Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Men's Hockey - McGill (2 Oct)

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESULT: RPI 3, McGill 0

RECORD: 0-0-0

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

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