Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Men's Hockey - at Miami (2/3 Jan)

Miami more than had RPI's number for the last several times that good friends Enrico Blasi and Seth Appert have squared off against each other. It's been very lopsided. This year's home-and-home return to Ohio for last year's Miami blitz ended up being a very even affair instead. The Engineers broke their long losing streak against the RedHawks (dating back to when they were still the Redskins) by winning 3-2 on Saturday night, then had the opportunity to complete a weekend sweep but gave up two goals and an empty netter in the third period on Sunday to fall 4-2 and settle for a split instead.




Only two changes to the RPI lineup from their previous time out against Arizona State a few weeks back - Jason Kasdorf returned to the net (he'd split time with Cam Hackett in the ASU series), and Jared Wilson returned, displacing Tommy Grant.

If you want ominous starts, the Engineers got off to one for sure in the first game. Miami's Josh Melnick scored just 1:20 into the game to put the RedHawks ahead 1-0 - and early goals for Miami have been something of a running theme in this series. But as we've seen frequently this season, RPI bent but did not break. They got some solid goaltending from Jason Kasdorf to keep it a one-goal game, then got some good penalty killing when called upon twice in the opening frame.

It was on the second penalty kill that the Engineers struck as the team notched their fifth shorthanded goal of the year. Lou Nanne's outlet out of the zone to Riley Bourbonnais created a breakaway opportunity that the junior buried for his 11th goal of the year, making it 1-1 with about a minute and a half left in the first period.

Bourbonnais scored again just under five minutes into the second period for his team-leading 12th goal of the season as RPI took the lead on Miami for the first time since a 3-1 first intermission edge in the very first Appert-Blasi duel in 2007 in Troy (a game RPI lost 7-3). The lead was dropped 8 minutes later when Miami took advantage of a quality 2-on-1 opportunity with super-freshman Jack Roslovic scoring on a nifty pass from Anthony Louis to tie the score.

The tie did not last long, however, as Kenny Gillespie buried a rebound off a shot by Chris Bradley during a delayed penalty just over two minutes later to make it 3-2 RPI.

The Engineers were unable to convert on the ensuing power play, nor on one during the third period, but Kasdorf and the team defense helped the score to hold up nonetheless. Kasdorf made 12 saves on 13 shots in the final 40 minutes of a game where few teams were able to create much in the way of offense (RPI managed only 9 in the same time frame), enough to power the Engineers' first win over Miami in over three decades.




Another pair of changes in the RPI lineup came down for Game 2 - Jimmy DeVito made his first appearance of the season after sitting out the fall semester for academic reasons, entering in place of Travis Fulton, while Grant returned to the blue line in place of Meirs Moore.

Again, it was Miami scoring quickly to grab a 1-0 lead. It took slightly longer - 2:01 of the first period - but Andrew Schmit's second goal of the year put RPI down early for the second night in a row. And again, the Engineers responded within the first period with a breakaway goal to tie it up, this time getting it a bit sooner and at even strength as Jesper Ohrvall hit with his fourth goal in as many games to knot the score.

RPI did score yet another shorthanded goal - giving them six on the year, tied for second and trailing only Penn State's seven - as Jake Wood scored a shorty at 13:08 of the second period to give RPI a 2-1 edge that they took into the third period.

With an impressive long-road-trip weekend sweep just 20 minutes away, a combination of a determined Miami attack and a sleepwalking RPI defense conspired to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Alex Gacek made it 2-2 on a goal that looked a lot like Miami's second goal from a night before, and just under two minutes later another east-west pass on an odd-man rush found the back of the cage to make it 3-2. Kasdorf was pulled late for an opportunity at the equalizer, but Miami stood up long enough to make the lead last until an empty netter with under 30 seconds to play sealed up the win for the RedHawks.

RPI has now completed their non-conference schedule with the exception of the Mayor's Cup game against ECAC rival Union, and they did fairly well with it, amassing a 7-5 record on the season against non-ECAC opponents. Their road trip continues on Thursday as they face off at Princeton against the Tigers, a team they need to be able to beat in order to stay in the hunt for a first-round bye.

Current ECAC Standings
1. Quinnipiac - 18 pts (8-0-2)
2. Cornell - 13 pts (6-1-1)
3. Harvard - 11 pts (4-1-3)
4. RPI - 11 pts (4-1-3)
5. St. Lawrence - 9 pts (4-2-1)
6. Yale - 8 pts (3-3-2)
7. Dartmouth - 6 pts (3-5-0)
8. Brown - 6 pts (2-5-2)
9. Princeton - 6 pts (3-7-0)
10. Union - 5 pts (2-5-1)
11. Colgate - 5 pts (2-6-1)
12. Clarkson - 2 pts (0-5-2)

By winning percentage
1. Quinnipiac (.900)
2. Cornell (.812)
3. Harvard (.688)
4. RPI (.688)
5. St. Lawrence (.643)
6. Yale (.500)
7. Dartmouth (.375)
8. Brown (.333)
9. Union (.312)
10. Princeton (.300)
11. Colgate (.278)
12. Clarkson (.143)

RPI at Miami
Non-Conference Game - Goggin Ice Center (Oxford, OH)
1/2/16 - 7:00pm

RESULT: RPI 3, Miami 2

RECORD: 11-6-3 (4-1-3 ECAC, 11 pts)

RPI at Miami
Non-Conference Game - Goggin Ice Center (Oxford, OH)
1/3/16 - 5:00pm

RESULT: Miami 4, RPI 2

RECORD: 11-7-3 (4-1-3 ECAC, 11 pts)

Upcoming games
07 Jan - at Princeton
15 Jan - #9 Cornell
16 Jan - Colgate
21 Jan - at #2 Quinnipiac
23 Jan - vs. Union (Albany, NY)

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