Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Men's Hockey - Michigan (24 Oct)

RPI rounded out the first part of its non-conference schedule with a single game against Michigan, the second consecutive Power 5 opponent to grace the Houston Field House ice this season. The first time out, against Boston College, an upset was in the works. This past weekend, the Engineers again managed to play a respectable game against a top opponent, but flat starts to the first and second periods doomed RPI to their third consecutive loss and fourth in five games as they fell 5-2 in a game that was closer than the final scoreline indicated.

Michigan
Liljegren-Bubela-Wood
Ohrvall-Tironese-Bourbonnais
Melanson-Miller-Nanne
Fulton-Schroeder-Gillespie

Bradley-Prapavessis
Wilson-Reno
Moore-Hampton

Kasdorf

Mark Miller's return to the lineup led to the reunification of the "M-N-M" line alongside Drew Melanson and Lou Nanne. The trio was one of the Engineers' top combinations last season.

Against Boston College, RPI set the tone early with defense, and they appeared to be focusing on the same to start against Michigan, but the Wolverines came out for the first period with a little more jump in their stride, and as they pushed the pace early they put the Engineers into an early hole. Brendan Warren scored his first collegiate goal through a screen 2:40 into the game to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. That was ultimately the only major occurrence of the first period, as the opening 20 minutes quickly evolved into a relatively sloppy show of hockey.

A quick start bolstered Michigan again in the second period, as Tyler Motte scored a goal that seemed highlight-reel quality but surely was one that RPI netminder Jason Kasdorf would have wanted a second chance with. Motte took a backhanded swing at the puck while sliding on his stomach, and Kasdorf played too close to his left post as the puck squeaked by him to the right, just past an outstretched leg and into the net to give Michigan an improbable 2-0 lead.

But RPI didn't buckle at that point. Zach Schroeder would pick up his first goal of the year just four and a half minutes later, stuffing home a rebound off a shot by Travis Fulton (that itself was a rebound off a shot by Parker Reno) to halve the Michigan lead.

The Engineers arguably dominated the remainder of the second period, especially during a power play opportunity that came down the pike a minute and a half after the Schroeder goal. RPI kept the puck down in the Michigan end for well over the first minute of the man advantage, cycling well and taking a few shots, but an errant pass to the point couldn't be corralled by Meirs Moore, allowing Michigan off the hook.

A bad bounce put RPI back in the hole with about five minutes remaining in the period. Against the flow of play, Michigan pounced on an unexpectedly loose puck as both teams transitioned out of the RPI end. It was picked up by Joseph Cecconi, who moved it to Tony Calderone alone in the slot, and Calderone picked his spot perfectly to put it past Kasdorf and lift Michigan to a 3-1 lead. Despite RPI's dominance of the middle frame, they were now down a pair heading into the third.

Penalties early in the third period had doomed RPI both nights in Alaska the previous weekend, but the Engineers buttoned up well at home, keeping themselves in the game until a power play opportunity with about nine minutes left to play provided an opening to draw closer. While working the puck in the corner to the left of Michigan's Zach Nagelvoort, Jake Wood was able to take advantage of a stumble by Michigan defenseman Nolan de Jong. As de Jong fell to the ice, Wood saw his opening and cut straight to the net, poking it in to make the score 3-2.

From there, with about 7:30 or so to try and tie the score, RPI pushed for that third goal hard, but lax play eventually set in and helped Michigan secure the victory. After a faceoff win in the RPI zone, the Wolverines managed to hold the zone with relative ease as the Engineers seemed unwilling to challenge the puck while Michigan played a little keep-away to kill the clock. Eventually, Warren took an opportunistic shot from the point that got through everyone and dented the twine to give Michigan their third two-goal lead of the night, essentially ending hope with about three minutes left in the game.

Kasdorf was pulled from the net moments later, but a minute of extra attacker time couldn't pull the Engineers any closer. Motte scored his second of the night with the empty net to provide the final 5-2 scoreline - a score which a casual observer might look at and see an obviously rough loss for RPI, but a close scrutiny of the box score would indicate a relatively close contest. Kasdorf made 23 saves and Nagelvoort 19, and it was a one-goal contest up to the 17:00 mark of the third period.

Regardless of how the game played out, RPI now has its preparation for the beginning of the ECAC season complete, and must next rush headlong into the Union weekend whether they're ready for it or not. 

#11 Michigan at RPI
Non-conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/24/15 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Michigan 5, RPI 2

RECORD: 1-4-0

Upcoming games
30 Oct - at Union
31 Oct - Union (Black Saturday)
06 Nov - at #19 Clarkson
07 Nov - at #16 St. Lawrence
13 Nov - #13 Yale

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