Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Men's Hockey - at Yale & Brown (5/6 Dec)

The rollercoaster ride continues for the men's team. Thanks to injuries and illnesses to some of the Engineers' most crucial components, the trend is heading back downslope after a disastrous weekend of results against what has historically been an important road trip for RPI to pick up some points. With Drew Melanson sidelined by mononucleosis and with Lou Nanne and Jason Kasdorf continuing to miss time due to injuries, the Engineers struggled through the last full ECAC weekend of the calendar year, falling 5-2 against Yale and then becoming the first league team to drop points to Brown in a 4-2 loss in Providence.

Yale
Liljegren-Bubela-McGowan
Wood-Neal-Bourbonnais
Laliberte-Miller-Fulton
Curadi-Schroeder-DeVito

Leonard-Prapavessis
Bradley-Hampton
Wilson-Reno

Diebold

Melanson's absence was salved somewhat by the return from an ankle injury of Zach Schroeder. Travis Fulton moved up to the Miller line, while Schroeder slotted in on the fourth line.

The opening period against Yale was a rough one for the Engineers, as they managed just 2 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes. The Bulldogs began to take full control of the period in the final 10 minutes, though RPI withstood the attack for much of the period. Just as it appeared that the Engineers might get out of the first with no score, Yale struck with under 2 minutes left in the period after a sustained attack in the RPI zone to go up 1-0.

The game's turning point came about six minutes into the second. Shortly after an RPI attack ended with a puck off the post, the Bulldogs went the other way with it and scored to make the score 2-0 instead of the 1-1 tally the game could have featured if the Engineers had been able to finish the attack.

Jake Wood scored his first goal of the season with 4:05 remaining in the second period, but any momentum RPI could have taken into the second intermission was scuttled just over two minutes later as Yale scored their third even strength goal of the game and second in the last two minutes of a period to make it 3-1 Bulldogs.

RPI hardly gave up the ghost at that point. After a solid first 10 minutes of the third period, RPI pulled to within one for a second time on the evening with a power play goal from Milos Bubela. The junior's third goal of the season made the score 3-2, but once again, that reduced lead for the Bulldogs didn't last long. Only 50 seconds later, the Bulldogs put one in the back of the net to regain the two-goal edge.

An empty netter with just over a minute left to play sealed RPI's fate. It was a game where the Engineers didn't play poorly, but they made enough spot errors and gave up goals at the very worst possible times - late in periods and just after their own goals - to doom themselves to a loss.

Brown
Liljegren-Bubela-McGowan
Wood-Neal-Bourbonnais
Laliberte-Miller-Fulton
Curadi-Schroeder-DeVito

Leonard-Prapavessis
Bradley-Hampton
Wilson-Reno

Diebold

Without much of a choice due to injuries and illnesses, the Engineers ran the exact same lineup against a Brown team that had been absolutely blown out the previous night against Union, who went up 7-0 on their way to a 7-1 victory.

Unfortunately, many of the same pitfalls that created a loss on Friday night reared their ugly heads again on Saturday. This time, it was a quick - and soft - goal that put the Engineers down 1-0 for the 15th time in 18 games this season. Brown, a team that has had trouble scoring goals this year, put themselves on the board just 50 seconds in to make it 1-0.

Jacob Laliberte notched his second goal of the season about two and a half minutes later on the power play to even the score, but once again, a quick goal given up blunted the momentum that RPI could have gained from having evened things up. Another soft one, this one only 31 seconds after the goal from Laliberte put RPI back behind just as quickly as they'd tied the game.

Several 4-on-4 opportunities were generated over the next 30 or so minutes, but nothing came of them and the Bears maintained a tedious 2-1 edge even as the Engineers began taking control of the game in the second period. Despite a 17-7 domination in shots on goal in the middle stanza, it was Brown scoring - for the fourth time in five periods on the weekend, a goal coming in the last two minutes of a period - to make it 3-1.

By the time the Bears picked up their fourth goal of the game 7:13 into the fourth period, again despite some strong play by the Engineers, it was a hole too big for RPI to extract itself. Jake Wood's second goal of the season with 3:22 left to play earned the Engineers a little more respectability, but it wasn't enough to stop the team's losing streak from extending to four games overall and three games in ECAC play.

The 0 point weekend was the first time since Brown and Yale became travel partners that the Engineers failed to earn at least a weekend split on that particular road trip. It also sent the team, which held first place on its own ahead of the Quinnipiac game, down into a tie for 5th place with St. Lawrence, a team with a game in hand over the Engineers. RPI is now four points out of first place and only two out of 10th, with just one more league contest - against the hottest team in the ECAC, Harvard - left to be played before 2015.

Things will not get easier from here. 6 of RPI's next 8 games are against ranked opponents, with the next four in a row coming against teams currently ranked in the top 10. This Saturday, the Engineers return to the Field House for the first time in a month to take on Jack Eichel and Boston University. With any luck, at least some of RPI's walking wounded will be back in the lineup, as the team sorely missed its top two scorers and top netminder this past weekend.

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

RPI at Yale
ECAC Game - Ingalls Rink (New Haven, CT)
12/5/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Yale 5, RPI 2

RECORD: 6-10-1 (4-3-0, 8pts)

RPI at Brown
ECAC Game - Meehan Auditorium (Providence, RI)
12/6/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Brown 4, RPI 2


RECORD: 6-11-1 (4-4-0, 8pts)

Upcoming games
13 Dec - #2 Boston University
30 Dec - at #5 Harvard
02 Jan - #6 Miami
03 Jan - #6 Miami
09 Jan - at #15 Quinnipiac

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