Friday, January 29, 2016

They're All Important

It's another ECAC weekend, which means its another big weekend. They just don't stop coming, do they?

The women have a crucial home weekend against Colgate and Cornell - two of the teams they're fighting with for a playoff spot (although Colgate is very much improved). They dropped a tough one on Tuesday against Yale, so this is now even more crucial than it otherwise would have been. The Tute nabbed three points on the road against the Big Red and Raiders back in October. If they can get things done at home, the future looks a lot brighter. There just aren't a lot of good opportunities to get points in the last three weeks of the season, so each and every point this weekend is precious, especially against the Big Red.

It's the same old story for the men. Friday is a game against Brown they have to win. They just have to. The Bears are in last place. First-round bye teams don't lose to last place teams, but that's exactly what (should have) happened at home when these teams faced off. Instead, RPI is now winless in three tries against Brown, and they have got to get the job done tonight. Tomorrow's the flipside. Want to stay in the top 4? Gotta get a result against Yale again. Keep that momentum going and play well against good teams the way they have been.

Reaching back for this week's pumpup. No theme here, really, just something to get the blood pumping. Unless you want to explore the idea that a hockey game has a metaphorical relation to battle and war, go ahead. No one's stopping you.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pipeline 2016: Today I Sing Tomorrow's Song

Well, January's almost in the books, and around here that means one thing - it's time for Pipeline.

Every year about this time, WaP takes a close look at the future of RPI hockey by running down the details of players who have made their commitments to don the Cherry and White in the coming years.

Currently scheduled to graduate are Zach Schroeder (a fifth-year senior), Mark Miller, Milos Bubela, Travis Fulton, Chris Bradley, and Phil Hampton. These players have used up their eligibility at the end of the season. Also likely to depart - though with eligibility remaining - are seniors Jason Kasdorf and Sam Goodman.

The eleven players profiled below are expected to arrive in Troy some time before the next three seasons, though most of them will be here in August ahead of the 2016-17 campaign. Here they are, broken down first by position, and second by their expected arrival timeframe, and finally in the order they committed.

And, as always, special thanks to Reilly Hamilton for his help with the RPI TV graphics to introduce each player and their statistics so far this season. Along the top are listed the player's current number, their position, and their birth year.


Team: Wentachee Wild (BCHL)
Projected to replace: Jason Kasdorf

The goaltending situation at RPI is a little bit more complicated than it usually is, but it's still fairly straightforward. After Alec Dillon's defection this past May, he was quickly replaced by Cam Hackett. Jason Kasdorf was granted a medical redshirt after missing nearly all of his sophomore season to injury, so he has the potential to play next season as a fifth-year senior (like Zach Schroeder is doing this year), but it is thought to be unlikely that he will do so. Throw in the technical truth that practice netminder Sam Goodman has a year of athletic eligibility remaining, and there's the situation.

Now we can add the addition of Chase Perry to the unusual circumstance - a transfer from Colorado College who will have three years of eligibility when he arrives in the fall. When he committed to RPI last month, it gave a bit more credence to the idea that Kasdorf is not going to use his redshirt eligibility.

Perry's numbers in Colorado Springs last year were pretty rough. In 15 games (10 starts and 5 relief appearances), he had a GAA of 3.97 and a save percentage of .876. Not stellar, but CC was a trainwreck last year (and this year). His overall record was 1-8-1, the lone win coming against a Wisconsin team that was as much if not more of a trainwreck. He largely backed-up starter Tyler Marble as the youngest Division I goaltender in the nation, so you can do the math - bad team, young goaltender, not a lot of playing time. He left CC this past July to return to his junior team.

With Wentachee when the Wild were in the NAHL, Perry was the team's MVP and rookie of the year in 2013-14, posting 3 playoff shutouts (including one against Viktor Liljegren, Lonnie Clary, Todd Burgess, and the Fairbanks Ice Dogs) with overall numbers of 2.34 and .905. He was rated as high as 4th among North American goaltenders in the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau ahead of the 2014 Draft, and he was ultimately taken by Detroit in the fifth round - 15 spots ahead of Alec Dillon (advantage, Seth Appert).

Wentachee is now in the BCHL, and Perry's numbers are very similar to what they were two seasons ago - an improvement, given that the BCHL is a lot more goal-happy than the NAHL tends to be. Frequently, even top-level goaltenders (like Kasdorf) struggle to put up gold standard numbers in the BCHL or the USHL.

RPI had eight years running of having two goaltenders from the same class following Bryan Masotta's early departure for Maine in 1996. From 1996 through 2000, it was Joel Laing and Scott Prekaski - and from 2000 through 2004, it was Nathan Marsters and Kevin Kurk. That was broken up in 2004 when Dan Fridgen brought in Andrew Martin from the folded program at Fairfield. He split time his senior season in 2004-05 with freshman Jordan Alford, and more or less since then the top two netminders have been roughly one class year removed from each other. That changes next season, assuming that Kasdorf will leave for Buffalo's system, as Hackett and Perry will both be sophomores.

The most likely scenario has Perry arriving with either a freshman practice netminder or another call-up from the club team (current starter Liam McBain will also be a sophomore next year), and playing beside Hackett for the next three seasons - assuming, of course, that the Red Wings don't come calling sooner.

And hey - the last Chase P from Minnesota that played for the Engineers (olacek) did OK.


Team: Connecticut Jr. Rangers (USPHL)
Projected to replace: Travis Fulton

When Fornaris first committed to RPI in February 2013, the expectation was that he was likely to be on campus in time for the 2014-15 season. That didn't happen the wake of a difficult USHL season, so his arrival was pushed back a year. Then it was pushed back again for reasons we don't really know about - but you can pretty much write it down that he'll be here this coming fall, as he turns 21 next month, which will make him the Big Ten dreaded 21-year-old freshman.

This hasn't been the best of years for Fornaris once again. Although he showed some decent development last year with Topeka of the NAHL, this year seems to have produced some stagnation instead in a season that should have seen him improve offensively since he was among the older players in the league. That didn't prove to be the case, and this month he was traded to the USPHL, which is generally a lower-tiered league.

The USPHL can be all over the place when it comes to talent. Some of the best players in Hockey East played in the USPHL (almost always players from New England, playing close to or at home). A number of players in the league will never play Division I college hockey. But there are also players like Kenny Gillespie who come out of this league - guys who had some solid expectations earlier in their careers, then had a tough run of things but who were able to resurrect in the USPHL. If Fornaris follows Gillespie's track - from prep to the USHL and eventually into the USPHL at age 20 before arriving at RPI - perhaps he can be a quality piece of the puzzle just like Gillespie has become, if not a star player who's going to rack up points and be a name on everyone's tongue.

That would be just fine. From what we've heard of Fornaris, he's an undersized guy with some speed and some stickhandling ability. If he ends up taking Travis Fulton's role in the lineup as an energy guy for the fourth line, he'll certainly have the potential to be a solid role player as Fulton is today. And as mentioned last season, there's already some familiarity between Fornaris and fellow Miami native Alex Rodriguez, as they've been playing hockey together for over a decade. It's always good to have something to build upon.

Team: Cedar Rapids Roughriders (USHL)
Projected to replace: Milos Bubela

Hayhurst tore up the OJHL last season, pacing the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots in scoring at age 18 with 55 points, good for third best in the league among 1997 birth years. Now a high school graduate, it made perfect sense for him to move on to the USHL this season to develop in a more rigorous league.

Once he arrived in Cedar Rapids, there was a bit of a learning curve, and he struggled to produce points in the first couple of months in the advanced league despite his experience in the OJHL playing against plenty of guys who were bigger and/or older than him. But gradually, he's found his groove. After sitting out of the lineup for a few weeks in late November and early December, Hayhurst has become a more frequent contributor on offense.

A natural center, Hayhurst forechecks well and projects as more of a scoring chance creator than a pure goal scorer - somewhat in line with a player like Mark Miller, for instance. His skating ability and speed should make him a good addition to an RPI team that likes to be able to create scoring opportunities on the counter-attack.

Hayhurst will likely be the kind of player who'll be focused more on adjustment and development as a freshman before becoming a more solid contributor from his sophomore year on. Given what the Engineers should have at their disposal upfront next season, that's certainly not a bad thing. That's a little bit tempered from what we have been thinking in the past, but he should still be in line to be a major part of the team's attack for much of his time in Troy. His size shouldn't be too much of a hindrance to college success even if the conventional wisdom is frequently that it'll scotch professional aspirations. In many ways, that's exactly the formula that many college teams look for these days.

If you want to get super-technical, especially since for the last several years we've seen players who we thought were coming in the next year getting deferred by a year, Hayhurst is probably the most likely of the forward recruits expected for this coming season to have his arrival delayed, which would almost certainly herald a second year in the USHL in the hopes of gleaning more from him during his freshman campaign, but there hasn't been much to suggest that this is a likely scenario. The only indication we're likely to get is if another forward commits for 2016.

Team: Fairbanks Ice Dogs (NAHL)
Projected to replace: Zach Schroeder

We thought we'd see Burgess move to the USHL for his final year of juniors, and the USHL seems to have expected that too - Sioux City used a fifth-round pick to take him in last year's draft. But Burgess himself made the decision to return to Fairbanks for a third season with the Ice Dogs, and that decision has been paying off in spades for him and his squad.

Burgess has been on an absolute tear this season, the very clear leader in scoring in the NAHL by a fairly wide margin. In fact, he paces the NAHL in goals and assists. He has a 6 point lead over second place, linemate and Lake Superior State commit Ryner Gorowsky, a 12 point lead over third place, linemate and Merrimack commit Logan Coomes (a former Quinnipiac commit who had been recruited by RPI), and a 20 point lead over fourth place, the top scorer in the NAHL not on his line. His play has been strong enough that, at age 20 (the age he'll be by the time the 2016 NHL Entry Draft arrives), he has entered the NHL scouting bureau's rankings for the first time, registering 203rd among North American skaters. That probably opens up the possibility of a team taking a flyer on him in a late round, but he's already been passed on twice before. So it's unlikely that he'll be drafted, but he's certainly starting to pique professional interest.

The addition of Burgess to the RPI lineup next season could be a part of a veritable troika of potential point-producers for an Engineers team that should already be returning top producers in Riley Bourbonnais, Lou Nanne, and Drew Melanson. Brady Wiffen (last year's OJHL goal scoring champ) should become eligible next year as well, while RPI fans already saw the potential that Evan Tironese has before he became injured early in the season. Those two additions, along with Burgess, could be a huge shot in the arm for the RPI attack. While no team should have to count on a freshman contributing in a major way to success, Burgess seems to have the capacity to transition well and he'll have the benefit of having all the upperclassmen listed above shouldering much of the load.

The "Alaska Pipeline" now includes Burgess, Viktor Liljegren, Lonnie Clary, Jesper Ohrvall, and, indirectly, Ohrvall's younger brother (who we'll touch on shortly). Those long recruiting flights from Troy to Alaska are certainly paying off in spades for the Engineers, mining talent from one of the best but remote programs in the NAHL.

Team: Lincoln Stars (USHL)
Projected to replace: Mark Miller

Another of the much-feared 21-year-old freshmen, Polino is the most recent player to commit to RPI, his name dropping just a few days after Perry's early last month.

Joining an increasingly large group of recent RPI players from Western New York - including Nick Bailen, Scott Diebold, Chris Bradley, and Riley Bourbonnais - Polino is in the middle of his fourth full season in the USHL (he played a handful of games in a fifth in 2012 as well after being drafted 4th overall in the 2011 USHL draft), and spending that amount of time in that league certainly never hurt anybody. The aforementioned Nick Bailen did just that before his arrival at RPI. If nothing else, it probably indicates an ability to transition to the college game a bit faster than you'd expect from the average freshman.

Size-wise, he compares favorably to another former Lincoln player currently at RPI - Jake Wood, although he doesn't seem to have Wood's mean streak in him, since he's had only slightly more penalty minutes in four USHL seasons as Wood had in his only year in the league. Polino's had a strong year as one of the top players on a resurgent Stars team that has gone from being one of the worst teams in the USHL last season to being a potential playoff team this year.

Since we haven't had much of an opportunity to examine his play, there's still quite a bit we don't know about Polino, but based on a couple of months of observation, it's safe to say he's a pretty solid pickup. There is, of course, the obvious question that is first to pop up when a 20-year-old makes a commitment - why wasn't he scooped up earlier? There could be some concern that he's already peaking, but even if that's true, he should still have something to offer in Troy, whether it's added backbone to the attack or simply as an efficient penalty killer, which is one of the things that has been mentioned about his game.

Interestingly enough, Polino originally came to Lincoln in a trade from Green Bay, being moved to the Stars alongside Cam Hackett in 2014, so Polino and Hackett will be playing together on a third different team when the former arrives next season.

Team: Shattuck St. Mary's (HS-MN)
Projected to replace: Riley Bourbonnais

There's a long line of brothers who have played for the Engineers - the Chiarellis, the Kummus (although not at the same time), the Tappers, the Cavosies, the Angers-Goulets, and the Burgdoerfers, to name a few (women's hockey has the Scammell and Mankey sisters).There's also a few of the "ones that got away," like the Zarbos (Mark came, the others didn't) and the Tinordis (Matt, but not Jarred). In 2017 we'll be able to add the Öhrvalls to the list.

When Öhrvall committed in May 2015, we thought maybe we'd see him join that Alaska Pipeline by taking his brother's place in Fairbanks. When it turned out that he'd be playing at Shattuck St. Mary's instead, that was... more than a little bit acceptable. SSM is one of the most renowned bantam and midget level development programs in North America. You may have heard of some of their alums - Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Zach Parise, Derek Stepan, Kyle Okposo, Jack Johnson, Nathan MacKinnon... just to name a few. Ben Barr attended SSM back in the day, as did current Engineer Alex Rodriguez.

Öhrvall is one of the top scorers at SSM this season, on a team that stocked with solid talent, including Harvard-bound Oliver Wahlstrom, the Maine native who was a hockey prodigy at age 9, Ohio State commit Vincent De Mey, and Jack Johnson's younger brother Kenny, who's following in his footsteps to Michigan.

Emil is already taller - though not yet bigger - than his older-by-four-years brother, and its been said that their style of play is very similar. Given what we've already seen from Jesper, that has to be a warm, fuzzy feeling for RPI fans. Their age difference means they've never played together on the same team, but you can be sure they've played together on the pond, at least. Given that there were only a few months to wait for Jesper's arrival (in fact, he hadn't committed in time for last year's pipeline feature) and we've got a couple of years to wait for Emil, the anticipation certainly is going to be a bit higher for the younger Öhrvall, but it has also been said that his ceiling is likely a bit higher to go with his taller frame.

He's listed as a junior on SSM's website, which means he certainly has to spend another year in high school before he can come to RPI, so in all likelihood we can probably expect to see him playing there another year rather than heading into the USHL - unless, of course, Seth Appert feels he'll develop more in the USHL. Choosing between the two's like choosing between having cake or ice cream for dessert, you really can't go wrong.

Team: The Hun School (HS-NJ)
Projected to replace: Drew Melanson

It's interesting that Bendorf lines up roughly to replace Melanson on the Engineers' roster, because there's a lot that the two have in common. They're both Garden State natives. They're both products of New Jersey prep, and much like Melanson was when he committed to RPI, Bendorf is likely to fit into the category of "much awaited," although there are certainly additional development steps that need to be taken before we can be absolutely sure.

The son of a high school coach, Bendorf competes for the Hun School, a private boarding school in Princeton (yes, that Princeton). In his freshman season for the Raiders two years ago, he put up 66 points in just 27 games, and last year threw down 44 in 20.

In addition to the Hun School, Bendorf has played for Team Comcast, a midget squad that boasts Hobey winner Johnny Gaudreau was one of its most famous alums. Johnny Hockey, much as with Bendorf, played for Team Comcast in addition to his prep schedule. Last year, between Comcast and Hun, Bendorf appeared in 85 games, which means he's been staying very busy.

Part of Bendorf's numbers (above, only his figures for Team Comcast) looking a bit rougher than they were last year is possibly due in part to the departure of one of his teammates, the Penn State-bound Evan Barrett, who is playing for the US Under-17 Team this season. Bendorf and Barrett had some very good chemistry, having played together since they were with the Mercer Chiefs mite team at the age of 6. But even without Barrett, Bendorf's production is still fairly outstanding, as it should be in the New Jersey prep ranks.

It's clear that Bendorf will probably need to leave New Jersey next season to continue his development, which likely means heading to the USHL (as Gaudreau and Melanson both did) for a couple of years. He was taken in the 7th round of last year's USHL draft by Madison, so Wisconsin is a most likely landing spot for him next season.

The naysayers might point to Bendorf's less eye-popping figures and say that Barrett's presence helped him produce more than he would have otherwise. And that could well be true. But the numbers he's producing without him - indeed, including what he produced last season during a lower-body injury that kept Barrett sidelined for part of the season - show that he has his own potential as a goal-scorer and point producer. Next year is the crucial season, though. If he can make the jump to the USHL at age 17 and contribute, the excitement level in Troy is sure to rise.


Team: Estevan Bruins (SJHL)
Projected to replace: Phil Hampton

It's safe to say at this point that expectations are fairly softened for a player we've been trying to keep an eye on for over four years now - Manley's RPI commitment is now of a longer length than his actual collegiate playing career can be (barring a redshirt). By the time he arrives on campus in August, it'll be just a few months shy of five years since his commitment to RPI in December of 2011. He's one of only five remaining 2011 commitments that have yet to start playing college hockey - and in theory, his arrival could be deferred as late as 2017 if absolutely necessary, as he only turns 20 in July.

That seems a bit unlikely. When he first committed, Manley was thought to be incoming for the Class of 2018, which would have made him a freshman last season. Now he's slated to come in for the Class of 2020 instead. Twice his arrival has been deferred already, a third deferral would probably make it unlikely that he'd be coming at all.

As we said last year with Manley, it's hard to know for sure exactly what the Engineers are getting with him. When he committed, it was thought that he was something of a stick-handling defenseman, but if that's true his assist numbers aren't quite where one would expect them to be. Given that several years have elapsed in the interim, it's entirely possible that his game has evolved more into one where he's primarily a defensive defenseman. At 5'11", he's not exactly overflowing with size, either, but he'll certainly suffice.

Now in his second season playing in Saskatchewan, Manley is an assistant captain for the Bruins, but only for their road games, oddly enough. That's an indication that he at least has some recognizable leadership qualities, something that always comes in handy regardless of what the player brings to the table. 2012 graduate Justin Smith appeared in only 42 games across four seasons for the Engineers, and only nine as a senior, but was still an assistant captain during his final year in Troy, an indication of the impact he had in the locker room.

Manley hopefully is bringing a little more on-ice output to the table, but the truth is that we're probably going to have to wait until Manley is (finally) in the Cherry and White to see exactly what to expect, which is a lot like what we needed with Phil Hampton, honestly. That's turned out OK, even though Hampton was mostly a reserve player for his first three seasons. Even after five years, given the odd course that Manley's junior career has taken, there's still just too much we don't really know.

Team: Georgetown Raiders (OJHL)
Projected to replace: Chris Bradley

It's been a difficult season for Cho, who entered 2015 with the possibility of being selected in the NHL Entry Draft (which didn't happen) and has steadily regressed from there. We thought we'd see him alongside Hayhurst with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in the USHL, but Cho never even arrived at training camp - which could indicate that Lincoln knew something when they traded his rights to Cedar Rapids in the first place. Instead he started the year with the BCHL's Vernon Vipers, the BCHL being a frequent landing spot for college-bound Canadians, since the USHL only allows a limited number of "import" players per team.

After a rough 17-game start with the Vipers, Cho was traded to the Langley Rivermen, where he lasted only seven games. From Langley, Cho managed a trade back closer to home, landing with Georgetown in the OJHL. It's a far cry from possible NHL draftee to where he is now. He was not listed on the NHL's preliminary rankings when they came out in November and was also not on the mid-term rankings this month. All of that adds up to some very tempered expectations.

But for whatever reason - be it simply a matter of being closer to home, or perhaps that the OJHL is a step down from the BCHL - Cho's numbers have rebounded somewhat since his return back east. That's certainly a step in the right direction. Producing at nearly a point-per-game with Georgetown is more in line with the offensive-minded defenseman we noted that he was in high school, which hopefully will be able to translate to more of a hybrid style in the NCAA. That points rate was what Cho was doing at St. Andrews prior to his numbers tailing off late in the season.

While it was difficult to translate his numbers last season into something concrete because of the level of competition he faced in high school, this year's numbers are difficult to assess because of all the moving around that he's done and the differences in the leagues he's played in.

Last year we said that you could "mark Cho down for 2016 as long as he doesn't have any major hangups in Iowa." That he didn't end up in Iowa at all aside, there have certainly been a few hangups, and there's now some thought that his arrival could be deferred to 2017, in which case another defenseman would have to be recruited for 2016.

Team: CAC Gregg Distributors (Edmonton) Canadians (Alberta Midget AAA)
Projected to replace: Parker Reno

Last year, there was a lot we didn't know about Cory Babichuk. This year, there's still a lot that we don't know, but we can at least semi-confidently confirm that he's not 5'4" any longer. In lack of things to talk about, the height discrepancies arose. We're going with 5'10". Certainly not a giant by any stretch of the imagination, he still wouldn't be the smallest defenseman on the Engineers (he's got Meirs Moore by a couple of inches), so we can at least stop talking height and try to move on to the substance of his development and his game.

With little information to go on from the Alberta midget circuit, all we can really do is look at the numbers, which suggest a defenseman who's comfortable with puck distribution. That's a model that has fit nicely at RPI in the past several years and has really hit a high point in the last few years.

Babichuk started off the year with the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the AJHL, a step up from the midget program in Edmonton that he's been with for several years. He appeared in just two games with the Crusaders, registering an assist and 16 PIM before heading back to the Canadians. It's unknown exactly why Babichuk isn't competing regularly in the AJHL - it's unlikely to be a distance-from-home thing, since Sherwood Park is a suburb of Edmonton. For instance, Parker Foo - brother of Union's Spencer, who'll be joining his kin on the Mohawk next season - was a teammate of Babichuk last year with the Canadians, and he's in the AJHL full time. The difference in arrival time in the Capital District (Foo next year, Babichuk probably in 2017) might have something to do with this, but the AJHL's a definite step up from midget, and a year of experience there could have been a good step toward the BCHL or the USHL for next season.

At any rate, Babichuk's numbers in Edmonton are slightly advanced from last year, so he's at least showing some growth, which is nice. Next season will certainly be more crucial in his pre-RPI development, wherever that ends up being - in the AJHL at the least, since he'll be aged out of midget, but more hopefully in a league like the BCHL, where the competition level is higher. Should Cho be deferred to 2017, there's probably a chance Babichuk is deferred until 2018 (since the Engineers lose only Reno in 2017), which would give him the opportunity to spend two years in junior hockey before coming to Troy.

Team: Los Angeles Jr. Kings (Tier I Elite)
Projected to replace: Mike Prapavessis

That's not a misprint. At age 17, Modrý stands at 6'3" and, as with most 17-year-olds, he's got plenty of space to fill out. He projects to be very similar to the man he'll replace on the roster assuming that Mike Prapavessis stays through his senior year - a puck-moving defenseman not afraid to join the play with strong defensive fundamentals. And Modrý brings with him some of the size that Prapavessis lacks.

In many ways, Modrý is a local "get." His mother hails from the Capital District, where she met his father while he was part of the Albany River Rats' 1995 Calder Cup championship. After Jaroslav Modrý's NHL career concluded in 2008 after 725 career games, and his hockey playing career ended in the Czech Republic in 2011 after 24 seasons, the Modrýs returned to Albany, where he served as a volunteer assistant coach at RPI during the 2011-12 season. Jacob played three years of top-level bantam hockey while living in Albany after having the opportunity to play some of his youngest hockey wherever his father's career took him - mites and squirts in places like Atlanta, Dallas, and Philadelphia, eventually playing the equivalent of peewee hockey in the Czech Republic at the end of his father's playing days. There aren't too many 16-year-old players that can claim the benefit of having learned both the North American style and the European style of the game.

Now with the family back in Southern California, where the elder Modrý played parts of 10 seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, Jacob was part of a Jr. Kings U16 team last year that won the California state championship, and he was invited this past summer to participate in USA Hockey's Select 16 festival just outside of Buffalo.

Modrý still has probably another year with the Jr. Kings as he's likely to move up to their major midget squad next year (although he did appear in an NAHL camp this summer), and after that don't be surprised to see him in the USHL (and getting some attention from the WHL) ahead of his Fall 2018 arrival in Troy. He's definitely a recruit worth keeping track of in the near future.


For a broad view of what future teams are looking like, see our spreadsheet of the "five year plan" as it seems to be panning out (including this season).

Leaving: 0-2 goaltenders, 1 defenseman, 3 forwards
Committed: 1 defenseman, 1 forward

Most likely, there's no goaltender to be recruited for this season - this is merely accounting for the notion that Kasdorf and Goodman technically have one additional year of eligibility at their disposals. This is set to be a smaller than usual class, so beyond Babichuk and Ohrvall, we should probably expect another pair of forwards to be recruited here - likely both in the coming months.

Leaving: 3 defensemen, 4 forwards
Committed: 1 defenseman, 1 forward

A great start for the Class of 2022 with Modrý and Bendorf. We should likely see a few more commitments for this class in the coming months, although it probably won't get filled out completely until late 2017.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Engineer Bracketology: Week 4

We're doing Bracketology on Tuesday this week because of the women's game against Yale getting moved to tonight, and also because we have a special post coming this week (long-time WaP followers should know what that will be). So even though there's still two games tonight that we're (sort of) watching for that were attached to last week's edition, here's where we currently stand.

1. Quinnipiac*
2. St. Cloud State*
3. North Dakota
4. Providence*
5. Harvard
6. Michigan*
7. Boston College
8. Notre Dame
9. Omaha
10. Yale
11. Boston University
12. UMass-Lowell
13. Denver
14. Cornell
15. Minnesota
16. Penn State
17. Rensselaer
21. Minnesota State*
23. Robert Morris*
In since last week: none
Out since last week: non
Last in: Denver, Cornell
First out: Minnesota, Penn State
League breakdown: 5 HEA, 4 ECAC, 4 NCHC, 1 B1G, 1 WCHA, 1 AHA

1. Quinnipiac
2. Notre Dame
3. Omaha
4. Robert Morris

St. Paul
1. St. Cloud State
2. Boston College
3. Yale
4. Minnesota State

1. North Dakota
2. Michigan
3. Boston University
4. Cornell

1. Providence
2. Harvard
3. UMass-Lowell
4. Denver

A couple of potential bracket changes - again, could see the entirety of the Worcester and Albany regionals swapped for the sake of ticket sales as long as the committee doesn't mind sending Quinnipiac to a technically (but not by much) farther away regional. Probably would see Boston College and Notre Dame swapped, too for the same reason.

The RPI cliff:

16. Minnesota .541
17. Rensselaer .539
18. Dartmouth .538
19. Bowling Green .528
20. Minnesota State .526
21. Minnesota-Duluth .523
22. Miami .520
23. Michigan Tech .518
24. Robert Morris .518
25. Clarkson .509

Further down, there's St. Lawrence (#26) and Union (#30).

After taking a hard look at the Pairwise calculator, I've come to the conclusion that I was mistaken before - quality ties do add at least something of an RPI bonus, albeit only half what a win gets. With that in mind, I'm adding quality ties to our QWB tracker.

Quality wins
Boston College (#7, at home)
Yale (#10, at home)
Cornell (#14, at home)

Quality ties (half a quality win)
Quinnipiac (#1, on the road)
Harvard (#5, at home)

Missed opportunities
Harvard (#5, neutral ice)
Michigan (#6, at home)
UMass-Lowell (#11, on the road)
Dartmouth (#18, at home)

Upcoming opportunities
Yale (#10, on the road) - Jan 30
Harvard (#5, on the road) - Feb 12
Dartmouth (#18, on the road) - Feb 13
Quinnipiac (#1, at home) - Feb 19
Cornell (#14, on the road) - Feb 27

So, we can still use those SLU and Union quality wins, eh? Guess who we're rooting for (and Miami too, of course, since they're within striking distance of the Top 20).

Look. It's Union. Home of annoying fat rent-a-cops who threaten you if you sneeze let alone cheer. Home of insufferable bandwagon fans with a lame band. I get it. You love watching them struggle. But that's not going to help anything. In all honesty? Root for them to run the ECAC table. 10 wins to end the regular season. Why? Because that could be just what the doctor ordered for the Engineers to play in the national tournament. Three big quality wins added to the ledger would be glorious, and the higher they rise, the better the bonus (if it ever comes back). Does it look promising? Not particularly. But it would be a solid help.

More than a few comparisons worth examining right now.

Boston College (H2H win) - Very simple with this comparison this week. If Harvard beats the Eagles in the Beanpot, this comparison flips to Rensselaer for the time being. Right now, the only common opponent is New Hampshire (both 1.000), which makes this a 1-1 win for BC on RPI. Harvard becomes a COp on Monday, however, and by virtue of the Engineers' 0-0 draw with the Crimson in December, a Harvard win over BC moves COp to 1.250-1.000, and gives Rensselaer a 2-1 comparison win on COp/H2H.

Now, this would only be temporary, because UMass-Lowell becomes a COp in late February when the two Hockey East teams play each other during the final weekend of the regular season - which can only benefit BC, as the Engineers lost the only game they'll play against UML this year. Looking ahead, if BC does lose to Harvard, we'll be rooting extra hard for UNH to beat them as well on the following Friday. Best case scenario, in two weeks COp stands at 1.250-0.500 Rensselaer. At any rate, a Harvard win flips and keeps this comparison with the Engineers through the end of February at least.

This comparison gets much harder to flip without BC's RPI coming down a lot (which probably won't happen) if the Eagles beat the Crimson. Since the Beanpot game can't end in a tie (they can and do go to multiple overtimes), it's an either/or proposition. If BC wins, COp goes to 2.000-1.250 BC, and the lowest BC's COp would be able to get would be 1.500, assuming they lose to New Hampshire next Friday and then get swept by UML. That would require Rensselaer to have beaten the Crimson in February for COp to be at 1.500-1.500 before considering playoff series/games that would have impact (BC/UNH, Rensselaer/Harvard). So in other words, a BC victory on Monday all but certainly makes this a nut too tough to crack - but a Harvard victory leaves the barn door wide open.

Total COp: 1.000-1.000
Harvard: To be added (.250 for Rensselaer)

UMass-Lowell (H2H loss) - This comparison is brought back into view thanks to three games this week that influence COp.

As of now, the Engineers trail UML on COp thanks to the River Hawks' win over Clarkson (while Rensselaer has just a tie). The combined winning percentages are 2.000 to 2.500 in UML's favor in games against Brown, Clarkson, and New Hampshire. This week adds Arizona State to the mix as the Sun Devils return east to face the River Hawks. That'll add a full 1.000 to the Engineers' side of the ledger, so anything less than a two game sweep for UML helps Rensselaer out here. Even a tie would be kind of an upset for ASU, but it's good to know that there's nothing UML can really do here to get a leg up.

The Engineers also face Brown on Friday, which is another opportunity to improve COp. UML won't see Brown again, and the only game they had against them was a draw in the Friendship Four Championship in Northern Ireland. If Rensselaer can defeat the Bears on Friday, the Brown portion becomes a net benefit for the Engineers (.750 to .500). If it's a tie, it keeps Brown a wash as it is now. If it's a loss, it makes Brown a net benefit for UML (.500 to .250). Of course, this could change again should Rensselaer and Brown meet in the playoffs.

The Clarkson element of COp can be improved at the Freakout!, but it can't be overcome since UML also doesn't face Clarkson again. A win would help offset any future discrepancies in the Brown element. For UML's part, they do still have another game against New Hampshire (1.000 for the Engineers) which can only hurt them, and Boston College (1.000) is added on the last week of the regular season, which also can only hurt them (although it's possible by that time we'll be rooting for UML if the BC comparison can be won). And, once more, the whole COp comparison is meaningless if UML's RPI doesn't decrease, too.

Total COp: 2.500-2.000 UML
Brown: 0.500 each
Arizona State: To be added (1.000 for Rensselaer)

Yale (H2H win) - Might as well mention this one since the second H2H matchup is on Saturday. A win or a tie for the Engineers keeps COp in play as a manner of flipping this comparison, while a loss reverts it to being solely RPI based.

Yale's been an interesting case to look at. On one hand, they're providing Rensselaer with a quality win bonus, so we want them to be as high in the RPI as they can be to provide a better bonus. On the other hand, they're kind of within the realm of "teams the Engineers can catch in the Pairwise," so losses are good too. It's a Catch-22 situation.

Looking at COp, the only non-conference common opponent is Arizona State, and both the Engineers and Bulldogs were perfect against ASU. So in a nutshell, COp will come down to whichever team does better within the ECAC (outside of head to head matchups) by the end of the season, including playoffs, with three exceptions: Princeton (who Yale beat in a non-conference game), Harvard (who Rensselaer lost to in a tournament) and Union (the Mayor's Cup). Therefore, the remaining games that these teams have against these three schools (Princeton and Harvard for Rensselaer, all three for Yale - including Union at Yale on Friday) have a little extra meaning for this comparison.

Unless, of course, Yale beats the Engineers on Saturday night, and then COp doesn't matter anymore. A win or a tie would keep the COp/H2H comparison win scenario alive, which is the best case scenario since we'd also like Yale's RPI to be as high as possible, too.

Total COp: 8.000-6.750 Yale
Brown: 1.000-0.500 Yale
Union: 1.000 each

Cornell (H2H win) - The Big Red have not had a good last two weeks. They've gone 0-3-1 in their last four games and have dropped considerably in RPI and the Pairwise. Not a good thing necessarily for the Engineers, as they're currently a quality win, but it does make them similar to Yale in that they could be caught. There's an added wrinkle here - the comparison with Cornell could be flipped as soon as Friday.

Should Clarkson beat Cornell, a Rensselaer win or tie with Brown would flip this comparison to the Engineers, regardless of whether Cornell's RPI drops below that of Rensselaer. Whether that lasts the weekend depends largely on what happens on Saturday, when both teams play games that can only hurt their COp figure (Cornell with SLU, Rensselaer with Yale).

There are zero non-conference COps between these two teams, so as one would expect, COp is very close. Until these teams play each other again in February, we could be watching this one ping-pong a bit. Then again, if these teams keep having results like they've been having the last two weeks, with Rensselaer unbeaten and Cornell winless, this could flip quickly and stay that way for a while.

Total COp: 6.000-5.750 Cornell
Clarkson: 1.000-0.500 Cornell
St. Lawrence: 1.000 each
Brown: 1.000 to 0.500 Cornell
Yale: 1.000 to 0.500 Rensselaer

Michigan (H2H loss) - Real quick with this one. Michigan's going to be very tough because RPI has to be flipped as well (and that's unlikely), but the door is kept open thanks to the Engineers' victory in the Mayor's Cup. The Wolverines tied the Dutchmen, which leaves that element at 1.000-0.500 Rensselaer. With Dartmouth the only other COp (0.750-0.000 Michigan right now), a win over Dartmouth in a few weeks would flip COp to the Engineers, 1.500 to 1.250. But, again, RPI has to be flipped as well thanks to the H2H loss.

Union (3 H2H wins) - Another open and shut recap. This one now is guaranteed to be won by the Engineers as long as they don't face Union in the playoffs and lose. That is the only scenario in which this one could be lost - it probably still wouldn't be.

Not worth examining Dartmouth (H2H loss) this week because they can't overcome on COp, but they can certainly overtake Rensselaer on RPI. The Engineers winning their own games would be just fine here.

Time for the cheering section. Obviously, the games we're looking most closely at this week are Cornell at Clarkson/SLU, ASU at UML, Quinnipiac/Princeton at Dartmouth, Union at Yale, and the BC/Harvard Beanpot game.

The key for the cheering section:
1. Wherever there is direct COp assistance
2. For the ECAC out-of-conference
3. For improved quality win bonuses (QWB)
4. Against teams ahead of or just behind Rensselaer in the RPI or PWR
5. For non-conference opponents

Engineers Cheering Section
Princeton over American International - 2
Sacred Heart over UConn - would do some minor damage to Hockey East RPIs, not important

Clarkson over Cornell - 1
St. Lawrence over Colgate - 3
Union over Yale - 1/3/4
Quinnipiac over Dartmouth - 1/4
Merrimack over Boston University - 4
Boston College over Notre Dame - 3/4/5

Weekend series
Michigan over Penn State - 4/5
New Hampshire over Providence - 5
Miami over Denver - 4/5
Western Michigan over North Dakota - 5
Bentley over Sacred Heart - 5
Arizona State over UMass-Lowell - 1/4/5
Northern Michigan over Minnesota Duluth - 4
Michigan Tech over Bowling Green - 4
Colorado College over Omaha - 4
Alaska-Anchorage over Alabama-Huntsville - 5
Alaska over Wisconsin - 5

St. Cloud State over Minnesota State - 4
Bemidji State over Minnesota - 4
Princeton over Dartmouth - 1/4
St. Lawrence over Cornell - 1
Union over Brown - 3

Minnesota State/St. Cloud State over Minnesota AND/OR Bemidji State over Minnesota State - 4
Arizona State over Merrimack - 5

Harvard over Boston College - 1/2
Northeastern over Boston University - 4

Brown over UConn - 2

Important COp/H2H games for currently relevant comparisons
Friday, January 29: Arizona State at UMass-Lowell; Rensselaer at Brown
Saturday, January 30: Arizona State at UMass-Lowell; Rensselaer at Yale
Monday, February 1: Harvard vs. Boston College (Beanpot)
Friday, February 5: New Hampshire at Boston College; St. Lawrence at Rensselaer
Saturday, February 6: New Hampshire at UMass-Lowell; Clarkson at Rensselaer
Friday, February 12: Rensselaer at Harvard
Saturday, February 13: Rensselaer at Dartmouth
Friday, February 26: UMass-Lowell at Boston College
Saturday, February 27: Boston College at UMass-Lowell

Unwinnable comparisons (H2H loss, will lose COp)

Clinched comparisons (H2H win, will win COp)
Western Michigan, Bentley

Monday, January 25, 2016

Men's Hockey - at Quinnipiac/vs. Union (21/23 Jan)

The Engineers came out of a big weekend with a couple of great results, though they were mere inches and scant seconds away from coming away with an even bigger result. On Thursday of last week, RPI gave #1 Quinnipiac all they could handle, taking a (brief) 2-0 lead and very nearly pulling off the second upset over a #1 team this year, but gave up the lead with less than 10 seconds remaining, settling for a 2-2 tie. They rebounded nicely two days later, picking up a third win this year over Union in a solid if frequently not exceptional game in Albany, 5-2.




Quinnipiac came into Thursday's conference game just two days removed from a harrowing 3-3 tie at Maine in which the Bobcats had to notch two goals in the final 7:01 - including an extra-attacker goal on the power play with less than a minute remaining - to keep their 1-loss record intact. The Engineers, on the other hand, were in need of a far better performance than they had at home against Colgate the previous Saturday.

Onslaught is the best word to describe the first period from Quinnipiac's perspective. The Bobcats maintained puck control for a majority of the period, and unleashed 13 shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes, all turned aside by Jason Kasdorf. The first period was a question of survival for RPI as the Q looked to establish dominance early. They did look the better of the two teams, but getting out of the period at a score of 0-0 was a huge boost to the Engineers.

As the 2nd period rolled on, the storm drew down and RPI was able to start operating on more or less equal footing with the home team - and they got the first bounce for a goal to go their way as Zach Schroeder opened the scoring with just over three minutes left in the period on an odd man rush, putting the Engineers ahead 1-0 despite being outshot 30-16 in the first two periods.

Five minutes into the third, RPI got an insurance tally when a shot by Milos Bubela banked off Mark Miller's chest and into the net, putting the Engineers up 2-0. But that lead would last only 31 seconds, as Quinnipiac got themselves on the board with Soren Jonzzon scoring moments after a draw in the RPI end to bring the Bobcats back within one.

Kasdorf led the charge defensively, but the Engineers gave him plenty of support as Quinnipiac pushed for the tying goal. It started to look like a potential redux of Tuesday for the Bobcats when Jared Wilson was called for slashing with 3:01 left in regulation. The Q immediately pulled their netminder to create the same 6-on-4 situation that had helped them tie the score in the final minute against the Black Bears.

RPI's penalty kill, strong all season long, held up once again, and very nearly sealed up the victory. The usual caveat on pulling your goaltender while on the power play is that the penalty killers can take shots on the open net without worrying about icing - and the Engineers came oh so close to potting one when Lou Nanne sent one the length of the ice, and missed the net by mere inches with about 30 seconds left on the Wilson penalty.

The Engineers killed the penalty completely, but still had 60 more seconds to survive with the extra attacker on the ice. Ultimately, they would need to make it a total of 181 seconds with six skaters attacking for the #1 team in the nation. They made it 172. Sam Anas, one of Quinnipiac's most dangerous attackers, poked in a loose puck on the goal line with 9.3 seconds remaining in regulation to break the hearts of Engineer Nation and send the game into overtime.

Just 14 seconds into the overtime period, QU gained a golden opportunity to steal the win when Schroeder was called for boarding - a penalty the officials discussed at length but chose to call a minor. Again, the RPI penalty kill stood strong, and the Engineers themselves got a power play chance with just over a minute left in the OT period, but neither team were able to put one home for the victory. Kasdorf made 3 saves in overtime to give him a total of 46 saves on 48 shots for the evening.

To come so close to victory on the road against a team RPI hasn't beaten since 2010 was rough, but ultimately, it was a solid result in the grand scheme of things.




Hampered by injuries and perhaps emboldened by the figurative level of success RPI found two days prior against Quinnipiac, the Engineers ran the same lineup against Union in the Mayor's Cup game.

It took RPI just 50 seconds to open the scoring at the Times Union Center as Lou Nanne jumped on a rebound from a shot by Chris Bradley for his third goal of the year, making it 1-0 Engineers before many in the crowd even had the time to settle into their seats. But that lead didn't last terribly long - Eli Lichtenwald jumped on a rebound that should have been cleared into the corner about a minute and a half later, and just like that, it was a 1-1 game.

Mike Prapavessis showed off some sweet moves with about 7 minutes left in the first, toe dragging around his man to create open ice at the top of the slot, and he rifled one home to make it 2-1 Engineers. But once again, it would be a short-lived lead, as Union's Ryan Scarfo scored on the power play two minutes later to knot things up once again.

From there, the game devolved into a complete mess flow-wise, as neither team seemed able to exert any significant attacking pressure. Union managed only feeble attempts on goal, while RPI was at times utterly unable to win faceoffs anywhere on the ice. The deadlock would remain until 13 minutes into the second period, when Jimmy DeVito pounced on a loose puck and beat Alex Sakellaropoulos for his first goal of the year, making it 3-2 RPI.

The lack of flow persisted from that point well into the third period, and for the same reasons. As time ticked by, it seemed as though the game was setting up for an explosive ending, but once more RPI managed to control the right bounce at the right time to let things set up for a simply ugly victory instead. Phil Hampton saw a shot by Jesper Ohrvall deflect right to him in the faceoff circle to the left of Sakellaropoulos, and he one-timed that rebound home to give RPI a 4-2 edge with just under 4 minutes left to play.

Drew Melanson added an empty netter, his fourth goal of the season, with 1:10 left to seal things up tight for the Engineers, who won the Mayor's Cup for the second time in four tries and exorcised the demons of last year's abysmal third period, in which RPI allowed six goals in the final 20 minutes.

The Engineers have 6 of their last 10 games on the road, and that starts this coming weekend when they take on a Brown team they need to find a win against, and a Yale team that could provide a significant boost if RPI can manage to sweep the season series. They fell behind Harvard in the ECAC standings after the Crimson swept their weekend set at Colgate and Cornell, but they do still have a game in hand against Harvard. There's a bit of separation beginning to develop between the top 6 and the bottom 6 within the league, but there are only 3 points separating 2nd place from 6th.

Current ECAC Standings
1. Quinnipiac - 23 pts (10-0-3)
2. Harvard - 17 pts (7-3-3)
3. RPI - 16 pts (5-1-6)
4. Yale - 15 pts (6-3-3)
5. Dartmouth - 14 pts (7-5-0)
6. Cornell - 14 pts (6-4-2)
7. St. Lawrence - 11 pts (5-6-1)
8. Clarkson - 9 pts (3-6-3)
9. Princeton - 8 pts (3-7-2)
10. Colgate - 8 pts (3-8-2)
11. Union - 7 pts (2-7-3)
12. Brown - 6 pts (2-9-2)

By winning percentage
1. Quinnipiac (.885)
2. RPI (.667)
3. Harvard (.654)
4. Yale (.625)
5. Dartmouth (.583)
6. Cornell (.583)
7. St. Lawrence (.458)
8. Clarkson (.375)
9. Princeton (.333)
10. Colgate (.308)
11. Union (.292)
12. Brown (.231)

#16 RPI at #1 Quinnipiac 
ECAC Game - TD Banknorth Sports Center (Hamden, CT)
1/21/16 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 2, Quinnipiac 2 (OT)

RECORD: 12-7-6 (5-1-6 ECAC, 16 pts)

Union vs. #16 RPI
Mayor's Cup Game - Times Union Center (Albany, NY)
1/23/16 - 7:30pm

RESULT: RPI 5, Union 2

RECORD: 13-7-6 (5-1-6 ECAC, 16 pts)

Upcoming games
29 Jan - at Brown
30 Jan - at #11 Yale
05 Feb - St. Lawrence
06 Feb - Clarkson (Big Red Freakout!)
12 Feb - at #7 Harvard

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Crossroads of a Season

Tonight, the Engineers get to take their best shot at the top - Quinnipiac. The Bobcats have been totally unreal this season, sitting a monumental 7 points ahead of RPI in 1st place and basically playing king of the mountain with the rest of college hockey. First in the RPI, first in KRACH, first in the Pairwise, first in the polls. They've lost only once all year. It ain't going to be easy. But glory awaits tonight in Hamden if the Engineers can do what they've done all year - find ways to win, and take down top-end squads. They did it at home just last weekend. Doing it on the road would be a huge (and we mean huge) boost, both in the ECAC and in the Pairwise.

RPI hasn't beaten Union three times in the same season since 1997, and even that year they were 3-1-1 against the Dutchmen (they swept a home playoff series, because that's what they did back then). Even when Union was horrible, they still found ways to produce a result against RPI. And these last couple of years, even more so than usual, you can just throw the records out the door. They don't even matter a little bit when these teams play. Both teams have a shot at skating away with the Mayor's Cup.

And last year, at least, it represented a bad turning point for the Engineers. Coming in on a 3-game winning streak after finally snapping a long 9-game losing streak and easily playing some of their best hockey of the season, RPI took a 3-2 edge into the 3rd period and promptly gave up six goals in 20 of the most painful minutes of hockey you'll ever see - and kicking off a brand new 9-game winless streak that wasn't broken until the last night of the regular season.

On the surface, there's not much to this weekend. An odd mid-week league game at a team RPI hasn't beaten since 2010, and then a non-conference game on neutral ice. But mark my words. Two losses at the end of this weekend will sour everyone on this team, while two wins would turn some serious heads. The final results of these two games won't have much more of a lasting impact than in how it propels the Engineers into the remainder of the season.

On the women's side, it's a road trip to Brown and Yale, and a couple of games the Engineers have got to come up with points in if they want to stay in the playoff hunt. Brown should present more of a challenge than Union did last week, but only slightly. Points lost there would hurt a lot. Yale, on the other hand, is a primary competitor for a playoff - and RPI's already coughed up a pair of points to the Bulldogs this year. This weekend's a crucial one in the playoff hunt for sure - they won't have nearly as many opportunities for easy points after this one's over.

No team wants to be peaking in January, but it's clear both teams have a lot to play for and need to be on top of their game now, more than ever before this year.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Engineer Bracketology: Week 3

Another week, more ECAC points, a second place position in the league... and another drop in the Pairwise for the Engineers.

The current situation:

1. Quinnipiac*
2. St. Cloud State*
3. North Dakota
4. Providence*
5. Omaha
6. Harvard
7. Michigan*
8. Cornell
9. Boston College
10. Notre Dame
11. Yale
12. Boston University
13. UMass-Lowell
14. Denver
15. Penn State
16. Minnesota
17. Minnesota Duluth
18. Rensselaer
20. Minnesota State*
21. Robert Morris*

Last in: UMass-Lowell, Denver
First out: Penn State, Minnesota
In since last week: none
Out since last week: none
League breakdown: 5 HEA, 4 ECAC, 4 NCHC, 1 B1G, 1 WCHA, 1 AHA

1. Quinnipiac
2. Cornell
3. Boston College
4. Robert Morris

St. Paul
1. St. Cloud State
2. Michigan
3. Yale
4. Minnesota State

1. North Dakota
2. Harvard
3. Notre Dame
4. UMass-Lowell

1. Providence
2. Omaha
3. Boston University
4. Denver

We'll learn more about the likelihood of some things in the bracketing process being different, but I'd almost swap the Worcester and Albany regionals in their entirety if only to help ticket sales at both. Problem is, the #1 overall seed is usually placed in their closest regional, and that's Worcester for the Bobcats. It's not like Albany's that much farther away.

Some clarification has come down on the whole "who's hosting in Albany" thing. It was announced that RPI and Union were both hosting, which would lead to some problems if both made the tournament and were seeded the same. Here's what USCHO found out:
In that light, the Engineers wouldn't necessarily be placed in Albany should they make the tournament. But let's be very clear about this: Albany would still be an extremely likely scenario, barring either Union making the tournament as well or the #1 overall seed coming from the ECAC and being placed there. Rensselaer being at the TU Center in March would sell tickets, period. More than Union, of course, but let's be honest, little brother can have his turn hosting, too.

So the Engineers are still falling in the PWR. despite being unbeaten since we started this whole Bracketology thing - 1-0-2. What about the other teams nearby in the RPI - and by extension, PWR?

Notre Dame: 3-0-1
Yale: 4-0-1
Boston University: 2-1-1 (loss/tie to Boston College)
UMass-Lowell: 3-0-0
Denver: 3-0-1
Penn State: 3-1-0 (loss to Minnesota)
Minnesota: 3-1-0 (loss to Penn State)
Minnesota Duluth: 1-1-2 (loss to St. Cloud State)

The moral of the story: if you're going to lose (or tie, since a tie is half a loss), lose to a strong team. The Engineers tied Princeton and Colgate, and neither - by RPI standards - qualifies as a strong team. Meanwhile, that's not something that's happening to anyone else around Rensselaer in the PWR. Had the Engineers been able to close out wins in those two games (and they had leads in both games), they'd be two spots ahead in the PWR - yet still behind where they started the month since games going on elsewhere have gone so poorly.

Honestly, the best policy is simply to not lose at all - a team can more or less control its own destiny by just winning all the games put in front of them. Just look at Quinnipiac. But again, the 7 teams listed above (everyone but Yale, who are a special situation) are primaries on our "rooting against" list, if only because running the table isn't really a feasible strategy, even if it's the only thing a team has any personal control over.

And then there's the quality wins factor. Through no fault of their own, the Engineers have been losing quality wins. The RPI quality wins cliff, as it looks right now.

16. Minnesota .533
17. Rensselaer .530
18. Minnesota-Duluth .530
19. Dartmouth .525
20. Minnesota State .523
21. Michigan Tech .518
22. Bowling Green .518
23. Robert Morris .518
24. Holy Cross .517
25. St. Lawrence .507

For the sake of completeness, let's look slightly beyond our normal RPI cliff.

26. Union .505
27. Clarkson .504
28. Miami .498
29. Western Michigan .497

And now you can see why I did that. Four teams representing five victories for the Engineers (and a fifth potential team coming up at Freakout!) are hanging in spots 25 through 29. Close, but not close enough. Good illustration why we frequently root for non-conference opponents, especially the ones Rensselaer beat.

Quality wins
Cornell (#8, at home)
Boston College (#9, at home)
Yale (#10, at home)

Missed opportunities
Harvard (#6, neutral ice and at home)
Michigan (#7, at home)
UMass-Lowell (#12, on the road)
Dartmouth (#19, at home)

Upcoming opportunities in the next 10 games
Quinnipiac (#1, on the road) - Jan 21
Yale (#10, on the road) - Jan 30
Harvard (#6, on the road) - Feb 12
Dartmouth (#19, on the road) - Feb 13
Quinnipiac (#1, at home) - Feb 19

Awaiting the Engineers this week is the Holy Grail of PWR opportunities - a game against the #1 team in RPI on the road. There is no other game that can produce a bigger quality win bonus than that. A win over Quinnipiac, by itself, would vault Rensselaer several spots up the PWR, likely to 15th - not quite in the tournament field, but much closer to it than the results of the last several weeks have left them.

As an added bit of good news, a loss to Rensselaer wouldn't be enough to knock the Bobcats out of the top spot in RPI - frequently, picking up a quality win comes with making the team you just beat fall a couple of pegs in the process, but that's not something that would happen on Thursday. It's a big chance for PWR support that they can put together themselves, but it's a one time opportunity. The return trip for QU to Troy in February won't be worth as much.

Let's have a look at a few of the Engineers' comparisions that are worth examining this week.

Minnesota Duluth (straight RPI) - Normally, it's not worth breaking down comparisons with teams that Rensselaer hasn't and won't play, but there's something that needs to be highlighted here - Minnesota became a Top 20 RPI team this week, and that gives UMD just enough of a quality win boost thanks to their two victories over the Gophers that, even though Rensselaer's RPI is (barely) higher than Duluth's, their quality win bonus is enough to push them over the top. Another illustration on why SLU and Union's poor fortunes are harming the Engineers right now - and of other variables in the PWR that are slightly more tangent to Rensselaer and their own results.

To complicate matters, UMD is playing against Denver in an NCHC weekend series this weekend. Both teams are on our above "rooting against" list, and obviously they can't both lose. However, the Engineers can flip this comparison by themselves simply by beating Quinnipiac tomorrow ("simply"). So, if that happens, we're probably willing to absorb the hit from UMD wins if it hurts Denver enough. The reverse is probably true if the Engineers lose or tie with the Bobcats.

Dartmouth (H2H loss) - One of two comparisons the Engineers are winning against teams that beat them earlier this year (Alaska is the other, and there's no worry about that one). As noted above, the Big Green are closing in on the Engineers in RPI, and the H2H loss makes this comparison more tentative than others - like Minnesota State and Robert Morris, for instance.

It's probably at least time to start getting a grasp on COp with Dartmouth. This weekend, Colgate (tie) and Cornell (win) become common opponents through the Big Green's games, while Quinnipiac (loss) becomes one through the Engineers' game (Dartmouth lost to Union, so the Mayor's Cup is actually irrelevant here). So as things are set up, it's actually going to be more pressure on the Big Green for COp this weekend, since Rensselaer is gaining positive results against COp and Dartmouth only gaining a negative.

Ultimately, Dartmouth losses this weekend would hurt them in both RPI and COp, so that's what we're going with. The Rensselaer at Dartmouth game on February 13 will have potential implications for this comparison and for the comparison with Michigan (for whom Dartmouth is a common opponent).

Union (2 H2H wins) - If not for the possibility of the Engineers and Dutchmen playing each other in the ECAC playoffs, Rensselaer would effectively clinch this comparison on Saturday with a win, since that would be 3 points on H2H wins alone, meaning the Dutchmen could potentially pull ahead on both RPI and COp and still lose. Not a terribly important comparison to look at, just a remark on what could be done this week. Even if Union retains the Mayor's Cup, this is still a comparison that looks good for the Engineers.

Time to look at what we're hoping for in the coming week, outside of a couple of wins for the Engineers.

The key for the cheering section:
1. Wherever there is direct COp assistance
2. For the ECAC out-of-conference
3. For improved quality win bonuses (QWB)
4. Against teams ahead of or just behind Rensselaer in the RPI or PWR
5. For non-conference opponents

Engineers Cheering Section
Yale over Clarkson - 3 (although the reverse helps COp with Yale)
Harvard over Colgate - 3
Cornell over Dartmouth - 1/3/4
St. Lawrence over Brown - 3
Boston College over UMass - 3/5

Weekend series
Providence over UMass-Lowell - 4
New Hampshire over Notre Dame - 4/5
Maine over Boston University - 4
Mercyhurst over Robert Morris - 4
Bentley over American International - 5
Ohio State over Penn State - 4
Alaska-Anchorage over Bowling Green - 5
Lake Superior State over Minnesota State - 4
Western Michigan over St. Cloud State - 5
Miami over Omaha - 5
Wisconsin over Minnesota - 4

Colgate over Dartmouth - 1/4
Cornell over Harvard - 3
Yale over St. Lawrence - 3 (although the reverse would help SLU get back to being a quality win)
Boston College over UConn - 3/5

Princeton over American International - 2
Sacred Heart over UConn - call this one a rare six - weakens Hockey East's inter-conference record. Not really that important either way.

Important COp/H2H games for currently relevant comparisons
Saturday, January 23: Union vs. Rensselaer (Mayor's Cup)
Friday, January 29: Arizona State at UMass-Lowell; Rensselaer at Brown
Saturday, January 30: Arizona State at UMass-Lowell; Rensselaer at Yale
Monday, February 1: Harvard vs. Boston College (Beanpot)
Friday, February 5: New Hampshire at Boston College; St. Lawrence at Rensselaer
Saturday, February 6: New Hampshire at UMass-Lowell; Clarkson at Rensselaer
Friday, February 26: UMass-Lowell at Boston College
Saturday, February 27: Boston College at UMass-Lowell

Unwinnable comparisons (H2H loss, will lose COp)

Clinched comparisons (H2H win, will win COp)
Western Michigan, Bentley

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Men's Hockey - Cornell & Colgate (15/16 Jan)

Usually, a three-point weekend is a pretty solid result, even at home and even when it started off with a win. But there was something distinctly unsatisfying about the three out of four points taken by the Engineers in their return to full ECAC action at home against Cornell and Colgate. Following an interesting chess match between the Big Red and Engineers, won 1-0 by RPI, the Saturday night game against a growing-in-confidence Colgate team featured three disallowed goals and a haphazard performance, ending in a 2-2 tie. Had the results (or games) been swapped, the feeling might have been a bit better, since the tough outing came more recently than the solid victory.




The big injury news coming into the weekend was undoubtedly the loss of Parker Reno to a shoulder injury, which is expected to keep him out for much of the remainder of the regular season, if not longer. Reno has been exceptional this season for the Engineers, both offensively and defensively, and his loss from the lineup is a definite blow to RPI's stretch run.

When the Engineers have been successful this season - and, quite frankly, throughout his career - it's been very much attributable to outstanding play by their goaltender, Jason Kasdorf. He paced RPI to a victory over then-#1 Boston College in October at the Field House, put together a solid enough performance to back a scoreless draw with Harvard last month, and picked up right where he left off in that game to power the Engineers against Cornell.

For the second consecutive home ECAC outing, Kasdorf made more than 40 saves to preserve a shutout for RPI, this time picking up 44 saves against the Big Red. The Engineers didn't put nearly as much rubber on Cornell goalie Mitch Gillam, but they were able to sneak one past him in the second period for the game's only tally.

Mike Prapavessis almost literally took the puck on a guided tour of the Cornell zone, essentially looping all the way around from the goal line on one side of the net, around the boards, the blue line, and the other boards and nearly back to the goal line on the other side. His journey attracted a lot of attention from the Cornell defense, and Prapavessis found Chris Bradley standing all alone in the faceoff circle - he threw the puck through the slot, and Bradley one-timed it to the back of the net for what would prove to be the only goal of the game.

The third period saw Kasdorf stopping 14 shots to make Bradley's first goal of the year hold up as Cornell sought the equalizer. The most dangerous moments came early in the period, as RPI was forced to kill off a long two-man disadvantage after a penalty late in the second to Jared Wilson and another early in the third to Milos Bubela, leaving the Engineers without two crucial penalty killers in the process.

The victory extended the Engineers' unbeaten streak against Cornell to five in a row, and their record against the Big Red in the last five seasons to 5-1-3, and increased their record against Top 10 ranked teams this season to 3-1-1.




The injury situation continued to deteriorate heading into the Saturday game, as Riley Bourbonnais, the team's leading scorer, was on crutches after the Cornell game, and it later came to light that, as with Reno, Bourbonnais is likely to be unavailable for much of the stretch run, another blow to RPI as the team has lost their leading scorer for the second time this season after watching Evan Tironese disappear from the lineup due to a season-ending injury. However, as with Reno, RPI could get Bourbonnais back late in the regular season or for the playoffs. He was replaced in the lineup for Colgate by Alex Rodriguez.

Jared Wilson appeared to give the Engineers a 1-0 lead about 6 minutes into the game on a shot from the top of the faceoff circle, but it was waved-off due to contact with the goalkeeper by Viktor Liljegren, who was attempting a screen but made contact with the glove hand of Colgate's Zac Hamilton. The first period ended in a scoreless draw despite a 12-8 shot advantage for RPI.

Tommy Grant got RPI officially on the board with a blast from the blue line 5 minutes into the second period. Mere seconds later, off the enusing center ice draw, RPI put the puck in a third time, but had a goal disallowed for the second time as it had been put in with a kicking motion by Zach Schroeder.

Colgate evened the score with about five minutes left in the second after a bad giveaway deep in the RPI end by Prapavessis was turned on and put on goal by the Raiders' Evan Peterson. Kasdorf made the initial save, but the rebound was sent home by Hunter Racine to make it 1-1.

That score held up until midway through the third period, when Colgate appeared to take a 2-1 lead on a goal by Mike Panowyk, but that one was waved off because Peterson was standing on top of Kasdorf when Panowyk's shot came in.

The 2-1 scoreline came down moments later, but it was in RPI's favor as Milos Bubela did his usual coast-to-coast routine, finishing it off with a nice backhand for his 5th goal of the season and putting the Engineers ahead just seconds after they got away with an illegal hand pass in their own end. But Colgate would earn a measure of even-up after that miscarriage of justice, tying the game back up with Racine again picking up a rebound and moving it clear of Grant's back-check to put it in with 3:53 left in regulation.

A back and forth overtime period came and went without scoring, leaving both teams with an unsatisfying 2-2 tie that could have been much more for both sides. It kept RPI from making a bit of school history, as the women had swept their ECAC weekend against Union hours earlier, and RPI men's and women's hockey still have never swept league weekends in the same weekend (although they've combined to manage 7 points several times).

The three point weekend combined with Cornell's one point weekend to move RPI into second place by themselves, a point ahead of the Big Red in 3rd but seven points behind Quinnipiac in 1st. Awaiting the Engineers on Thursday in their next ECAC outing are the aforementioned Bobcats, the new #1 team in the nation - and RPI has a bit of a reputation for doing well this season against highly ranked teams.

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

By winning percentage
1. Quinnipiac (.917)
2. Cornell (.700)
3. RPI (.682)
4. Yale (.600)
5. Harvard (.591)
6. Dartmouth (.500)
7. St. Lawrence (.450)
8. Colgate (.364)
9. Princeton (.333)
10. Clarkson (.300)
11. Union (.292)
12. Brown (.273)

#8 Cornell at #20 RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/15/16 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 1, Cornell 0

RECORD: 12-7-4 (5-1-4 ECAC, 14 pts)

Colgate at #20 RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/16/16 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 2, Colgate 2 (OT)

RECORD: 12-7-5 (5-1-5 ECAC, 15 pts)

Upcoming games
21 Jan - at #1 Quinnipiac
23 Jan - vs. Union (Albany, NY)
29 Jan - at Brown
30 Jan - at #12 Yale
05 Feb - St. Lawrence

Monday, January 18, 2016

Women's Hockey - Union Home-and-Home (15/16 Jan)

Coming into the home-and-home series against a Union team which was winless in its last 39 games, RPI had no choice but to take four points if they wanted to remain in the hunt for a playoff spot.

While the games may not have been RPI's best-executed, the Engineers got the points they needed, as Lovisa Selander backstopped the cherry and white to back-to-back shutouts - 2-0 on Friday in Troy and 3-0 on Saturday in Schenectady.

Friday (vs. Union)




Lovisa Selander stopped all 28 shots she faced Friday afternoon to lead RPI to a 2-0 victory over Union at Houston Field House. It was a fairly sloppy game by the Engineers; one which turned out okay only because they were not facing a hardier opponent.

Hannah Behounek scored the game's first goal and RPI's eventual game-winner after Union turned the puck over in their own zone. Katie Rooney fed it back to Behounek at the point for a slapper which deflected off a Union stick on its way to the net and past Leah Patrick for a 1-0 RPI lead.

The second period passed without any scoring, through the Engineers managed to outshoot the Dutchwomen by just one shot, 12-11. This was a common thread on the weekend, which saw RPI outshoot Union just 32-28 on Friday before actually being outshot 33-32 on Saturday - an unusual result given the Dutchwomen have been heavily outshot in most of their games on the season.

Laura Horwood added a goal at 10:11 of the third period, just barely getting a stick on a shot by Makenna Thomas to tip it between the goalpost and Patrick's skate as the netminder slid across the crease to make a stop. That goal would be the game's last as RPI picked up the 2-0 win.

The game was a fast one, taking just 1:50 to complete primarily due to a lack of penalty calls despite a number of infractions that could have been whistled on both teams. While each team was whistled for just one penalty each, things would go much differently on Saturday with a different set of officials.

Saturday (at Union)




After just two penalties on Friday, RPI and Union combined for 13 on Saturday, making for a very choppy game but one which RPI played to their advantage, scoring two power play goals en route to a 3-0 victory over Union to extend the Dutchwomen's winless streak to 41 games and goal-less streak to over five full games.

Katie Rooney and Alexa Gruschow scored power play tallies in the first period to open up a 2-0 lead, while Laura Horwood again tacked on a goal - this time in the second - to make it 3-0.

Rooney's goal came moments after a point blank chance that saw them robbed by Melissa Black, who is quickly racking up the saves for the Dutchwomen. The goal was briefly reviewed for possible interference but allowed to stand.

Gruschow scored just a few minutes later on the next RPI power play, taking a feed across the slot from Whitney Renn for an easy point blank shot past Black, who couldn't get across the crease quickly enough to get a glove on it.

The Engineers wasted a 5-on-3 chance waffling in their own zone early in the second before negating the rest of the 5-on-4 by taking an interference call. The teams continued to trade penalties in the second period - seven in total, all before the midpoint of the period - before Horwood put home a rebound at 16:38 to make it a 3-0 game which would hold up throughout a third period where Union outshot RPI 16-10.

To keep pace in the playoff race next weekend, RPI will need to shoot for another four point weekend against Brown and Yale. While both teams trail the Engineers in the standings - Brown languishing in 11th while Yale sits six points ahead in 10th - the last meeting between the Engineers and the Bulldogs saw RPI soundly defeated.

With Cornell and Dartmouth just one point back of RPI, the Engineers need to continue to outstrip their Ivy League foes to hold on to a top-eight spot.


RPI vs Union
ECAC Hockey Game - Houston Field House (Troy, NY)
1/15/16 - 3pm
RPI 2, Union 0

College Hockey Stats:

Video Highlights:
Complete Game Video:

RECORD: 6-11-4 (4-5-2 ECAC)


RPI at Union
ECAC Hockey Game - Messa Rink (Schenectady, NY)
1/16/16 - 3pm
RPI 3, Union 0

College Hockey Stats:


RECORD: 7-11-4 (5-5-2 ECAC)


ECAC Standings

1. Quinnipiac - 23 pts (10-1-3) (.821)
2. Princeton - 19 pts (9-4-1) (.679)
3t. Clarkson - 16 pts (7-3-2) (.667)
3t. Colgate - 16 pts (6-2-4) (.667)
5. Harvard - 15 pts (7-5-1) (.577)
6. St. Lawrence - 13 pts (6-5-1) (.542)
7. RPI - 12 pts (5-5-2) (.500)
8t. Cornell - 11 pts (4-5-3) (.458)
8t. Dartmouth - 11 pts (4-6-3) (.423)
10. Yale - 9 pts (4-7-1) (.375)
11. Brown - 3 pts (1-10-1) (.125)
12. Union - 2 pts (0-10-2) (.083)


Upcoming Schedule

Jan. 22 - at Brown (7pm)
Jan. 23 - at Yale (4pm)
Jan. 29 - Colgate (7pm)
Jan. 30 - Cornell (4pm)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

None Shall Pass

No pumpup? No problem.

Missed posting this pumpup yesterday due to some family obligations, but the Engineers, both teams, made the song I was planning to use look mighty prescient.

A 2-0 win for the ladies over Union was followed by a 1-0 win for the gentlemen over Cornell. Lovisa Selander and Jason Kasdorf became the first RPI netminding duo to post shutouts on the same day since Brianna Piper and Bryce Merriam did it on November 12, 2011 - which also happens to be the same day the men last won a game 1-0.

Now, we see if the teams can engineer the first double sweep since October 19-20, 2007, when the men swept Army and Sacred Heart while the women swept Maine - it's never happened that both teams have swept an ECAC weekend at the same time.

Let's make some history tonight, eh?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Engineer Bracketology: Week 2

This week was an excellent demonstration for why other games are just as important - and frequently more so - than your own games when it comes to positioning in the Pairwise Rankings.

Rensselaer played just one game this week, skating to a 3-3 draw with Princeton. That's not a great result, but taken by itself, it really didn't change much of anything. In fact, even if the Engineers had beaten the Tigers, they still would have seen their Pairwise ranking decrease.

Here's what it currently looks like.

1. Quinnipiac*
2. North Dakota*
3. St. Cloud State
4. Harvard
5. Cornell
6. Providence*
7. Omaha
8. Michigan*
9. Boston University
10. Boston College
11. Notre Dame
12. Yale
13. UMass-Lowell
14. Denver
15. Penn State
16. Minnesota Duluth
17. Rensselaer
18. Minnesota State*
23. Robert Morris*

Last in: UMass-Lowell, Denver
First out: Penn State, Minnesota Duluth
In since last week: Boston College, Denver
Out since last week: St. Lawrence, Penn State
League breakdown: 5 HEA, 4 ECAC, 4 NCHC, 1 B1G, 1 WCHA, 1 AHA

(Since Rensselaer's out of the tournament right now and nothing major has changed other than what's listed above, we'll forego the projected bracket this week. Also note - I decided to change the presumed autobid from whoever is in 1st in each league by winning percentage to whoever is tops in each league in KRACH. Much better way to determine who the best team is supposed to be.)

Had the Engineers beaten Princeton, they'd be in 16th instead of 17th, where they'd been in 15th before this weekend's games. So why the drop? Well, the biggest reasons were Union's loss to Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence getting swept by Northeastern. The Dutchmen and Saints had been providing RPI boosts thanks to their position in the Top 20 of RPI. But no longer.

Old and busted: The TUC cliff.
New hotness: The RPI bonus cliff.

16. Minnesota Duluth .533
17. Rensselaer .532
18. Minnesota State .530
19. Minnesota .524
22. Bowling Green .522
21. Holy Cross .521
22. Union .518
23. Dartmouth .517
24. Robert Morris .517
25. Michigan Tech .515
26. St. Lawrence .514

Quality wins
Boston College (#10, at home)
Yale (#12, at home)

Lost quality wins
Union (#22, at home and on the road)
St. Lawrence (#26, on the road)

Missed opportunities
Harvard (#4, neutral ice and at home)
Michigan (#8, at home)
UMass-Lowell (#13, on the road)

Upcoming opportunities in the next 10 games
Cornell (#5, at home) - Jan 15
Quinnipiac (#1, on the road) - Jan 21
Yale (#12, on the road) - Jan 30
Harvard (#4, on the road) - Feb 12

That's a loss of three out of five quality wins - two of which were on the road - off the Engineers' docket, providing the biggest change to their RPI, the most crucial aspect of the PWR (note that, whether Rensselaer is in the Top 20 is irrelevant to this part of the discussion, although they're going to struggle in PWR generally if they aren't).

St. Lawrence took a huge tumble down the RPI and PWR standings when they were swept by a Northeastern team that seems to have flipped a switch, having been awful early in the year and practically unstoppable now. While the Huskies are pretty good now, RPI takes the entire season into account, and NU started the year 2-12-3, both of their wins coming against Colgate.

Northeastern may prove to be a problem for the ECAC writ-large, as they are now 4-0-1 against the conference, their draw coming at Quinnipiac of all teams. That's a huge boost for Hockey East against the ECAC, against whom they're otherwise struggling for the most part - 18-26-3 without the Huskies' contribution.

As for the Saints, losing to Clarkson last night only exacerbated the situation. They were in the tournament last week as a #3 seed, ranked #10 overall in PWR. This week? Not just out, but way out, free-falling 15 spots in one weekend to #25. That underscores that, even now that it's January, it's still too early to take major stock in the Pairwise. There's still a lot that can happen in a hurry. St. Lawrence especially is in a situation where they need things to turn around quickly if they're going to contend for an at-large spot.

It should go without saying that a win over Cornell on Friday would be pretty big for the Engineers. It would provide another quality win (at home, but let's not quibble here), it would move them into 2nd place in the ECAC, and it would be a solid RPI boost all at the same time. Before considering any other game this week, a win over the Big Red would move Rensselaer back up to 15th on its own (on RPI).

Again, only a couple of comparisons worth looking at. Otherwise, it's just straight RPI.

UMass-Lowell (H2H loss) - A scoreless tie with UNH was broken with under 3 minutes left in regulation as the River Hawks beat the Wildcats 1-0, keeping this comparison firmly in UML's hands. The win over UNH basically keeps COp as it was last week, and we won't get another crack at flipping this one until January 29, when the Engineers visit Brown. A win over the Bears would help, but wouldn't flip COp by itself. The bigger one comes in February when UNH visits Lowell for the other half of the series. Even a tie in that game would be very helpful, especially if paired with a Rensselaer win over Brown. But nothing can really change unless the Engineers catch UML in RPI as well, which means we're rooting against the River Hawks for the foreseeable future.

Yale (H2H win) - The Bulldogs' 4-0 win over the Sun Devils cancels out any advantage the Engineers could have gotten on Yale through ASU (both were 1.000 against the Sun Devils), but thanks in part to their 1-1 tie with Michigan Tech, they're within striking distance in RPI. Losses to Brown would not only help the Engineers catch them in RPI (assuming Rensselaer can win at home), it would also be potential COp boost provided the Bears can take at least 3 out of 4 points this weekend. With the head-to-head win, only one out of RPI/COp needs to be flipped.

The Yale comparison can be flipped in Rensselaer's favor this week given the right set of circumstances. As far as I can tell, currently losing comparisons with Notre Dame, Penn State, Minnesota Duluth, and Denver can also be flipped in the right circumstances (all on RPI, of course). Gonna be optimistic and not get into winning comparisons that can be flipped in the wrong circumstances - rest assured there are probably more than a handful, including...

St. Lawrence (H2H win) - Gonna mention the Saints here if only because they're a sticky situation. The Engineers definitely want them up in the Top 20 of RPI, but they're also a possible rival for at-large positioning. So SLU, right now, is a big Catch-22. Certainly a team worth monitoring closely despite the current 2-1 comparison win on RPI/H2H. On COp, the only non-conference teams both Rensselaer and SLU played were UNH and Miami - and SLU beat UNH and split with Miami (the ECAC won every game against the NCHC this year except for these two Miami games), making that a wash and basically making COp hinge on the final ECAC standings, with the Mayor's Cup a possible difference maker.

Sitting on the Boston College and Union comparisons this week until matchups crop up in the coming weeks that will make them worth talking about again. Dartmouth may become more interesting in the near future depending on the results of this coming week.

A best-case for the Engineers this week, with a sweep and lots of favorable help elsewhere, and they could pull up into the tournament field for next weekend, for sure, but not very far into it - probably no better than 14 PWR (although I've found one scenario where they're 13th).

The key for the cheering section:
1. Wherever there is direct COp assistance
2. For the ECAC out-of-conference
3. For improved quality win bonuses (QWB)
4. Against teams ahead of or just behind Rensselaer in the RPI or PWR
5. For non-conference opponents

Engineer Cheering Section
St. Lawrence over Harvard - 3
Dartmouth over Clarkson - 3 (Dartmouth much closer to the Top 20 for potential future win against them)
Union over Colgate - 3

Weekend series
Brown over Yale - 1/4 (Although Yale winning at least helps keep the quality win bonus higher)
New Hampshire over Northeastern - 5
Boston College over Boston University - 4/5
UMass over UMass-Lowell - 4
Merrimack over Notre Dame - 4
Michigan over Ohio State - 5
Wisconsin over Penn State - 4
Michigan State over Minnesota - 4
Bentley over RIT - 5
Alaska over Northern Michigan - 5
Alaska-Anchorage over Lake Superior State - 5
Michigan Tech over Minnesota State - 4
St. Cloud State over Minnesota Duluth - 4
Western Michigan over Denver - 4/5
Arizona State over Bemidji State - 5

St. Lawrence over Dartmouth - 3 (Engineers have a win against SLU, only a prospective one with Big Green)
Harvard over Clarkson - 3 (Prospective road win with Harvard, home with Clarkson)
Union over Cornell - 3
Miami over Bowling Green - 5

Quinnipiac over Maine - 2

Important COp/H2H games for currently relevant comparisons
Friday, January 15: Brown at Yale
Saturday, January 16: Yale at Brown
Saturday, January 23: Union vs. Rensselaer (Mayor's Cup)
Friday, January 29: Arizona State at UMass-Lowell; Rensselaer at Brown
Saturday, January 30: Arizona State at UMass-Lowell; Rensselaer at Yale
Monday, February 1: Harvard vs. Boston College (Beanpot)
Friday, February 5: New Hampshire at Boston College; St. Lawrence at Rensselaer
Saturday, February 6: New Hampshire at UMass-Lowell; Clarkson at Rensselaer
Friday, February 26: UMass-Lowell at Boston College
Saturday, February 27: Boston College at UMass-Lowell

Unwinnable comparisons (H2H loss, will lose COp)

Clinched comparisons (H2H win, will win COp)
Western Michigan, Bentley