Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Men's Hockey - Yale and Brown (7/8 Feb)

Sometimes, it's the spot mistakes that make the difference between a result and a loss rather than just generally lackadaisical play. In the Engineers penultimate home weekend of the regular season, two costly penalties were quite literally the difference between a home sweep and a home split. Despite some pretty solid play overall by the Engineers against Yale and Brown, costly errors turned a victory into a 3-2 overtime defeat against the Bulldogs, but RPI bounced back the next night to pick up a desperately needed victory over Brown in the Big Red Freakout!, 4-1.




The biggest issue for the Engineers in crafting their lineup over the weekend was the loss of Jacob Laliberte, who suffered a shoulder injury against St. Lawrence. He was replaced in the RPI lineup by Jake Wood, with Jimmy DeVito moving onto a scoring line for the first time. Parker Reno also returned to the RPI lineup, replacing Chris Bradley, who has an unknown injury.

For the second straight game, goals from players who were suspended for the Clarkson game due to the Union brouhaha powered the Engineers in the first period. Ryan Haggerty notched his 22nd goal of the season 11:22 into the game to make the score 1-0, though that lead would be short-lived as the Bulldogs would pull even quickly. A blast from the point a little over a minute and a half later got through a screen and in to tie things up.

Mike Zalewski put the Engineers up 2-1 on a shorthanded breakaway goal with just under two minutes left in the first period, picking up RPI's 7th shorty of the season. That lead would hold significantly longer than the Engineers' previous lead.

A power play midway through the second period would provide RPI with a golden opportunity to extend their lead, and the Engineers did everything but score on the man advantage, peppering the Yale netminder with seven shots on goal but failing to hit paydirt on what would ultimately be their only power play of the entire game.

Meanwhile, the Engineers took that 2-1 lead into the third period, where an untimely penalty provided the opening Yale needed to close the gap as the Bulldogs scored just five seconds into a penalty to Jake Wood to tie the game at two. Yale controlled play for much of the third period, but were unable to find a go-ahead goal during regulation.

Another ill-timed penalty broke the game for the Engineers, who led for more than half the contest. This one came in overtime as Guy Leboeuf was called for boarding behind the RPI net, and 38 seconds later after some poor penalty killing, Yale converted to earn a 3-2 victory in overtime.




Jake Wood's removal for Travis Fulton was the only change in the RPI lineup from Friday night.

For the second time in three games - and the second time in as many Saturday nights - the Engineers kicked off the game with a goal from Mike Zalewski on the first shift. Against St. Lawrence the previous weekend, he'd scored 43 seconds in to give RPI the early 1-0 edge. Against Brown, it took nine fewer seconds as he notched his 8th of the year and 5th in as many games just 34 seconds in.

Two key moments helped the Engineers keep a grip on things in the first period. The first was Matt Tinordi's 5th goal of the year at 14:00 of the period to go up 2-0. The second was a disallowed goal that nearly caused RPI's two-goal edge to disappear in short order.

A delayed penalty is a terrible time to take a too-many-men call, but that's just what the Engineers did 2:26 after Tinordi's goal. With an interference call against Brock Higgs coming up, RPI was simultaneously whistled for an extra skater, giving Brown a two minute crack at a 5-on-3. It took the Bears less than a minute to connect on the two-man advantage to make it 2-1, and it initially appeared that Brown had tied it up on the ensuing 5-on-4 with a blast from the point, but the goal was disallowed for interference with the goaltender. After review, the call was confirmed, and the Engineers dodged most of the bullet.

A power play goal from Tinordi about 14 minutes into the 2nd gave the Engineers that 3-1 edge once again, and RPI continued to pour it on in the 3rd period, eventually scoring their fourth goal with Mark McGowan's second of the year, sealing it up with about 2:30 or so left in the game, and salvaging a weekend split.

Other junk - Ranked ECAC teams this week include #3 Union (swept Brown/Yale, up one), #4 Quinnipiac (beat Clarkson and lost to SLU, down one), #11 Cornell (lost to Colgate, down two), #13 Yale (beat RPI and lost to Union, no change), #14 Clarkson (lost to Quinnipiac and beat Princeton, no change), and #19 Colgate (beat Cornell, previously unranked). No other league teams received votes. Other ranked teams on the RPI schedule include #1 Boston College (up one with 47 first place votes), #2 Minnesota (down one with 3 first place votes), #4 Ferris State (up one), and #18 Denver (down three). New Hampshire (1) also received a vote.

With seven shorthanded goals, the Engineers are tied for 3rd in the nation in shorties with Notre Dame, trailing only Maine and Mercyhurst who have eight each.

Ryan Haggerty is still hanging in 2nd place in the nation in goals at 22. He trails Johnny Gaudreau of Boston College by three. With 21 points in ECAC play, Haggerty is in 2nd place, far behind SLU's Greg Carey with 28. He does lead the ECAC in goals with 12, one ahead of SLU's Matt Carey.

Next up for RPI is the road-trip that ostensibly is the most difficult of the season - the only one that includes two currently ranked teams and two teams that are in the thick of the hunt for the first-round bye. Points could be at a premium when the Engineers need them most. This is a very different Colgate team from the one that got rolled in Troy back in November, and Cornell has been pretty strong of late as well.

ECAC Standings
1. Union - 26 points (13-3-0)
2. Quinnipiac - 23 points (10-3-3)
3. Colgate - 21 points (10-5-1)
4. Clarkson - 20 points (10-6-0)
5. Cornell - 20 points (8-4-4)
6. Yale - 17 points (6-5-3)
7. RPI - 15 points (6-7-3)
8. Brown - 13 points (6-9-1)
9. St. Lawrence - 13 points (5-8-3)
10. Harvard - 11 points (4-9-3)
11. Dartmouth - 7 points (3-12-1)
12. Princeton - 6 points (3-13-0)

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

RESULT: Yale 3, RPI 2 (OT)

College Hockey Stats
RECORD: 11-12-4 (5-7-3 ECAC, 13 pts)

Brown at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/8/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 4, Brown 1

RECORD: 12-12-4 (6-7-3 ECAC, 15 pts)

Upcoming games
14 Feb - at #19 Colgate
15 Feb - at #11 Cornell
21 Feb - St. Lawrence
22 Feb - #14 Clarkson
28 Feb - at Brown

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