Riding the New Year’s rollercoaster

It has been a wild winter weekend for ECAC Hockey, as we saw a little bit of everything over the past few days. Here’s what went down, and what it might signify.

RIP, Engineers?

I’m the last person who would want to prematurely eulogize a team, but I think I have seen enough to render RPI’s season-to-date a complete catastrophe… and to deem the Engineers’ current hole too deep to surmount.

RPI is 3-15-0, on a five-game slide, and coming off a 3-2 loss to what had been a one-win (1-9-6) Army squad in the consolation game of the Toyota UConn Hockey Classic. The offense is actually improving, scoring 13 goals in its last six games and notching at least two in each of those contests, but the defense/goaltending – which had been the ‘Tute’s only saving grace – is falling apart like an H & M handbag.

RPI allowed 23 goals in its last five outings, 17 of which were even-strength (five PPGs against, one shorthanded, and one empty-net). Goalie Bryce Merriam allowed nine goals on 68 shots in his three most recent starts; Scott Diebold, 10 on 62 in two starts (albeit with seven of those coming against UMass-Lowell in the UConn opener).

There is no denying the challenges that faced the Engineers, coach Seth Appert and his staff, from the early departures last spring right on through the unimaginably tumultuous injuries that have hamstrung the team for months now. These were not simple obstacles, and while there is always hope – everyone starts at 0-0 once the playoffs roll around – this campaign is turning into an unquestionable train wreck, the likes of 2009-10 Princeton or ’09-10 Clarkson. I wish RPI all the best and would gladly be proven the fool come March, but I have to call ’em like I see ’em… and this looks like a dead team walking.

Bears aren’t hibernating this winter

I bet Brown wasn’t on your weekend radar. They didn’t seem to be on New Hampshire’s, either… or Providence’s.

Shame on Nate Leaman. He should’ve known better.

Bruno has finally flexed, stringing together three straight W’s for the first time this season with wins over Yale (before break), UNH and PC. The bruins popped home 19 goals in their last four tilts (3-1-0) following a one-goal, four-game, three-shutout drought (0-3-1) against some pretty soft opponents. The win over the Friars secured Brown’s first Mayor’s Cup since November ’06, powered by three-point nights by rookie wingers Matt Lorito (seven points in five games… recall that name?) and Ryan Jacobson (6-6–12 in 13 games). Home games against Princeton and Quinnipiac should test the Bears’ true mettle and help shed some light on exactly how dangerous they will be in 2012.

Hamilton Hockey humming along

Sick of Colgate yet? If you’re not, you’re either a member of Raiders Nation or your side hasn’t been swept by the ‘Gate yet.

The Raiders are rolling along, buzzing through a 6-0-1 unbeaten streak and enjoying a Hobey-worthy season by senior winger Austin Smith. The Texas Twister (rejected nicknames: Lone Star Legend, Texas Terror, Southern Dandy) has whipped in 19 goals in 18 games and amassed a formidable 31 points. Perhaps I spoke too soon when I anointed Clarkson goalie Paul Karpowich with premature MVP accolades.

Fellow forwards Chris Wagner, Austin Mayer and Robbie Bourdon have each chipped in at least seven goals apiece, and sophomore Wagner actually leads the Raiders in assists with 15. Netminders Alex Evin and Eric Mihalik have combined for a .924 save percentage and 2.14 goals against average, and the power play is producing ample bounty at a nearly 21 percent rate of success.

Road games at Ferris State (a deuce next weekend) followed by tests at Princeton and Quinnipiac lead into the last dozen games of Colgate’s regular season… of which seven are at home. Therefore, this upcoming quartet will likely influence the remainder of the Raiders’ regular season a great deal. Giddyup.

49 COMMENTS

  1. Man!  I’m pumped for this Michigan/Ohio St. series.  This is a HUGE series for Michigan.  They really need to take both games and I think they will at home.  I just wish both games were on tv.  Michigan  3-1/4-1

  2. Did you forget the rest of the rollercoaster ride??   Cornell and Clakrson played as did SLU and Dartmouth.   Saint Lawrence had a very entertaining two games aginst Merrimak and Dartmouth and won two shootout, the first going 9 rounds before Chris Martin won it for the Saints.     Not a mention??

    • Weekend review blogs are in a “three things we learned” format, so I had to pick my spots. Nate Owen is writing this week’s column, so he should have plenty of good info Wednesday morning.

    • exactly…there were more teams playing then just RPI, Brown and Colgate…Clarkson got smoked down in Florida because they could not stay out of the box…112 Penalty minutes combined between them and Maine, not to mention SLU was the only tourney title winner…

  3. Karpowich didn’t play last weekend. How can you leverage Smith over him based on a weekend where he was out with the flu?
     

  4. The guy that worte this weeks article sucks…How can you pick a team such as Brown?  Big deal they beat Yale, who is yesterday’s news, not to mention prolly their only quality win is over UNH….Maybe you missed the fact that the only ECAC team to come home with a tourney title was St. Lawrence who also did it in fine form with 2 shootout wins….Not even a mention

      • im not angry but i feel respect should be given where it’s earned…Who cares about RPI and their dismal season…The fact of the matter is they brag up teams like Yale and Brown like they are the best in the conference…I feel that the only good thing about these 3 teams was the part about Colgate…

  5. I hope NU looses all the games they have left… The only way they can get rid off that “Great Hockey mind” they call coach.

        • Don’t forget the series win, 1-0-1, on the road at Notre Dame. Check out how many Big Ten teams, including ND, are in the top 20 PairWise!

          • Yes they are, starting next season. I added them so that people understand how talented the Big Ten is, so that they stop pretending because it is new that it is weak.

          • So 1/3 of the conference, at your estimation? That sounds good. But your ‘clump 6’ is looking kind of silly. MSU is struggling, the other 6, including ND, are solid hockey teams. The name calling was apt last year, this year it is not.

          • The ugly helmets have not joined the league yet, so dont count them. Once they do join, they’ll be pulled down to the crap level of that conference. I bet they’re lining up the cupcake nonconference schedule as we speak. And what are you basing “solid” teams off of? Their record so far? I’d hope any team that had as easy of schedules as this conference has would win games. Goof U is the highest, per the RPI page, with a SOS of 9. Everyone else? 18th and lower. Go ahead and glad hand them, though, for beating up on those cupcakes.

          • Everyone knows that that the big joke clump 6 conference never wins any games. The only team that is really good in college hockey is North Dakota. North Dakota never loses — they are ranked 0 in the pairwise because they are soo good.

          • For comparison….every NCHC team has had a harder schedule than everyone in the clump 6, with the exception of CC and Miami, which sit 16 and 10, respectively. So all 8 NCHC teams in the top 16.

          • Everyone knows the Clump 6 Big Joke conference is terrible …no team from that conference has ever been any good, and none of them will ever beat the Fighting Sioux Hawks.

          • Posted this four days ago. Still applies.

            “The golden domers are now #16 in the PWR/RPI and one game better than 500, yet I agree the Gdomers are a good, talented team, albeit inconsistent. The remainder, of PSU’s non-conference schedule is weak, sans St. Lawrence.”

          • PSU may be for realz. Based on their schedule to date the sample size, especially against ‘stronger’ teams, is too limited to suggest they are.

      • The Pairwise the ranking I do really love because it is putting my BSU Beavers in a ranking that makes us feel special. But we all know the one we crave is the poll ranking then you are seen as a good team.

      • Take a look at the KRACH, then filter on Strength of schedule (higher # the harder the schedule). For perspective, UMD is at 318, PSU at 106. This is the # that will crush you at tournament time.

  6. Penn State rolls….all while playing teams ranked: 19, 54, 10, 34, 56, 58, and 53. Gee….I hope any team could “do no wrong” with those types of opponents for the 18th hardest schedule…..stop drinking the Kool-Aid Paula.

    • I’m sure it’s upsetting to see a team in their fifth year of D1 having success and becoming a model program in a beautiful arena. Your jealousy is palpable. I don’t expect to see Penn State Hockey win a championship anytime soon, national or B1G, but seeing them be successful is a delight.

      • Move into the top 10 in strength of schedule and get back to us. 4 of the 7 teams played were the bottom 10 teams in the nation. Give yourself a big pat on the back.

      • No, I (for one) want them to have success. I grew up in PA. I just don’t think Ms. Weston is looking at it in the proper context. As a few have noted, PSU has played a cupcake schedule, by and large, and for those using the Pairwise as a mark of success, the sample size is waaaay too small for the rankings to be relevant.

    • Krach says 28th in SOS. Behind powerhouses like Air Force, Bowling Green, and Massachusetts.

      Top 10 in SOS:
      Minnesota-Duluth
      North Dakota
      Notre Dame
      Mass.-Lowell
      Denver
      Western Michigan
      Arizona State
      Nebraska-Omaha
      St. Cloud State
      Miami

    • I am just making the case, but I agree with you that we will see how it goes in the Big Ten. But if PSU was named Michigan or Minnesota, it would have started this year ranked, not unranked. Then as they won, they would have moved up to a voter-ranking similar to the current PairWise (2). And the big thing is, no one would be questioning the voter-ranking of No.2, matching the PairWise, because, you know, they are Michigan or Minnesota.

      Of course there is a lot to play out. But right now, Penn State is one of the best teams in the country. You can say that they aren’t the second-best, fine, but the voters have them at 8. They are probably somewhere in between, which from what I see, is more credit than they are getting.

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