Friday, October 28, 2011

Colorado College

So here goes RPI, back into the breach. And into the maelstrom of the WCHA. CC is 2-0 and looking fierce, what with an GFA of 4.5 and a GAA of 2.5. However, there is room for RPI to do some damage because while only playing 2 games to this point, CC is only averaging 14% on the powerplay and 50% on the penalty kill.

RPI has a chance but has faired poorly against WCHA teams in the past. I retain some optimism though and think RPI can go 0-1-1 on the weekend. It is at home and Houston Field House can be a rocking place. Let's go Rippeee!

As always, here is USCHO's take:

Colorado College at Rensselaer (Friday-Saturday)
Josh: OK, here is the best chance the Engineers are going to have to break their 1–4 overall record. They went 1–1 to start the season at Houston Field House against Minnesota State before losing three straight on the road, including a role as the Washington Generals to Notre Dame’s Harlem Globetrotters when ND opened its shining, new Compton Family Arena on Friday.
The Tigers have all the power in this match-up. For starters, they scored more goals (nine) in two games against Bemidji State than Rensselaer has in its first five games (six).
The Engineers have strong defense on their side. They haven’t been blown out, giving up an average of 2.6 goals per game, and Bryce Merriam has taken care of an impressive 92.2 percent of the 134 shots RPI has given up. The Engineers should pull out a win at home. I say Friday.
Rensselaer 2–0, Colorado College 4–1

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thoughts On Friday

So RPI got shellacked at ND. It was not quite the 2-1 game predicted here but sometimes a real trouncing can be more illuminating than a close game.

A few observations from watching the live ND stream (which looked great BTW! When will RPITV get into the live stream mix for us out of town fans?):

1) ND blocked a lot of shots, RPI, not so much. Of course, the way RPI was playing contributed to this. RPI in this game had the habit of firing a lot of shots from the point. ND defenders blocked a lot of these. There wasn't much movement from RPI forwards or their forward-thinking Dmen to cut and control play lower than the faceoff circles. As a consequence, fewer shots got through.

2) Once again RPI got outshot by an opponent. RPI mustered 19 shots on goal, 2 of which went for goals. Again, the way RPI played the game bore this out. They did not control the zone that much, the odd man rushes lead to a few shots but they did not build and sustain pressure. There were very few times when 5 on  that the D passed the puck in order to keep everyone in the offensive zone. RPI has been outshot so many times this season, one is starting to see a pattern.

3) Is it time to start the frosh in net? I greatly appreciate SA sticking with one goalie over the last few weeks (especially after his horribly rotational policy when he first came into RPI) but is he sticking with the right one? Merriam has earned his dues playing under York but considering how well Diebold played in defeat to start the season, shouldn't SA at least split them until one really takes the reigns. Nothing against Merriam, I am rooting for whoever is in net for the Cherry and White but sometimes a gearshift can wake up the other lads.

4) This team has some SPEED. Watching Rogic rush down the wing and Schroeder create instills and RPI fan with a team with a 1-4 record with some hope and optimism. We need everyone on this team to be healthy but clearly the horses for this year and the next few will be these frosh and soph-o-mores.

Overall ND handed us our hat on Friday night but if the lads can start playing a sustaining free wheeling system that SA is trying to implement then I think success can be had. As always, let's go RPI!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Rare One Off

College Hockey really tries to keep the "student" in student-athlete by scheduling games on Fridays and Saturdays and often minimizes travel by having travel partners (at least in the ECAC). When you come to play RPI, you play them and then Union or RPI even twice. The past 2 weekends, RPI has played their opponents twice whether traveling or hosting but tonight is a weirdo one.

What can only be the result of backroom negotiations when both sides were not getting enough sleep, RPI is traveling all the way to Notre Dame for one game this Friday night. It is ND's only game of the "weekend" as well. 

Right now ND is outscoring their opponents 16-13 but have started slowly out of the gate at 2-2. Part of this reason seems to be on the penalty kill where they are only killing 79% of the penalties and that is a place where RPI can take advantage.

They are also only outshooting opponents by 1 shot so given RPI's recent lack of shots, this is good news as the game may be close.

I harbor no illusions, RPI has not played well the first 4 games and ND is a national power over the last few years despite the middling start. I expect RPI to lose this one but lose it "well" 2-1.

As always, here is USCHO's take on the game.

Rensselaer at Notre Dame (Friday)
Brian: The Irish split at champion Minnesota-Duluth to open the season, but split at home with Ohio State last weekend. RPI, of course, split with Minnesota State two weeks ago before dropping consecutive shutouts at Ferris State. Getting blanked in three of four games is bad, but having players like Brock Higgs, Marty O'Grady and Greg Burgdoerfer still on the shelf is worse. At least the Engineers are playing well defensively, and can reasonably hope for an improvement in fortunes when they return. Not feeling too optimistic in this matchup, though.
ND, 3-1
Josh: This is not the ideal situation for an Engineers team that's limping in off a two-loss weekend against Ferris State. They have to travel back to the heartland and be "the other team" when the Fighting Irish open up their new rink, the Compton Family Ice Arena. Rensselaer was taken to school on several fronts against the Bulldogs - it is imperative that the Engineers find some offense after being shut out twice consecutively. The energy surrounding the Papal Gold and Madonna Blue will probably be just too much to overcome on Friday night.
Notre Dame 3-1

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Well That Happened

Outscored 6-0 by Ferris State. Outshot 60-43 by Ferris State.

What more is there to say? RPI was close but throughout the 6 periods of weekend play, RPI could not muster even a goal and faded down the stretch. I always thought even the weaker teams in a conference like the CCHA are tough tests for RPI and this was no different. Ferris State, in the lower 1/3 of the CCHA this kicked the heck of St. Lawrence last weekend and RPI this weekend.

Suddenly RPI is 1-3 and going against arguably one of the best teams in college hockey, Notre Dame.

Not the best start to the season but certainly with the entirety of the ECAC season ahead, there is much that can be done to help RPI's chances. RPI has to muster more chances and that means more shots. In both games against Minnesota State, RPI was outshot. This needs to change.

Also, RPI has been shut out 3 times and is averaging a goal a game. This comes from a function of more shots and more opportunities but clearly the offense needs to kick it into gear.

It is also clear that Merriam is the favored goaltender by SA at the moment. If this is the case, there needs to be better D in front of him. Teams should not be averaging 30ish shots a game against RPI, there has to be better blocking of shots and better stopping of them by the goalie.

I think RPI has reloaded through recruiting but it may be some time before things gel together. Luckily RPI has time before the ECAC sched kicks in, they aren't doing themselves any favors for national rankings but hopefully things come together to do some damage in the ECAC.

As always, Go Red, Go White!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bueller? Bueller?

Oh Ferris State, the Cherry and White are coming for ya!

Sure you shellacked fellow ECAC member St. Lawrence but you have been down in dumps in the CCHA for years what could change?

Well as RPI's fortunes change, so too can Ferris' and last weekend should be a wakeup call for RPI. I remember way back in the day when Lake State came for the Holiday Tournament. They were years past the great NCAA championship teams, in the bottom third of the CCHA but they were still an CCHA team. They came in and kicked everyone's ass.

I have pontificated on here before that the ECAC, while a great league and a I league I invest a lot of time in, is a distant fourth to the WCHA, CCHA and Hockey East. That said, if RPI is going to start playing with the big dogs by making the NCAA tourney, they will have to start beating those dogs and it starts this weekend.

The road is never a good place to pick up 4 points against the CCHA but let's get it on anyway! My prediction, the team again goes 1-1. I think RPI has the horses to compete with Ferris but the road will take its toll (probably on Friday night).

Another question is who starts in net? SA can start the frosh or Merriam. Since I am not sure who is better at the moment, SA should probably keep the rotation on until one rises above the other. Hopefully they both keep their GAA's at 1.00 so we don't have to choose!

As usual, USCHO has some picks for ya!

Rensselaer at Ferris State (Friday-Saturday)
The Engineers will have to boost its power play production from an unimpressive 2-for-16 performance the first weekend of the season. St. Lawrence made Ferris State look like a world-beater last week, as the Bulldogs scored four power play goals and went 9-for-10 on the penalty kill.
Ferris State, 3-0; Ferris State, 2-1

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Weekend That Was

Well RPI certainly tried to make my prediction of a 1-0-1 weekend come true by getting squeezed out of game one 1-0 and then shellacking the Mavericks 4-1 in the Saturday contest.

What did we learn this weekend?

  • We learned that RPI can lose despite outshooting their opponent by 17 shots and then win by only outshooting them by 6 the next night.
  •  We learned that between Merriam and Diebold, there really isn't a frontrunner for the goalie position. You would think Bryce would get the gig just from putting in his dues under York but I still can't figure out how SA handles his goalies 4+ years in and I am not sure how this season will shape up in net.
  • The freshmen played big. Haggerty had 2 assists, Schroeder had 1 and Diebold stopped 18 of 19 shots. SA can  recruit, no doubt.
  • 1-1 ain't going to cut it in non-conference play. RPI needs to win as many NC games as possible before starting ECAC play in December. This helps with their national rankings for slotting purposes and also gives them a good streak going into ECAC play. Minn was a weak opponent and so is Ferris State coming up. RPI should be 3-0-1 after those 4 games but now I am hoping they don't fall into the .500 trap this team seems to get into season after season and really comes out and takes 2 from Ferris. This is just college and these kids are truly kids but I think RPI is finally coming into its own as a program after many down years and if so, they need to take the bull by the horns and win the games they are supposed to.
Overall, I can't say I am surprised at the split weekend but the way the lads played on Saturday gives you a lot of confidence going into the season. Lots of O from the underclassmen and good goaltending. It makes you optimistic for the future and I think the future looks very Cherry and White indeed.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Feeling Minnesota?

So another season is underway. The lads had a good start in their one warm up game against Acadia but now the test begins Friday night at the Houston Field House.

Last season Minn State finished second to last in the WCHA. Last season they tied St. Lawrence twice and won against Brown, which is sorta depressing that one of the worst WCHA teams was still 1-0-2 against the ECAC.

Still, the WCHA is a step above most of the dwindling number of hockey conferences and this team is not to be taken lightly. They have 12 forwards returning and a senior goaltender in Austin Lee so they will have experience whereas RPI will be a bit green with all their froshes.

That being said, I expect RPI to take the weekend. This is a series that they should take despite losing their two top scorers and best goaltender since Little. Still I am a bit worried that the lads won't be used to the test at the collegiate level so I am thinking they will walk away with a 1-0-1 record.

USCHO has a rather pessimistic season preview but here it is anyway:

9. Rensselaer
Boy, oh boy, did the Engineers get whacked on graduation day — plus that York fella taking off for greener ($$) pastures. This year’s roster doesn’t feature a single player who has scored at least 10 goals in an NCAA campaign, nor a goalie who has played more than 420 minutes of college hockey in a season. All that said, there is ample potential in the ‘Tute locker room, and — as the buttons proclaim — I believe in Seth Appert. Avoiding a first-round road trip should be considered a small accomplishment at this point.

As always, GO RED, GO WHITE!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Another Season To Get Underway

Hi everyone,

Welcome to another exciting season of RPI Hockey and "our" coverage of the lads in Cherry and White.

The lads started off the preseason well with a 7-0 shellacking of Acadia University (whoever they are).

A shutout is a good way to answer questions about the goaltending that will inevitably be raised with the departure of York. Scott Diebold picked up the W which is a good start for the young freshman.

Zach Schroeder led the scoring which is also great FOR A FRESHMAN. Can SA recruit or what? With RPI picked between 4th and 5th in recent ECAC polls (18th in the country according to USCHO!), these youngsters will be expected to pick up the slack left by York, Helfrich and the others on that great team from last year.

RPI is starting off the season is somewhat tough fashion as they host Minnesota State and then travel to Ferris State and Notre Dame before hosting Colorado College in a Appert grudge match. Colorado College is ranked 7th in the country and Notre Dame is ranked first so we will see what the lads have after this Western Swing. If they are 4-3 leading into ECAC play, I will be a happy Blackcapricorn.

What do I foresee for this season? After October, RPI basically plays an ECAC schedule. I have always thought that RPI would have to dominate the ECAC before really ramping it up on a national level. They kinda did an end around last year by finishing 5th but somehow still making the NCAA's. Given the schedule this year, I would like to see them really take it to the ECAC and come out with home ice advantage and a 1 or 2 slot.

Whether that happens depends a lot on York's replacement. When the D falters (which it has over the last few seasons), can the goaltending bail out the team? Will the forwards be amped up and score at the same clip that Chase and Tyler could? The exhibition game gave some good indications of that but we truly won't know until the games start in earnest.

If this team has truly taken a step forward as last season seemed to suggest, then I would expect RPI to run through the ECAC and earn another berth in the NCAA's. However, I think they may take a slight step back as the youngs get their feet under them. Next year might be the year but I am awfully looking forward to this season.

As always, I will continue to put up my game previews/recaps on Fridays and Mondays and fill in RPI news throughout the week.


Also, I would like to welcome RPIHockey.Net to the RPI blogging universe. Go check em out!