Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Men's Hockey - St. Lawrence/Clarkson (5/6 Feb)

It's tough to pick out a more overly gut-wrenching weekend in recent Engineers' history than this past weekend. Not just at home, but Freakout! weekend against long-time rivals. No goals given up in the 1st or 2nd period both nights - no points in the ECAC standings, leading to a three-position drop in the ECAC standings and an eight-spot fall in the Pairwise. Two games that seemed like they could possibly be in the grasp slipped away in the third period, as RPI gave up the game's first goal against St. Lawrence on Friday in the 3rd period on the way to a 3-0 loss and gave up a 2-0 lead in the 3rd in the Freakout! against Clarkson to fall 4-2.

St. Lawrence



Riley Bourbonnais returned to the lineup for the first time since a knee injury sidelined him several weeks ago, a needed boost for a team that has at times struggled mightily to score without him. Regardless, the Friday night game between RPI and St. Lawrence was widely predicted to be a low scoring affair, and through 40 minutes that prediction proved perfectly accurate.

Neither team was able to put one past Kyle Hayton or Jason Kasdorf in the first two periods, with the netminders combining to blot out 47 shots in first and second frames. The only action on the score sheet in that first 40 minutes were three penalties called in the second period, the only penalties that would be called throughout the contest as the ECAC's penalty drought continued throughout the weekend.

The scoreless duel continued well into the third period as visions of last year's Game 1 of the ECAC quarterfinals began to emerge, a goaltending battle between the same two netminders that was not broken until the final minute of regulation.

St. Lawrence, however, would put an end to that comparison with just over five minutes remaining in regulation, with Tommy Thompson finally breaking the deadlock off a one-timer from a perfectly placed pass through the slot by Mike Marnell.

The Engineers had far more time to even things up than they had in last year's playoffs, but St. Lawrence scored a second goal in transition about two and a half minutes later to seal things up as Thompson again potted a one-timer from nearly the same place on the ice, this time taking a feed from Christian Horn who was gliding behind the RPI net, a brilliantly timed play that made it 2-0 in favor of the visitors. The Saints would add an empty netter less than a minute later to produce the final scoreline.

RPI simply could not solve Hayton, whose rebound control was superb all night long. An extreme few of his 34 saves were second efforts. Kasdorf followed on with 31 saves in a noble but losing effort for the Engineers.




In desperate need of a bounce-back performance in the Freakout! against Clarkson, the Engineers lost the services of Drew Melanson after he took a puck to the shin blocking a shot in the final moments of the Friday night game - a serious Catch-22 situation. On one hand, you don't want players to quit playing full bore no matter what the situation is in the game. On the other, it was an injury that literally came in the dying moments with a 3-0 scoreline. Regardless, it saw the return of Riley Bourbonnais to the top line in Melanson's stead.

RPI has been very good this season when scoring the game's first goal, and after more than 7 full periods worth of offensive futility, they finally got themselves back on the scoresheet with the game's first goal on Saturday. A shot from just in front of the blue line by Chris Bradley 14 minutes into the first period was saved by Greg Lewis, but the rebound popped right to Milos Bubela just to Lewis' right, and he slammed it into the open cage to give RPI the 1-0 advantage.

The Engineers carried that advantage into the second period, where Bubela scored again on a very similar play to make it 2-0 RPI. This time it was Kenny Gillespie taking the initial shot, coming on from the boards to Lewis' left, and once more Bubela was waiting on the doorstep as the trailer to pick up the rebound and put it in for his 7th goal of the season.

RPI's play wasn't overly stellar throughout the middle period, but their defense was strong. They did a superb job keeping the Golden Knights from getting any real quality scoring opportunities throughout the first 40 minutes, and while Jason Kasdorf had to make 16 saves in the middle frame, he was rarely tested to any great degree.

The letdown came in the third period, and it started early. With RPI clearly missing a step in their game and Clarkson hungry for a goal that would cut their deficit in half, the opening eight minutes of the 3rd period made things very clear that the trailing team were the aggressors, and that aggressive play eventually paid off as Ben Dalpe ended RPI's shutout bid with 11:41 left in regulation, getting Clarkson on the board.

The goal given up did little, if anything, to roust the Engineers from their rough play, and less than two minutes later, a general defensive breakdown led to the tying goal as the Golden Knights effectively used forechecking and good passing to help Kelly Summers pot his 2nd goal of the year on a one-timer.

Less than a minute later, an elbowing call against Riley Bourbonnais put Clarkson on the power play, and they delivered a death blow with Terrance Amorosa scoring on a blast from the point to complete the comeback, the third goal in just over four minutes.

Kasdorf was pulled for the extra skater relatively early - with just over two minutes left in regulation - but RPI never really got anything going with the sixth attacker, and Clarkson scored on a bizarre clearance that turned 45 degrees after it entered the zone and just beat out a streaking Phil Hampton to enter the net and give Clarkson the 4-2 victory, a deflating loss for the Engineers before their biggest home crowd of the season.

The three-game losing streak could not have come at a worse time, as the stretch run is now fully engaged, and four of the Engineers' final six games are on the road, including this coming weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth, two teams moving in the opposite direction of RPI. Now just one point removed from 8th place just two games after what had been an opportunity to move into 2nd and 5 points ahead of 4th, the Engineers are in desperate need of a turnaround against even more difficult circumstances.

Current ECAC Standings
1. Quinnipiac - 28 pts (12-0-4)
2. Yale - 21 pts (9-4-3)
3. Harvard - 21 pts (9-4-3)
4. Dartmouth - 18 pts (9-7-0)
5. St. Lawrence - 18 pts (8-6-2)
6. RPI - 18 pts (6-4-6)
7. Clarkson - 17 pts (7-6-3)
8. Cornell - 17 pts (7-6-3)
9. Union - 11 pts (3-8-5)
10. Colgate - 10 pts (4-11-2)
11. Princeton - 8 pts (3-11-2)
12. Brown - 7 pts (2-12-3)

St. Lawrence at #14 RPI
ECAC Game - Houston Field House
2/5/16 - 7:00pm

RESULT: St. Lawrence 3, RPI 0

RECORD: 14-9-6 (6-3-6 ECAC, 18 pts)

Clarkson at #14 RPI
ECAC Game - Ingalls Rink (New Haven, CT)
2/6/16 - 7:00pm

RESULT: Clarkson 4, RPI 2

RECORD: 14-10-6 (6-4-6 ECAC, 18 pts)

Upcoming games
12 Feb - at #9 Harvard
13 Feb - at Dartmouth
19 Feb - #1 Quinnipiac
20 Feb - Princeton (Senior Night)
26 Feb - at Colgate

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