Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Men's Hockey - Brown & Yale (13/14 Feb)

Facing a key home weekend with the potential to jump-start their sputtering season, the Engineers continued to free-fall, enduring an embarrassing 6-3 loss at the hands of Brown on Friday and then falling 4-1 to Yale in the 38th annual Big Red Freakout! Being swept at home is never good, and it's worse when you're falling farther and farther from being able to nab a home ice position for the playoffs. Despite the setbacks, the Engineers did not lose position in the league standings, but they made it measurably more difficult to gain it in the final two weeks.




Lou Nanne returned from his injury suffered a week prior at St. Lawrence, his return to practice the previous Tuesday marking the first time since October that RPI has had a complete practice with every player on the roster. He returned to the lineup as part of a reunited Melanson-Miller-Nanne line, a combination which had provided a significant amount of excitement early in the season prior to the injury and illness woes of all three components. Jake Wood also returned to the lineup for the first time since the Mayor's Cup, a game in which he was suspended for two contests.

For the second straight game, Jacob Laliberte got the Engineers on the board first with a goal, and it didn't take long. On the senior's very first shift at 1:19, he scored his sixth goal of the season with assists to Mark McGowan and Jared Wilson to make it 1-0.

Spot mistakes cost the Engineers in the first period, however. A turnover in the defensive zone created a breakaway opportunity that the Bears capitalized on at 9:08 to tie the score, then an error by Jason Kasdorf three minutes later helped put Brown ahead 2-1 as a shot bounced off his leg pads and directly into the net.

Another soft Brown goal early in the second period ended Kasdorf's night prematurely, the struggling junior managed just 10 saves on 13 shots before his night ended after 24:33 between the pipes. Senior Scott Diebold took over for the remainder of the game, keeping Brown off the board for the remainder of the second period.

Milos Bubela's 6th goal of the season cut the Brown lead in half despite some dreadful play from the home side during the second period, and the 3-2 scoreline carried over into the third period, keeping the Engineers in the game despite an overall poor showing.

Brown regained their two-goal edge with a score just 51 seconds into the third, and once more against the flow of play, the Engineers managed to climb back to within one nine minutes later on a goal by Mark Miller, his fourth of the campaign. But just four minutes later, Brown scored a goal in transition on the power play when RPI penalty killers got stuck in the Brown end after a clearance, ending any real chance of the Engineers coming back even for the tie. A (literally) last-second empty netter produced a 6-3 score line for the final.




The only real change heading into Freakout! night was the insertion of Craig Bokenfohr into the lineup in place of Parker Reno, and a slight reshuffling of the defensive pairings. The Melanson-Miller-Nanne line was put out for the first shift, their first start of the season.

Yale's power play operated with ruthless efficiency all night long, especially on their first two opportunities in the first and second periods, and those tallies were key to victory for the Bulldogs. Their first power play goal came just 3:13 into the game, when they scored after an efficient sequence following a faceoff win in the RPI zone to go up 1-0. A little over two minutes later, the score was 2-0 after Yale's John Baiocco got himself free, got around Bokenfohr, and fired a precision shot that managed to get past Jason Kasdorf and into the net with only the slightest of angles available.

Late in the first period, RPI appeared ready to shift momentum in their direction with a power play goal by Viktor Liljegren. The freshman potted his fifth goal of the year on a rebound from a shot by Drew Melanson to make it 2-1 heading into the second.

For the second straight night, however, the opposition scored early in the period to squelch any momentum the Engineers could carry over while down just one. 91 seconds in, Yale had their third goal of the night to regain a two-goal edge, and then the Bulldogs executed once more on the power play to go up 4-1 just under five minutes later.

That would be all the scoring for the contest. RPI did start to look a little bit better late in the second period and into the third period, but they rarely looked ready to get a second goal. Yale let off the gas slightly after going up by three and were content to play lock-down hockey in the third period in order to skate off with the victory. Jason Kasdorf did start to look a little more like his usual self, especially late in the third as RPI had a pair of penalties to kill off, and he was called on to make some solid saves in order to preserve the scoreline.

Assisted slightly by Union also getting swept on the weekend (failing to score any goals in two consecutive games after going 98 in a row without being shut out), RPI remains in 9th place heading into the penultimate weekend of the regular season. The Engineers are on a very thin line when it comes to potentially playing at home. As of now, they need to pick up victories over Cornell and Clarkson for sure to even have a prayer, but they are going to need some help almost certainly from Union against those same teams if they're going to be playing in Troy when March arrives.

Current ECAC Standings
1. Quinnipiac - 31 points (15-2-1)
2. St. Lawrence - 25 points (12-5-1)
3. Yale - 22 points (10-6-2)
4. Harvard - 21 points (9-6-3)
5. Dartmouth - 20 points (9-7-2)
6. Colgate - 19 points (8-7-3)
7. Cornell - 18 points (8-8-2)
8. Clarkson - 18 points (8-8-2)
9. RPI - 14 points (7-11-0)
10. Union - 13 points (6-11-1)
11. Brown - 9 points (4-13-1)
12. Princeton - 6 points (2-14-2)

Brown at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/13/15 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Brown 6, RPI 3

RECORD: 9-21-1 (7-10-0, 14pts)

#15 Yale at RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
2/14/15 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Yale 4, RPI 1

RECORD: 9-22-1 (7-11-0, 14pts)

Upcoming games
20 Feb - at Cornell
21 Feb - at Colgate
27 Feb - Clarkson
28 Feb - #20 St. Lawrence (Senior Night)
06 Mar - ECAC First Round (Site TBA)

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