Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Men's Hockey - Union Home & Home (31 Oct/1 Nov)

From the lowest of lows to the highest for highs for the Engineers in just a two week span. While the previous weekend's affair with Bentley may mark one of the lowest results RPI has ever produced, the following weekend's home and home with Union may prove to be one of the best. With few pundits - including us - giving the Engineers much hope of accomplishing anything against the defending national champions, RPI instead turned around and gave an inspired performance that injected life into a moribund season, soundly defeating their archrivals on Friday in Troy 6-1 before turning around the next night on the road and coming from behind for a 2-1 victory in overtime.

Friday
Fulton-Neal-Bourbonnais
Laliberte-Schroeder- DeVito
Melanson-Miller-Nanne
Liljegren-Bubela-McGowan

Leonard-Prapavessis
Bradley-Wilson
Curadi-Bokenfohr

Kasdorf

The line juggling continued into the Union weekend, with the Miller line the only one that was more or less kept intact from previous outings.

RPI played with the initiative from the very outset of the game and quickly began establishing themselves as the aggressors. The Engineers led very early in shots and ultimately accrued an 11-2 edge in the first period, a wide margin that had frequently been going the other way in most games. They broke onto the scoreboard with the game's first goal about seven and a half minutes in, marking the first time on the season that RPI struck for a 1-0 lead. Riley Bourbonnais brought the puck into the zone along the boards, bringing Matt Neal and Travis Fulton to his right. Bourbonnais ultimately took it himself, beating Colin Stevens on the short side for his first collegiate goal.

Late in the period, the Engineers took a two goal lead on a bizarre goal by Jared Wilson. The freshman defenseman netted his first career goal after taking a cross-ice pass from classmate Drew Melanson. Wilson flipped his shot up over Stevens' stick, over his shoulder and in from a tough angle.

Five minutes into the second period, the Engineers earned themselves a comfortable 3-0 edge on another goal by Bourbonnais, who was left alone along the boards and easily walked into the slot and put the shot home through a screen provided by Neal.

Union drew much closer in shots during the second period, but were unable to get anything past Jason Kasdorf, who stopped 15 in the middle frame. Meanwhile, RPI was making the most of their opportunities. Just seconds into their first power play opportunity of the night, Viktor Liljegren made it 4-0 on a one-timer in the slot off a feed by Lou Nanne. That ended Stevens' night early, as he departed with 4 goals given up on 18 shots.

Union got one back on the power play 4:24 into the third period, but RPI attacked off the ensuing faceoff. Bourbonnais moved into the zone along the boards and then just dropped the puck off in the slot. Union captain Charlie Vasaturo was there and tried to make a play with the puck, but instead he ended up putting the puck past his own goaltender and in to make it 5-1 RPI. Bourbonnais, as the last Engineer to touch the puck, was awarded the goal and the hat trick just seven seconds after Union had gotten onto the board.

RPI continued to pour it on. Three minutes later, Melanson set up his second goal of the night by speeding up the boards and past the defenders, then whipping a pass into the slot for an equally speedy Nanne to one-time to the back of the net, making it 6-1.

Both teams would have power play opportunities from there on out, but Union never looked about to claw their way back in. Kasdorf ended the night with 24 saves on 25 shots for the win.

Saturday
Fulton-Neal-Bourbonnais
Laliberte-Schroeder- DeVito
Melanson-Miller-Nanne
Liljegren-Bubela-McGowan

Leonard-Prapavessis
Bradley-Wilson
Curadi-Bokenfohr

Kasdorf

The concept of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" won out on Saturday night, as RPI put forward the exact same lineup they had on Friday.

RPI came out with intensity just as they had on Friday, but they weren't initially able to translate it to much offensive output. This time, it was Union who earned the early edge in shots, and they also nabbed the early lead on a goal by freshman Spencer Foo with a little under six minutes left in the first period, beating Kasdorf on the short side to make it 1-0.

Union would not take a single penalty all night, keeping the RPI power play out of commission, but they ended up with plenty of power play opportunities of their own as the Engineers took six penalties on the evening, including a double minor by Lou Nanne in the second period. However, the Union power play looked very anemic, and the RPI penalty kill frequently looked as though it would score a goal itself. None was forthcoming on the penalty kill, and the second period came to an end with RPI 4-for-4 on the kill but still trailing 1-0.

RPI didn't truly control the third period but they certainly earned the lion's share of the quality scoring opportunities. After a considerable amount of patience, the Engineers finally broke through for the tying goal with 3:49 left in regulation. A giveaway by Union to Mark McGowan in the slot was fired to the back of the cage to make it 1-1.

Union swarmed the RPI zone in the final minute of play with their sixth power play of the night after a penalty to Luke Curadi, but Kasdorf was equal to the task, making a number of saves to preserve the tie.

A Union turnover in overtime led to the Engineers keeping the puck in the attacking zone, and ultimately led to a wraparound attempt by Viktor Liljegren that was initially stopped, but eventually put in after a scrum in front by the freshman from Sweden, scoring his third goal of the year for the game winner as RPI completed the weekend sweep of Union for the first time in a decade.

The goal was reviewed to see if Stevens had his glove on the puck, but the goal was eventually upheld, giving the Engineers four key points to start the ECAC season.

RPI's season-long homestand (if one includes the hop, skip, and jump to Schenectady as not going on the road) concludes this coming weekend with two more ECAC games as they host Harvard and Dartmouth, looking to build upon the early lead they've given themselves in the league table.

Current ECAC Standings
1. RPI - 4 points (2-0-0)
2. Dartmouth - 1 point (0-0-1)
3. Harvard - 1 point (0-0-1)
4. Brown - 0 points (0-0-0)
5. Clarkson - 0 points (0-0-0)
6. Colgate - 0 points (0-0-0)
7. Cornell - 0 points (0-0-0)
8. Princeton - 0 points (0-0-0)
9. Quinnipiac - 0 points (0-0-0)
10. St. Lawrence - 0 points (0-0-0)
11. Yale - 0 points (0-0-0)
12. Union - 0 points (0-2-0)

#2 Union at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1031/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 6, Union 1


RECORD: 2-5-0 (1-0-0, 2pts)

RPI at #2 Union
ECAC Game - Messa Rink (Schenectady, NY)
11/1/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 2, Union 1 (OT)


RECORD: 3-5-0 (2-0-0, 4pts)

Upcoming games
7 Nov - Harvard
8 Nov - Dartmouth
14 Nov - Princeton
15 Nov - Quinnipiac
18 Nov - at UConn

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