Wry observations about RPI hockey, the ECAC in general, and the college hockey world as a whole.
Monday, February 3, 2014
Women's Hockey - St. Lawrence & Clarkson (31 Jan/1 Feb)
RPI's grasp on a playoff berth became even more tenuous this weekend after being swept for the second weekend in a row, falling 4-2 to St. Lawrence on Friday before getting thoroughly outplayed in a 5-1 loss to Clarkson on Saturday.
With another 0-point weekend, the Engineers now find themselves deadlocked in a four-way fight for the final three playoff spots, and with a game remaining against Cornell and another weekend against Clarkson & St. Lawrence, it becomes more urgent than ever to pick up some points next weekend against Brown and Yale to keep the playoff hopes alive.
What started as a solid game for the Engineers turned bad thanks to an inability to hold off St. Lawrence's power play, and the Saints skated to a 4-2 victory after the Engineers had previously tied the game at 1-1 and 2-2.
SLU opened the scoring at 4:20 of the first, with Ellie Williams poking home a rebound after the Engineers were unable to clear the crease.
That lead didn't last long - Jordan Smelker evened things up about three minutes later, skating down ice one-on-one and firing a laser past SLU goalie Carmen MacDonald to make it 1-1.
The Saints regained the lead just past the midpoint of the period with their first power play goal of the evening. Brooke Webster notched the goal with a snipe from along the goal line which beat Kelly O'Brien over the shoulder.
That lead again wouldn't last for long, as Mari Mankey answered for RPI, skating into the corner on the power play and snagging the puck before driving hard to the front of the net to put one top shelf past MacDonald.
It was a good first period for the Engineers, including a 13-7 edge in shots, but the Saints turned the momentum around in the second period with a pair of power play goals which put RPI on the defensive and from which they wouldn't recover.
Dayle Wilkinson gave the Saints a 3-2 lead at 13:34 of the middle frame, scoring on another rebound opportunity with a crowd in the crease in front of O'Brien.
Kailee Heidersbach made it a two-goal lead with less than a second left in the period, tipping a point shot from Kirsten Padalis for one of those late period goals that can really put a damper on a team's game heading into the locker room.
The Engineers were out of sync in the second and third, only managing 13 shots between the two periods, and were unable to mount a comeback in the third, with the Saints holding them off for a 4-2 victory.
After a tough loss to St. Lawrence on Friday, things weren't going to get any easier for the Engineers on Saturday as they faced one of the best teams in the country in the #4-ranked Clarkson Golden Knights.
While the Engineers scored first, they never managed to find any momentum, and Clarkson coasted to a 5-1 victory including another three power play goals, making RPI's PK a disappointing 8-for-14 on the weekend.
The lone high point of the afternoon, Heidi Huhtamaki scored 8:24 into the game on a rebound chance from the faceoff circle. From there the Golden Knights took over.
Renata fast erased the Engineers' lead three minutes later with a power play goal and Clarkson added three more in the second period - power play tallies from Shannon MacAulay and Jamie Lee Rattray, and an even strength marker from Vanessa Plante.
MacAulay added another goal in the third period to make it a 5-1 Clarkson lead, and the Engineers would end up being outshot 47-12 (11-2 in the third period) in their most lopsided loss of the season.
With six games remaining, the Engineers will have a critical weekend coming up against Yale and Brown, in which anything fewer than four points would put RPI's playoff odds into serious doubt. It will be important to pick up points against Colgate the following Friday as well, as after that, Cornell, Clarkson, and SLU will make for a difficult way to end the season.
For reference, the remaining schedules of the four teams currently in the hunt for 6th-8th place: