers might face, and although their defense is about as weak as you can find among potential opponents, that defense did just shut out RPI last week.

Interestingly, RPI and St. Lawrence have never clashed in a best-of-three series despite the long history the schools have playing each other. In fact, the schools haven't met at all in the ECAC tournament since they contested the 2000 championship game, which the Saints won 2-0 on their way to the Frozen Four. The Engineers have never beaten St. Lawrence in a tournament game, losing 3-1 in 1964, 6-5 in OT in 1992, 6-3 in 1998, and the aforementioned game in 2000. That's the entire ECAC tournament history between these two original member schools.

But that's all in the past, with no real impact on the present. In the present, St. Lawrence is a dangerous team that lost a pitched battle against RPI in Canton and overwhelmed an uninterested Engineers squad in Troy. The Carey-Carey-Martin line is among the best in the nation, and they're an absolute menace on the power play. The only thing that can really match them is to take advantage of the defensive situation. If a team is unwilling or unable, you get a 4-0 blowout.

St. Lawrence is the other possibility for the Engineers to be on the road against, and frankly the more likely of the two against Brown, since the Bears win the tiebreaker with the Saints.

Possible finishes: 8th to 11th
Season series: 4-0
* In Hanover: RPI 7, Dartmouth 1
* In Troy: RPI 4, Dartmouth 2
Last 10 games: 4-4-2
* Offense: 2.4 goals per game
* Defense: 2.9 goals per game
* Power play: 5-for-37 (13.5%)
* Penalty kill: 29-for-37 (78.4%)
* 4-game unbeaten streak, unbeaten in 5 of last 6

Before the season started, we pegged Dartmouth as a team that could be among the best in the league if they got goaltending. Lately, they've been getting goaltending, and their previously underachieving offense and defense has been picking up steam as well. All the better that the Engineers managed to get their regular season games in against the Big Green earlier in the season when they were still struggling, but Dartmouth now looks like a team that is back on track and ready to make some noise in the ECAC tournament, even if that comeback looks likely to fall short of earning them home ice.

The Big Green looked absolutely awful when RPI was there near the beginning of the season - and it didn't help that RPI's offense was dialed in at the time, too. Neither of those things are still true. It's certainly worth pointing out that in the second game between these teams in Troy, Dartmouth was without its top scorer in Eric Neiley, without its captain, Tyler Sikura, and did not have Charles Grant between the pipes, the goaltender who has been leading the team down the stretch. In fact, since Cab Morris was playing in the blowout at Thompson Arena and both games last season, the Engineers haven't ever even faced Grant, who is a sophomore.

Neiley, Sikura, and Grant have all been on the ice for the last four games, which included games against then-nationally ranked Clarkson and still-nationally ranked Yale. While special teams certainly could use a bit of a boost, the offense and defense tallies over the last 10 are skewed by an 8-1 loss to Quinnipiac. Don't be fooled - Dartmouth is back and they're a team no one wants in the playoffs.

Possible finishes: 8th to 11th
Season series: 1-3
* In Troy: RPI 3, Harvard 3
* In Boston: Harvard 2, RPI 0
Last 10 games: 4-5-1
* Offense: 2.2 goals per game
* Defense: 2.7 goals per game
* Power play: 6-for-38 (15.8%)
* Penalty kill: 38-for-48 (79.2%)
* 3-game winless streak, follows 4 wins in 5 games

First of all, go ahead and throw out the RPI-Harvard series completely, considering that they practically happened a lifetime ago in college hockey terms. Both of these teams have had a considerable amount of experience since then that pretty much renders the results useless.

Since getting those two results from RPI, the Crimson have found that they have an affinity for scoring goals when they're playing either Princeton or Boston University, netting a total of 21 in four games against those two schools. Unfortunately, outside of those games, they've only scored 3 goals and won on two occasions: against UNH in November, and against Dartmouth on February 7.

Offense has been a struggle all year, but the defensive show that Harvard put on in the last five periods against RPI back in late October and early November has been enough to get results here or there. Steve Michalek and Raphael Girard, who have split time in net, have the top two save percentages in ECAC play, but they also face a lot of shots.

The Crimson have run hot and cold all season long, but especially when one considers RPI's history with Brown, their recent blowout by St. Lawrence, and Dartmouth's resurgence, there's certainly an opening when it comes to potentially playing Harvard. RPI's defense has been one of its strengths down the stretch for the most part, and Harvard's offense has been tough. There would be worse fates, that is for sure.

Possible finishes: 12th
Season series: 2-2
* In Troy: RPI 5, Princeton 2
* In Princeton: Princeton 2, RPI 1
Last 10 games: 2-8-0
* Offense: 2.1 goals per game
* Defense: 4.2 goals per game
* Power play: 7-for-34 (20.6%)
* Penalty kill: 36-for-46 (78.3%)
* 3-game losing streak, 8 losses in 9 games

Princeton does seem an ideal candidate, but there's one major problem with drawing the Tigers - since they are guaranteed to finish 12th, the Engineers have some work to do and they need help in order to get them to Troy. In addition to sweeping the weekend, RPI needs Clarkson to take no more than one point at home against Princeton/Quinnipiac, and for Yale to either lose to or tie Union on Friday. That's how the Engineers would end up in 5th, and it would be the only way for them to play host to Princeton.

That's really all the more incentive that the Engineers should have to sweep this weekend and hope everything else shakes out well, because this is a team in a complete tailspin. Princeton managed to eke out a home victory over the Engineers back in January when RPI was looking quite dreadful, but since then they've lost eight games in their last nine. Teams have been scoring in bunches on the Tigers, so much so that they are 1-3-0 in the last four games in which they've scored three, usually considered the magic number for a win or at least a tie. Against Yale, they managed five goals and still lost.

This is a team that's looking a lot like Clarkson and Colgate were at the end of last season - defeated and ready to pack it in. They've had injury problems throughout the year, but they haven't really gotten back into the groove even with a full lineup. That's the recipe for a successful playoff outing even for a team that may not be at its sharpest. Landing 5th gives a team the added benefit of being able to avoid the top 3 teams in the quarterfinals, should they advance, a benefit that we thought would help back in 2011, too. Oops.

By comparison, here's the workup for the Engineers:
Possible finishes: 5th-9th
Last 10 games: 5-3-2
* Offense: 2.2 goals per game
* Defense: 2.1 goals per game
* Power play: 3-for-31 (9.7%)
* Penalty kill: 36-for-41 (87.8%)
* Unbeaten in 4 of last 5

Look at that power play. That is where mosquitoes come from. That's a problem. But the penalty kill is looking quite nice, so there's at least a bit of a balance there. The defense has been generally strong of late, keeping RPI in games where they aren't scoring in bunches. The same critiques that have been there for much of the season are still a concern - the Engineers need more goals from their 2nd and 3rd lines.

You can kind of ignore the fact that the Engineers have the best record in the last 10 games put up against the teams they could face in the first round - we knew they'd have a somewhat easier schedule down the stretch this year. But it's always better to be winning than to be losing late in the season, no matter what. But regardless of RPI's water-treading in the standings, they've been finding ways to pick up points, even if they've had to settle for ties a few times. If they can sweep this weekend (and recent history says this is a great road weekend coming up), no one is going to want to play a team that managed to go unbeaten in 6 of the last 7 games, no matter who they were matched up against.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Men's Hockey - St. Lawrence/Clarkson (21/22 Feb)

Home weekends are supposed to be the best place for a team to make hay. For the Engineers, the last two home weekends have been nothing short of disappointing, with the most recent chapter more disappointing than the last. While the Engineers at least managed to salvage a win in its last showing in Troy, this past weekend they claimed only one point in a 2-2 tie with Clarkson a night after being thoroughly throttled by St. Lawrence, 4-0.

St. Lawrence



The return of Jacob Laliberte from injury was expected to be a spark for the Engineers as he re-entered the lineup replacing Travis Fulton, especially as the team returned home for the final time during the regular season, the only change to the RPI lineup.

That was not to be the case. Apart from the Engineers' usual semi-dominance of the first period - in this case visible only through RPI's 7-5 shot advantage that appeared despite having to kill a pair of penalties in the first frame - there was not much to write home about during the Engineers' attempt to sweep the season series with St. Lawrence.

The Saints' very dangerous "Carey line," made up of senior Greg Carey, his freshman brother Matt, and Chris Martin, scored the game's first three goals in under 20 minutes of game time to put this one out of reach for the very lethargic Engineers, who turned in one of their worst performances of the season against a SLU team desperate for points that knew its best chance to pick up those points was on Friday. Martin scored 7:43 into the second period to break the 0-0 deadlock that had reigned for nearly all of the game's first half of play. Then, late in the 2nd period, defenseman Riley Austin netted his first of the year from Martin and Greg Carey for a backbreaking goal that, throughout the third period, RPI rarely seemed interested in recovering from.

Matt Carey's 18th goal of the season 3:30 into the 3rd period squelched whatever fight may have been left, and the Saints tacked on a shorthanded about eight and a half minutes later to seal it up even tighter. Scott Diebold's night was off from some of his better previous outings, stopping 24 shots out of 28 in the loss. Meanwhile, the Engineers mustered only 22 shots on the other end of the night, rarely challenging St. Lawrence netminder Matt Weninger, who picked up his first ECAC shutout since November 12, 2011 (which came just one week after shutting out the Engineers).




Milos Bubela came out of the lineup on Saturday night, replaced by Travis Fulton as the Engineers put Jacob Laliberte in at center and moved Matt Tinordi onto his wing on the second line.

After a slow start to the game, the Engineers picked up the offense dramatically late in the period, eventually pumping 14 shots on net but unable to get anything past Greg Lewis, the Clarkson sophomore who had been chased quickly in both of his appearances against RPI last season.

Still, RPI would find their way onto the board first, via an increasingly rare power play goal. Laliberte notched his 5th goal of the year just six seconds into RPI's third power play of the game at 1:41 to make it 1-0 RPI. From there, the Engineers got into some sloppy play, spending a good amount of time down in their own end as Clarkson looked to tie things up. After icing the puck with just under 11 minutes left in the 2nd, Seth Appert called timeout as he frequently does following icing calls when his players have been on the ice for some time. That timeout proved to be in vain, as Clarkson scored almost immediately off the ensuing faceoff with a goal by Joe Zarbo to make it 1-1.

Late in the 2nd, however, Ryan Haggerty scored his 24th of the season from Brock Higgs and Craig Bokenfohr to give the Engineers the lead back heading into the 2nd intermission. Haggerty scoring goals has boded very well for RPI this season, but coming out flat for the third period never bodes well for anyone, and when Clarkson looked extra hungry for that tying goal, odds were pretty good that it was going to come at some point.

A penalty to Johnny Rogic for slashing midway through the third didn't directly cause RPI to lose its lead via the power play, but late in the man advantage, Clarkson did a tremendous job of holding the zone, and even after the power play expired, the Golden Knights looked as though they maintained the man advantage, continuing to hold the zone for an additional 32 seconds after the end of the Rogic penalty. That sequence, which featured an RPI defense in complete disarray, ended with a goal by Kevin Tansey from the point that made it 2-2.

Clarkson remained the aggressor throughout the remainder of the 3rd period, nearly taking the lead for the first time with under three minutes to play, and if not for some incredible saves by Scott Diebold, including a save on a nearly open net at point blank range, the Golden Knights surely would have walked away with two points in regulation.

Interestingly enough, once the extra period of hockey began, RPI became the nominal aggressors, very nearly sneaking away with both points after an extended scrum in front of the Clarkson net in the dying seconds of overtime. That didn't go, but a 3-on-1 the other way in the final five seconds had to be disrupted by a sliding Engineer as the horn sounded to preserve the tie.

Other junk - Ranked ECAC teams this week include #3 Union (swept Clarkson/SLU, no change), #8 Quinnipiac (swept by Cornell/Colgate, down three), #11 Cornell (swept Quinnipiac/Princeton, up two), #15 Yale (beat Harvard and tied Dartmouth, down one), and #16 Colgate (swept Princeton/Quinnipiac, up three). Clarkson (13) also received votes this week for some reason. Other ranked teams on the RPI schedule include #1 Boston College (no change with 49 first place votes), #2 Minnesota (no change with 1 first place vote), #4 Ferris State (up two), and #20 Denver (down two). New Hampshire (23) and Mercyhurst (6) also received votes.

The final weekend of the regular season sees the Engineers travel to Brown and Yale, a road trip in which RPI has actually found a great deal of success - 3 points last season, a sweep two years ago, and the Engineers have managed at least a split in every year since the pairing was put together in 2005-06. They'll need that to continue as they look to lock up some more points and climb higher in the final standings - but they'll need help to do that, too.

ECAC Standings
1. Union - 33 points (16-3-1)
2. Colgate - 27 points (12-5-3)
3. Quinnipiac - 25 points (11-6-3)
4. Cornell - 24 points (10-6-4)
5. Yale - 22 points (9-7-4)
6. Clarkson - 21 points (10-9-1)
7. RPI - 19 points (7-8-5)
8. Brown - 17 points (8-11-1)
9. St. Lawrence - 16 points (6-10-4)
10. Dartmouth - 14 points (6-12-2)
11. Harvard - 14 points (5-11-4)
12. Princeton - 8 points (4-16-0)

St. Lawrence at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/21/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: St. Lawrence 4, RPI 0

RECORD: 13-13-5 (7-8-4 ECAC, 18 pts)

Clarkson at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/22/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 2, Clarkson 2 (OT)

RECORD: 13-13-6 (7-8-5 ECAC, 19 pts)

Upcoming games
28 Feb - at Brown
01 Mar - at #15 Yale
07 Mar - ECAC First Round Game 1
08 Mar - ECAC First Round Game 2
09 Mar - ECAC First Round Game 3 (if necessary)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Women's Hockey - at Clarkson & St. Lawrence (21/22 Feb)

RPI's season came to a disappointing end on Saturday after two more losses ran the Engineers' record-setting winless streak to ten straight.

RPI was thoroughly outplayed by a Clarkson squad which went on to win the ECAC regular season title, falling 6-0 on Friday night, before a comeback effort against St. Lawrence fell short on Saturday in a 3-2 loss.


Mahoney/Mari Mankey/Svoboda



With Clarkson looking to capture their first ECAC regular season title, they wasted no time in taking the Engineers behind the woodshed, rushing out to a 4-0 lead in the first period then scoring one more in each of the following periods for a 6-0 shutout and RPI's worst defeat since a 10-0 drubbing on December 2, 2011 - also courtesy of the Golden Knights.

Olivia Howe scored just 3:59 into the game to give Clarkson a 1-0 lead, with Vanessa Gagnon following up two mintues later to double it to 2-0.

Another quick pair of goals - these separated by just 1:20, followed in the final minutes of the frame to double that lead again, to 4-0. Shelby Nisbet and Erin Ambrose potted those, and Brianna Piper was pulled in favor of Kelly O'Brien after goal #3.

Jamie Lee Rattray, who scored a hat trick in that 10-0 game a few season ago, notched her team-leading 26th goal 2:50 into the second period. Interestingly enough, the Engineers successfully killed five straight penalties, including a 5-on-3 advantage, through the remainder of the middle frame.

RPI would not be so successful on the penalty kill in the third period, as Gagnon scored her second of the game on the power play to make it a 6-0 game at 5:58 of the third.

RPI was held to three shots on goal in each of the three periods, ending up outshot 29-9 on the evening and sent packing for Canton in need of a win and some help from other teams to keep their playoff hopes alive.

St. Lawrence

Mahoney/Mari Mankey/Svoboda



RPI's odds of doing their part in securing a playoff spot looked pretty grim on Saturday once St. Lawrence jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Engineers came back twice to within a goal, coming up just short in a game which saw each team put 30 shots on net.

SLU opened up an early lead off a Kailee Heidersbach tally at 5:07 of the first. Mel Desrochers made it 2-0 on the power play at 12:29, firing a shot which bounced through traffic to beat O'Brien.

Madison Marzario drew RPI back within one at 5:58 of the second, just 18 seconds into an RPI power play. However when an RPI penalty put the Saints on the power play just a minute later, it didn't take long for Kayla Raniwsky to restore SLU's two-goal lead.

Midway through the third period, the Engineers would cut the lead once again, with Taylor Mahoney scoring another power play goal to make it a 3-2 game.

Try as they may, the Engineers couldn't find the tying goal, and SLU held on for the 3-2 win.

As it turned out, with Dartmouth and Colgate both winning their games on Saturday, a win against SLU wouldn't have helped the Engineers make the playoffs. Instead it will be games such as those against Brown, Yale, and Dartmouth, which the Engineers heavily dominated but came out of without any points, that took a season which had RPI on pace for earning home ice in the playoffs, and instead has them watching the playoffs from home.


RPI at Clarkson
ECAC Hockey Game - Cheel Arena (Potsdam, NY)
2/21/14 - 7:00pm
Clarkson 6, RPI 0



RECORD: 10-19-3 (6-13-2 ECAC)


RPI at St. Lawrence
ECAC Hockey Game - Appleton Arena (Canton, NY)
2/22/14 - 3:00pm
SLU 3, RPI 2



RECORD: 10-20-3 (6-14-2 ECAC)


Final ECAC Standings (top 8 teams make playoffs)

1. Clarkson - 36 points (16-2-4) (.818)
2. Harvard - 35 points (16-3-6) (.795)
3. Cornell - 33 points (15-4-3) (.750)
4. Quinnipiac - 29 points (11-4-7) (.659)
5. St. Lawrence - 27 points (12-7-3) (.614)
6. Princeton - 23 points (10-9-3) (.523)
7. Yale - 19 points (6-9-7) (.432)
8. Dartmouth - 17 points (8-13-1) (.386)
9t. Colgate - 14 points (7-15-0) (.318)
9t. RPI - 14 points (6-14-2) (.318)
11. Brown - 9 points (3-16-3) (.205)
12. Union - 8 points (4-18-0) (.182)


ECAC Playoff Matchups

#1 Clarkson vs. #8 Dartmouth
#2 Harvard vs. #7 Yale
#3 Cornell vs. #6 Princeton
#4 Quinnipiac vs. #5 St. Lawrence

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Where We Stand (22 Feb)

Getting shutout has a history of stopping you from moving up the standings. It was not a pretty night for the Engineers in Troy or Potsdam.

RPI has one way in and one way only. The ladies will need to beat St. Lawrence in Canton AND have Dartmouth lose at Yale AND have Colgate not beat Quinnipiac to make the playoffs.

A tie with Dartmouth would be lost on season series (Dartmouth swept the season series). A tie with Colgate would be lost on ECAC wins (7-6 or 8-7) since they split the season series. A three-way tie with Dartmouth and Colgate would give Dartmouth 8th place and the Colgate-RPI tie would be broken as just stated.

The rest of the league...
Clarkson (34 points) was the only one of the top 3 teams to win. That moves them from a tie for 2nd with Harvard (that they were likely going to lose) to 1st by themselves and in control of their destiny. A win this afternoon against Union at home gives them the regular season title and the 1 seed.

Harvard (33 points) drew in New Haven. They are still in a tie for 2nd. They hold the tiebreaker over Cornell by season series victory. They head to Providence with a chance for 1st and guaranteed 2nd with a win.

Cornell (33 points) lost at home to Quinnipiac. They dropped from 1st by themselves to a tie for 2nd. They lose a tiebreaker against Harvard. They'll face Princeton and could still be the 3 seed with a win.

Quinnipiac (27 points) got the win they needed over Cornell and is in control of their own destiny for the 4th and final home-ice spot.

St. Lawrence (25 points) tallied the easy win over Union, but is still two points back of the Bobcats. They need a win and a loss by Quinnipiac to move into 4th. Otherwise, they'll be headed to Hamden, CT next week.

Princeton (21 points) did not get the win at Colgate, but did lock up the 6 seed with Harvard's comeback from down 3-1 tonight.

Yale (19 points) drew against Harvard, locking themselves into 7th place. They have nothing left to play for when Dartmouth comes into the Whale.

Dartmouth (15 points) took care of business in Providence and will look to clinch their spot in the playoffs this afternoon at Yale. They hold the tiebreaker over both RPI and Colgate, meaning even a tie gets them through.

Colgate (14 points) kept themselves alive by beating Princeton, but will need some help to advance to the playoffs. They need to beat Quinnipiac and have Dartmouth lose at Yale (who has nothing to play for) to move up into 8th. They do hold the tiebreaker against RPI

Brown (9 points) and Union (8 points) remain out of contention for a playoff spot.

Harvard-Clarkson: Now it is guaranteed to be a Harvard win. They split the season series, Harvard currently trails by one point, and they have an equal number of ECAC wins. If Harvard wins and Clarkson ties, then Harvard will win on ECAC wins (16-15). If Harvard ties and Clarkson loses, then Harvard will win on Record vs Top 4. Harvard scored more points against Cornell and they each scored equal numbers of points against Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence (the two potential teams for the 4th seed).

Clarkson-Cornell: Cornell if Cornell wins and Clarkson ties based on ECAC wins (16-15). Clarkson if Cornell ties and Clarkson loses based on Record vs Top 4.

Harvard-Cornell: Harvard win by season series victory.

St. Lawrence-Quinnipiac: St. Lawrence by season series victory

Princeton-Yale: Princeton by ECAC wins (9-7)

Dartmouth-Colgate: Dartmouth swept the season series

Colgate-RPI: Colgate by ECAC wins (7-6 or 8-7)

Harvard-Clarkson-Cornell: Harvard win by season series victory. Clarkson vs Cornell would go down to whether it was a tie at 34 points (Clarkson takes second) or 35 points (Cornell would be the 2 seed).

Dartmouth-Colgate-RPI: Dartmouth takes 8th by having swept both season series. Colgate would take 9th by virtue of ECAC wins.

RPI has made it difficult for themselves, falling back off the pace for a bye and getting drawn into the fight around 8th place.

They won't win the tiebreaker against Clarkson, so they don't control their destiny higher than 7th, but they're still mathematically alive all the way up to 4th or down to 11th without any ties.

Best case scenario after tonight's games with an RPI...:
WIN! - RPI will sit in a tie for 6th. They could be within a point of Yale and 2 points of Cornell, so within a game of a bye position. They could also be 4 points clear of 8th place
Tie - RPI would sit in 7th. There would be one point between each of Cornell (4th), Yale, Clarkson, and RPI, so the Engineers would still be mathematically alive for the bye position. They could be as many as 3 points clear of 8th.
Loss - 7th place and out of contention for a bye. They'd still be within striking distance of Cornell and Yale, enabling the possibility of a 5th place finish, but 3 and 4 points back of Yale and Cornell would make it a tough climb. They could be two points clear of Brown / Harvard / St. Lawrence.

Worst case scenario:
RPI wins - tied for 6th, but find themselves four points behind a bye position and three points behind 5th. Basically, there would be almost no opportunity to move up with just one weekend left. Things would also look grim behind them, St. Lawrence and Brown could both be within three points.
Tie - sole possession of 7th, but with no chance of anything better than sixth and that would require getting 3 more points than Clarkson in the final weekend while the Knights have Princeton at home. There's also the potential that St. Lawrence would be just one point back and Brown just two, leaving the possibility of opening on the road very real.
Lose - Could fall down to a tie for 7th with St. Lawrence. That tiebreaker is a mess that I'll deal with in a moment. 7th would be the highest possible finish, Brown in 9th would be just one point back and they could still fall all the way to 11th.

The rest of the league...
Union (31 points) has clinched at least a share of the Cleary Cup and appears to be running away with the league title. They haven't clinched the #1 seed, but their magic number is just 1.

Quinnipiac (25 points) currently has the tiebreaker over Colgate, but that will be decided tonight. They split the season series with Union and won't catch them in ECAC wins, so they won't be the #1 seed and can still fall all the way to 6th.

Colgate (25 points) is the only team with a chance to catch the Dutchmen. They can also fall to 6th place if things fall apart.

Cornell (22 points) beat Quinnipiac to bolster their chances of a bye. They're firmly in control of their own destiny for the final bye spot, but they can drop to 7th place with the wrong combination of results. St. Lawrence can't win a tiebreaker with the Big Red, so Cornell can't finish in 8th.

Yale (21 points) stayed in contention for the bye with their win over Harvard, but they can't control how far they'll move up. They can finish in 2nd by themselves and they'd win a tiebreaker against Colgate, so they're rooting for the Raiders tonight against Quinnipiac. They'd lose the tiebreaker to Brown on ECAC wins if they fell that far, so the Elis could still be on the road in the first round.

Clarkson (20 points) dropped the ball against Union, extremely damaging their chances of a bye. They can no longer finish in second place, but they can get up to the 3 seed by themselves or by beating Quinnipiac in a tiebreaker. The Knights can still start the playoffs on the road by finishing in 9th.

St. Lawrence (16 points) have had an up-and-down season and will definitely be playing in the first round. They also have games remaining against Union and Quinnipiac, the current 1 and 2 seeds, leaving them with a difficult path up the table. The Saints can still finish as low as 11th.

Brown (15 points) gave up the game-winner in OT to drop to 1-5 in their last six and finalize the fact that they'll be playing in Round 1. They can catch Yale and would win a tiebreaker, so they can finish in 5th, but they don't control their own destiny for anywhere except 9th. They can finish as low as 11th.

Harvard (14 points) still has hopes of finishing in 6th based on a three-way tie between themselves, Clarkson, and RPI, but that's a pretty specific set of game results to bank on. They can be caught by Princeton, but would win any tiebreaker that involves the tiebreaker, so their floor is also 11th.

Dartmouth (13 points) can climb past the Engineers for 7th, but could also be caught by Princeton so they're the only other team that can finish in 12th.

Princeton (8 points) is assured to be 11th or 12th at season's end.

Known Tiebreakers (winning team listed first):
Union-Quinnipiac: ECAC wins
Quinnipiac-Yale: H2H
Colgate-Union: H2H
Colgate-Cornell: H2H
Colgate-Clarkson: H2H
Cornell-Yale: H2H
Cornell-SLU: H2H
Yale-Colgate: H2H
Yale-SLU: H2H
Clarkson-Quinnipiac: ECAC wins
Clarkson-Cornell: ECAC wins
Clarkson-RPI: H2H or ECAC wins
Clarkson-SLU: H2H
Clarkson-Brown: H2H
Clarkson-Harvard: ECAC wins
RPI-Cornell: H2H
RPI-SLU: ECAC wins or Record vs Top 4
RPI-Brown: H2H or ECAC wins
RPI-Dartmouth: H2H
SLU-Harvard: H2H
SLU-Dartmouth: ECAC wins or Record vs Top 4
Brown-Yale: ECAC wins
Brown-SLU: H2H
Brown-Harvard: H2H or ECAC wins
Harvard-RPI: H2H
Harvard-Princeton: H2H

Unknown Tiebreakers:
Quinnipiac-Colgate: Quinnipiac by H2H if they don't lose tonight. Otherwise, down the rabbit hole we go
Quinnipiac-Cornell: Season split. Could easily be a tie on ECAC wins. Quinnipiac has the early lead in Record vs Top 4, but no guarantee.
Yale-Clarkson: Season split. Clarkson is leading on ECAC wins, but could tie all three of their remaining games to make that 10 vs 10 if Yale goes exactly 1-2-0. Yale swept Colgate, which gives them the early lead on Record vs Top 4, but no guarantee that the Raiders end up with a bye.
Yale-RPI: Yale won in Troy, but they still have to play next weekend. If Yale goes 0-2-1 and RPI goes 2-1-0 with one of those wins being next Saturday at the Whale, it goes to Record vs Top 4. RPI's in the lead there with a point against QU and three each against Colgate and Cornell, but Yale's already tallied five against the Bobcats and Raiders, so it will be a close fight.
Brown-Dartmouth: Season split and currently even on ties. Brown earned splits against both Quinnipiac and Colgate, but either could be outside of the Top 4 and Dartmouth has a chance to earn another two points against Colgate, Cornell, and Yale.
Harvard-Dartmouth: Season split. Dartmouth has the lead on ECAC wins and this would only go to Record vs Top 4 if they go 0-0-3 for the rest of the way. Neither team has a pretty record against teams in the upper half of the standings, so that will be a tough call if it gets that far.
Dartmouth-Princeton: Season split. Princeton will win on ECAC wins if it's a tie at 14 points. If it's a tie at 13, then Princeton has the early lead with a split against Quinnipiac, but no guarantees there.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Can't Hold Back Now

Ah, the ECAC. Home of the murky middle, a place that keeps plenty of teams in contention, even at the death of the season.

There really needs to be a term for the penultimate weekend of the men's season - like how the Indianapolis 500 has Carburetion Day between qualifying and the actual race, or something. This is the weekend where the murky middle gets separated into contenders those who are looking to host in the first round instead. With eight points up for grabs for everyone, it's pretty intense when there are only 2 points separating 4th from 7th - especially when your team, among that group, will be playing two of those three other teams in the next four games.

Home games need to be points in the bank, and for the men, that's what they need against a vulnerable North Country duo as they sign off for the regular season in Troy.

For the women, it's do or die. Winless in their last eight games, they're looking at potentially going winless in the last 10 games of the season and missing the playoffs if conventional wisdom comes true.

One month ago, after sweeping the Union weekend, the women were in 6th place by themselves, a point out of 5th. We talked about how 5th was definitely not far fetched, and how 4th was a real possibility. If they'd collected all the points we thought they could take from there on out, they're sitting in 5th place alone right now, 3 points ahead of 6th and 1 point behind Quinnipiac in 4th. In the playoffs. Almost certainly with a playoff series they would at least have a shot in - and remember, the Engineers darn near picked up at least a point over Cornell last weekend.

This is an RPI team that, if they're on and the opponent isn't at 100%, can run with any team in the country, except perhaps Minnesota (who almost no one can run with, ever). Ask Harvard.

They'll need that this weekend in the North Country. The rest of the season, no matter how it ends, will be difficult from here on out.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Where We Stand (19 Feb)

Gary did a good job on Monday of outlining what needs to happen for the women, here's the straight dope, along with how the rest of the ECAC is playing out.

There are two games remaining in the regular season.

RPI (14 points) is presently alone in 8th place. They cannot catch Yale (18 points) in 7th place even with a sweep with Yale being swept, as Yale wins the head-to-head tiebreaker on the 3-1 season series win.

Dartmouth (13 points) and Colgate (12 points) are also alive for the 8th and final playoff position.

The Engineers lose the head-to-head tiebreaker with Dartmouth (0-4 season series).

The tiebreaker with Colgate is uncertain, but it is a likely win for Colgate. The Raiders would clinch the tie-breaker with a win over Princeton on Friday regardless of what the Engineers do.
* If RPI is swept and Colgate picks up two points, the Raiders win the tiebreak on league wins if their two points came in a victory and a loss. If Colgate ties twice, RPI would win the tiebreak on record vs. Top 4 teams (regardless of who the 4th place team ends up being).
* If RPI takes one point and Colgate takes three, or if RPI takes two points (in any fashion) with a Colgate sweep, the Raiders win the tiebreak on league wins.

The three-way tiebreak between RPI, Dartmouth, and Colgate is won by Dartmouth, who swept both the Engineers and the Raiders this season.

Thus, the Engineers are certain to miss the playoffs unless they take as many or more points this weekend (at Clarkson/SLU) than Dartmouth (at Brown/Yale). Additionally, they must take no fewer than one less point as Colgate (vs. Princeton/Quinnipiac).

The only thing the Engineers really have going for them is that they control their own destiny.

The rest of the league...
The top 7 teams in the ECAC - Cornell, Clarkson, Harvard, Quinnipiac, St. Lawrence, Princeton, and Yale - have all clinched playoff berths.

Cornell (33 points), Clarkson (32 points), and Harvard (32 points) have clinched home ice in the playoffs and will be the top three seeds in some order. The Big Red (vs. Quinnipiac) can clinch the first seed on Friday with a victory AND a Clarkson (vs. RPI) loss or tie AND a Harvard (at Yale) loss.

Harvard wins the head-to-head tiebreaker with Cornell (3-1 season series). The Crimson currently have the tiebreaker edge on Clarkson on league wins, and Cornell would be likely to win a head-to-head tiebreaker with Clarkson on league wins. Harvard wins a three-way tiebreaker with Cornell and Clarkson with 5 points against those schools (Clarkson has 4 against Harvard/Cornell, Cornell 3 against Harvard/Clarkson).

Quinnipiac (25 points) is in 4th place. They can clinch that position for home ice on Friday with a win (at Cornell) AND a St. Lawrence loss or tie (vs. Union).

St. Lawrence (23 points) is in 5th place. They win a head-to-head tiebreaker with Quinnipiac (3-1 season series). They will finish between 4th and 6th.

Princeton (21 points) is in 6th place. They lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with Quinnipiac (1-3 season series) and would lose a head-to-head with St. Lawrence on record against Top 4 teams unless the Tigers defeat Cornell on Saturday.

St. Lawrence wins a three-way tiebreaker with Princeton and Quinnipiac with 5 points against those schools (Quinnipiac has 4 against SLU/Princeton, Princeton has 3 against SLU/Quinnipiac). Thus, Princeton cannot reach 4th and will be on the road in the quarterfinals.

Yale, as mentioned above, is in 7th place and will finish in either 6th or 7th and be on the road in the quarterfinals. They would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with Princeton on league wins, and can only finish 6th with a weekend sweep if Princeton is swept.

Brown (9 points) and Union (8 points) have been eliminated from playoff contention. Whichever team finishes in 12th place will set a record for most points by a last place ECAC team since the conference went to 12 teams in 2006-07 (previously held by Union with 4 in 2010-11 and 2012-13).

There are four games left in the regular season.

RPI (18 points) is currently alone in 7th place. Mathematically, they can finish as high as 2nd and as low as 11th, both without being tied with anyone. They cannot catch Union and cannot be caught by Princeton. They control their own destiny as high as 6th place thanks to their game against Yale, anything higher requires some help. That's not terrible, really, as they are one of only two teams in the conference that currently controls their own destiny for a position higher than the one they're sitting in.

Best case scenarios for this weekend, in terms of position:
Weekend sweep: 4th place, 1 point out of 3rd and 2 points ahead of 5th. Clinches home ice in the playoffs.
Tie SLU, beat Clarkson: 4th place, 2 points out of 3rd and 1 point ahead of 5th. Clinches home ice in the playoffs.
Beat SLU, tie Clarkson: Tied (with Clarkson) for 4th place, 2 points out of 3rd and 1 point ahead of 6th. Clinches home ice in the playoffs.
Lose to SLU, beat Clarkson: Tied (with Clarkson and Cornell) for 4th place, 3 points out of 3rd and 1 point ahead of 7th.
Beat SLU, lose to Clarkson: Tied (with Cornell) for 5th place, 2 points out of 4th and 1 point ahead of 7th.
One point weekend (either way): Tied (with Yale) for 6th place, 1 point out of 5th and 2 points ahead of 8th.
Swept: 7th place, 1 point out of 6th and 1 point ahead of 8th.

Worst case scenarios for this weekend:
Weekend sweep: Tied (with Clarkson) for 6th, 1 point out of 5th and 3 points ahead of 8th. Clinches home ice in the playoffs.
Tie SLU, beat Clarkson: 7th place, 1 point out of 6th and 2 points ahead of 8th.
Beat SLU, tie Clarkson: 7th place, 2 points out of 6th and 2 points ahead of 8th.
Lose to SLU, beat Clarkson: 7th place, 2 points out of 6th and 1 point ahead of 8th.
Beat SLU, lose to Clarkson: 7th place, 3 points out of 6th and 1 point ahead of 8th.
Tie SLU, lose to Clarkson: Tied (with Brown) for 7th place, 4 points out of 6th and 2 points ahead of 9th.
Lose to SLU, tie Clarkson: Tied (with Brown) for 7th place, 4 points out of 6th and 1 point ahead of 9th.
Swept: Tied (with SLU) for 8th place, 1 point out of 7th and 2 points ahead of 10th.

Head-to-head tiebreakers currently look like this:
Quinnipiac: Lost on 1-3 season series.
Colgate: Won on 3-1 season series.
Cornell: Won on 3-1 season series.
Clarkson: Likely lost on either season series (with loss or tie in Saturday's game) or total wins.
Yale: Undetermined, but cannot be won on season series due to the head-to-head loss. Would go to total wins or record against Top 4 (both undetermined) with a win on March 1.
Brown: Undetermined, can be won on season series with a win or a tie on February 28. Likely loss on total wins otherwise.
Harvard: Lost on 1-3 season series.
St. Lawrence: Undetermined, can be won on season series with a win or a tie on Friday. Would go to total wins or record against Top 4 (both undetermined) with a loss.
Dartmouth: Won on 4-0 season series.

Unless we see an RPI sweeps/Quinnipiac swept scenario, the Quinnipiac tiebreaker will become irrelevant this weekend. Unless we see an RPI swept/Dartmouth sweeps scenario, the Dartmouth tiebreaker will also become irrelevant.

There are too many multiple tie scenarios to work through right now.

The rest of the league...
Union (29 points) has clinched a first-round bye and will finish in the top three. They are the only team that controls their own destiny for the top seed.

Quinnipiac (25 points) and Colgate (23 points) have clinched a home playoff series. Neither control their destiny beyond their current position.

Clarkson and Cornell (20 points each) are tied for 4th place, with the Golden Knights occupying the final bye position by virtue of more league wins (10-8).

Harvard and St. Lawrence (14 points each) are tied for 9th place, with the Saints holding the #9 seed at present by virtue of a season series win (3-1). However, thanks to their game against Brown on Saturday, the Crimson control their own destiny for the #9 seed.

Dartmouth (11 points) and Princeton (8 points) have been eliminated from contention for the first-round bye. Neither team controls their own destiny beyond their current position. The Tigers would be eliminated from contention for a home playoff series on Friday with a loss to Colgate or a Brown win against Dartmouth.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Men's Hockey - at Colgate/Cornell (14/15 Feb)

Rumors of the Engineers' demise may have been exaggerated. With perhaps the most daunting road weekend of the year in front of them, RPI put up the effort they needed to skate away with more than your average point haul from a road weekend, enjoying their most successful trip of the year by landing 3 points against a pair of nationally ranked opponents, defeating Cornell 3-1 after a hard-fought 1-1 tie the night prior in Hamilton against Colgate.




After a successful Freakout, Seth Appert fielded largely the same lineup as he had against St. Lawrence, making just one substitution by bringing a previously injured Chris Bradley back in, replacing Parker Reno.

Things didn't start off well for the Engineers - just 12 seconds into the game, they were already killing a penalty as Curtis Leonard was called for interference. That penalty, as well as four others over the course of the game, were successfully killed off, which kept RPI in a game where it almost looked like they'd be unable to break onto the scoresheet at all.

The game's first goal would be the only one for quite some time, and it was put in off a Colgate stick about 16 minutes into the contest. It was reviewed to see if it went in off a high stick, but the goal was allowed to stand, giving Colgate the 1-0 lead after one period despite being outshot 12-7.

That lead held up for the next 39 minutes as well as Colgate goaltender Charlie Finn did everything he could to maintain it, finishing his night with an impressive 41 saves against an RPI team that was keen to put the puck on net. Three RPI power plays in the 2nd period did not produce a goal, and the Engineers had to kill two penalties of their own in the 3rd period to have the opportunity to tie things up late.

With one minute left in regulation and a faceoff coming in the Colgate zone, Seth Appert called timeout and kept Scott Diebold out of the RPI net. While the Engineers haven't been terribly successful this season with the extra attacker, it only took six seconds for Mike Zalewski to find Ryan Haggerty with a nice pass that Haggerty put home for his 23rd goal of the season with 54 seconds left on the clock to finally put the Engineers on the board and tie the game at one.

RPI was not done. In fact, they very nearly won the game in regulation with about 19 seconds left to go as Zalewski and Haggerty buzzed the net. Finn got his leg against the puck and the post, and when it came off the puck was across the line, but it was unable to be confirmed that the puck went in before the whistle blew.

The Engineers dominated the overtime period and produced another couple of opportunities to win, but they could not find the game winner and settled instead for a 1-1 tie, one of the better ties RPI has produced this season.




The same personnel hit the ice on Saturday night as had pumped 42 shots on net on Friday night with one minor change - Jimmy DeVito was moved down to Matt Tinordi's previous place on the grind line, with Tinordi moving up to DeVito's previous position on the Engineers' second scoring line.

Brock Higgs got the Engineers on the board first about seven minutes in, scoring on a nice pass by Ryan Haggerty for his 14th goal of the year, making it 1-0. After about 10 minutes of even play, RPI made it 2-0 on a controversial goal coming during a delayed penalty, as Bo Dolan's shot glanced off the skate of Mark McGowan. After review, it was determined that McGowan did not use a kicking motion to put the puck in, and was credited with his 3rd goal of the year.

RPI maintained their 2-0 lead until late in the 2nd period, when Matt Tinordi hit his 7th of the season to make it 3-0 on just the third penalty called in the game. The goal and the power play came generally against the flow of play in the period, as Cornell seemed to dominate possession throughout the middle stanza.

That domination eventually paid off for the Big Red as they put themselves on the scoreboard three and a half minutes into the third period, cutting the RPI lead to 3-1. Despite continuing to control play in the third and outshooting RPI 8-5 in the final frame, Cornell was unable to get another tally, even with the extra skater for the game's final 1:32, an advantage that was amplified with 14 seconds remaining as Guy Leboeuf took a five minute major for kneeing. Scott Diebold made 33 saves to pick up the victory in net for the Engineers, who picked up three big points on the weekend.

RPI did not move up in the standings, but they did edge closer to 6th place and farther away from 8th and 9th places, important this time of year. They now sit just two points out of the final first-round bye position with four games left to play.

Other junk - Ranked ECAC teams this week include #3 Union (beat Cornell and tied Colgate, no change), #5 Quinnipiac (beat Yale and lost to Brown, down one), #13 Cornell (swept by Union/RPI, down two), #14 Yale (lost to Quinnipiac and beat Princeton, down one), and #19 Colgate (tied RPI and Union, no change). Clarkson (95 votes, formerly #14) was the only other ECAC team receiving votes. Other ranked teams on the RPI schedule include #1 Boston College (no change with 49 first place votes), #2 Minnesota (no change with one first place vote), #6 Ferris State (down two), and #18 Denver (no change). New Hampshire (6) and Mercyhurst (1) also received votes.

Ryan Haggerty is in a tie with Nebraska-Omaha junior Josh Archibald for 2nd in the nation in goals with 23. They are both four goals behind Boston College's Johnny Gaudreau who has 27.

Mike Zalewski (8) and Matt Tinordi (7) are both in striking distance to reach double digits in goals for the season. If they reach that point, joining Haggerty, Brock Higgs, and Matt Neal who already have 10 or more goals each, it would mark the first time five Engineers have hit double digits since 1998-99, when six (Danny Riva, Brad Tapper, Pete Gardiner, Matt Murley, Alain St. Hilaire, and Mark Murphy) each racked up at least 11.

Next up for the Engineers is a return meeting with the North Country, this time on home ice. St. Lawrence returned home last weekend after a road sweep at Quinnipiac and Princeton to take just one point from Dartmouth and Harvard, one of the weakest travel pairings in the league. Clarkson fared worse, scoring just once against those teams while being swept at home, including a 6-1 loss to a Dartmouth team that has struggled for much of the season. The Engineers would do well to strike while the iron is hot, especially considering the fact that Clarkson is just two points ahead of them in 4th.

ECAC Standings
1. Union - 29 points (14-3-1)
2. Quinnipiac - 25 points (11-4-3)
3. Colgate - 23 points (10-5-3)
4. Clarkson - 20 points (10-8-0)
5. Cornell - 20 points (8-6-4)
6. Yale - 19 points (8-7-3)
7. RPI - 18 points (7-7-4)
8. Brown - 15 points (7-10-1)
9. St. Lawrence - 14 points (5-9-4)
10. Harvard - 14 points (5-9-4)
11. Dartmouth - 11 points (5-12-1)
12. Princeton - 8 points (4-14-0)

RPI at #19 Colgate
ECAC Game - Starr Rink (Hamilton, NY)
2/14/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 1, Colgate 1 (OT)

College Hockey Stats

Troy Record

RECORD: 12-12-5 (6-7-4 ECAC, 16 pts)

RPI at #11 Cornell
ECAC Game - Lynah Rink (Ithaca, NY)
2/15/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 3, Cornell 1

RECORD: 13-12-5 (7-7-4 ECAC, 18 pts)

Upcoming games
21 Feb - St. Lawrence
22 Feb - Clarkson
28 Feb - at Brown
01 Mar - at #14 Yale
07 Mar - ECAC First Round Game 1 (if required)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Women's Hockey - Colgate & Cornell (14/15 Feb)

This weekend held one game the Engineers were predicted to have a good shot at winning, and one where most wouldn't have given them much of a chance. Continuing to turn logic on its head, RPI lost what should have been the winnable game, falling 3-1 to Colgate despite a 28-16 shot advantage, before taking #3 Cornell to overtime in a barnburner of a 6-5 loss.

Unfortunately for RPI, 61:19 of hard fought hockey on Saturday counted for nothing once Cornell scored the overtime game-winner, and the Engineers left another weekend with no points, and are winless in eight straight since sweeping Union. While they still control their destiny to make the playoffs, they are in a three-way fight for that last spot, and Dartmouth has a much easier path to it than the Engineers despite being a point ahead heading into the final weekend.


Mahoney/Mari Mankey/Svoboda
Letuligasenoa/Walsh/Missy Mankey



The Engineers have struggled all year to earn points against teams in the bottom half of the ECAC, and Friday night was no different as Colgate skated to a 3-1 victory over RPI at Houston Field House.

Colgate's first goal came in an opening period in which the Raiders only put three shots on net. After Brandi Banks opened the game's scoring at 11:02 with her first career goal, Colgate's Jocelyn Simpson erased that lead just 37 seconds later by deflecting a puck past Kelly O'Brien.

Colgate went on to score twice more, once each in the second and third periods, and both by Rachel Walsh.

Walsh scored a power play goal in the second period with Delaney Middlebrook sitting on an interference call. With O'Brien caught without her stick, Walsh was able to put a rebound past the RPI netminder.

Her second goal came when it was getting close to empty net territory for the Engineers at 16:19 of the third period. Instead of looking to erase a one-goal deficit, however, the Engineers found themselves two goals in the hole and unable to climb out despite putting 17 shots on goal in the period.

With Colgate going on to defeat Union on Saturday, it was the Raiders second weekend sweep of the year after they defeated Yale and Brown two weekends ago, and Colgate dug out of what could have been a solid entrenchment in the bottom four to put themselves in the hunt for the final playoff spot.


Mahoney/Mari Mankey/Svoboda
Letuligasenoa/Walsh/Missy Mankey



Sitting near the top of the ECAC standings, and #3 nationally, Cornell came into Saturday's game as the strong favorite. The script had played out multiple times in recent years, with Cornell dominating in shots and winning by a few goals in a game that was never really in question.

While the final result may have been the same, Saturday's game didn't follow the script, with the Engineers coming back four times from deficits to tie things up, only to eventually fall 6-5 in overtime after an ill-advised pass was picked off to allow Cornell to notch a goal they didn't have to fight very hard for.

RPI picked up a big chance early in the game, as a penalty committed by Cornell with a delayed call already coming put the Engineers on a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes.

With about 40 seconds left in that advantage, A Cornell trip which would have extended the RPI advantage even longer went uncalled, allowing the Big Red a break down ice which they converted for a rare 3-on-5 shorthanded goal and 1-0 lead.

Fortunately for RPI, Toni Sanders got the goal back about 30 seconds later, before the power play expired. 

Cornell went ahead 2-1 at 15:38 on a goal by Jillian Saulnier which came after a couple of scoring chances for the Engineers, including a breakaway for Alexa Gruschow which was turned away by Lauren Slebodnick.

Lauren Wash erased Cornell's lead once again a few minutes later on a beautifully executed 2-on-1 with Jordan Smelker. Smelker was able to feed the puck to Wash for an easy tap-in past Slebodnick.

After a hard fought and relatively even period, one might have expected some adjustments from Cornell which would see the second period go much more in their favor. It did seem to be headed that way as Cornell jumped to a 4-2 lead before the seven minute mark of the middle frame, but the Engineers would erase that deficit as well.

Cornell's third goal was Saulnier's second of the night, coming 3:57 into the second, and it would mark the end of O'Brien's night in net, as she was replaced by Brianna Piper.

The Big Red's fourth goal came on the power play with Jordan Smelker in the box for cross-checking a Cornell skater to the ice from behind which put Cornell up 5-on-3. The Engineers killed the first penalty but Emily Fulton put one home on the remaining advantage for a 4-2 lead.

RPI could have packed it in at that point and called it a night, but instead they fought back, with Laura Horwood drawing the Engineers back to within a goal at 9:39 after taking a feed from Lauren Wash behind the net and carrying it from one side of the crease to the other to beat Slebodnick.

Taylor Mahoney drew RPI even at 14:21 off a 2-on-1 rush with Gruschow. Mahoney carried the puck down ice and held it all the way, firing it past Slebodnick to make it 4-4.

Cornell regained the lead before the second period ended, capitalizing on one too many 2-on-1's allowed by the RPI defense. Hanna Bunton would notch the goal which made it 5-4.

The 5-4 lead held through most of the third period though the teams traded power plays, but with the net empty and the extra attacker on, RPI was able to knot the score one more time at 5-5 on an Ali Svoboda goal with 25 seconds left in regulation.

With all the excitement and momentum that came from evening the game up in the final minute and arguably outplaying the Big Red in the final frame, it was somewhat anticlimactic that a bad turnover would hand Cornell the game winning sixth goal on a platter just 1:19 into overtime.

It's now a three-horse race for the eighth and final playoff spot, with RPI in the lead, Dartmouth trailing by a point, and Colgate trailing by two.

Unfortunately for the Engineers and Raiders alike, Dartmouth draws Brown and Yale next weekend while RPI must take on Clarkson and SLU and Colgate faces Princeton and Quinnipiac, giving the Big Green (on paper at least) much better odds of earning points toward that last playoff spot.

In addition, by virtue of the season sweep, Dartmouth owns the tiebreaker over the Engineers. RPI and Colgate split their season series, so that tiebreaker will not be determined until after next weekend. Dartmouth swept the season series with Colgate as well so would own that tiebreaker, as well as a potential three-way tie. These facts improve Dartmouth's odds of taking eighth place as they own any potential tiebreaker they face.

Outside of the fact that the Engineers control their own destiny and four points next weekend puts them in, RPI's most likely chance of making the playoffs lies in a victory over SLU and hoping for Dartmouth to lose to one of Yale or Brown, with Colgate then picking up three or fewer points. Yale played Dartmouth close in a 5-4 Dartmouth win earlier in the season, though Brown picked up a tie against the Big Green despite being outshot 41-28.

If RPI does earn a single win next weekend, they would lose a potential tiebreaker with Colgate as the Raiders would need two wins to equal the Engineers point total and thus would win on the second tiebreaker of league wins. Three points would put RPI clear of Colgate and leave Dartmouth only to contend with.

Needless to say, there are still a number of factors which leave the eighth spot hotly contested. Things may get a little clearer after Friday night but don't be surprised if we don't know how things will shake out until after the final games are played on Saturday.


RPI vs. Colgate
ECAC Hockey Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/14/14 - 7:00pm
Colgate 3, RPI 1



RECORD: 10-17-3 (6-11-2 ECAC)


RPI vs. Cornell
ECAC Hockey Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/15/14 - 4:00pm
Cornell 6, RPI 5 (OT)



RECORD: 10-18-3 (6-12-2 ECAC)


Upcoming Games

Feb. 21 - at Clarkson (7pm)
Feb. 22 - at St. Lawrence (Last Game of Regular Season) (3pm)
Feb. 28 - Mar. 2 - ECAC Quarterfinals (if qualified)


ECAC Standings

1. Cornell - 33 points (15-2-3) (.825)
2t. Clarkson - 32 points (14-2-4) (.800)
2t. Harvard - 32 points (15-3-2) (.800)
4. Quinnipiac - 25 points (9-4-7) (.625)
5. St. Lawrence - 23 points (10-7-3) (.575)
6. Princeton - 21 points (9-8-3) (.525)
7. Yale - 18 points (6-8-6) (.450)
8. RPI - 14 points (6-12-2) (.350)
9. Dartmouth - 13 points (6-13-1) (.325)
10. Colgate - 12 points (6-14-0) (.300)
11. Brown - 9 points (3-14-3) (.225)
12. Union - 8 points (4-16-0) (.200)