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)

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