Thursday, March 27, 2014

Five Year Plan

Wow. It's honestly hard to believe that it's been five full seasons that we've been at this here at WaP. Congratulations to all you Archies who were freshmen when this whole thing got underway on your impending graduation, and we forgive you for never having had the time to read us in the first place.

A few years ago, about this time, whether the Engineers were still alive or not - and it was only one season in four that they were - we'd be running down the NCAA Tournament and making our selections and providing some additional coverage beyond our core RPI hockey mission. Of course, back in those days, it was a lot easier for us to spend time writing for free. We've already gone over all the life changes that Gary and I have been through in the last five years, but we've always tried to stay true to the core mission, if nothing else.

WaP isn't as wacky as it once was. Founded in the vein of Yankees blog, to which nothing is sacred, everyone's skewerable, and which tries to offer an alternative viewpoint while still puffing out its chest as much as possible (whether it's warranted or not), we've gone a couple of seasons without any really regular photoshop jobs during the season - our only output this year was to slap Mike Schafer's head on a turkey's body while wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Through promotions at work, marriages (present and future, as it is), new homes, and other things that get in the way of delivering as much content as we have in the past, we've still pushed forward to at the very least bring you breaking news on Twitter, feature pieces that you've come to know and love, weekly updates, and analysis without discretion or favor. (There's frequently even less discretion on Twitter, where we've only got 140 characters to make a point.)

But we press on nonetheless. Neither of us know exactly how long we're going to stay in the game, but we're not done yet.

Barring something worth commenting on from the NCAA tournament which starts tomorrow, we'll go ahead and enter our yearly hibernation now, at least as far as the blog is concerned. We'll drop schedules when they're released, and we'll be back in late May or early June with the start of the annual Know Your Enemy feature. We're also cooking up a special treat that we're hoping to unleash upon an unsuspecting world this summer, so stay tuned for that as well. In the meantime, make sure you're following us on Twitter so you're the first to know when something stupid pops into one of our heads.

We can't thank our readers enough. Without you, we're just opinionated dopes talking to ourselves. Some would argue that's exactly what we are anyway, but we are thankful for every single person who reads what we have to say about everything from the power play to pop culture references. WaP was, is, and will always be free to read. If you want to hit our tip jar over on the right hand side of the site, 100% of the donations go toward defraying what costs we have that are associated with running the site. Don't feel that you have to give a dime, though. We appreciate you just as much if you're just a casual reader.

So until we meet again, friends... have a great couple of months.

Here's to old Rensselaer. She stands today without a peer.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Seat Warms

I intentionally waited until some of the clamor over the way RPI went out of the playoffs to die down a little bit to offer my insight on the whole situation.

Let's get one thing straight from the start. Seth Appert is not going anywhere. To argue for his immediate termination is simply a waste of time and breath for a couple of reasons. First of all, he's on the books at RPI through the end of the decade. That's an investment that was made less than a year ago - they aren't going to throw it away this quickly, it just doesn't make sense. Second, you may have forgotten through the understandable disappointment of two consecutive home playoff losses, but the Engineers did have their highest finish in the ECAC in 20 years in 2013, just a season ago.

Yes, this season was disappointing. Expectations were high and those expectations simply were not met. The team did not reach any of the goals that we laid out at the beginning of the season.

This is a team that should have three must-hit earmarks for this season to be considered successful. First, another first-round bye in the ECAC playoffs, something they achieved last year. That is very basic. Second, at least a trip to Lake Placid, a round that has eluded the team for over a decade, and a goal that would represent growth from last season. Finally, an NCAA bid, which should be a fait accompli if the first two can be accomplished, so let's up the ante - at least a goal in the NCAAs for the first time since George Servinis.
If you'd told us that Jason Kasdorf was going to be lost for the season after the first weekend, a lot of this would have been downgraded for sure. A lot of the high expectations that were placed on this team revolved around having the best goaltender in the league between the pipes, including the expectations by the media and coaches in the preseason polls, which tabbed the team to finish 1st and 2nd in the standings respectively. We'll never know just what this team could have achieved had that freak injury not happened.

That said, there was a lot more that this team could have accomplished than it did. Time and time again this season, especially in league play, the Engineers settled for fewer points than they could have earned thanks to blown leads. 14 times in ECAC games, RPI did not take both points. They had leads in fully half of those games. Some turned into ties, others became losses. Each team that finished ahead of RPI except for Colgate was an opponent in one of those contests - which underlines just how much better the Engineers could have placed had they been able to hold some of those leads.

The home playoff losses are certainly becoming a concern, too. To be fair, the Engineers under Seth Appert have repeatedly drawn teams at home for the playoffs that were hitting their stride at the right time. Brown in 2010, Colgate in 2011, and Brown in 2013 all went on from their 2-1 series wins in Troy to knock the #1 team in the ECAC out of the tournament (Yale in 2010, Union in 2011, and Quinnipiac in 2013). While Dartmouth didn't go on to do the same this season, they were easily the least desired of the four teams that hit the road for the first round given the way their late season went.

Despite this, RPI was very much a part of all four of those series. All four series went to a third game. Why can't they win that third game? There's absolutely a trend now, and it is becoming more and more of a concern. You can point to the tough draws all you want, eventually, good teams overcome difficult opponents.

It has been 12 years since the Engineers played in the ECAC semifinals. Every other team in the league has been there at least once since 2007. If Clarkson had scored the OT winner in Game 3 instead of Cornell, it would have been every team having had an appearance since 2009. It's getting kind of tiresome to be done by this time every single year (2011 being the exception, but even then it was two weeks off before getting throttled by UND).

Next season, the expectations are unlikely to still be there with the early departures of Ryan Haggerty and Mike Zalewski for bigger and better things in the professional ranks. It is what it is. But the ECAC being the ECAC, every team, every season should be able to set at least a home playoff series as an attainable goal.

Given the circumstances, there isn't a hot seat in Troy, not yet at least. But if next year's team can't win a home playoff series, that seat that's already warming is going to get a little bit toastier, and you can bet the farm that Seth Appert's already well aware of that.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Men's Hockey - ECAC First Round vs. Dartmouth (7/8/9 Mar)

All season long, one of the biggest issues with the Engineers has been a lack of killer instinct. Throughout the year, that lack of ability to finish games turned wins into ties and losses with some frequency. Last weekend, that trend returned in full force, showing itself over the course of RPI's first round home playoff series against Dartmouth in two ways that ended the Engineers' season. First, after a solid 4-1 victory in Game 1, that lack of killer instinct allowed the Big Green to get back into the series with a 3-2 win in Game 2, then appeared in the 3rd period of Game 3 as RPI blew a 4-2 lead with 20 minutes remaining to lose 5-4.

Game 1



Mike Zalewski and Travis Fulton made their returns to the RPI lineup in time for the playoffs, replacing Jake Wood and Jimmy DeVito. None of the Engineers' five freshmen would ultimately see any ice time during the series against Dartmouth, and the RPI lineup did not change in any of the games.

RPI jumped on Dartmouth early in the first period of game one, collecting a pair of goals by Ryan Haggerty to go up 2-0 ten minutes into the game. Haggerty's first goal came moments after the Engineers' first power play of the game got underway, and the second one came on a backhanded shot off an intercepted pass in the Dartmouth zone.

The RPI penalty kill then got active, killing off a holding call to Guy Lebeouf before being pressed into hard service late in the period as back to back penalties to Mike Zalewski and Mark McGowan put RPI on a long 5x3 kill that straddled the first and second periods. They got through both penalties unscathed, and then just over a minute after returning to full strength went up 3-0 as Jacob Laliberte scored on a rebound in front of the net.

A Bo Dolan penalty six minute later got Dartmouth on the board as a shot from the point came weakly into the slot due to a broken stick, but the off-powered motion forced the defense into a bad position, and the loose puck was scooped up and put in the back of the net to make it 3-1.

Zach Schroeder picked up an insurance goal - his second of the season - 66 seconds into the third to make it 4-1, and as time ticked away Dartmouth appeared willing to head to Game 2 down one game to none. Scott Diebold made 29 saves on 30 shots to pick up the victory for the Engineers.

Game 2



Dartmouth came out of the gate a different team that had limped to a three-goal loss the previous night, setting the pace early. A goal by Eric Neiley was waved off due to goaltender interference, but Neiley would start the scoring off nonetheless on the power play seven minutes in to make it 1-0 Dartmouth. That RPI was not down by more than that after one period was a testament to the solid play of Scott Diebold, who made 18 saves on 19 shots in the first 20 minutes to keep RPI in the game.

Jacob Laliberte scored his second goal in as many nights 8:43 into the second period to even the score at one, and for a brief moment it looked as though momentum may have swung into the Engineers' favor. Just over a minute later, however, that momentum was blunted by poor play in the defensive zone as Dartmouth's Jesse Beamish got to a loose puck in the RPI zone and put it home to put the Big Green up 2-1.

The Engineers did not waste time tying the score again, however, as a power play opportunity produced a goal by Ryan Haggerty, his 27th of the season, only two minutes later to make it 2-2 as RPI outplayed Dartmouth in the latter half of the second period, and despite a very shoddy first period, looked to be in position to move on with a solid showing in the third period.

The third, however, more closely resembled the first period than the end of the second. Dartmouth came out firing, and Diebold did everything he could to keep RPI in the game until Neiley hit the twine for the third time on the evening, but only counting for the second time, putting Dartmouth up 3-2 with 6:14 left in the game.

The Engineers did get some extended opportunities at the end of the game to hit the tying goal for the third time, as Neiley took a cross-checking call in the Dartmouth end with 1:19 left while Diebold was out of the net. That set RPI up with a 6-on-4 advantage through the end of the game, but they were unable to put one past Charles Grant, and the deadlocked series went on to a Game 3 on Sunday night.

Game 3



It was a familiar face getting the Engineers off on the right foot on Sunday as Ryan Haggerty scored his fourth goal of the weekend to put RPI up 1-0 just 3:39 into the deciding Game 3, setting the tone right. Things started looking very good for the Engineers as a Dartmouth penalty two minutes later put RPI, who had scored on the power play in each of the first two games, on the man advantage. However, the Engineers' feast-or-famine strategy of having five forwards out on the power play would come back to haunt them. 

When Haggerty was unable to control a pass at the blue line, it was immediately pounced on by Dartmouth's Tim O'Brien, who went the length with it on the breakaway. Scott Diebold made the initial save, but the rebound went right to O'Brien who was moving to Diebold's left, and he put home that rebound for a shorthanded goal that made the score 1-1.

Mike Zalewski would score 10 minutes later to make it 2-1, but the circumstances that led to O'Brien's goal still seemed to overshadow the Engineers' lead. 

RPI maintained that one-goal edge for most of the 2nd period. They were unable to extend the lead on a 5x3 opportunity midway through the period even despite calling timeout before the 30 second opportunity - in fact, they did not even record a single shot on the two-man advantage.

The worries over the failure to score seemed to evaporate about five minutes later, as Chris Bradley scored his 3rd goal of the season in a bit of a role reversal goal. Mark McGowan took the shot from the point, and Bradley redirected the shot into the net to put RPI up 3-1.

A Dartmouth goal with 1:55 left in the 2nd period threatened to sap RPI's momentum heading into the deciding 20 minutes, but McGowan would respond less than a minute later by jamming home a puck that was stuck in a scrum in front of the Dartmouth net to make it 4-2 RPI.

Taking a two-goal lead into the final period is usually a superior place to be, but Dartmouth responded as one would expect a team to respond with their backs against the wall, and much as with the first period of Game 2, RPI put forward a passive response to that desperation. A goal by Eric Neiley, his third of the weekend, cut the Engineers' lead in half just 2:10 into the period.

Still, the Dartmouth onslaught came, and still, RPI looked uninterested in meeting the task. About seven minutes after Neiley's goal, Brandon McNally tied the game, and still the Big Green were the aggressors. Both teams got power play opportunities with the score tied, but the game remained deadlocked with with just under 3 minutes to play once the RPI power play expired, the second of the two.

Brad Schierhorn stepped up about 40 seconds after the Big Green finished killing their penalty, rocketing home a perfect pass to complete the Dartmouth comeback, putting the visitors ahead for the first time on the evening with 2:14 left on the game clock.

Suddenly, it looked like the Engineers were interested in playing offense, but the frenzied attempts late with the goaltender pulled were too little, too late. Despite outscoring Dartmouth 10-9, the Engineers lost twice and had their playoff experience end after just three games for the second consecutive season.

Other junk - RPI's last home playoff series victory came in 2004 over Princeton. They have lost five such series since (2006, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014).

Ryan Haggerty, on Wednesday, signed an NHL contract with the New York Rangers, foregoing his senior season.

Brock Higgs is a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, given to a senior in each sport with committment to "community, classroom, character and competition." The online vote counts for 1/3 of the final vote tally, and you can vote once per day. To support Brock, click here.

Dartmouth at RPI
ECAC First Round, Game 1 - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
3/7/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 4, Dartmouth 1



RECORD: 15-14-6 (8-9-5 ECAC, 21 pts)

Dartmouth at RPI
ECAC First Round, Game 2 - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
3/8/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Dartmouth 3, RPI 2



RECORD: 15-15-6 (8-9-5 ECAC, 21 pts)

Dartmouth at RPI
ECAC First Round, Game 3 - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
3/9/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Dartmouth 5, RPI 4



RECORD: 15-16-6 (8-9-5 ECAC, 21 pts)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Thank You

There are likely to be many words written about tonight. Some are most assuredly already being written. But on this night, we have only two.

Thank you.

#3 Guy Leboeuf - West Palm Beach, FL - Business and Management
#11 Bo Dolan - St. Paul, MN - Business and Management
#12 Johnny Rogic - Vancouver, BC - Civil Engineering
#23 Brock Higgs - Kingston, ON - Business and Management (undergrad)/Management-Finance (grad)
#28 Matt Tinordi - Severna Park, MD - Business and Management


#6 Madison Marzario - Prior Lake, MN - Business and Management/Communications
#9 Missy Mankey - Hopkins, MN - Chemistry
#14 Toni Sanders - York, PA - Geology
#19 Jordan Smelker - Anchorage, AK - Biomedical Engineering
#23 Nona Letuligasenoa - Fairbanks, AK - Communications

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mid-Weekend Update

Yale and St. Lawrence finished off Harvard and Brown this evening, while Dartmouth forced game 3 against RPI with a 3-2 victory and Clarkson made Princeton look more like the 12 seed, posting a 4-0 shutout over the Tigers.

Both RPI/Dartmouth and Clarkson/Princeton will play their third games tomorrow night at 7. With two series in the books, we're down to a quarter of the outcomes for second round matchups. Here are the remaining possibilities:

 photo 2014PlayoffsRound1Sat_zps92af29a5.png

Finish This

When you're doing battle against something or someone that wants to kill you, and you put yourself in a position to deliver a death blow, here's a quick tip: don't hesitate. If you've got your heel on the windpipe, you crush it.

There's no hard feelings against Dartmouth at all. It's just us or them, and in any situation where it's us or them, you make sure it's them.

But just as much as it's important to deliver that killing strike, so too can you be sure that any animal, cornered, will fight for its life with every measure it has at its disposal. Winning the second game is going to be much harder than winning the first. Despite victory on Friday, if RPI does not come out of that locker room just as desperate for a Saturday win than the team they're facing, it'll be on to Game 3, and anything goes from there.

Get it done. Tonight. Toll the bells.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Song of Ice and Desire

It's that time of year again. A time for heroes.

We have frequently asked in early March whose turn it is to step up. Whose turn will it be to seize the pen and forcefully write their name in the history books? Heroes are bred and crafted in the regular season, but it is in March when they are born.

The last time RPI and Dartmouth met at Houston Field House in the playoffs, the oldest players currently skating for the Engineers were 10 years old. On March 11, 2000, it was Pete Gardiner and Carson Butterwick who stood to be counted, and whose exploits in that contest still live on today. Down 2-1 late in Game 2, it was Gardiner who scored with 6 seconds left to send the game to overtime, and it was Butterwick who put the game and series clincher past Nick Boucher 10:37 into the extra frame.

Two years later in Lake Placid, as the Engineers faced defeat in the play-in game with less than 3 minutes remaining, quick strikes from Matt Murley and Scott Basiuk allowed the Engineers to advance in regulation over the Big Green.

In 2008, it was a coming out party for Allen York, the freshman understudy who took the reins and made RPI his team for the playoffs and the next two seasons, leading RPI to an away sweep with 58 saves. And to further prove that anyone can become a hero, the overtime winner in Game 1 was scored by Christian Morissette, the only goal he would score in his short tenure with the Engineers.

And even while the men of RPI strive to add their name to the list of heroes, warriors from the other side seek similar glories. In 2001 in Hanover, Boucher redeemed himself from Gardiner's last second stab wound with 31 saves in the final 40 minutes in Game 1, going one shot short of a shutout in Game 2 to give the Big Green a home series sweep.

In 2004, it was Eric Przepiorka scoring on Dartmouth's first shot of the 3rd period that provided the only scoring in a 1-0 Game 3 victory, the only shot out of a combined 68 that night that found the net in a pitched goaltending battle between Dan Yacey and Nathan Marsters. In fact, Yacey had stopped 75 consecutive shots by the Engineers from the 2nd period of Game 1 on to deny the Engineers a trip to Albany in their first opportunity.

These are the names of those who, in the recent playoff history between RPI and Dartmouth, made that step forward and put their name down in the history books.

There's only one question left.

Who's next? Step forward, men of Troy.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


On the cusp of playoff hockey, I'd like to take some time to recognize a player who's up for a national award. I'd support an Engineer up for a major award anyway, but this one is deserving of some extra attention.

Brock Higgs is a competitor, and a heck of a hockey player. He has rarely been out of the lineup for the Engineers when he's been healthy, and even more, he's certainly played a number of games while banged up, especially last season. That's the mettle of a true warrior of the game right there. We've all seen the stories of professional players, especially in the playoffs, getting stitched up after suffering an injury, missing maybe a shift or two, and then getting right back out there on the ice. That's the kind of competitor Brock Higgs has proven himself to be.

But then again, some injuries you don't just bounce right back from. Some you are lucky to bounce back from at all.

I'll never forget December 30, 2010, and neither will Brock or anyone in his family. In the 2nd period of a game in Huntsville, Ala. against the UAH Chargers, Brock was nearby as Chase Polacek was tripped up near center ice by Keenan Desmet. Polacek was upended, and his skates went high into the air, catching Higgs along the neck. It was nobody's fault. But if hockey is a game of inches, so too can life be a game of inches. Polacek's skate just missed hitting Brock's carotid artery and his jugular vein, either of which could have ended his life had they been punctured.

As it was, Brock was still bleeding pretty badly. He was fortunate that there were UAH fans in the house, season ticket holders, who were medical professionals who knew right away what had happened, and rushed to help out. He was fortunate that a teammate, Alex Angers-Goulet, was a pre-med student who could also recognize the severity of the situation, and even went back with him to the locker room to help keep him calm (as an aside, Alex is in med school today and his brother, Matt, is going into the orthopedic surgery field in Quebec).

I was there that night, calling the game on WRPI. When the game was over, Perry Laskaris and I rushed Seth Appert over to Huntsville Hospital so he could find out more of what had happened to the young freshman who had only just put on the RPI sweater for the first time a couple of months earlier.

I've had the distinct honor of meeting both of Brock's parents, and if you were listening to the RPI-Yale game last weekend, you may have heard my interview with Harold, Brock's father. He recounted that horrible night, but also talked about what has happened since that night as well. His parents never missed a game after that - they'd been to most of them before it, but not all - and we've all seen Brock's comeback on the ice as well. Impressively, he only missed a few weeks worth of games before hitting the ice once again.

No one would have blamed him if he'd have hung up the skates after something like that. But that would completely ignore the passion that burns inside of any competitor. Brock Higgs is more than just a good hockey player. He's an inspiration to anyone who's ever been in a position where they wanted to just quit, even if they had a good reason for it.

On top of his exploits on the ice, Higgs has been a dedicated student, a regular on the dean's list and his summer have been spent in Troy, working not only on his strength but on his mind as well, and he's on pace to graduate this semester with a master's degree.

Brock is more than just a student, and more than just an athlete, he's become part of the community. He helps kids learn the game with the Troy-Albany Youth Hockey Association, and he's been a counselor at the RPI Hockey Camp. He's lent his sweat to Habitat for Humanity, the Newman Foundation, the United Way, and the Relay for Life. He was part of an RPI squad that embraced Ben Mayo and made him as much a part of the team as any who skated in the Cherry and White.

And there's little question that he's been a leader on the ice - that's why he wears a letter on the front of his sweater. This season, he's got his scoring touch back that eluded him through an injury-plagued season last year for the Engineers.

When Brock was announced as a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, a national honor saluting players who exhibit outstanding achievements in the classroom, in the community, and in competition while showing a tremendous amount of character, I was hardly surprised.

I'm certain that the other candidates for this award have compelling stories as well, and are certainly deserving of their candidacies. But I'm just as certain that Brock is the man for the award this season.

It takes about five seconds. Head on over to the Senior CLASS Award website and vote for Brock. You can vote once per day. He's in the lead by a significant margin, but let's see what we can do to boost him even higher. The fan vote online counts for 1/3 of the total vote. At about 33.4% of the vote at the time of this posting, that equates to about 1/9 of the total vote definitely going for Brock. That's a great start heading into the other 2/3 of the voting, which is done by coaches.

Brock Higgs is in the midst of the best season of his career at RPI. Let's do our part to bring it to a great conclusion with a richly deserved honor.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Who's Next?

We still haven't seen a preliminary schedule for the Engineers, which is a bit odd for this time of year, but we can probably expect something relatively soon nonetheless.

Ahead of that, here's what we do know at this point, at least.

* We know that the Engineers will travel to Notre Dame in early October (exactly which weekend is not yet known) to participate in the 2014 Icebreaker along with the Fighting Irish, Minnesota, and Minnesota-Duluth. We suspect that RPI will take on Notre Dame in the Friday game, but nothing is firm yet. This tournament is exempt from the usual limit of 34 regular season games, meaning RPI will have 36 games this coming year.

* It has been released that the Engineers will be traveling to Ann Arbor, MI to take on the Michigan Wolverines in a pair of games.

* The working assumption for the last couple of seasons has been that St. Cloud State would be coming to Troy in 2014-15 as a return trip for RPI's visit to St. Cloud in 2012-13. However, Union visited St. Cloud for a pair in 2013-14, and the question is whether St. Cloud will be doing what Michigan is doing in 2015-16 with the Capital District, by playing RPI and Union once each (Union travels to Michigan in 2016-17 for two) as a return. So this is either one game or two.

* Since Denver came to Troy in 2013-14, one would expect a return trip to be due for the Engineers, whether this is taking place in 2014-15 is unknown.

* RPI had been set to travel to Western Michigan in 2012-13 before the NHL announced the Winter Classic for Ann Arbor that year, inducing the Great Lakes Invitational to swap St. Cloud for the Broncos for a planned all-Michigan outdoor GLI. In turn, RPI played St. Cloud in place of playing WMU. That all-Michigan outdoor GLI didn't happen in 2012-13 due to the NHL lockout, so it took place this season instead. Whether or not RPI and WMU are still planning to link up is unknown - part of the impetus for the plan in the first place was Jeff Blashill, Seth Appert's roommate at Ferris State, becoming the Broncos' head coach, he has since become head coach of the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.

* The BU-RPI "series" has been held in Boston two years in a row, it would not be a shock to see a BU-RPI game in Troy this coming season, though whether BU coach David Quinn is interested in continuing to play RPI every season as Jack Parker did has yet to be established.

* Not at all known if BC plans to reciprocate a game in Troy for the game in Chestnut Hill this season.

* This year's RPI-UNH game in Troy was the completion of a two-year home-and-home matchup between the schools, but it's not uncommon to see UNH on the schedule anyway. Certainly nothing firm here.

* Unless the Mayor's Cup brawl has soured relations beyond salvage, the 3rd installment is expected to take place in Albany. No reason to expect that it won't happen, though, especially now that there's a history to the game that could draw additional casual fans.

* Count on at least two games against Atlantic Hockey opponents. This year's series at Mercyhurst ended a two-year home-and-home. Sacred Heart and Army are common opponents, RIT and American International have been in the recent past.

* 22 ECAC games, same as usual.

According to the ECAC schedule for 2014-15 was put out in 2012, although sometimes games are moved around for a number of reasons, not the least of which is accommodation for Harvard's Beanpot participation. We should expect that will happen in the coming year as the Engineers are scheduled to play at Harvard on the Saturday before the first Monday in February.

If Union can reschedule its game at Dartmouth that same day, January 31 might make some sense for the Mayor's Cup game, although both teams would be returning from road games the previous day. College schedules are usually set in stone ahead of the AHL's schedule, so it's probably not necessary to work around the Albany Devils (who take part in the game's planning anyway).

Games between travel partner pairings are scheduled at the convenience of the two schools, for several years now this has been a home-and-home weekend with Union, usually in either November or December. We can expect that will be the case again this season.

So here's an outline of what we have for the schedule thus far:

Fri, 07 Nov - HARVARD (Black Friday according to precedent)
Sat, 08 Nov - DARTMOUTH
Fri, 14 Nov - PRINCETON
Sat, 15 Nov - QUINNIPIAC

Fri, 05 Dec - at Yale
Sat, 06 Dec - at Brown

Fri, 09 Jan - at Quinnipiac
Sat, 10 Jan - at Princeton
Fri, 16 Jan - COLGATE
Sat, 17 Jan - CORNELL
Fri, 30 Jan - at Dartmouth
Sat, 31 Jan - at Harvard (will be moved according to precedent)

Fri, 06 Feb - at St. Lawrence
Sat, 07 Feb - at Clarkson
Fri, 13 Feb - BROWN
Sat, 14 Feb - YALE (Big Red Freakout! according to precedent)
Fri, 20 Feb - at Cornell
Sat, 21 Feb - at Colgate
Fri, 27 Feb - CLARKSON
Sat, 28 Feb - ST. LAWRENCE (Senior Night according to precedent)

March 6-8 - ECAC First Round (at 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th seeds)
March 13-15 - ECAC Quarterfinals (at 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th seeds)
Fri, 20 Mar - ECAC Semifinals (Lake Placid, NY)
Sat, 21 Mar - ECAC Championship (Lake Placid, NY)
March 27-29 - NCAA Regionals (Providence, RI; Manchester, NH; South Bend, IN; Fargo, ND)

Thu, 09 Apr - NCAA Frozen Four (Boston, MA)
Sat, 11 Apr - NCAA Championship (Boston, MA)

So, for what we think we know, there are 28 (or 29, depending on St. Cloud's plans) games accounted for. We'll just have to wait and see what the rest of the schedule looks like when it's released, usually in a tentative format for season ticket brochures.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Men's Hockey - at Brown/Yale (28 Feb/1 Mar)

Coming into the final weekend of the regular season, the Engineers knew they would be playing in the first round of the playoffs, the top four slots in the league being firmly out of reach. They also knew they needed some points in order to guarantee that they would be playing at home in the first round. After grabbing those points with a 3-0 victory against Brown and after playing a decent first period against Yale, the Engineers folded into a 5-0 loss, ending the regular season on a sour note.




Milos Bubela returned to the RPI lineup Friday night, replacing Jimmy DeVito, with lines reassembled accordingly. A win or a tie against Brown guaranteed the Engineers home ice in the first round of the ECAC tournament, and while they eventually got there, it took quite some time before the result of the game became unbalanced.

After a first period with no goals and no scoring (albeit with an 11-7 shot advantage for the Engineers), RPI managed to get through the second period without giving up the game's first goal despite a pair of penalties in the middle stanza, one to Mark McGowan for tripping and the other a penalty for too many men that came at the very tail end of RPI's only power play of the period.

The first two periods were basically a goaltender's duel between Scott Diebold and Brown freshman Tyler Steel, with the latter stopping 18 shots to the former's 17 through the first 40 minutes. Both teams had their opportunities, especially Brown who rung two shots off the post.

Shortly after killing Brown's third power play early in the third period, the Engineers would be the first ones onto the board somewhat against the flow of play as Jacob Laliberte rocketed home a rebound off a shot by Matt Neal to score his 6th goal of the year, making it 1-0 Engineers.

Brown's attack did not let up despite going down, and the Bears continued to put the pressure on Scott Diebold. The junior netminder was forced to make several saves to maintain RPI's edge. That pressure eased slightly when once more the Engineers managed a goal against the flow of play. An opportunistic shot by Mark Miller along the Brown blueline was misjudged by Steel, going in on the short side to put RPI up 2-0 on Miller's 3rd goal of the year.

Ultimately, two bad penalties by one of Brown's top forwards, Matt Lorito, helped bring an end to the Brown threat. His nearly back to back calls for hooking and cross-checking allowed RPI a little more breathing room as Brown threw the kitchen sink at the Engineers trying to claw their way back into things. It was not to be, as Diebold stood strong with a 34-save shutout. Zach Schroeder, long snake-bitten on scoring goals, finally secured his first of the year by hitting the empty net just 10 seconds after Steel had vacated it, sealing the victory for RPI and securing home ice in the first round.




With home ice in their back pockets, RPI could take some heart in the fact that nothing that happened outside of their game against Yale would have any impact on where they finished - they would only help determine their opponent, something that was completely out of their hands. The metric was simple. A win would make the Engineers the 6th seed in the tournament, a loss or tie would leave them 7th. In both cases, they would be hosting an undetermined team from the same potential field of teams, making the difference fairly moot with the exception of limiting the potential quarterfinal opponents.

Mike Zalewski, who battled illness over the weekend, was ruled out for the game, and Jake Wood stepped in to take his place. Travis Fulton was also swapped out of the lineup to be replaced by Jimmy DeVito.

The first period was a classic back-and-forth, physical, speed-driven period between RPI and Yale. Both teams picked up plenty of scoring chances, there were plenty of hits, and neither team looked to be giving an inch of ice. Five minutes in, RPI was killing a penalty to Guy Leboeuf that was fortunate to be only a minor, and just after the Lebeouf penalty ended, a high-sticking call to Matt Neal put them right back on the penalty kill, but both times a strong showing on the kill ended without goals for the home team. The 9-8 shot total - the Bulldogs holding the advantage - was very indicative of the evenly played period at even-strength.

Then, as the second period got underway, only one team really seemed to come out for it, and Yale was that team. The Bulldogs began dominating basically every facet of the game as the Engineers shrunk away from their transitional game, their physical play, and their speed. The lopsided shot total for the middle frame - 18-3 for Yale - was also very indicative of how things went. Yale opened the scoring 9:12 into the second period with a goal by Jesse Root. That it was the only goal of the period spoke volumes of how well Scott Diebold was playing in net for the Engineers - his play alone kept RPI in the contest after 40 minutes. Despite how poorly the team was playing, the Engineers were still a good bounce away from tying things up.

In the third period, however, RPI looked even more unready or unwilling to face the Yale challenge, and the floodgates soon opened. An Anthony Day goal 2:25 in made it 2-0, and 10 minutes later a goal from Frankie DiChiara basically sealed RPI into 7th place as the home team took a 3-0 lead with under 8 minutes to play. After 8 shots in the first period, the Engineers managed just 10 more for the remainder of the game, and two more goals given up with under two minutes to play produced a 5-0 rout that ended the regular season.

After a wild ending in Ithaca between Cornell and Harvard, the overtime game that was the last one to finish produced three different potential opponents for the three different potential outcomes. A tie would see Harvard on their way to Troy for the first round. A win by the Crimson would produce Brown. However, with Cornell scoring in the final minute of the overtime period, the Dartmouth Big Green, one of the hottest teams in the league down the stretch, were the ones ordering up a bus to Houston Field House next weekend.

Other junk - Ranked ECAC teams this week included Union (swept Yale/Brown, no change with 1 first place vote), #6 Quinnipiac (beat SLU and tied Clarkson, up two), #13 Cornell (lost to Dartmouth and beat Harvard, down two), #16 Yale (lost to Union and beat RPI, down one), and #18 Colgate (lost to Harvard and beat Dartmouth, down two). Clarkson (17) also received votes. Other ranked teams on the RPI schedule include #1 Minnesota (up one with 37 first place votes), #2 Boston College (down one with 12 first place votes), and #7 Ferris State (down three). Denver (27, previously ranked 20th), New Hampshire (16), and Mercyhurst (8) also received votes.

Ryan Haggerty won the ECAC goal scoring crown by netting 14 goals in league play, one more than Union's Daniel Carr or St. Lawrence's Matt Carey.

Brock Higgs is a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, given to a senior in each sport with committment to "community, classroom, character and competition." The online vote counts for 1/3 of the final vote tally, and you can vote once per day. To support Brock, click here.

Final ECAC Standings
1. Union - 37 points (18-3-1)
2. Colgate - 29 points (13-6-3)
3. Quinnipiac - 28 points (12-6-4)
4. Cornell - 26 points (11-7-4)
5. Clarkson - 24 points (11-9-2)
6. Yale - 24 points (10-8-4)
7. RPI - 21 points (8-9-5)
8. St. Lawrence - 18 points (7-11-4)
9. Brown - 17 points (8-13-1)
10. Dartmouth - 16 points (7-13-2)
11. Harvard - 16 points (6-12-4)
12. Princeton - 8 points (4-18-0)

ECAC First Round matchups
#12 Princeton at #5 Clarkson
#11 Harvard at #6 Yale
#10 Dartmouth at #7 RPI
#9 Brown at #8 St. Lawrence

RPI at Brown
ECAC Game - Meehan Auditorium (Providence, RI)
2/28/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 3, Brown 0

RECORD: 14-13-6 (8-8-5 ECAC, 21 pts)

RPI at #15 Yale
ECAC Game - Ingalls Rink (New Haven, CT)
3/1/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Yale 5, RPI 0

RECORD: 14-14-6 (8-9-5 ECAC, 21 pts)

Upcoming games
07 Mar - Dartmouth (ECAC First Round - Game 1)
08 Mar - Dartmouth (ECAC First Round - Game 2)
09 Mar - Dartmouth (ECAC First Round - Game 3, if necessary)
14 Mar - at ECAC Quarterfinals, Game 1 (if qualified)
15 Mar - at ECAC Quarterfinals, Game 2 (if qualified)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

2014 Playoff Matchups

With the final games of the regular season concluded, the seeds are set for the ECAC Playoffs. Here are the matchups and the various second round matchups that could follow based on how the first round shakes out.

 photo 2014PlayoffsRound1_zps82ab0987.png

Where We Stand (01 Mar)

Woo hoo!

A 2-0 (well, 3-0 once you count the ENG) win wraps up home-ice for the Engineers in the first round. Not where anyone thought they'd be at the beginning of the season, but certainly better than how things looked at other points during the year.

The good men of Troy have firmly locked up 7th place and not only is 6th in reach, they control their destiny for 6th. RPI is the only team that controls their destiny for a better position than their current spot in the standings.

The rest of the league...
Union (17-3-1, 35 points) still has 1st firmly locked up. They're in cruise control.

Colgate (12-6-3, 27 points) could not take care of business against Harvard. They have another shot at clinching the #2 seed tonight against Dartmouth. The Raiders are guaranteed to drop no further than 3rd.

Quinnipiac (12-6-3, 27 points) will not go quietly. They are fighting for the opportunity to get 2nd in the conference. They're also guaranteed a top 3 spot.

Cornell (10-7-4, 24 points) certainly doesn't seem like they're fighting for 4th. They are leading Clarkson, but will need to score more points tonight against their Crimson rivals than Clarkson does against Quinnipiac to hold onto a bye position. The Big Red can't fall below 5th.

Clarkson (11-9-1, 23 points) still has a shot at 4th, despite their best efforts at throwing away the position the past three weeks. They could also get passed by Yale and end up as low as 6th.

Yale (9-8-4, 22 points) is out of contention for a bye. Their loss against Union meant they can't climb above 5th and even that would require a win and a Clarkson loss. A loss against RPI tonight means a 7th place finish. Any other set of results lands the Bulldogs in 6th.

Brown (8-12-1, 17 points) blew their chance of catching the Engineers. They can't finish higher than 8th. But, they could be passed by each and any of the next three teams I'm going to mention, so the Bears can drop to 11th.

St. Lawrence (6-11-4, 16 points) let the Bobcats put up a snowman last night. It doesn't put them out of the running for home-ice, just makes it difficult. They can also finish by themselves as low as 11th. They're currently in 9th because their 2-1-1 record against Dartmouth (2-2-0) and Harvard (1-2-1) is the best of the three.

Dartmouth (7-12-2, 16 points) went into central New York and came out with a hard-fought victory over their Ivy brethren.  8th by themselves is within reach, but a misstep tomorrow winds them back in 11th. After St. Lawrence takes 9th, Dartmouth wins the head-to-head tiebreaker against Harvard on ECAC wins (7 vs 6).

Harvard (6-11-4, 16 points) finishes their regular season tomorrow against Cornell, but made a statement last night against the Raiders. They kept themselves alive for 8th, but will need some help from the opponents of their neighbors.

Princeton (4-17-0, 8 points) can't climb out of the basement. They'll be playing at the 5 seed's home ice for the first round of playoffs.

Two-way tiebreakers
Colgate-Quinnipiac: With Yale out of the running for a bye position and Colgate not having tied last night against Harvard, Colgate will win this tiebreaker on ECAC wins or Record vs Top 4.

Cornell-Clarkson: Clarkson on ECAC wins (11 or 12 vs 10 or 11).
Cornell-Yale: Cornell swept Yale head-to-head.

Clarkson-Yale: Clarkson on ECAC wins (11 or 12 vs 10 or 11).
Clarkson-Rensselaer: Clarkson won the season series with a 1-0-1 record, so they'll win this tiebreaker.

Yale-Rensselaer: Can't tie

Brown-St. Lawrence: Brown won the season series with a 1-0-1 record.
Brown-Dartmouth: If it's a tie at 17 points, Brown will win on ECAC wins (8 vs 7). If it's a tie at 18 points, they will each have 8-12-2 records. If Cornell does not stay in the Top 4, then Brown will win this tiebreaker, having earned 5 points to Dartmouth's 4 against teams with a bye. (Side note: If Harvard beats Cornell to knock the Big Red down to 5th, then Brown-Dartmouth at 18 points would also have to include Harvard and Brown wins the three-way tiebreaker, as we see later, so the previous scenario only comes into play with a Brown-Union tie, Dartmouth win over Colgate, Cornell-Harvard tie, and Clarkson win over Quinnipiac. In case you were curious.) If Cornell stays in the Top 4 (they win at least as many points as Clarkson tonight), then both the Bears and the Big Green will have earned 5 points against teams that earned byes. This then goes down to Points vs Top 8. Dartmouth would then win this tiebreaker, having earned 10 points as opposed to Brown's 7. So, to sum up, Brown loss and Dartmouth tie: Brown on ECAC wins; Brown tie, Dartmouth win, Cornell tie, Clarkson win: Brown on Record vs Top 4; Brown tie, Dartmouth win, Cornell still in a bye position: Dartmouth on Record vs Top 8.
Brown-Harvard: Brown swept Harvard.

St. Lawrence-Dartmouth: Dartmouth on ECAC wins (7 or 8 vs 6 or 7).
St. Lawrence-Harvard: St. Lawrence won the season series with a 1-0-1 record.

Dartmouth-Harvard: Dartmouth on ECAC wins (7 or 8 vs 6 or 7).

Three-way tiebreakers
Cornell-Clarkson-Yale: Cornell (3-1-0) really benefited from their sweep of Yale. They'd take home 4th. Clarkson's 11 wins would beat Yale's 10 and land the Knights in 5th.

Clarkson-Yale-Rensselaer: Can't happen

Brown-St. Lawrence-Dartmouth: Brown wins on head-to-head (2-1-1 is just enough). Dartmouth would win the resulting tiebreaker on ECAC wins (7 or 8 vs 6 or 7).

Brown-St. Lawrence-Harvard: Brown wins on head-to-head (3-0-1 is more than enough). St. Lawrence wins the resulting tiebreaker on head-to-head (1-0-1).

Brown-Dartmouth-Harvard: Brown wins on head-to-head (3-1-0). Dartmouth wins the resulting tiebreaker (7 or 8 ECAC wins vs 6 or 7).

Dartmouth-Harvard-St. Lawrence: St. Lawrence wins on head-to-head (2-1-1). Dartmouth wins the resulting tiebreaker (7 or 8 ECAC wins vs 6 or 7).

Four-way tiebreakers
Brown-St. Lawrence-Dartmouth-Harvard: As discussed on Thursday, Brown wins on head-to-head with a 4-1-1 record, putting them in 8th. St. Lawrence wins the three-way tiebreaker on head-to-head with a 2-1-1 record, landing the Saints in 9th. Dartmouth would win the fight for 10th on ECAC wins.