Saturday, February 12, 2011

RPI needs another bounce-back

TROY -- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has answered challenges to its resolve and resiliancy all season.
The Engineers must do so again today. A loss to Cornell will make the Engineers' quest to finish among the top four in the ECAC Hockey standings, and thus, earn a first-round playoffs bye, a extremely tough task.
It's tough to understand why they lost Friday night's game to Colgate but without a victory today against Cornell, RPI will fall out of the top four in the ECAC Hockey standings.
Coach Seth Appert felt the Engineers played with fire. From here, that five was evident only from about four-five minutes into the game until late in the first period and for a brief time midway through the third. Unfortunately, that fire produced only one goal and later, two blatant errors by defensemen led to both Colgate goals.
Really -- while not discounting how improbable it is for Union to hold Cornell to nine shots on goal -- for the entire game -- the fact that RPI could manage only 19 shots against a Colgate strongly suggests that the fire and desire within the Engineers was sporadic.
Respecting you opponent is one thing and the ECACH has the best top-to-bottom depth of all four conferences; not jumping on a team that had been struggling in every facet is something else.
We've said before, when a team with one league win at this late point in the season comes to your building, you must win the game. The other contenders have beaten that team, or you must assume will when they play that team.
Not jumping on Colgate after Joel Malchuk's goal gave RPI a 1-0 lead 11 minutes into the game is almost as unforgivable as it is difficult to understand.
Again, Appert felt his team played fairly well.
"I said before, I thought we were (metaphorically) playing with fire," he said, " maybe we won some games that we hadn't earned; maybe we were sloppy and some how or another, those catch up to you. Maybe they catch up to you on a night when you play hard and defend well but you're not able to score on the power play. That was tonight."
Senior Tyler Helfrich said Colgate’s unimposing record and poor defensive stats didn’t have the defeat any more difficult to swallow.
“No, not really,” he said. “They’re a better team than their record shows. For some reason, they play us well. A couple of bounces, it could have gone the other way but like I said, (Colgate) deserved to win.”
Again, respecting your opponent(s) is great and RPI players are quite respectful.
Look at it this way, though: Union's three ECACH losses are to second-place Yale (first-place most of the year), third-place Dartmouth and fourth-place RPI.
In addition to losing to Yale and Union, RPI, among its sixth league defeats, has dropped home-ice games to last-place Colgate and eight-place Clarkson and has lost to 11th-place Harvard. In those latter three defeats, the Engineers totaled three goals, though Colgate, Clarkson and Harvard the most goals in the league.
Now, as they've done all season, the Engineers must bounce back on Saturday from a disappointing Friday result.
Though the Engineers won 4-1 on a Friday night early in the season -- and lost at Harvard the next night, they are 6-6-2 i Friday games, 11-1-2 on Saturday.


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