Saturday, February 2, 2013

Laliberte returns; Engineers need another victory

   TROY -- First off, RPI fans, Jacob Laliberte is well enough to return to the lineup tonight.
   Second, Johnny Rogic has been assessed a one-game suspension for the major checking from behind penalty he incurred at 10:37 of the first period of Friday night's 3-0 victory over Harvard.
   Rogic will serve the suspension tonight.
   Andrew Commers, who replaced Laliberte in the lineup Friday night and played fairly well while centering the fourth line, will fill in for Rogic tonight.
   It's easy to look good when you're playing a bad team, or even a decent team that's been struggling mightily, as Harvard has been. That wasn't the case on Friday night, though; the Engineers looked good because they played well.
   While coach Seth Appert singled out some less than inspirational -- perhaps even a bit lazy -- play during the second period, the Engineers were solid the rest of the way.
   They handled Harvard's forechecking early to the point that Harvard stopped employing it, and forechecked the Crimson with some effectiveness. They smothered Harvard in the neutral zone all evening, won puck battles in the neutral and defensive zones and held the Crimson to just 11 shots on goal.
   It wasn't their best performance of the season but it was one of their better efforts and good enough to run their ECAC Hockey winning streak to three games.
   Tonight, they'll need to be even better tonight against 16th-ranked Dartmouth on Big Red Freakout! Night. And they will likely need to score more than three goals. If the can pull out another one, they'll have only one game remaining against a team (Yale) with a winning league record. If they want to finish ahead of Brown, Clarkson, Cornell, St. Lawrence (as well as Harvard), and perhaps Colgate, and get a decent seed in the preliminary round of the ECACH playoffs, a victory tonight would be a major means to that end.
    Commers nervous, effective: Commers, a center by trade, admitted to being nervous prior to Friday's game. He'd played only a handful of shifts in his two previous games, was filling in for Laliberte, one of the top RPI players, and he only found out he was playing about 1:45 before game time.
  "I had some butterflies going into the game," Commers said afterward, "but after a few shifts, they went away."
   Commers was credited with a shot on goal, but did shoot one a bit wide that would have tested Harvard goaltender Raphael Girard and he finished a couple checks well. He'll be at right wing to start tonight's Freakout! contest on a line centered by Mark Miller, with Greg Burgdoerfer on the left.
   Laliberte returns to his regular 'A' line of recent games -- C.J. Lee at left wing, Ryan Haggerty, who's taken over the team scoring lead (10 goals-8 assists-18 points) on the right.
   Brock Higgs centers for (LW) Mike Zalewski and (RW) Milos Bubela.
   Mark McGowan will be between Matt Neal on the left, Matt Tinordi on the right.
   Can't attend/watch (TWC, Ch. 1/listen to the game, get the best highlights at EdJ Weaver


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