Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Men's Hockey - Shillelagh Tournament (27/28 Nov)

RPI rode into the Thanksgiving weekend atop an eight-game unbeaten streak the likes of which had not been seen with the Engineers in over 15 years. They managed to extend that streak to nine in the opening round of the Shillelagh Tournament in South Bend, Indiana by taking down Western Michigan 4-1, but could not make it an even 10 the following afternoon, falling 4-0 against ECAC rivals Harvard in a game that may well have been more about setting the table for the league meeting this coming week than it was a push to claim the Shillelagh Trophy.

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

Bradley-Prapavessis
Wilson-Reno
Moore-Hampton

Hackett

With the Engineers beginning to return to full health - or as full as it is going to get with Evan Tironese being lost for the season - the RPI lineup for the entire weekend ended up being the same as the lineup that hit the ice in Troy against New Hampshire. The situation in net remained the same - Jason Kasdorf was available if needed, but continued to rest with Cam Hackett playing well and helping to ensure his fitness for a planned return for ECAC league play when that resumes during the first weekend of December.

RPI controlled play for much of the first period and were rewarded for their efforts with the game's opening goal at 9:03 of the opening frame as Alex Rodriguez scored his second goal in as many outings to put the Engineers ahead 1-0, the lone assist going to Mike Prapavessis, who set up a breakaway for Rodriguez with a great pass out of the defensive end.

The RPI offense cranked things up a notch early in the second period, with two goals in the span of 37 seconds to grab a 3-0 edge for the third time in as many contests. On the power play, Riley Bourbonnais struck for his team-leading eighth goal of the season to make it 2-0, and seconds later Lou Nanne scored his fourth goal of the year with a lead assist by Prapavessis to put the Engineers ahead by three.

Western Michigan would get one back on a major penalty to Jesper Ohrvall, who was shown the door for a checking from behind call midway through the second period, but it wasn't due to their own exploits that they got themselves on the board. An errant pass in the defensive zone by Parker Reno bounced off the skate of Jared Wilson and directly into the back of the net before Hackett could see what had happened, and just like that, WMU freshman Corey Schueneman, last to touch the puck for the Broncos, was credited with his first collegiate goal on the power play.

That "own goal" was ultimately the only one the Broncos would get all night. Hackett made the remaining two-goal margin hold up throughout the third period, stopping 10 shots in the final 20 minutes, while Jake Wood provided an insurance tally with 3:20 left in the game to seal up the victory, RPI's third in a row and ninth consecutive game without a loss. Prapavessis added an assist on the Wood goal to secure the first three-point game of the season for any Engineer skater.

Harvard
Liljegren-Bubela-Bourbonnais
Melanson-Miller-Nanne
Wood-Schroeder-Gillespie
Ohrvall-Fulton-Rodriguez

Bradley-Prapavessis
Wilson-Reno
Moore-Hampton

Hackett

Harvard defeated the home-standing Fighting Irish of Notre Dame 4-1 in Friday's nightcap, thanks in part to a pair of goals on the power play when both Irish backcheckers were called for penalties in taking down Alexander Kerfoot on the breakaway.

The Crimson power play was striking at a rate of 30% coming into the contest, so it is no small feat that the Engineers, who killed penalties for a total of 13 minutes of game time against Harvard on Saturday, managed to go perfect on the penalty kill. Still, the Crimson certainly proved that they didn't need to be on the man advantage to score goals, netting four of them at even strength against the Engineers, including three in the second period, where RPI usually feels most at home.

RPI missed their best opportunities to take control of things early when two penalties in the opening ten minutes against Harvard freshman Ryan Donato - son of Crimson head coach Ted Donato - went unconverted. All told, the first period was a pretty even affair between the two ECAC squads, but Harvard took a 1-0 lead into the locker room on the back of a goal by Jimmy Vesey, a Hobey Hat Trick finalist a year ago, at 14:44 of the first period.

With 40 minutes to play, it still looked like anyone's game, but the Crimson offense put the pedal down early in the second to outdistance RPI on the scoreboard. Luke Esposito's third of the year at 1:32 put RPI down 2-0, and Kyle Criscuolo's sixth of the year made it 3-0 Harvard about six minutes later, marking the first time since Michigan's empty netter on October 24 that the Engineers trailed by three goals - and the first time since the opening game of the year that they'd trailed by three before an empty-netter.

The younger Donato made it 4-0 with just under four minutes left to play in the second period, and from there on out both teams seemed to focus just a little bit more on not getting hurt and getting ready for round two in Troy a week later. Still, both netminders had very solid third periods, with Hackett stopping 17 shots - on his way to a 41-save performance - while Harvard's Merrick Madsen added to the gaudy numbers he's put up in just a handful of games already this season, earning his third shutout of the year in only his fifth appearance by making 14 saves in the final period on his way to a 31-save effort for the win.

Viktor Liljegren picked up RPI's second major penalty in as many days when he was called for charging with just under 7 minutes left to play, but the RPI penalty kill, as noted, was able to keep Harvard's high powered PP unit from scoring throughout the contest. The loss snapped the aforementioned unbeaten streak at nine games, one shy of standing alone as the longest unbeaten streak for the Engineers since the end of their NCAA-record 38-game unbeaten streak from November 1984 through November 1985. The loss came 30 years and a week from the ending of that record run.

Mike Prapavessis was named to the All-Tournament team in recognition of his three-assist efforts the previous night against Western Michigan.

Next up is the final ECAC weekend of the 2015 calendar year as RPI returns home to square off with Dartmouth and then face their rematch with Harvard. The Big Green have, at times, struggled to both score goals and keep the puck out of the net - perhaps typified by the pair of 7-0 losses they've suffered this season, including one this past Friday at Michigan - which makes Friday's game one that a team that fancies itself a contender for a first-round bye should be able to take care of, especially playing at home. Saturday, we'll see if the Engineers can find a remedy for Harvard  or if perhaps they held a little something back for a game that'll mean more at the end of the season than a non-conference game in Indiana.

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

By winning percentage
1. Quinnipiac (.833)
2. RPI (.833)
3. Harvard (.750)
4. Cornell (.750)
5. St. Lawrence (.700)
6. Yale (.667)
7. Brown (.429)
8. Dartmouth (.333)
9. Colgate (.214)
10. Clarkson (.200)
11. Union (.167)
12. Princeton (.167)

RPI vs. Western Michigan
Non-conference Game - Compton Family Ice Arena (South Bend, IN)
11/27/15 - 4:00pm

RESULT: RPI 4, Western Michigan 1

RECORD: 8-4-2 (4-0-2 ECAC, 10 pts)

#8 Harvard vs. RPI
Non-conference Game - Compton Family Ice Arena (South Bend, IN)
11/28/15 - 4:00pm

RESULT: Harvard 4, RPI 0

BOX SCORES
College Hockey Stats
USCHO

RECAPS
RPI

RECORD: 8-5-2 (4-0-2 ECAC, 10 pts)

Upcoming games
04 Dec - Dartmouth
05 Dec - #8 Harvard
11 Dec - Arizona State
12 Dec - Arizona State
02 Jan - at Miami

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