Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Men's Hockey - at New Hampshire & Michigan (25 Nov and 28/29 Nov)

Now deep into the second chunk of non-conference games, the Engineers played three road games in five nights with mixed results against traditional college hockey powers. They managed to put forward a dominating performance at New Hampshire on Tuesday night last week, but only managed a 2-1 victory when all was said and done. They were the better of the two teams on Friday night in the Great Lakes State, but had to eat a 3-2 loss after spot mistakes late in the third period. Running out of juice by Saturday, RPI came out strong in the first 10 minutes but unraveled after that to finish the week with a 6-0 rout as Michigan completed a weekend sweep.

New Hampshire
Liljegren-Bubela-McGowan
Melanson-Neal-Bourbonnais
Laliberte-Miller-Wood
Curadi-DeVito-Fulton

Leonard-Prapavessis
Bradley-Hampton
Wilson-Reno

Kasdorf

With players returning to the RPI lineup - especially Luke Curadi and Chris Bradley - the lines began to solidify a bit on Tuesday. Lou Nanne and Zach Schroeder, who had missed the UConn game, would ultimately be out for the entire slate of games for the week, but still project to hopefully be back for the ECAC contests against Yale and Brown.

Meanwhile, an eyebrow raiser in the lineup saw Curadi being slotted as a left-winger on the fourth line, something Seth Appert would later say was something he's been looking to try for some time, and felt confident enough to go forward with it in light of the injuries up front and the team's depth on the blue line.

The Engineers' worst period on Tuesday may have been the first period, but it was the one in which all of the game's goals were scored. UNH struck first on the power play 8:09 in on Warren Foegele's first collegiate goal to put the home team up 1-0. RPI picked up their first goal about six and a half minutes later, basically also on the power play. With the Wildcats killing off their penalty just a few seconds earlier, Curtis Leonard scored with a laser pinpointed blast from the blue line to knot the score, with assists to Matt Neal and Drew Melanson.

Just under two minutes later, RPI struck again to take a lead they would not relinquish. With Travis Fulton jamming the net, Parker Reno came up from the blue line to poke home a rebound to make the score 2-1. It was Reno's second collegiate goal, and first of the season.

Near the end of the period, Michael Prapavessis very nearly made it 3-1 in favor of the Engineers, but he hit a post for the second time in three games.

Jason Kasdorf came out of the game at the start of the second period for what would later be determined to be a precautionary measure as he suffered an undisclosed lower body injury in the first period. It was his replacement, Scott Diebold, who would be the story of the remainder of the game, as he stopped 11 shots in each of the next two periods to preserve the RPI victory.

Diebold's dominance in net was only part of the overall RPI success in the final two periods. The Engineers began controlling the puck well and playing good defense throughout the game. The penalty kill was especially effective, killing off the last six opportunities that the Wildcats got, including a very late penalty to Milos Bubela that effectively gave UNH the final 1:50 with a 6-on-4 situation. Diebold himself lived up to the old adage that your best penalty killer has to be your goaltender, as he made some huge saves in the final moments to deprive the home team of another goal.

Michigan (Friday)
Liljegren-Bubela-McGowan
Melanson-Neal-Bourbonnais
Laliberte-Miller-Wood
Curadi-DeVito-Fulton

Leonard-Prapavessis
Bradley-Hampton
Wilson-Reno

Diebold

After the team stopped in Buffalo the following night to take in the Sabres-Jets game, they ultimately dressed just about the same lineup as Tuesday with one major exception. The injury to Kasdorf from the New Hampshire game was deemed enough to rule him out for the Michigan series. Appert remarked that Kasdorf likely would have played if it were a league weekend in February or March, or a playoff series, but that the team wanted him back to 100% before he saw action again in the first half of the season.

RPI, as has been the case in nearly every game this season (save three), were behind after the game's first goal, which Michigan notched late in the first period to go up 1-0. The opening 20 minutes were otherwise pretty even, both teams putting up nine shots on goal and the game establishing some early back and forth flow.

The Engineers took advantage of their opportunities in the second period to tie the score. Although Michigan began putting together something of a more solid lead in shots, RPI converted on what would ultimately be their only power play opportunity of the night as Milos Bubela scored his second of the year from Jacob Laliberte and Riley Bourbonnais to tie the score at one 8:45 into the second period.

RPI played their most convincing hockey in the third period, taking the lead with 13 minutes left on a Bourbonnais redirection of a shot by Drew Melanson to put RPI up 2-1. The goal was Bourbonnais' fourth of the season, his first since his hat-trick against Union.

From there, RPI looked strong. As the minutes ticked by, they looked primed to at the very least defend their lead, if not score an insurance marker, but a pair of mistakes with about three minutes left in the game put them behind. A soft goal by Tyler Motte with 3:02 remaining in the period tied things up at two, and then just 29 seconds later, Diebold got a piece of a shot by Zach Hyman, but couldn't keep it from the back of the net. In the blink of an eye, RPI was the team that was down a goal. In both circumstances, defensive let-downs created scoring opportunities that the Wolverines simply converted.

Michigan (Saturday)
Liljegren-Bubela-McGowan
Melanson-Neal-Bourbonnais
Laliberte-Miller-Wood
Curadi-DeVito-Fulton

Leonard-Prapavessis
Bradley-Hampton
Bell-Reno

Diebold

The only change to the RPI lineup from Friday was the insertion of Bradley Bell in place of Jared Wilson, a move that was intended to get the freshman some playing time against a top-level team.

Early play between RPI and Michigan on Saturday actually resembled the early parts of the third period from Friday more than anything else - some good back and forth play that RPI had their chances with. Unfortunately, that proved to be one of the few bright spots for the Engineers on the evening.

Michigan opened the scoring 7:53 in on a put-back goal by Kevin Lohan. A power play goal just seconds into the Wolverines' first opportunity of the game about seven minutes later made it 2-0, and a solid individual effort by Syracuse native Boo Nieves three minutes after that put the Engineers down 3-0.

Nieves made it 4-0 in the second period with another strong individual effort, practically going coast-to-coast while on the power play. It was a rough night in net for Diebold, who stopped just 19 of 23 shots after 40 minutes, but he gutted out the remainder of the game with Jason Kasdorf unavailable.

Michigan notched another pair of goals in the third period for the final score of 6-0. The Engineers managed a respectable 26 shots on net, including two against Michigan's practice goaltender, but rarely looked ready to crack the scoreboard following the first 10 minutes of the game. The game was equal parts rough play by RPI and outstanding work by a Michigan team full of talent and starting to put the pieces together.

RPI returns to ECAC play this coming weekend with the Yale/Brown road trip, then faces a harrowing schedule afterwards, mostly of non-conference games. #3 Boston University is the team's last home game of the year the following weekend, then after Christmas they do battle with #9 Harvard, probably the best team in the ECAC, and coming home after New Year's for a pair of games with #4 Miami. One thing this team will certainly be by the time the core of the league schedule begins in January is battle-tested.

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

RPI at New Hampshire
Non-Conference Game - Whittemore Center (Durham, NH)
11/25/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 2, New Hampshire 1


RECORD: 6-7-1 (4-2-0, 8pts)

RPI at Michigan
Non-Conference Game - Yost Ice Arena (Ann Arbor, MI)
11/28/14 - 7:30pm

RESULT: Michigan 3, RPI 2

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS
RPI

RECORD: 6-8-1 (4-2-0, 8pts)

RPI at Michigan
Non-Conference Game - Yost Ice Arena (Ann Arbor, MI)
11/29/14 - 7:30pm

RESULT: Michigan 6, RPI 0


RECORD: 6-9-1 (4-2-0, 8pts)

Upcoming games
05 Dec - at Yale
06 Dec - at Brown
13 Dec - #3 Boston University
30 Dec - at #9 Harvard
02 Jan - #4 Miami

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