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

Bradley-Prapavessis
Wilson-Grant
Moore-Hampton

Kasdorf

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.

Union
Melanson-Schroeder-Nanne
Miller-Bubela-Wood
Ohrvall-DeVito-Liljegren
Rodriguez-Fulton-Gillespie

Bradley-Prapavessis
Wilson-Grant
Moore-Hampton

Kasdorf

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

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