Monday, December 15, 2014

Men's Hockey - Boston University (13 Dec)

Facing off with one of the best teams in the nation (now the best team in the nation according to the recently released USCHO poll) with a very banged up squad was expected to be a pretty tall task for a team struggling to put points on the board. Saturday night's game between BU and RPI ended up looking very much like the lopsided game observers expected, but only on the scoreboard. The Terriers skated off with a 5-1 victory, but faced a tough battle from an impressive Engineers squad nonetheless.

Boston University



Lou Nanne's return to the lineup was both unexpected and short-lived. The freshman forward did not skate in the pre-game warmup, but was ready by game time. Unfortunately, an open-ice hit late in the first period found him skating to the locker room clutching the same shoulder he injured almost a month earlier against Quinnipiac.

Jason Kasdorf nearly made his return to the ice as well, dressing for the first time since suffering a lower body injury against New Hampshire, but he did not see any game play.

Nanne's return to the lineup, brief as it may have been, kept RPI from the difficult position of having to start two defensemen as forwards. Nanne functionally replaced the injured Travis Fulton, while Kenny Gillespie suited up in place of the once again injured Zach Schroeder on a very motley fourth line consisting of a defenseman, a non-natural center, and a seldom-used winger.

That line, however, was very nearly responsible for the game's first goal. Eight and a half minutes into a solid back-and-forth contest that saw the Engineers controlling early play, Jimmy DeVito appeared to give RPI a 1-0 edge - what would have been only their fourth such lead of the season - by placing a rebound perfectly top-shelf through traffic. Matt O'Connor, the BU netminder, protested immediately that he had been interfered with by Luke Curadi, and after a quick replay the goal was disallowed. The replay did show Curadi shoving O'Connor to the far side of the crease, although O'Connor did manage to recover in time to get back across and try to make a play on the shot by DeVito.

RPI continued to pour on the offensive chances in the first period, and on the play that saw Nanne re-injure his shoulder, O'Connor was forced into an outright robbery of a shot by Mark Miller that seemed destined for the net. O'Connor, on his stomach, managed to get a leg on Miller's shot to keep the game scoreless. The BU junior made 18 saves in the first period alone to maintain the 0-0 scoreline into the first intermission.

On the other side, Scott Diebold was earning his keep as well. He made 11 saves on 11 shots in the first period, and played strong hockey in the first half of the second period, helping to keep the game scoreless through the halfway point.

A slow-rolling redirection off a skate coming from a shot by BU freshman defenseman John MacLeod broke the deadlock at 11:57 of the second period. MacLeod had just managed to keep the puck in the RPI end after a big open ice hit on Gillespie moments earlier, a hit the RPI partisans in the crowd thought may have been a bit high. The referees, as they had for much of the game to that point, let them play, and BU capitalized to take the lead.

An ill-advised hit from behind by Milos Bubela just over a minute later put BU on the power play, and freshman phenom Jack Eichel showed why he's one of the top prospects in the world with a perfect pass that linemate Danny O'Regan practically feathered into the net to make it 2-0.

Things didn't look terrible for the Engineers from that point on in the second period, but a freak goal with just six seconds left in the period made the hill to climb more of a mountain. As time wound down, BU's Brandon Hickey whipped the puck toward the crease from behind the RPI end line, and the puck caromed off the back of Scott Diebold and into the cage to make the score 3-0 after two periods despite some continued even play on the ice.

An offensive zone faceoff win for the Terriers midway through the third period effectively sealed BU's victory, as they quickly moved the puck into the slot for freshman J.J. Piccinich to wrap past Diebold for the 4-0 lead.

RPI peppered Matt O'Connor with shots all night, and the goaltender was major reason why BU was able to claim the victory. He ended the night with 35 shots, although he missed out on the shutout when Milos Bubela picked up his fourth goal of the season with a shot from the top of the slot that O'Connor simply did not see as it beat him to the right. It was the team-lead-tying fourth goal of the season for the junior from Slovakia.

In an unusual circumstance, Seth Appert pulled Scott Diebold from the net with just over a minute left in the game to get an extra attacker on the ice, but a fairly quick BU clearance allowed the Terriers to regain their four-goal edge with an empty netter.

The Engineers now get some time to recuperate and recover as the holiday break begins. Their next game is the Tuesday after Christmas, which is 17 days removed from their battle against the Terriers. They'll need as many players as possible back into the lineup, because the post-holiday fun kicks off with a game against the Harvard Crimson that counts for ECAC points, followed by a pair at home against another one of the top teams in the nation, the Miami RedHawks.

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)

#2 Boston University at RPI
Non-Conference Game - Meehan Auditorium (Providence, RI)
12/13/14 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Boston University 5, RPI 1

RECORD: 6-12-1 (4-4-0, 8pts)

Upcoming games
30 Dec - at #4 Harvard
02 Jan - #6 Miami
03 Jan - #6 Miami
09 Jan - at #14 Quinnipiac
10 Jan - at Princeton

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