Friday, March 2, 2012

Engineers appear loose, relaxed, ready

POTSDAM -- Following a spirited pre-game skate at midday today, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute appeared to be a loose hockey team but one ready and anxious to open the ECAC Hockey playoffs. They'll do so tonight (7) at Clarkson in Game 1 of the ECAC Hockey preliminary-round, best-of-three series.
"Absolutely ready," said junior goalie Bryce Merriam. "Ready to get rolling."
"Let's do it," said freshman right winger Ryan Haggerty.
The 10th-seeded Engineers (7-12-3 in ECACH games, 10-21-3 overall) wear the underdog's role against the seventh-seeded Golden Knights (9-9-4, 15-15-6).
The Golden Knights swept the Engineers during the season, 4-1 here in the league opener on Nov. 4, 3-2 at Houston Field House on Jan. 28.
Engineers coach Seth Appert was quite relaxed Thursday night. He was asked if the team's six-game unbeaten skein (5-0-1) on the road can be extended -- to at least, the very least -- 7-1-1.
"I don't know," he said softly. "I like the way we've been playing, but I don't know."
Here's how the ECACH premliminary-round playoff series shape up from here and I know, none of you needs to be reminded that a number of big upsets have occured in the prelims over the past six years. (Seeds precede each team, records are in parenthesis):
No. 10 Rensselaer (7-12-3, 10-21-3) at No. 7 Clarkson (9-9-4, 15-15-6): Engineers were swept and have won only 15 of 64 games in Potsdam all time. However, the Engineers have been playing better than the Knights of late -- and I have a hunch.
Rensselear, 2 games to 1
No. 12 Brown (5-13, 4, 8-16-5) at No. 12 Quinnipiac (9-8-5, 17-11-6): The Bears have won often from low seeds -- 11 twice. Not so sure they have enough to enough to take down the offensively-deep Bobcats, twice, though. Quinnipiac won 4-1 at home, teams tied 2-2 at Brown.
--Quinnipiac, 2 games to 1
No. 11 Princeton (6-12-4, 8-14-7) at No. 6 Yale (10-10-2, 13-13-3):After a 2-2 non-league tie to open the season, the Bulldogs whipped the Tigers, 5-2 and 6-2, the latter of which was last game. Yale is among the nation's top .500 teams and should roll.
--Yale, 2 games to 0
No. 9 Dartmouth (8-11-3, 11-14-4) at No. 8 St. Lawrence (10-11-1, 14-17-3): Many 8-9 matchups are tough to get a read on; this one, not so much.The Saints are always tough at home, and they won six of their final eight, including a 3-1 season-ending victory at Dartmouth. The Big Green won at SLU earlier, 3-1. They'll be competitive but the Saints will survive.
--St. Lawrence, 2 games to 1
Hockey chat later: Join us at for a live RPI hockey chat both today and prior to Game 2 on Saturday, at 5:30 p.m. both days.
And we'll have postgame thoughts and player comments herein later tonight.


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