Tuesday, December 6, 2016

On the Recent Unpleasantries

Never fails. The team strings together losses, folks start tweeting at WaP that we're not hard enough on the coaching staff. The team strings together wins, folks start tweeting at WaP that we're too hard on the coaching staff. Both are usually completely unreasonable, and the more extreme the strings, the more unreasonable the shouting.

We've chosen to be agnostic on the coaching staff. We're not going to advocate for either their retention nor their release. It's a departure from where we were when the site began, when we supported the coaching staff against, quite frankly, attacks that were beyond ridiculous given the circumstances at that time.

But here's all that really needs to be said, and it's something I told a friend about a month ago: "something needs to change, or something needs to change."

Take that for what you will.

We've endured some bad RPI teams in the past - but often times, those teams were just bad and the response among reasonable folks was always "well, they're just not good right now."

This year's team is outdoing so many of those other bad teams in producing bad results, but it's been even a step farther now. This squad as the talent to be far better than it has been in other years where the team put up L after L - and there's no really good reason why they haven't been.

In the past, where there have been plausible excuses for falling far too short: running into hot teams at the wrong time, a rise in the number of strong teams in the ECAC, injuries riddling the squad, there's always been something that could be pointed to that says "OK, that's a bad break."

What is it now?

Something needs to change, or something needs to change.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Long Time Running

This is a post we always expected to make some day but never really wanted to.

For seven years, Without a Peer has been a delight for us to run. We've met new people, engaged with fans on the Internet and in person, and had the opportunity to give our opinions on matters regularly.

We're very proud of the fact that we were the first source for RPI live tweets - both for the RPI women and for the RPI men from the very beginning. No one else that we knew of was doing that in 2009 - today there are multiple places where you can keep tabs on the game in progress.

But as life has evolved for both of us, so has the site in and around that. When we started WaP, both of us were not working full-time and both of us were single. Today we're both married, both of us have full-time jobs with significantly increasing responsibilities, and notably, Tom is going to become a father for the first time in November.

You can see where this is going.

This isn't the end, and it's not goodbye. We'll still be kicking around here. WaP will continue to exist - it just won't quite be the same thing you've seen for the last seven years.

First, live tweeting will come to an end. This is tough to do, since that has been one of WaP's bread-and-butter items since the very beginning, but after seven years, it's time for us to return to simply being fans instead of guerilla journalists in the stands, informing folks on what's happening at as many turns as we can. When we're busy tweeting, we're not celebrating goals, or appreciating saves, or fully getting the fan experience that we love so much. We miss that - and we hope our fans won't begrudge us deciding to go back to it.

Second, we won't be doing weekly recaps anymore. These have always been a staple of the site since the start, always fairly-research intensive, delivering game summaries with an RPI-centric eye in an attempt to convey the fan mood, with plenty of links and insights for the reader to digest. But lately, these recaps have been less fun to produce and have felt more like a chore. In past seasons, it was always a little more difficult to write these when the team was struggling, but it never truly felt like it was being done for form until some time last season. When Tom sat down to write last week's recap for the Niagara-RIT weekend, he felt more like he was writing a recap for a difficult and heart-wrenching borefest rather than the engaging and interesting weekend that the Engineers had.

After discussing the matter, we've decided that rather than continuing on as we have, with the site starting to feel more of a chore than a source of enjoyment, we're going to cut way back on expectations by eliminating these two elements. But when there's something either of us want to say, you'll still have WaP to read it if it's substantive, and you'll still have @without_a_peer on Twitter if it's short and/or snarky - possibly including in-game tweets, which will probably assume that you're already watching, listening, or otherwise keeping tabs on things.

Certain features will continue. When the mood strikes, we'll have a weekend pumpup with cogent commentary. The yearly recruit pipeline piece every January will continue. Tom is hoping to continue the summer's "Know Your Enemy" roll, although that may be altered somewhat. Engineer Bracketology will probably make a comeback whenever it's necessary (not looking good this year, but stranger things have happened).

This was not an easy decision, and it was made only after we tossed around a few ideas. Among the bigger items was deciding against starting a Patreon account. WaP has always been free. We always wanted it to be free, and it always will be. It'll also always be ad-free. We've had a tip jar for several years, but that has always gone directly to site related costs. We've now taken that down - and we thank those who have made donations over the years to keep WaP up and running.

Through Patreon, we considered that we could allow our readership to decide how valuable the site has been to them, and that we could offer additional content (or a return of past content, like podcasts and stupid photoshops) if our readership as a whole found it worthwhile enough to voluntarily fund. But when it felt like another job even without funding, it would have felt like even more of a job with funding.

So instead of forcing our way thorough the rest of the season, we decided that the time was right to make this change right now. We hope our readership will understand.

Gary will still be seen at women's games - when he's around to attend them - and you'll still be able to catch Tom on WRPI covering men's games. Feel free to say hello if you see us, we're always up for a chat on RPI hockey.

Thank you, so very much, from the bottom of our hearts. This entire endeavor would have been nothing without you. We both feel an immense amount of pride in Without a Peer, and we hope to continue bringing some insight and analysis through WaP, even if it's no longer going to be on a regular schedule.

-- Tom and Gary

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Men's Hockey - Niagara/RIT (21/22 Oct)

After a couple of weekends on the road to start the season, the Engineers began a rather long homestand (9 in 10, with the odd game out in Schenectady) with a pair of non-conference tilts against Niagara and RIT - the only non-conference weekend on the schedule featuring two different squads. A strong performance on Friday night ended in a very dissatisfying 3-3 draw with Niagara (the proverbial "bad tie"), but sticking with the same themes on Saturday led to the Engineers' first victory of the season, scoring a 6-3 victory over the Tigers.




Jake Marrello made his RPI debut on Friday night as the Engineers returned to a standard 12x6 lineup to take on the Purple Eagles, still searching for their first positive result of the season after starting off with three losses in as many games.

Early returns were not positive for the Engineers, although game remained scoreless for well over 30 minutes. Nine penalties were called before the game's first goal, and all of them were of the "obstruction" type that the NCAA is cracking down on this year (interference, slashing, hooking, tripping, holding, and the sort). The first eight - four per team - were killed off without great incidence, and the RPI penalty kill reached a rather impressive 21-for-21 to start the season while the power play reached a miserable 1-for-23.

RPI's perfect penalty kill was ended by the goal that put Niagara up 1-0 a little over halfway through regulation. A one-timer from the left faceoff circle by Derian Plouffe evaded Chase Perry to put the Purple Eagles ahead - but they would not hold the lead for long. Just 38 seconds later, Evan Tironese one-touched a pass from Riley Bourbonnais to the back of the cage from the middle of the slot to even the game back up.

After 21 straight successful penalty kills, RPI made it two power play goals in a row given up just 57 seconds after that, as Johnny Curran scored 10 seconds into a Parker Reno penalty on a floater that beat Perry top shelf to put Niagara back in front, 2-1.

1:44 into the third period, the Engineers tied the game for the second time, with Lou Nanne scoring his first goal of the season doing what he typically does to score goals - redirecting shots from the perimeter. A slapper by Tommy Grant was tipped in front by the RPI junior and past Niagara's Jackson Teichroeb to knot the score once again.

The biggest pivot of the game came in the denouement of regulation, as on their 7th power play opportunity of the night, the Engineers finally scored their second power play goal of the year, coming off a big shot from the blue line by Jared Wilson for his second goal of the year (both of RPI's power play goals for the season), giving the Engineers their first lead of the game late in the contest at 3-2.

About a minute later, a dustup between Plouffe and Viktor Liljegren ended with both in the box, but Plouffe with an extra two minutes for holding, putting the Engineers back on the power play with 4:15 left in regulation. Seconds later, Wilson appeared to give the Engineers a two-goal cushion with a goal that was practically a mirror image of the one he'd just scored a minute-and-a-half earlier, but it was immediately wiped out, as the officials called a slashing penalty against Jimmy DeVito, essentially for making a solid stick-check that allowed Wilson to take the loose puck in the first place.

Before an outraged Field House crowd, Niagara won the ensuing faceoff in the RPI end at four-on-four, and an ill-advised no-look pass by Tironese was picked off by Curran, who one-timed it past Perry to tie the game back up at 3-3, only further enraging the RPI partisans.

A Niagara penalty for cross-checking in the final minute of regulation carried over into the overtime period, but the Engineers were unable to get anything done on the man advantage, finishing the night 1-for-9 on the power play. Meanwhile, both teams put up four shots in the extra period, but neither were able to find the game winning goal, and the contest ended with a very unsettling 3-3 tie.

Other than the continued struggles on the power play and the seemingly botched ending late in the third period, the game did display an RPI team that looked like they were ready to compete. They unleashed 41 shots on the evening, and full credit has to be given to Teichroeb, who simply didn't let up a great many rebounds.




Max Reisinger made his RPI debut against RIT on Saturday night, replacing Marrello in the lineup, and Charlie Manley returned as well, replacing Bradley Bell. Finally, Cam Hackett got his first start of the season in net for the Engineers.

A fortunate angle got RIT on the board first midway through the first period. A pass by Abbott Girduckis to Caleb Cameron on a two-on-one break didn't result in a shot, but as Cameron passed by Hackett, he tried to blindly backhand the puck back into the slot. It didn't get there - instead it hit off the back of Hackett's leg and into the back of the net, a goal certainly created by the two-on-one that the Tigers earned but certainly one that falls into the category of "good puck luck" in the end.

The Engineers got their stroke of luck about four minutes later as Riley Bourbonnais sniped a shot that RIT netminder Christian Short probably should have nabbed with his glove - instead it flew into the cage over that glove as Bourbonnais scored his second shorthanded goal of the season (perhaps only technically a shorthanded goal, as it came exactly as a 4x4 ended) to tie the score.

On the power play to start the second period, Mike Prapavessis gave Houston Field House a glimpse of the potential that RPI has on the man advantage, scoring with a snap shot from the point just over a minute into the second period to put the Engineers ahead 2-1 - Prapavessis being part of a potentially potent 1-2 punch with fellow power play QB Jared Wilson. Then, just 33 seconds later, Evan Tironese notched his third goal in as many games on a nifty wraparound to make it 3-1 and ending Short's night, as the RIT sophomore made just 7 saves on 10 shots in 21:41 of work. He was replaced by RIT's usual netminder, Mike Rotolo.

RIT clawed one back about two minutes later on one of the many four-on-four situations that would arise over the course of the game, as a disorganized RPI defense left Gabe Valenzuela open to roof one and cut the RPI lead in half. 10 minutes later, late in the second period, the Tigers got things square once more with a goal by Erik Brown, again taking advantage of a disjointed RPI defense.

But the Engineers would regain the lead for good with about two minutes left in the second period as Jared Wilson scored his third goal of the year - and third power play goal of the season - this time with a slapper from the top of the left faceoff circle, giving the Engineers a 4-3 lead heading into the final period.

The Tigers worked hard in the third period trying to find the tying goal, but the Engineer defense did a good job of bending without breaking. Hackett secured 13 saves in the last 20 minutes to help bolster the victory, and the Engineers ultimately got an insurance goal from Bourbonnais on a perfectly executed give-and-go while behind the defense with Tironese during a 4x4, and Jake Wood added his second goal of the season on an empty netter with just over a minute to play to seal the game up for a 6-3 victory.

Tironese ended the night with a goal and four assists, having been a part of the scoring combination on every RPI goal against the Tigers with the exception of Prapavessis' power play blast early in the second period. His career night was a first in several years for the Engineers in a pair of categories - it was the first four assist performance for RPI since Chase Polacek against Brown in December 2010, and the first five point night for an Engineer since Kevin Croxton (3 goals, 2 assists) against RIT in December 2005. Those are a pair of names that put Tironese in some very exclusive company in relatively recent RPI history. With nine points in five games, he is now 7th in the nation in scoring, averaging 1.80 points per game.

RPI's offense does look a bit more improved, with a goals per game now at 2.80, closing in on that coveted 3.00 GPG that they've been missing for some time. Tironese, Bourbonnais, Wilson, and Prapavessis all look fairly dangerous in their various scoring roles, just as we'd hoped to start the season.

The problem is that they've also given up three goals in all five games they've played this season, calling into question a defense that was supposed to be one of the team's brightest points.

Continued improvement on both of those aspects is needed in a hurry, as the ECAC schedule opens this coming weekend against Union in the annual home-and-home set, of which the Engineers have won four contests in a row against the Dutchmen (and six of seven overall when including the Mayor's Cup). They'll be keen on the need to stop Union senior Mike Vecchione, who won ECAC Player of the Week plaudits over Tironese by scoring six goals on the weekend against the same two teams that RPI did battle with, including four against Niagara.

Niagara at RPI
Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/21/16 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 3, Niagara 3 (OT)

RECORD: 0-3-1

Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/22/16 - 7:00pm


RECORD: 1-3-1

Upcoming games
28 Oct - Union
29 Oct - at Union
04 Nov - Brown
05 Nov - #17 Yale
11 Nov - Clarkson

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dial It Back

The Engineers (0-3-0) open their home schedule with a doozy of a homestand - nine in 10 within the friendly confines of Houston Field House, with the oddball being the short journey to Houston Field House West just up Route 7 next weekend. That's more than half of the entire home schedule taking place within the next five weekends - only seven games remain on the regular season tableau after a weekend series with Ohio State on the 18th and 19th of November. It would be prudent for the team to produce some results in the next five weeks.

They get that mission underway tonight against Niagara (0-2-1) and tomorrow night against RIT (1-1-1). No offense to the Purps or the Tigers, but they're not quite Maine (who are off to a surprisingly strong start) and they're not quite North Dakota (enough said). Look at the last two weekends as a resistance run. Back when I ran cross-country in high school N years ago, we'd take a couple of practices and run down to the beach, where we'd do wind sprints while knee-deep in Lake George. It helped make running down a nature trail seem a whole lot easier.

If RPI can take a three really tough road games and play the same way at home against teams less likely to burn mistakes, less likely to simply outclass, and less likely to make life in general super difficult, it could be a strong bounce in the correct direction - and perhaps prove that losing your first three games isn't necessarily a season killer, especially if it prepares you for games that will ultimately matter more... games which start next weekend.

Continuing our selection of Tragically Hip pumpups, here's "Fifty Mission Cap," a song that relates the true story of hockey player Bill Barilko. If you don't know it, learn it. Certainly one that will help get the blood flowing as the Engineers return home after a couple thousand miles of road trip to start the year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Men's Hockey - at North Dakota (15 Oct)

It was always going to be hard to expect anything about traveling to the defending and eight-time national champions, and the end result was pretty much as one would have expected. RPI was actually fairly efficient with their shots, scoring twice on 14 of them, but of course, 14 shots is not what you're looking for against a team like North Dakota, who have proven in their first three games to be very stingy on defense and full of firepower on offense. The end result was a 5-2 defeat from which the Engineers can at least draw some positives going forward, if not a victory for the resume.

North Dakota
Wood, Rodriguez



Whatever Brady Wiffen's injury is, it kept him from traveling with the squad and the Engineers again went with an 11x7 lineup, with Meirs Moore returning from a minor thumb injury and replacing Bradley Bell among the starting 18, with a healthy amount of line jumbling as well.

The first goal was a repeat from both RPI and North Dakota's last outings - the Engineers scored first and the Fighting Hawks gave up the first goal. Evan Tironese notched his first goal of the year and his second collegiate goal when he one-timed a pass from Riley Bourbonnais past UND netminder Cam Johnson to put the Engineers ahead 1-0 on their first shot of the game.

RPI maintained that lead for much of the first period, and even had two opportunities to extend that lead on the power play, but both power plays were cut short by penalties taken by Viktor Liljegren. The Swedish junior took a tripping penalty just under a minute into RPI's first power play of the game, and then a hooking call about 20 seconds into the Engineers' second man advantage.

UND tied things up with about 4:30 left in the first period as sophomore Joel Janatuinen struck pretty much out of nowhere with a one-timer from Ludvig Hoff to put the Fighting Hawks on the board.

The Engineers didn't fall behind until almost six minutes into the second period. North Dakota took a 2-1 lead on a goal by super-freshman Tyson Jost, and just over a minute later a second goal by Janatuinen gave the home team a more comfortable 3-1 edge.

After a very solid penalty kill for RPI about five minutes later, freshman Will Reilly found Jake Wood on an outlet pass, and the senior was off to the races. Wood buried the puck just three seconds after a penalty to Mike Prapavessis ended - technically an even-strength goal but functionally a short-handed tally as the play began before the penalty concluded, but nevertheless pulling the Engineers back within a goal with two goals scored on just 10 shots in the first two periods of the evening.

But the ending still wasn't terribly in doubt, and the Fighting Hawks left zero doubt early in the third period, as a goal by Cole Smith five and a half minutes into the final period gave UND their two-goal cushion back, and the conclusion of the hat trick by Janatuinen - the second hat trick scored on the Engineers in three games - pretty much sealed things tight. After putting five shots on goal in each of the first two periods, RPI managed just four in the third period, certainly not anywhere close to being enough to pull back the three-goal hole. Chase Perry was once again a hard-luck loser in net with 33 saves on 38 shots - it really wasn't poor play by the Engineers that caused the loss, more just the outstanding play by the home team getting the job done without a shadow of a doubt.

Again, this wasn't an unexpected result. RPI was going to need to catch North Dakota on a bad night in order to find success and it just wasn't in the cards. The Fighting Hawks didn't even look particularly bad in the first period, when the Engineers led for over 10 minutes. So it's an 0-3 start for RPI, but that's probably not the best metric for measuring them just yet. The sweep at Maine suddenly looks a lot better after the Black Bears split with Quinnipiac in Orono over the weekend, with both games going to overtime - and from here, the schedule not only gets a touch easier, it also shifts home for the first time... and for the next five consecutive weekends.

RPI went 6-for-6 on the penalty kill on the evening, extending their streak of penalty kills to start the season off with 17 successful kills in a row. Only Bemidji State (22) has started off their season with more successful kills without allowing a power play goal, and Penn State (15) is the only other non-Ivy that has yet to allow a power play goal.

On the flip side, the Engineers are 1-for-19 on the power play to start the season. Only Alaska-Anchorage (1-for-23) and, amazingly, Boston College (a mind-numbing 0-for-20) have been worse on the power play to start the season. Mercyhurst, Minnesota, and St. Cloud State all have yet to score a power play goal as well, but all have fewer than 10 opportunities, so let's not be too harsh on them just yet.

In the meantime, the first two games of a nine-out-of-ten in a row homestand - the one being a road trip all the way to Schenectady - get underway this weekend against Niagara and RIT of Atlantic Hockey. RIT is no slouch, but they're not Maine on the road and they're not the defending national champions. The key, especially on Saturday night against the Tigers, is for the Engineers to display what they've learned in three tough games and show that they can win games that they're supposed to win, even if they couldn't win games they weren't necessarily favored to win.

RPI at #1 North Dakota
US Hockey Hall of Fame Game - Alfond Arena (Orono, ME)
10/15/16 - 8:00pm

RESULT: North Dakota 5, RPI 2

RECORD: 0-3-0

Upcoming games
21 Oct - Niagara
22 Oct - RIT
28 Oct - Union
29 Oct - at Union
04 Nov - Brown

Monday, October 17, 2016

Women's Hockey - UConn (14/15 Oct)

RPI finished off its early season non-conference play by hosting UConn for a weekend pair at Houston Field House. The Engineers soundly defeated the Huskies in a 3-0 shutout on Friday, but the tables were turned Saturday as UConn took a 4-1 victory in the rematch.





Lovisa Selander earned her first shutout of the season in a 3-0 victory over UConn Friday night, also notching an assist on the Engineers' first goal. Six other players each tallied a point on the evening, while Marisa Raspa led the team in shots with seven.

RPI scored once in each period, starting out with a goal by Makenna Thomas at 5:45 of the opening frame. Thomas skated in one-on-one and put a shot off the pipe and in to give the Engineers a 1-0 lead.

Amanda Kimmerle made it a 2-0 game at 17:48 of the second period, firing a rocket of a shot through traffic from the point to beat a screened Annie Belanger.

Hannah Behounek grew the lead to 3-0 8:59 into the final period, an impressive unassisted tally where she picked up the puck in the neutral zone, skated in one-on-three and still managed to get the puck past Belanger.

RPI outshot UConn by a 41-21 margin on the night





After a good win on Friday night, the Engineers didn't fare so well on Saturday - defeated by UConn 4-1 while being outshot 35-22. Aly Tremblay scored the Engineers' lone goal, while the Huskies' second line of Leah Lum, Briana Colangelo, and Theresa Knutson combined for a 3-6-9 line on the afternoon.

Lum was responsible for two goals, both scored in a first period which saw the Engineers outshot 16-2. Both goals were assisted by Colangelo and Knutson.

After a scoreless second period, RPI drew to within one on Tremblay's goal at 5:05 of the third. The Engineers found themselves back in a two-goal hole shortly after when Knutson scored to make it 3-1.

With the RPI net empty in favor of the extra attacker to get back to 5-on-5 during a penalty kill, UConn put the game away with a goal from Madison Badeau.

Morgan Fisher earned the win in the Huskies' net in her first collegiate appearance, making 21 saves on 22 shots. Lovisa Selander stopped 31 of 34 shots she faced on the afternoon.

RPI now takes a weekend off before opening up ECAC play at home against Cornell and Colgate on October 28th and 29th. Both games will have 3pm start times as the men also host Union the evening of the 28th.


RPI vs. UConn
Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/14/16 - 6pm
RPI 3, UConn 0

RPI: http://rpiathletics.com/boxscore.aspx?path=whock&id=5783
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1617/boxes/wconren1.o14

RPI: http://rpiathletics.com/news/2016/10/14/womens-ice-hockey-womens-hockey-shuts-out-uconn.aspx?path=whock
UConn: http://www.uconnhuskies.com/sports/w-hockey/recaps/101416aab.html
Video Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQspoAs-MtI

RECORD: 2-4-1


RPI vs. UConn
Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/15/16 - 3pm
UConn 4, RPI 1

RPI: http://rpiathletics.com/boxscore.aspx?path=whock&id=5784
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1617/boxes/wconren1.o15

RPI: http://rpiathletics.com/news/2016/10/15/womens-ice-hockey-uconn-splits-with-womens-hockey.aspx?path=whock
UConn: http://www.uconnhuskies.com/sports/w-hockey/recaps/101516aaa.html

RECORD: 2-5-1


Upcoming Schedule

Oct. 28 - Cornell (3pm)
Oct. 29 - Colgate (3pm)
Nov. 4 - at Yale (6pm)
Nov. 5 - at Brown (3pm)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Great Plains

Neither the men nor the women got off to the starts they wanted - but the women may have turned the corner a bit last night with a 3-0 victory at home against UConn, and the men have at least the opportunity to mimic last season with a tough game against the #1 team in the nation.

For the third straight year (2014 - Minnesota, 2015 - Boston College) the Engineers' second opponent of the year is the #1 team in the nation. For RPI (0-2-0), it's not looking like a game that's going to produce a result. The goal tonight against North Dakota (2-0-0) is to take strides from last week's pair of losses in Maine - get shots on goal. Finish when possible. Hopefully, don't get destroyed. Then take what you learn in playing against the very best and apply it at home next weekend against not the very best.

The women (2-4-1) got themselves off a five game winless streak with their first shutout of the season, at home against UConn last night, a 21-save shutout for Lovisa Selander that included the third goals of the season for both Makenna Thomas and Hannah Behounek. They'll be seeking an opportunity to complete their first weekend sweep since January (the Union home-and-home) on home ice this afternoon.

Yes, it's more Tragically Hip this weekend, and it's impossible not to use this tune. Sure, the Engineers have a pair of games that will be played farther west than this, but they'll never be closer to the magic longitude.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Men's Hockey - at Maine (7/8 Oct)

The opening weekend is almost never an opportunity to define a season, but it's at least a good way to get an early vibe for the most part. Even on a long road trip like Maine, it's hard to look at RPI's season opener and feel overly positive. While it's hard to go into any barn on the road and win twice in two nights, the expectations on results from the Maine road trip had to be a lot higher than the end results - a pair of losses, one a sound defeat and one a heart-crushing loss as the Engineers looked flat in a 5-1 loss on Friday before blowing a lead in the third period to fall 4-2 on Saturday.




The starting lineup was actually very little changed from the exhibition contest. As expected, Lou Nanne replaced Jake Marrello on the third line. Perhaps the only minor surprise was on the third blueline pairing, as both Bradley Bell and Will Reilly suited up at the expense of Meirs Moore.

Any wishes that the penalty-fest that marred not only the McGill exhibition in Troy but exhibition contests across the country were limited to games between NCAA and Canadian teams were dashed pretty quickly on Friday night. As games around the country became similar death marches to the penalty box, so too was the season opener in Orono. Seven minor penalties were called in the first period alone - none of which resulted in any power play goals being scored.

The Black Bears jumped out to a quick lead about six minutes into what had previously been a pretty back and forth affair. Freshman Patrick Shea scored at 6:06 of the first to put the home team ahead, and then just 1:26 later another freshman, Mitchell Fossier, made it 2-0 to put RPI in a serious road hole early in the game.

In dire need of the next goal, RPI hit a post and came perilously close to netting one over the next 20 minutes, but simply couldn't find a way to beat Maine netminder Rob McGovern, who made 23 saves in the opening 40 minutes. Meanwhile, Fossier made it 3-0 at almost exactly the same time in the second period that he'd scored during the first period.

Late in the second, the Engineers picked up four power plays, almost back-to-back-to-back-to-back (the last one created a short 5x3 opportunity), but still were unable to get anything done.

Maine pretty much sealed things up two minutes into the third period when yet another freshman, Chase Pearson, notched his first collegiate goal to make it 4-0 in the home team's favor. Jared Wilson responded 45 seconds later, 9 seconds into a power play opportunity, but it was quite obviously too little, too late. Fossier finished up by completing a hat trick in his first collegiate game at 14:45 of the third period.

The Engineers went 1-for-10 on the power play, while the Black Bears were 0-for-7, a rare bright spot for RPI on an otherwise dismal night. Chase Perry had limited returns in his first official game in an RPI sweater, making 31 saves on 36 shots.

Liljegren, Ohrvall



Brady Wiffen went off in the second period and did not return, and then did not factor into the starting lineup on Saturday. His effective replacement was Charlie Manley, making his RPI debut and giving the Engineers 11 forwards and 7 defensemen - although this lineup choice may have been heavily influenced by the number of players RPI brought on the trip to Maine.

A penalty to Wilson for hooking five minutes into the game - ending what was seemingly the longest stretch of 5x5 play all weekend to that point - turned into a shorthanded goal for the Engineers as Riley Bourbonnais scored on a breakaway 19 seconds after the kill began to put RPI ahead 1-0. That lead lasted for nearly 10 minutes until senior Blaine Byron tied things up with about four and a half minutes left in the opening period.

A five-minute major to Jake Wood for kneeing four minutes into the second period looked like a negative turning point for the Engineers, but for the second consecutive penalty kill, RPI managed to go +1 while down a man. Drew Melanson's first goal of the season, assisted by Jacob Hayhurst (for his first collegiate point) was scored short-handed just over a minute into the major, putting the Engineers ahead 2-1, which was the scoreline for the next 20 minutes.

Perry made 21 saves on 22 shots in the first two periods, but the offense in front of him left the door open for the third period, and Maine took advantage. Daniel Perez scored for the Black Bears about six minutes into the final period on a delayed penalty to Bourbonnais to knot the score, and Friday night's hero, Fossier, scored to put them ahead about three and a half minutes later.

The Engineers put 11 shots on goal after Perez tied the score, but couldn't put another one past Rob McGovern - and in fact, scored no even-strength goals on the entire weekend. Pearson scored an empty-netter with eight seconds left to seal the weekend sweep for Maine, whose freshmen scored just eight goals all of last season but accounted for seven of Maine's nine goals this weekend.

Saturday's game was also a serious departure from Friday (and the exhibition) in terms of penalties. Just seven power plays on Saturday, where there had been seven in the first period alone on Friday. The Engineers do at least go forward boasting a 100% penalty kill (11-for-11) in two games, which is 24-for-24 if one includes the exhibition (which you shouldn't).

Next up for the Engineers is an even bigger test - one game next weekend in North Dakota against the #1 team in the nation and the defending national champions. The Fighting Hawks opened their season by bludgeoning Canisius twice at home, 6-0 and 4-1. A step in the right direction for RPI would be to at least put up a better front than did the Golden Griffins, who managed just 28 shots on the weekend.

RPI at Maine
Non-Conference Game - Alfond Arena (Orono, ME)
10/7/16 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Maine 5, RPI 1

RECORD: 0-1-0

RPI at Maine
Non-Conference Game - Alfond Arena (Orono, ME)
10/8/16 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Maine 4, RPI 2

RECORD: 0-2-0

Upcoming games
15 Oct - at #1 North Dakota
21 Oct - Niagara
22 Oct - RIT
28 Oct - Union
29 Oct - at Union

Friday, October 7, 2016

Bearing Down

Fair warning this season - there's probably going to be a lot of Tragically Hip in the pumpup rotation in the approaching months. That's just how it's going to be. I know our Canadian audience won't have much of a problem with that. Americans, just avail yourself the opportunity to soak in a band you should have been listening to years ago - their lead singer, Gord Downie, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an uncurable brain tumor recently and they just concluded what may be their final tour back in August.

Anyway. The women (1-3-0) were in Maine a couple of weeks ago and got their season off on the right foot with a victory, but they've dropped three in a row since, including both games at home to Ohio State. The Buckeyes are battle-tested, playing in a league that, to paraphase a coach out there in the midwest, is "women only." The ECAC's no slouch, but the WCHA is a war, night in and night out, which is a good reason why they've produced all but one of the women's hockey national champions. Robert Morris (2-0-0) may not be much of a respite for the Engineers, especially as they travel to Pittsburgh to do battle with the Colonials. RPI dropped a pair at home to RMU last season, and the Colonials are off with a road sweep of Providence to kick off their season. Another tough pair coming up for the Engineers this weekend.

The men (0-0-0) are two weeks behind the women in kicking off their season at Alfond Arena in Orono. It's never easy to go on the road and get two wins, but against the Black Bears (0-0-0), picked to finish last in Hockey East, RPI's probably going to want to at least pick up a split in this series if they want to start off on the right foot.

So for the first time this season - and sorry about missing the last two weeks - turn the speakers up and get in the mood for some hockey. Four games this weekend for the first time since February.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Know Thyself: RPI

Well, the time is here. We've seen the exhibition, we've analyzed the opposition, and now it's time to cast a critical eye on our own side. Last year the Engineers overcame an institutional hurdle by winning a home playoff series for the first time in over a decade. That shouldn't be a thing, and now it's not. And the way they did it, coming from 3-0 down in Game 2 to ensure that there would be no Game 3 was crucial. It showed guts from a team that played well for each other all season. If that same kind of attitude can prevail this season, perhaps there are a few more long-term problems that can be overcome.

Nickname: Engineers
Location: Troy, NY
Founded: 1824
Conference: ECAC
National Championships: 2 (1954, 1985)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2011
Last Frozen Four: 1985
Coach: Seth Appert (11th season)
2015-16 Record: 18-15-7 (8-7-7 ECAC, 5th place)
All-Time Record: 1042-938-135 (1017-865-129 in the modern era)
First Game: January 25, 1902 (Cohoes, NY)
First Win: February 26, 1904 (Albany, NY)
First Modern Era game: January 7, 1950 (Clinton, NY)
First Modern Era win: February 3, 1950 (Plattsburgh, NY)

Key players: F Riley Bourbonnais, sr.; F Jimmy DeVito, sr.; D Parker Reno, sr.; F Jake Wood, sr.; F Viktor Liljegren, jr.; F Drew Melanson, jr.; F Lou Nanne, jr.; D Mike Prapavessis, jr.; D Jared Wilson, jr.; D Tommy Grant, so.; G Cam Hackett, so.; D Meirs Moore, so.; F Jesper Ohrvall, so.; G Chase Perry, so.; F Brady Wiffen, so.; F Jacob Hayhurst, fr.; F Evan Tironese, fr.

Key losses: G Jason Kasdorf, D Chris Bradley, F Milos Bubela, F Zach Schroeder, D Phil Hampton, F Mark Miller, F Travis Fulton

(I know, I know, I'm missing this potential impact freshman or that upperclassman primed to break out... I only assembled it the way I assembled the KYE teams, just to be fair. I'm sure I've left out some of the same for other teams.)

Of the teams who lost their all-star goaltenders this offseason in the ECAC, the Engineers might be in the best position. Yale and Quinnipiac both have at least some questions as to how they're going to fare in net, but RPI basically doesn't have a wrong answer. Hackett was the ECAC's All-Rookie selection last season, and he's now joined by Perry, who may be one of the best incoming netminders in the country (and one with NCAA experience already to boot, as he's a transfer from Colorado College). What will be interesting here is seeing exactly how the goaltending duties are meted out in Troy - how often each of them will get playing time - but there's little doubt that it should continue to be a strength for the Engineers, even with the departure of Kasdorf.

It's easy to look at the situation and shrug your shoulders if you want to. When last we saw Hackett, he gave up 8 goals against Harvard, and he was being named as the ECAC All-Rookie goaltender, but almost by default as there were pretty much no other decent candidates. But that overlooks the reason why he was a legitimate All-Rookie selection, given that he was unbeaten in his first seven decisions (one relief, six starts) with an overall 2.88 GAA certainly skewed by the lopsided finale. One can look at Perry and see a 3.97 GAA at CC two years ago and an .892 save percentage in the BCHL last year - except CC was beyond bad two years ago and the BCHL is a goal-happy league. The bottom line is that the Engineers have two excellent options to choose from. Word out of the exhibition game is that Perry is more or less the starter at the moment, but that Hackett certainly has the ability and capacity to displace him. Regardless, Perry looked outstanding in net against McGill.

Defense should be a strong point in front of Perry and/or Hackett as well. Reno last season really grew into the starring role he was long expected to play at RPI, while Prapavessis and Wilson have turned in two very solid years already halfway through their collegiate eligibility. Moore was a mainstay in the back last season, and saw good development in his defensive skills to compliment his offensive capacity, and Grant was a revelation last year when he started getting regular playing time when Reno came out of the lineup late in the season. All five should dress regularly, with four options for the role Hampton played well last year as the reliable if not overwhelming sixth d-man.

Injuries and other issues keeping players off the ice played a significant role in the struggles that the Engineers had from time to time last season. Kasdorf, Bourbonnais, Reno, Melanson, and Bubela were crucial parts of this team's success last year, and they missed a combined 47 games, practically never as healthy scratches. Tironese looked on pace to have a phenomenal freshman season, leading the team in scoring six games in with seven points, but a season ending shoulder injury meant he was out of the lineup for 34 starts (he will be a redshirt freshman this year), and DeVito proved to be a crucial element of the team's second semester makeup - he missed 20 games early in the year with academic concerns. Wiffen's designation as a partial qualifier by the NCAA kept him on the sidelines for the entire season.

This year hasn't even started yet, and there are more issues that have cropped up. Freshman Todd Burgess picked up a knee injury in Ottawa's development camp after being drafted in the 4th round of this year's NHL Draft, and he'll be redshirting. Kenny Gillespie, who developed into a team leader and a reliable grinder, is on a leave of absence from the Institute - word is he could return in January, but it's not a given.

The biggest question mark, as it has been for the last several seasons, is offense. And as it has been for the last several seasons, there are a number of potential answers - unfortunately for that same stretch, those answers haven't really cropped up.

We've said it for years that college hockey is frequently "first to three." Therefore, it stands to reason that averaging three or more goals per game is a good thing. And as we mentioned in May, the Engineers haven't accomplished that bar since 2002 - perhaps not coincidentally, the last year they went to Lake Placid. In the ECAC, every other team has accomplished this in the last 10 years, and only Brown and Clarkson haven't done it since 2010. In fact, discounting Arizona State, 54 out of 58 other teams have done it since RPI last accomplished the task. Army also last did it in 2002, and only Alaska-Anchorage, Lake Superior State, and American International are on a longer drought of failing to reach three goals per game.

That needs to change. It's said that defense wins championships, but you still can't win games without putting the puck in the net a little more often than RPI has for many years now. As with Cornell in last week's capsule, the options are there, it's simply a matter of getting those options to click. If this team can reach that three goals per game bar, there's no telling what they can accomplish.

* Melanson and Nanne have been linemates for two years, but it's always seemed like one or the other was out of the lineup too often to get into a rhythm (word is they'll be starting the season with Alex Rodriguez).

* Bourbonnais was an offensive juggernaut for RPI last year - until he got hurt.

* Wiffen was an offensive powerhouse in the OJHL in 2015, and was the "most improved player" last season without being able to play a shift.

* As mentioned above, Tironese displayed serious offensive capacity before being lost for the season at the end of October.

* Liljegren had a displayed goal-scoring touch as a freshman, but had a downturn last season. Countryman Ohrvall did everything but score in game after game after game as a freshman - and he found his finishing touch late in the season.

* Wilson and Prapavessis have offensive prowess from the blue line, and both became increasingly vital as last season progressed. Reno's set-up potential also increased dramatically.

* Hayhurst produced over a point per game in the OJHL at the age of 18 two years ago (he turns 20 in January).

* And in the realm of what might have been for this season, Burgess tied the NAHL record for points in a season before becoming a rare 20-year-old NHL draftee in June.

These are all great options, and the Engineers really only need two or three of them to be the real engine, especially if the others can simply be threats to score on an even basis, the way St. Lawrence and Yale have been able to boast a balanced attack in their second and third lines for a few years now.

(For the sake of the future, bear in mind that everyone above except for Bourbonnais and Reno will have eligibility in 2018 - when the team will add to the mix Burgess, Ohrvall's brother Emil, who last year led Shattuck-St. Mary's in scoring, and Bailey Conger, who last year potted nearly two points per game for Cushing Academy.)

So here's the call on RPI this year - let's look at this in the context of the rest of the ECAC. There's always three kinds of teams at the end of the regular season: the top four with byes, the middle four at home in the first round, and the bottom four on the road.

Looking at the two preseason polls and our (mostly secret) ballot that was part of the media poll, it's fair to call Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence really strong favorites for the much-desired top four. We're on record picking SLU as our top selection.

The next tier has to be Harvard, Yale, and Clarkson - none of these teams finishing in the top four should shock anyone.

After that, Cornell, RPI, and Union. The Dutchmen would be at least mildly shocking as they don't seem to be quite as well-rounded, but they have one or two pieces that could power a solid run. We don't think anyone should be shocked if Cornell or RPI manage to nab a top four finish, both have longer odds for anything outside the middle four, where they should be solid favorites.

The bottom four, according to both preseason polls, were Dartmouth, Colgate, Brown, and Princeton (and we'll admit to agreeing with at least three of those calls), all look pretty hard-pressed to make a run at the top, but the ECAC being what it is, there's no team that can start the season with a bad projection that can't potentially find a way to finish at least in the middle four.

That said, RPI may be the most unpredictable team in the ECAC this season. Of that third tier, Cornell finishing in the bottom four would probably be as unlikely as we described Union in the top, but RPI finishing in either the top or bottom... doesn't seem impossible given what they bring back, what they add, and what they've accomplished (or failed to accomplish) in recent years.

We'll see what the coaching staff can coax from this group. It has the potential to be very, very good, but we've seen the potential to be great translate into "OK" or "not so great" recently - that's why the Engineers are perhaps the most enigmatic team in the entire conference for 2017.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Men's Hockey - McGill (2 Oct)

It's not a guarantee that a game full of penalties is going to be a snoozer. Sometimes it's an indication of a really raucous, hard hitting contest. When it's an exhibition game, it's probably more likely than not to be boring if it's full of penalties, and that's pretty much exactly what we got from RPI's "first" game on Sunday night against McGill. 29 penalties for 85 minutes made for a very uneven contest between a pair of teams that didn't have much of an investment in the final outcome once the final whistle blew. RPI alone picked up 16 penalties and went on the penalty kill 13 times, but still managed to come away with a 3-0 victory over the Redmen.




The only scratches were Max Reisinger (who isn't officially cleared to play yet, but should hopefully be cleared this week), Lou Nanne (sick, but not long term), Meirs Moore and Sam Rappaport (who likely just didn't have bench space in an exhibition).

The aforementioned penalties came early and often. Tommy Grant was called for hooking just 70 seconds into the game, and that stretch may have been one of the longer stretches of 5x5 play for the entire game. Both of McGill's first two power plays in the first period were truncated due to McGill penalties being called during those power plays, but the Redmen ultimately ended up 0-for-5 on the man advantage in the first period alone.

Riley Bourbonnais opened the game's scoring at even strength at 6:43 of the first period, rifling home a rebound off a shot by Viktor Liljegren to give RPI a 1-0 lead. The Engineers outshot McGill 14-5 in the first period, a stunning statistic when one considers that there was at least one Engineer in the penalty box for nearly half the period - just under nine minutes.

That's because one of McGill's best opportunities of the first period came when Jared Wilson was called for a trip while Evan Tironese was already off for slashing, giving the Redmen a 5x3 of just over a minute. They called timeout to prepare for the advantage, but the RPI penalty kill, led by Chase Perry between the pipes, kept the Redmen from scoring.

Four RPI minors in the first nine minutes of the second period got the middle frame going, but the penalty kill continued to stay strong, running McGill's power play futility to nine even before the game was half over. By the time Jake Wood was called for hooking at 9:03 of the second period, the Engineers had taken seven straight penalties by seven different players.

The true game-changer came with about a minute and a half left in the second period, and as one would expect, it was a penalty that drove the moment. One minute into RPI's sixth man advantage of the game, McGill captain Patrick Delisle-Houde was assessed an automatic five-minute major and game misconduct for slew-footing, giving the Engineers a 5x3 power play. Jacob Hayhurst needed just 16 seconds to put the Engineers up 2-0 on a one-timer of a pass from Mike Prapavessis in the left faceoff circle.

An interference call against McGill early in the third period with the major penalty still active gave RPI another 5x3, and Evan Tironese cashed in with a blast from the point to make it 3-0. From there, the march to the penalty box continued unabated.

Midway thorough the third, McGill appeared to get on the board early in a penalty to Liljegren, but after review, the goal was waved off. From the overhead view, the puck certainly appeared to have been kicked in, but a side shot provided by RPI TV certainly makes it look as though the puck was accidentally pushed in by Prapavessis' stick. Either way, the wave-off was at least a little bit of justice for Perry, who had made an incredible toe-save just a beat earlier. Perhaps the Engineers' best penalty killer all night long, his 26-save performance helped key an impressive 13-for-13 showing for RPI on the kill.

RPI ended the evening 2-for-9 on the power play, uncorking a total of 43 shots on goal in the contest. Two of the three goals came on 5x3 power play opportunities, which could highlight a nagging problem that has hampered the RPI offense for a few years now - a lack of finishing. Hopefully, the wisdom that it's foolish to draw too many conclusions from an exhibition game will apply to that element as well.

The Engineers kick off their 2016-17 schedule with two weekends on the road, opening up this coming Friday and Saturday against Maine. These games are not expected to be aired on WRPI, unfortunately, but they do represent an opportunity to get out of the gate the right way, as Maine doesn't look ready to reclaim their lost mantle as one of the top teams in Hockey East, not this season at least, as the Black Bears were pegged to finish last in the conference in the preseason coaches' poll.

McGill at RPI
Exhibition Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/2/16 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 3, McGill 0

RECORD: 0-0-0

Upcoming games
07 Oct - at Maine
08 Oct - at Maine
15 Oct - at #1 North Dakota
21 Oct - Niagara
22 Oct - RIT

Monday, October 3, 2016

Women's Hockey - Ohio State (30 Sep / 1 Oct)

RPI fell behind early against Ohio State Friday afternoon and never recovered, needing a last-minute goal to avoid a shutout in a 4-1 loss.

Saturday didn't go much better, with the Engineers being shutout 2-0 despite outshooting their visitors by a 33-23 margin (and 35-22 the day before).





Ohio State scored three goals in the first period, including two in the game's opening two minutes, en route to a 4-1 victory over RPI at Houston Field House on Friday. Sabrina Repaci scored the Engineers' only goal - an extra attacker power play tally with four seconds left in the game.

Samantha Bouley opened the scoring for the Buckeyes 1:03 into the game, picking up a rebound and putting it past Lovisa Selander for the early 1-0 lead.

Erin Langermeier doubled that lead to 2-0 just 45 seconds later, stealing the puck as the Engineers attempted to exit their zone and skating in alone to beat Selander with a backhand shot on the breakaway.

OSU scored one more in the first period off the stick of Jincy Dunne, who fired a shot from the point through traffic, preventing Selander from getting a good read on the shot.

After a scoreless second period, things went from bad to worse for RPI at the Buckeyes made it a 4-0 game when Katie Matheny grabbed a bouncing puck in the RPI zone and found herself all alone with Selander much like Langermeier had earlier in the game.

Repaci's goal came with the net empty and on the Engineers' eighth power play of the evening. After several attempts were turned aside by Kassidy Sauve, the puck bounced out to Repaci in the slot who put it in with 3.9 seconds left to spoil Sauve's shutout bid.

It was not a great evening for Selander, who allowed four goals on 22 shots, or for the Engineers' offense, which managed just the single late goal despite putting 35 shots on net.





After a strong start by RPI on Saturday, Ohio State scored in the last minute of the first and again in the first minute of the second to jump out to a 2-0 lead which held up for the rest of the afternoon. Kassidy Sauve got the shutout that was narrowly thwarted on Friday, and Lovisa Selander made 21 saves on 23 shots.

The Engineers had several power play chances early in the game, including a short stretch of 5-on-3, but couldn't break through for an early lead. Instead it was Maddy Field scoring on a breakaway for the Buckeyes with 35 seconds left in the opening frame.

Hannah Behounek was penalized for slashing on the play, and on the ensuing power play, the Buckeyes capitalized to make it a 2-0 game 40 seconds into the second period. Jessica Dunne fired a shot from the point which was tipped past Selander at the top of the crease by Maddy Field. The play was set up by Jincy Dunne who narrowly kept the puck in the zone after an RPI clearing attempt.

It was another disappointing day for the RPI power play, which went scoreless again on seven more opportunities. The Engineers have now scored just one goal in the past three games - a 6-on-4 extra attacker goal - and will need to scrounge up some scoring to improve the outcome of coming games.

RPI hits the road for a pair at Robert Morris next weekend before returning home to play UConn twice to close out the early season non-conference schedule.


RPI vs. Ohio State
Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
9/30/16 - 6pm
OSU 4, RPI 1

RPI: http://rpiathletics.com/boxscore.aspx?path=whock&id=5779
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1617/boxes/wosuren1.s30

RPI: http://rpiathletics.com/news/2016/9/30/womens-ice-hockey-womens-hockey-falls-to-ohio-state.aspx?path=whock
OSU: http://www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com/sports/w-hockey/spec-rel/093016aaa.html
Video Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEBURMxEXs0



RPI vs. Ohio State
Non-Conference Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
10/1/16 - 3pm
OSU 2, RPI 0

RPI: http://rpiathletics.com/boxscore.aspx?path=whock&id=5780
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1617/boxes/wosuren1.o01

RPI: http://rpiathletics.com/news/2016/10/1/womens-ice-hockey-ohio-state-stymies-womens-hockey.aspx?path=whock
OSU: http://www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com/sports/w-hockey/spec-rel/100116aaa.html
Video Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoICZQxsIA4



Upcoming Schedule

Oct. 7 - at Robert Morris (7pm)
Oct. 8 - at Robert Morris (3pm)
Oct. 14 - UConn (6pm)
Oct. 15 - UConn (3pm)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Know Your Enemy: Cornell

It's time for the time-honored indication that the season is nigh - the final installment of WaP's Know Your Enemy. The Cornell class of 1996 very nearly went their entire collegiate careers without beating RPI (not that this is something they would even focus on), but they pulled out a 4-0 win in Ithaca in February of their senior year to avoid the feat - which has never happened in the half-century plus since the two schools have been regularly playing each other as league foes. With the Engineers boasting a 3-0-3 record against the Big Red in the last three seasons, the Cornell class of 2017 needs a similar result in February of their senior year in order to avoid becoming the first.

Nickname: Big Red
Location: Ithaca, NY
Founded: 1865
Conference: ECAC (Ivy League)
National Championships: 2 (1967, 1970)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2012
Last Frozen Four: 2003
Coach: Mike Schafer (22nd season)
2015-16 Record: 16-11-7 (8-8-6 ECAC, 7th place)
Series: Cornell leads, 60-36-10
First Game: January 31, 1908 (Albany, NY)
Last RPI win: January 15, 2016 (Troy, NY)
Last CU win: February 22, 2013 (Ithaca, NY)

2016-17 games: February 4, 2017 (Troy, NY); February 24, 2017 (Ithaca, NY)

Key players: F Matt Buckles, sr.; F Eric Freschi, sr.; G Mitch Gillam, sr.; F Jeff Kubiak, sr.; D Patrick McCarron, sr.; F Jake Weidner, sr.; D Ryan Bliss, jr.; F Jared Fiegl, jr.; F Dwyer Tschantz, jr.; D Dan Wedman, jr.; F Trevor Yates, so.; F Anthony Angello, so.; D Alec McCrea, so.; F Beau Starrett, so.; F Mitch Vanderlaan, so.; D Yanni Kaldis, fr.; F Connor Murphy, fr.

Key losses: F Christian Hilbrich, D Reece Willcox, F John Knisley; F Teemu Tiittinen

Previous KYE installments:
Standards are high at Cornell. That's why this could well be a make or break season for Mike Schafer - the Big Red have finished 7th in the ECAC in back-to-back seasons, outside the top-half of the league twice in a row for the first time since the late 1990s. Now, that's not quite the end of the world, of course, but it's the things that are adding up. The senior class that just graduated was only the second of Schafer's tenure that never played an NCAA tournament game or won any league hardware. That's four years of not being among the fearsome beasts of the conference (and frequently, in the nation) as has been the norm in the last couple of decades, and their record against RPI in the last three years is merely a microcosm of that recent reality.

The Big Red no longer led the nation in lowest-scoring games last year (beaten out by Army and Lake Superior State) in part because of an improvement in offense - but when you were starting out at 1.84 goals per game a year earlier, 2.32 is at least a step up even if it is still pretty far from where you want to be in order to be regularly successful (just ask 2.42 goals per game RPI).

The good news is that Cornell was young last year, and that youth led the way to a pretty solid degree on offense. That's not always the easiest place to be in - but when you've got a freshman reaching double digits in both goals and assists (Angello with 11 and 13 respectively), and another almost reaching 20 points (Vanderlaan with 19), that's at least a good starting point for what the Big Red will certainly hope is a launching point for even bigger numbers in the future. Defenseman McCrea managed 15 points as a freshman as well - and it's easy to overlook Starrett, who has played just 22 games last two seasons (across juniors and his freshman year) with injuries. He's a third-round NHL selection who was admittedly off to a slow start last year before getting hurt (just one goal in 15 games), but he represents a good amount of potential as well.

In a spoiler alert for next week's "Know Thyself," Cornell finds itself in a very similar situation to the Engineers on offense - there's lots of places that it could come from, including Kubiak, Weidner, Buckles, and Yates, as well as everyone listed above - but the trick is going to be getting two or three of them to take significant strides forward, and for the team in general to be able to roll two or three lines that are capable of scoring on any given shift.

On defense, it's Cornell.

Oh, you probably want more than that. Well, if you're used to a stifling defense with a better-than-average goaltender and a difficult time unleashing shots on said goaltender, that's more of what you can expect this coming season. A solid, seasoned goaltender in Gillam, a solid, seasoned blue line featuring four upperclassmen and losing just one senior from an effort that put up a solid 2.41 GAA last year - a bit high, perhaps, from the Cornell norms, but certainly an acceptable output from any team that is looking to take a step forward. Even if they merely duplicate that effort this year - and they can probably best it - all they'd need is a squared-away offense to be the Cornell we've come to know.

As with last week, I'm a little hesitant to really make predictions when it comes to RPI-Cornell simply because both teams have a lot of hockey - nearly their entire schedules - to play before they match up in Troy in early February in a game that was originally pegged as Big Red Freakout! before it was awkwardly pointed out that having the Big Red as an opponent would be strange - not to mention only add a few extra hundred eyeballs to a game that probably comes closer to selling out than any game that doesn't include Clarkson or Union.

But suffice it to say that if you know how the Cornell series has gone historically for the Engineers - and just take a quick glance at the wins and losses above if you don't - and it's hard not to just feel like Cornell's due. Yeah, it's being gun shy, but the Big Red have earned that over the decades. That said, Cornell may be the team that best mirrors RPI this season with pre-season expectations and potential, and that could make for a couple of really strong, close games when these teams meet, should they both live up to them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Women's Hockey - at Maine (24/25 Sep)

The 2016-17 season got underway this past weekend with RPI traveling to Orono for a weekend pair against Maine. After playing a solid game on Saturday afternoon and skating to a 3-1 victory, the Engineers fell short on Saturday, getting shut out 2-0 in the weekend's second game.





Lovisa Selander stopped 25 of 26 and Laura Horwood tallied a goal and an assist en route to a 3-1 victory over Maine on Saturday afternoon. Makenna Thomas and Hannah Behounek also scored for the Engineers, making it three unanswered goals after Maine took a quick 1-0 lead just 17 seconds into the second period.

Rather than get shellshocked by the early goal, Horwood answered just 23 seconds later, with a nifty move and a top shelf shot to beat netminder Carly Jackson and tie the game.

Thomas scored at 7:45 of the middle frame, with asissts to Ana Orzechowski and Lindsey Hylwa, giving the Engineers a 2-1 lead.

That lead grew to 3-1 in the middle of the third period after Maine's Tereza Vanisova was sent off on a five-minute major for boarding. About two minutes into that power play, a checking call put the Engineers two skaters up and Horwood took advantage, dropping down into the faceoff circle to score the Engineers' third goal.

RPI outshot Maine 29-26 on the afternoon, with Horwood leading the way with seven shots and Jamie Grigsby and Katie Rooney tacking on four each.





After opening the season with a win, RPI couldn't maintain the momentum for a weekend sweep, falling 2-0 to Maine on Saturday afternoon. Selander made 29 saves in the loss while Mariah Fujimagari earned the shutout for the Black Bears.

It was another early second period goal on Saturday, with Kara Washer scoring on the power play just 22 seconds into the second. This time around, the Engineers didn't have an answer, and though the teams traded penalties throughout the rest of the second, it went scoreless until 9:41 of the third when Vanisova made it a 2-0 lead for Maine.

The Engineers spent the final minute with the extra attacker but couldn't find the back of the net.

RPI will continue non-conference play and hit the ice at Houston Field House for the first time next weekend as Ohio State comes to Troy.


RPI at Maine
Non-Conference Game - Alfond Arena (Orono, ME)
9/24/16 - 4pm
RPI 3, Maine 1

RPI: http://rpiathletics.com/boxscore.aspx?path=whock&id=5777
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1617/boxes/wmneren1.s24

RPI: http://rpiathletics.com/news/2016/9/24/womens-ice-hockey-womens-hockey-takes-opener-3-1.aspx?path=whock
Maine: http://www.goblackbears.com/news/2016/9/24/womens-ice-hockey-womens-hockey-drops-season-opener.aspx



RPI at Maine
Non-Conference Game - Alfond Arena (Orono, ME)
9/25/16 - 2pm
Maine 2, RPI 0

RPI: http://rpiathletics.com/boxscore.aspx?path=whock&id=5778
College Hockey Stats: http://collegehockeystats.net/1617/boxes/wmneren1.s25

RPI: http://rpiathletics.com/news/2016/9/25/womens-ice-hockey-womens-hockey-splits-with-maine.aspx?path=whock
Maine: http://www.goblackbears.com/news/2016/9/25/womens-ice-hockey-womens-hockey-bounces-back-shuts-out-rpi-to-split-series.aspx



Upcoming Schedule

Sep. 30 - Ohio State (6pm)
Oct. 1 - Ohio State (3pm)
Oct. 7 - at Robert Morris (7pm)
Oct. 8 - at Robert Morris (3pm)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Know Your Enemy: Colgate

Every once in a while, you get a team that underwhelms and it makes you scratch your head at just how unexpectedly bad they turned out to be. The 2014 Engineers were certainly one good example, but Jason Kasdorf's early season-ending injury was an obvious cause of that disappointing result. Chosen fifth in both preseason polls as a contender for a first-round bye with one of the program's best classes in decades reaching their senior year, the Raiders instead sputtered on defense all season long and ended up closing Starr Rink on the last weekend of the regular season instead of in the playoffs.

Nickname: Raiders
Location: Hamilton, NY
Founded: 1819
Conference: ECAC
National Championships: 0
Last NCAA Appearance: 2014
Last Frozen Four: 1990
Coach: Don Vaughan (24th season)
2015-16 Record: 11-24-2 (6-14-2 ECAC, 10th place) 
Series: RPI leads, 61-57-4
First Game: February 19, 1916 (Hamilton, NY) 
Last RPI win: January 16, 2015 (Troy, NY)
Last CU win: February 26, 2016 (Hamilton, NY)

2016-17 games: February 3, 2017 (Troy, NY); February 25, 2017 (Hamilton, NY)

Key players: F Emilio Audi, sr.; D Brett Corkey, sr.; G Charlie Finn, sr.; F Tim Harrison, sr.; D Jake Kulevich, sr.; D Anthony Sanniti, sr.; F Mike Panowyk, jr.; F Evan Peterson, jr.; F Sebastian Weberg, jr.; D Willie Brooks, so.; D Ken Citron, so.; F Adam Dauda, so.; D Rory McGuire, so.;  F Hunter Racine, so.; F Jared Cockrell, fr.; F Bobby McMann, fr.; D Nick Quillan, fr.

Key losses: F Tyson Spink, F Tylor Spink, F Mike Borkowski, F Darcy Murphy, D Kevin Lough

Previous KYE installments:
The quintet of the Spink twins, Borkowski, Murphy, and Kyle Baun (who signed a pro deal after his junior season) will certainly go down in history in Hamilton. They were the effective engine of the Raider offense throughout their entire tenure at Colgate. One of the Spink twins led the team in scoring each of the four years (Tylor as a freshman, Tyson the other three years), and at least three of the group figured in the top four scorers each season (and they were the complete tally of the top five in their sophomore campaign).

But it was defense that by and large let the Raiders down last year. Last in the ECAC (3.23 team GAA) and in the bottom 10 nationally (3.57). RPI, Union, and Clarkson were the only three teams in the league who weren't able to hang three goals on the Raiders in at least one of their meetings - in fact, Princeton and Brown were the only other ones who didn't do it twice (although Brown did do it a second time in a non-league game in Vermont). Dartmouth was five-for-five in scoring three or more against the Raiders, which was helpful in the Big Green getting past them in the playoffs.

So while Finn returns for his senior season on a squad where he's been the undisputed starter since his arrival on campus, you've got to think freshman Colton Point, a fifth-round selection of the Dallas Stars back in June, will get more than ample opportunity to unseat him. At the very least, expect Colgate's clear netminder of the future to get plenty of playing time even if he doesn't fully displace Finn as the starter as Finn did to senior Erik Mihalik as a freshman.

And of course, on top of needing to find a way to keep the puck out of their own net, the Raiders need to replace four forwards who have been beyond crucial for their offensive structure for the last four years. They comprised the top four scorers last season, combining for 114 of Colgate's 253 total points last year - four players notching 45% of the offense, and now all gone.

The effort begins with Panowyk, the leading returning scorer (18 points) and Harrison, a Calgary draft pick who tied with Peterson for the goals lead among returning players (8 each). Dauda (9 points) deserves some recognition as well - he arrived midseason last year after initially expecting to defer his arrival to this season due to medical concerns, so with a full year he'd probably have been right up there with Panowyk.

All of it is for naught if the Raiders can't get back on track on defense, though. Along the blue line, Colgate had three freshmen suiting up regularly last season, so look for growth in those same three sophomores - Brooks, Citron, and McGuire - as keys to success. The whole scope seems to peg the Raiders as a work in progress this coming season, which undoubtedly will be a difficult one building more toward a much stronger 2017 and/or 2018.

RPI will be the last ECAC team to play its first game in Colgate's new digs, the Class of 1965 Arena, as they close out their league schedule on the final day of the regular season in Hamilton - and as with Harvard and Dartmouth, there's a lot of hockey that both teams will play before they finally link up in February (twice). On paper from September, more than four months out, it seems that RPI's defensive edges might certainly give the Engineers a leg up, but don't forget that while Colgate finished 10th in the ECAC last season, they won the season series against RPI in the process. There's certainly no room to overlook this team, at least not from Troy.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Know Your Enemy: Dartmouth

2016 has been a bizarre year for Dartmouth hockey. The Big Green were a goal and about 15 minutes away from a perfect record in January (a 1-0 loss to Vermont and a home loss to Quinnipiac in which Dartmouth held a 5-2 lead in the 3rd period being the only blemishes). Then they were kind of all over the place in February to sputter into a 7th place finish. Then the playoffs got even more weird - relying on two overtime wins to beat Colgate at home in three games in the first round (trailing in all three games), which gave the appearance of limping into unbeaten-in-16-of-18 Yale. Nope, the Big Green swept two close games to punch their ticket to Lake Placid. That's why they play the games, kids.


Nickname: Big Green
Location: Hanover, NH
Founded: 1769
Conference: ECAC (Ivy League)
National Championships: 0
Last NCAA Appearance: 1980
Last Frozen Four: 1980
Coach: Bob Gaudet (20th season)
2015-16 Record: 18-16-1 (11-11-0 ECAC, 7th place)
Series: RPI leads, 46-37-5
First Game: January 17, 1908 (Albany, NY)
Last RPI win: November 8, 2014 (Troy, NY)
Last DC win: February 13, 2016 (Hanover, NH)

2016-17 games: January 14, 2017 (Troy, NY); February 10, 2017 (Hanover, NH)

Key players: F Troy Crema, sr.; D Josh Hartley, sr.; F Grant Opperman, sr.; F Carl Hesler, jr.; F Corey Kalk, jr.; F Kevin Neiley, jr.; D River Rymsha, jr.; D Tim Shoup, jr.; F John Ernsting, so.; F Alex Jasiek, so.; F Kevan Kilistoff, so.; D Connor Yau, so.; D Ben DiMaio, fr.; F Shane Sellar, fr.; F Daniel Warpecha, fr.

Key losses: F Jack Barre, G Charles Grant, F Brad Schierhorn, F Nick Bligh, F Brett Patterson, G James Kruger, D Geoff Ferguson, D Ryan Bullock, F Tim O'Brien

Previous KYE installments:
The Big Green were almost perfectly average last year on both offense and defense. Within the ECAC, they had a pretty solid offense (2.73 GPG) but a defense that could lag at times (3.14 GAA). That kind of made them the anti-RPI in some ways (the Engineers were 4th in the league in defense and 9th in offense, Dartmouth was the exact opposite). With two senior netminders and two defensemen graduating as part of what was a senior-laden team last season, that certainly calls the defensive element of Dartmouth's game into question for the coming season.

Dartmouth has long had a fairly... fluid situation in net. You have to go all the way back to Nick Boucher, who graduated in 2003, to find a Big Green netminder who spent four years as the clear starter. Since then, we've seen goaltenders have solid seasons as freshmen or sophomores, only to take a backup role down the line, and vice versa. It's been true with a number of goaltender tandems that were in the same class or close together classwise, and it was the case with Grant and Kruger as well.

In 2013, Grant split time with junior Cab Morris. In 2014, Grant was more or less the top guy - then in 2015, it was Kruger getting the lion's share, without any reported injury to Grant. Kruger's 1.98 GAA in 2015 wasn't enough to let him keep the starting job in 2016, however, as Grant returned to the top last year - which you might not be aware of if you're an RPI fan, as the Engineers never saw Grant after his sophomore year. In fact, Grant only played against RPI three times - on three consecutive nights, during Dartmouth's playoff upset in 2014. In 50 ECAC league games during his career, Grant played exactly zero against the Engineers.

Anyway, expect a three-man playing time battle between junior Devin Buffalo and freshmen Dean Shatzer and Adrian Clark. Buffalo looked great in picking up his first collegiate victory at RPI last season, but then he got rocked in his next two outings against Union and UNH and never saw the ice again. He's appeared in only five games for his Dartmouth career, so simply being the elder statesman doesn't really make the job his. The favorite might be the 6'3" Clark, who according to recruiting guru Chris Heisenberg is the only NCAA recruit coming from the almost universally ignored by colleges Maritime Hockey League this season, and he replaces another MHL alum in Kruger.

RPI and Dartmouth don't play until January, so expect them to have a pretty solid handle on their goaltending situation by then. Fortunately, the Big Green does at least have three upperclassmen on the blueline to help smooth the transition, especially with guys like Hartley and Shoup, who have done yeoman's work on defense during their Dartmouth careers without a great deal of fanfare.

On offense, the Big Green lose a number of solid contributors in guys like Barre, Patterson, Bligh, and Schierhorn. They do return some leaders in Hesler and Kalk, who both reached double digits in goals, along with Crema and Opperman who were also among the team lead in points. The rest of the attack had a good amount of balance to it last season - 14 players with 10 or more points, but only three (Barre, Hesler, and Patterson) reached 20. So there were a number of players who could ably contribute on offense, but many times they weren't doing it with frequency.

This is a team that will probably have some growing pains this season. It's hard not to when you graduate 10 seniors and then bring in 11 freshmen. If the Big Green can replace their senior goaltending tandem with a guy who'll display top-end ability, they'll be able to turn some heads. If not, it could be a real struggle this season in Hanover while the new arrivals mature in the college game. It's hard to put a finger on the Dartmouth-RPI series just yet since both squads will have plenty of time to develop their question marks before they meet in January, and the recent games between the two sides have been... odd to say the least (for instance, RPI led nearly the entire game in Hanover but were utterly dominated otherwise). But if we're going off recent trends, expect Dartmouth to get good production from someone unexpected - that seems to be the most consistent norm in this series lately.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Know Your Enemy: Harvard

Harvard now has four Hobey Baker Award winners in its history, which is four more than any other ECAC program can claim and more than any other school outside of Minnesota-Duluth (five) and Minnesota (also four). Never mind that Jimmy Vesey's crowning as college hockey's top player came more than a quarter-century after Harvard's (and the ECAC's) last Hobey winner - the plaudit certainly helps re-establish the Crimson to its position as one of college hockey's more storied programs despite the fact that they've now lost eight consecutive NCAA tournament games.


Nickname: Crimson
Location: Cambridge, MA
Founded: 1636
Conference: ECAC (Ivy League)
National Championships: 1 (1989)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2016
Last Frozen Four: 1994
Coach: Ted Donato (13th season)
2015-16 Record: 19-11-4 (12-6-4 ECAC, 3rd place)
Series: Harvard leads, 53-37-7
First Game: December 27, 1951 (Troy, NY)
Last RPI win: February 12, 2016 (Boston, MA)
Last HU win: March 12, 2016 (Boston, MA)

2016-17 games: December 30, 2016 (Boston, MA); January 13, 2017 (Troy, NY)

Key players: D Clay Anderson, sr.; F Luke Esposito, sr.; F Alexander Kerfoot, sr.; F Sean Malone, sr.; F Tyler Moy, sr.; F Devin Tringale, sr.; D Jake Horton, jr.; F Seb Lloyd, jr.; G Merrick Madsen, jr.; D Wiley Sherman, jr.; F Ryan Donato, so.; F Mike Floodstrand, so.; D Jacob Olson, so.; F Lewis Zerter-Gossage, so.; D Adam Fox, fr.; F Colton Kerfoot, fr.; D John Marino, fr.; F Ty Pelton-Byce, fr.

Key losses: F Jimmy Vesey, F Kyle Criscuolo, F Colin Blackwell, D Desmond Bergin, D Brayden Jaw

Previous KYE installments:
Let's get this out of the way first - Harvard has plenty of talent returning, but losing a Hobey Baker winner is rarely easy for any but the most entrenched of the national powers - a fraternity that really doesn't include any ECAC program, let alone the Crimson. Harvard's attack wasn't quite as balanced as Quinnipiac's last year, so a program like the Q is likely to be able to absorb losing a huge scoring star like Sam Anas a bit better. Anas and Vesey undoubtedly helped their cohorts succeed a bit more by drawing the opposition's best defensive efforts whenever they were on the ice, but Harvard simply wasn't getting quite as much out of their other lines as the Bobcats were.

But the qualifier is still important. Harvard does have plenty of talent returning, even if the loss of Vesey and his linemate Criscuolo is going to be a bit tough to swallow. It'll be interesting to see what happens with Alexander Kerfoot, who played on that top line as a set-up man, especially with so many options for pairing off. Malone and Donato both return as 10+ goal scorers from last year, and Esposito had a great season playing alongside Malone and Blackwell as their puck distributor. There are still some very good options offensively for the Crimson, the questions really are how Ted Donato puts them together and how effective they can be without Vesey and Criscuolo helping to open things up for the others.

On defense, Madsen is certainly in the discussion for the top returning goaltender in the league alongside SLU's Kyle Hayton. His 1.75 GAA and .936 save percentage is tops among returning netminders in league play, giving Harvard a huge boost heading into a season where they'll need to retool their attack. Anderson, Sherman, and Horton return as key elements along the blue line, and they add a pair of strong freshmen in Fox and Marino to the mix this season. While Harvard's defense wasn't wildly impressive on the national level last season, coming in 17th at 2.38 GAA as a team, this is one area of their game that shouldn't be a problem at all.

Harvard was very clearly one of the top teams in the ECAC last season - they had a year that in recent decades past would have probably made them far and away the best in the league, but last year was good enough for only third in the final league standings. Nevertheless, the Crimson stormed their way through the ECAC playoffs to the championship game for the second straight year, falling short of their second straight league crown after being downed 4-1 by Quinnipiac. Their NCAA rematch with Beanpot rivals Boston College down the road in Worcester ended with the same score. Both games featured Harvard falling behind 3-0, scoring to break the shutout, and then giving up an empty-netter to seal their fate. Harvard hasn't won an NCAA tournament game since 1994, when they defeated UNH 7-1 to advance to the Frozen Four.

The five games between RPI and Harvard last year were a study in three different sets. Harvard played to its advantages against a depleted and illness-ravaged RPI squad in the Shillelagh Tournament title game. Jason Kasdorf put on a defensive masterstroke against the Crimson in the two ECAC contests, making an amazing 43 saves as part of a 75-save goaltender's duel between him and Madsen in one of the best 0-0 draws you will ever see, then practically singlehandedly won the game in Boston by making 49 saves on 50 shots. Perhaps more than most, Harvard won't miss Kasdorf's presence in Troy - his injury and departure from the ECAC Quarterfinals helped the Crimson grease the skids a little and overcome RPI with a 13-4 punishment across the two game set, defeating an injured and ineffective Kasdorf on Friday and Cam Hackett, who had taken the loss in South Bend, on Saturday.

This year's RPI-Harvard matchup figures to play better for whichever team is able to better overcome their greater loss, RPI with Kasdorf or Harvard with Vesey. With both league games coming fairly quickly - within a few weeks of each other just after the Christmas break - there are a lot of variables that could play into things. Injured players, even with somewhat minor injuries, could miss both games. The game in Boston especially will be a "return to action" game for both teams after the December layoff.

So while Harvard may now be missing the engine of its offensive success last season, there's still plenty of reason to expect that they'll be a tough out for anyone this year, including RPI.