Saturday, March 3, 2012

Notes from RPI's Game 1 victory

POTSDAM -- What was most impressive about Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's 5-1 victory over Clarkson in Friday night's ECAC Hockey playoff opener?
Easy. Among the many areas in which the Engineers, excelled, the RPI power play was so outstanding it made many Rensselaer backers asking, 'where has this been all year?'
The Engineers were given three successive power-plays in the first period and converted on each of them, marking the first time this season that the power play has generated more than two goals.
Just as important as the goals -- and remember, two of the goals, both by defenseman Nick Bailen, came from the upper slot and on the first, winger Matt Tinordi stuffed in his own rebound -- was the Engineers' puck movement and stick-handling.
I can tell you, both were far superior to what the Engineers had exhibited on the power play in any of the 21 games I've seen this season. It had Clarkson penalty killers on back on their heals and even out of position. If the Engineers can continue that, and play as well as they did in other areas Friday night, they'll win this series and move on to the quarterfinals for just the second time in eight years.
Lee update: Junior winger C.J. Lee returned to action after missing a few shifts in the second period Friday night when he blocked a hard, power-play slapshot. He didn't appear to be skating at 100 percent, though, and later had a saucer-sized bruise on his right leg.
However, Lee skated hard and fast without discomforat at this morning's pre-game skate and should be fine for Game 2 tonight.
Appert lauds play of Bergin, Bailen, Haggerty, Tinordi: Rensselaer coach Seth Appert loved the way the Engineers played, especially their execution, for most of Friday's game.
He praised senior defenseman Mike Bergin's running of the power play, something Bergin was projected to do upon his arrival in Troy four years ago but something he took some time to get comfortable with doing.
He was in top form Friday night.
"I thought Mike Bergin did a good job running (the power play)from the top. He had good composure and poise with it, Appert said of RPI's captain.
On Bailen's two goals and fine all-around game, Appert said, "that's what you want from your veteran players. I think's had a lot better second half than he's given credit for. He's been a lot better defensively and he's starting to do things that are helping us win hockey games.
Originally, Bailen was credited with two assists that were later taken away (numerous scoring changes to follow).
"It's funny, but I thought he was better defensively tonight," Appert said after the game. "He won a lot of puck battles and took care of the puck really well ... and sometimes that translates to offensive success as well."
Appert praised Haggerty, who had two assists, saying, "I thought Ryan (played) hard all night," he said of the freshman right winger. "He was hard in hard areas, he was physical in puck battles and hard in front of the net."
On Tinordi, Appert said, "I thought Matt, for the second game in a row, had a really physical presence and (scored) a power goal (from the crease area)."
Changes ... like on every goal: Bailen looked quite puzzled -- and softly answered, "I don't know," when I asked him if he'd ever had a four-point game before.
That's because he knew he'd only scored the two goals and had not assisted.
One mistake was simply reading Haggerty's No. 39 and thinking it was Bailen's No. 29 but it was a rough night with visiting assists for the Clarkson stat crew. There was a change(s) on all four RPI goals.
Like Haggerty, Brock Higgs 'lost' two assists, Do Dolan lost one. Bergin and freshman forward Matt Neal were both credited with two assists after video tape was consulted. Haggerty, Lee and Marty O'Grady each picked up one.
Here are the assist(s) changes on each RPI goal with the goal-scorer in parenthesis: 1. (Tinordi) -- Haggerty and Lee, scratch Dolan and Bailen; 2. (Bailen) -- Bergin, Neal, scratch Jacob Laliberte; 3. (Bailen) -- Laliberte, Bergin, scratch Higgs; 4. (Joel Malchuk) -- change O'Grady to Guy Lebouef's primary assist, scratch Bailen; 5. (Laliberte) -- add Neal to Haggerty.
The changes kept Bailen (7 goals-13 assists-20 points) and Higgs (2-18-20) still tied for the team scoring lead with 20 points, not 22.
Not pleased: Appert said three times after what even he had to admit, was a pretty convincing victory that "we still have work to do."
Appert said "we got a little sloppy in the third," but what displeased him the most was "our faceoff intensity was just average."
Appert said he felt that Engineers had won "probably a little less than 50 percent" of the faceoffs.
In reality, they went 27-42.
"And I just think it's important that we continue to focus on the team-first mentality," he said. "I thought we executed very well for the first half of the game but when we start freelancing, we're just not very good."
Live chat: We'll have a live chat herein with RPI fans at 5:30 today at
Join us with your thoughts prior to Game 2 and we'll have another blog late tonight after the game.


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