Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Men's Hockey - Bentley (24/25 Oct)

RPI opened their home schedule with what most observers thought would be an opportunity for a battle-tested team to finally break out with some scoring against a not-so-strong defense on familiar ice, facing Bentley in a two-game set. What observers got instead was a complete disaster from the Engineers' perspective - a continued inability to put the puck in the net, coupled with a breakdown of what had previously been considered something of a strong point in the team's defensive capabilities. A weekend that was expected to be a preparation for bigger and better things instead has thrown the entire season into question as Bentley rolled to a 5-2 and 4-0 sweep of an exceptionally lethargic RPI squad.




A shakeup of lines, plus the return of Milos Bubela, punctuated the Engineers' Friday night lineup as RPI sought to shake what had been a terrible outing on the previous Saturday against Denver.

The necessary offensive spark was clearly missing from the opening puck drop. Although Bentley, as they would do all weekend, committed to blocking shots, they didn't have many to block throughout the first period, and the Engineers managed to get only four shots on net in the entire first 20 minutes.

It was Bentley striking first seven-and-a-half minutes into the second period as Kyle Schmidt beat Jason Kasdorf to give the Falcons the 1-0 lead. It was part of a middle frame in which the Engineers continued to look uninterested in pursuing offense, and in which RPI was again outshot by the visitors. Fortunately, the second would not end without the Engineers finally putting one in the net, as freshman Lou Nanne scored his first collegiate goal on a nice pass from a fellow freshman speedster in Drew Melanson, making the score 1-1 with less than two minutes to play in the second period.

Truly, the defensive collapse for RPI began late in the second period. Although the Falcons put only six shots on net in the game's final 25 minutes, four of those six shots would end up putting points on the board for Bentley. The Falcons regained the lead nine minutes into the third with a goal by Alex Grieve, and then took a two-goal edge on the power play four minutes later with Curtis Leonard off on a slashing call.

RPI didn't show any quit - or at least, the Miller line showed no quit off the ensuing faceoff. Miller earned the primary assist on Nanne's second goal of the game just 13 seconds after Bentley's power play goal, cutting Bentley's lead back down to one.

From there, the RPI offense began to come alive once again, but try as they might, they simply could not find the equalizer. Bentley netminder Gabe Antoni ultimately stopped nine of 10 shots from the Engineers in the third period to preserve the victory, eventually iced by a pair of empty net goals from Max French and Kyle Schmidt to make the final scoreline appear worse than RPI's chances late, though Bentley's overall performance, especially in the first two periods, made the scoreline seem apt.




The embarrassing defeat on Friday, led to another jumble of lines, with only two lines staying intact, including the Mark Miller line, which had created both of the previous night's goals through Nanne. Scott Diebold, in all likelihood, was destined to start this game regardless of the previous night's result.

Unfortunately, while Friday had been an embarrassment, it paled in comparison to what was in store on Saturday. RPI came out of the gate with a little more intensity than they had on Friday, but it didn't matter much and it quickly trailed off. In the meantime, late in the period, Bentley scored a pair of quick goals off of colossal defensive breakdowns - one on the power play and one shorthanded - to nab a 2-0 lead heading into the second period.

It did not take long to establish during the middle frame that Bentley's two-goal lead was looking fairly iron-clad. The Falcons continued to block shots, which were few and far between for the Engineers anyway. Bentley again struck twice late in the period, and again scored on massive defensive blunders, making it 4-0 by the end of the period, a hole far too deep for a team that had only scored six goals all season to climb out.

As with Friday, the Engineers showed some pep in the third period, but by then Bentley had a good defensive rhythm going and easily stymied pretty much everything RPI had to throw at them, which still wasn't a whole lot. Bentley's second-string netminder, senior Blake Dougherty, needed only 19 saves to earn his first collegiate win and shutout.

The Engineers have now lost five consecutive games, and have scored a grand total of three goals in those five games (0.60 GPG) while allowing 20 (4.00 GAA) the other way. They are 1-for-23 (4.3%) on the power play (with a short-handed goal given up) and 15-for-23 (65.2%) on the penalty kill during this losing streak.

Making matters infinitely worse, not only does the ECAC schedule begin next weekend, the annual home-and-home against Union is what kicks off that schedule. The Dutchmen just ended a 17-game winning streak on Saturday night with a one-goal loss to now #7 St. Cloud State while their backup goaltender played. They're slightly better than Bentley.

Bentley at RPI
Non-conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/24/14 - 9:30pm

RESULT: Bentley 5, RPI 2

RECORD: 1-4-0

Bentley at RPI
Non-conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/25/14 - 9:00pm

RESULT: Bentley 4, RPI 0

RECORD: 1-5-0

Upcoming games
31 Oct - #2 Union
1 Nov - at #2 Union
7 Nov - Harvard
8 Nov - Dartmouth
14 Nov - Princeton

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