Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Men's Hockey - at Clarkson/St. Lawrence (6/7 Nov)

Adversity has arrived in Troy, and one week into said adversity, the Engineers are holding up pretty well. Losing two of their top centermen in the Halloween night game against Union, heading on a long road trip, losing their netminder during Friday's game, blowing a two-goal lead, picking up penalty after penalty on Saturday, and allowing late goals in both the first and second periods, one would be forgiven for expecting that the outcome for RPI was pretty bad. Instead, the Engineers returned home from the North Country with three big points, holding on after an injury to Jason Kasdorf on Saturday for a distasteful but acceptable 2-2 draw with Clarkson, followed by a gutsy, come-from-behind and never-say-die effort in Canton that resulted in a 4-3 overtime win.

Ohrvall, Clary



Evan Tironese and Milos Bubela both sustained injuries against Union on Black Saturday that would keep them out for the weekend road-trip to the North Country. Combined with the injuries to Jimmy DeVito and Alex Rodriguez that have kept the junior from making his season debut and the freshman from making his collegiate debut, and the Engineers have 11 healthy forwards. All of them dressed against Clarkson. While Meirs Moore has played forward this season when pressed into it, Seth Appert chose to keep him on the blue line and dress seven defensemen instead.

RPI struck first for the fourth time in five games as Travis Fulton scored his second goal of the season at 7:12 of the first period, the lone assist going to Moore as the Engineers took a 1-0 lead against the Golden Knights. On the other side of the ice in the first period, Kasdorf made 13 saves on as many shots to preserve the lead into the first intermission.

Early in the second period, Riley Bourbonnais fed Jake Wood to create a breakaway opportunity that the resurgent junior pairing cashed in with to put the Engineers ahead 2-0, Wood's third goal of the year five minutes into the period. But that cushion did not last long as Clarkson's Brett Gervais put one past Kasdorf three and a half minutes later to cut the RPI lead in half at 2-1.

The momentum gradually shifted in Clarkson's direction, and the RPI penalty kill had a big moment at the start of the third period by killing off a penalty to Bourbonnais that had been assessed at 20:00 of the second period. The Golden Knights kept up the pressure, and the turning point came at 7:05 of the third - not on a goal, and not even on a penalty, although one was called on the play.

Near the end of an RPI power play, Clarkson's Jeff DiNallo attempted a counter-attack. Holding the puck, DiNallo went straight in on net and plowed into Kasdorf full force. DiNallo would come out of the game immediately, although he would return. A minute later, after trying to play through, Kasdorf too would come out of the game. No penalty was called on DiNallo for goaltender interference or charging the goaltender, but a penalty was assessed to Bourbonnais instead for slashing.

RPI, now being backed by freshman Cam Hackett making his collegiate debut in relief, killed the ensuing penalty and a questionable matching minor call moments later, but the Clarkson momentum continued to build. Hackett made the first eight saves he was called upon to make in the period, but the ninth shot eluded him, a blast from the point by Clarkson's Terrance Amorosa that he was just out of position to nab with 1:56 left in the third period. That tied the game at two.

Hackett and the Engineers managed to escape from Cheel with a solid point after holding up during the overtime period, but there was certainly a feeling of a bad tie despite the circumstances, as RPI did briefly hold a two-goal edge and the tying goal was widely seen as one that Kasdorf (or any other goaltender who wasn't coming into the game cold) likely would have been able to stop. The allowed goal was hardly a knock on Hackett, however, who looked very good despite the pressure point at which he made his debut.

After the game was over, DiNallo was issued a one-game suspension - to be served against Union the following night - for running Kasdorf.

St. Lawrence
Ohrvall, Clary



Kasdorf would go on to be listed on the next night's lineup chart with the hope that he could at least skate during warmups and see if he was ready to go, but that skate did not end up taking place and from the very start, it was Hackett ready to make his first collegiate start, with Sam Goodman as the backup for the evening.

While Friday's game featured relatively few penalties being called, Saturday night's officials began getting involved very quickly and frequently. For the second time in four games, Jake Wood was called for a penalty in the opening 30 seconds of the game, this time taking a boarding call 20 seconds in. St. Lawrence would ultimately pick up three power plays, and the Engineers two, during the game's first 16 minutes, leading to a relatively total lack of momentum build in the first 20 minutes.

St. Lawrence would, however, open the game's scoring in the waning seconds of the period as Jacob Pritchard scored with 7.5 seconds remaining on the clock to give SLU the 1-0 edge heading into the locker room. But the late goal didn't keep RPI in a funk as was so often the case last season. After killing yet another penalty early in the period, the Engineers struck twice in the span of 1:03 to turn the tables. 13 minutes into the period, Jared Wilson's second goal of the season tied the game, and shortly thereafter, Drew Melanson finally snapped a very long scoreless drought - 12 games - by scoring on a rebound to make it 2-1 Engineers.

Once again, a late goal threatened to derail RPI - St. Lawrence's Michael Ederer tied the score with 1:02 left in the period, and it got worse as SLU took the lead about six minutes into the third period on a goal by Drew Smolcynski. But as in the second period, the late goal and the trailing score did not put RPI away as in the recent past. With just under seven minutes left in regulation, Riley Bourbonnais struck for the Engineers, knotting the game back up at three.

Meanwhile, Hackett especially coming up especially big for the Engineers throughout the second and third periods. In the final 40 minutes alone, Hackett made 29 saves on 31 shots, finishing the night with a solid 37 saves, more than doing his part to not only keep RPI alive, but well in the game.

Both teams had individual power play opportunities late in the third period following the Bourbonnais goal, but neither were able to convert. For the second night running, the Engineers were off to overtime, this time as the team tying the game rather than the team losing the lead. A second draw surely would have led to a relatively successful conclusion to a very trying weekend, but just a minute into the extra time, the local boy stepped up again for RPI.

Mark Miller, a native of nearby Massena who has frequently had some outstanding moments in the North Country, added another memorable one by shoveling home a shot by Drew Melanson, giving RPI a 4-3 victory and, against all expectation coming into the weekend and given what happened over the course of the weekend, three ECAC points in two road games.

Kasdorf's availability (along with that of Bubela and Tironese) isn't known for sure for the upcoming home weekend against Yale and Brown. One report by the Troy Record suggests that he's unlikely to play against Yale, but a report from Canton had it that Kasdorf could have played against St. Lawrence if it had been a playoff game. Both could be accurate.

At any rate, Yale represents the biggest challenge to the Engineers in terms of a power team since they welcomed Boston College to the Field House. The Bulldogs have opened the season with solid offensive numbers and have yet to allow three goals in a game. But RPI is at least playing closer to their potential than their more frequently expected floor, and they're starting to turn a couple of heads. Another strong ECAC weekend, especially on Friday, and expectations change.

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

By winning percentage
1. Quinnipiac (1.000)
2. Harvard (.875)
3. RPI (.875)
4. Yale (.750)
5. St. Lawrence (.500)
6. Cornell (.500)
7. Colgate (.500)
8. Clarkson (.250)
9. Union (.250)
10. Dartmouth (.250)
11. Princeton (.000)
12. Brown (.000)

RPI at #17 Clarkson
ECAC Game - Cheel Arena (Potsdam, NY)
11/6/15 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 2, Clarkson 2 (OT)

RECORD: 3-4-1 (2-0-1 ECAC, 5 pts)

RPI at #15 St. Lawrence
ECAC Game - Appleton Arena (Canton, NY)
11/7/15 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 4, St. Lawrence 3 (OT)

College Hockey Stats

RECORD:4-4-1 (3-0-1 ECAC, 7 pts)

Upcoming games
13 Nov - #10 Yale
14 Nov - Brown
20 Nov - at Bentley
24 Nov - New Hampshire
27 Nov - vs. Western Michigan (South Bend, IN)

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