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Parting Schotts

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College Hockey Slap Schotts 2012-13 Week 2 — RPI preview

By Ken Schott
Monday, October 8, 2012

RPI spent the first half of last season adrift. There wasn’t much focus, goals were tough to come by and they were in battling to stay out of last place in the ECAC Hockey standings.

The latter part of the season was much better. Two road wins against Colgate and Cornell to close out the regular season put the Engineers in 10th. They upset seventh-seeded Clarkson in the first round of the ECACH tournament, and then gave Union fits in the quarterfinals before falling in two games.

So, which RPI team will its fans see this season?

I think you will see a much better Engineers squad. They aren’t going to overpower with their offense. They don’t have a returning player who scored 10 or more goals last season.

And before you RPI fans start screaming at me that the Engineers scored six goals in an exhibition win over Acadia on Saturday, I will remind you that they scored seven against Acadia last season, and then were shut out in three of their first four games, and had been blanked five times in their first nine.

Junior forward Brock Higgs led RPI with 23 points last season, but 20 of those points came on assists. Senior forward CJ Lee led the team with eight goals. Sophomore forward Ryan Haggerty was the top freshman scorer last year with seven goals and eight assists. One player who emerged in the second half was forward Matt Tinordi. He was aggressive, played smart and ended up with six goals and seven assists. The junior could be a force.

At media day last Tuesday, RPI coach Seth Appert talked about having scoring by committee. Maybe he believes he doesn’t have that one true pure goal scorer. But if the Engineers can get a balanced attack, then they could be dangerous.

The defense looks to be solid. It is anchored by senior Nick Bailen, who had seven goals and 15 assists.

The goalie situation will be interesting. For the first time in a long while, RPI has three goalies who will battle for playing time. Senior Bryce Merriam had a good season, despite having a 10-19-2 record. He had a 2.36 goals-against average. Maybe if there was some more offensive support, Merriam’s record, as well as the team’s, would have been better.

Sophomore Scott Diebold was 2-5-1 with a 3.22 GAA. Freshman Jason Kasdorf, a Winnipeg Jets draft pick, was 10-16-3 with a 2.75 GAA with the U.S. Hockey League’s Des Moines Buccaneers last season.

The Engineers were picked eighth in the coaches poll, and seventh by the media. I don’t think RPI is ready to challenge for a regular-season title, but there is no reason it can’t have home ice in the first round of the ECACH tournament.

Disappointing ceremony

If you were at Messa Rink for the unfurling of the four banners from the 2011-12 season, did you think it was exciting?

To me, it was disappointing. The two spotlights barely showed the unfurling of the ECACH tournament and NCAA tournament championship banners. And, at least from my vantage point from the press box across the rink, we never saw the ECACH Cleary Cup and NCAA Frozen Four banners come down.

Union has the same problem last year. Next time, I hope they keep the lights on so fans can see what’s going on.

Correct call

I was getting a lot of questions about why Merrimack’s Kyle Singleton was awarded an empty-net goal with 1:03 left in the game Saturday.

It was the correct call. When the goalie is pulled for an extra attacker, like Troy Grosenick was, a player shall be awarded a goal if he is pulled down from behind on a breakaway. It’s the rule across all levels of hockey. You can’t insert the goalie back in and have a penalty shot.

Pontarelli commits to Union

Union has received a commitment from last season’s top scorer in New England prep hockey.

Michael Pontarelli, a 5-foot-7, 182-pound right winger, will join the Dutchmen for the 2014-15 season. Pontarelli, who was a junior at St, Mark’s School, had 45 goals and 31 assists in 27 games last season.

But there is some baggage with Pontarelli.

U.S. Hockey Report said Pontarelli was asked to leave St. Mark’s School due to an incident involving the purchasing of alcohol. However, the Dutchmen coaching staff did their homework in making sure it’s an incident that won’t happen again. USHR said that St. Mark’s School coach and former NHL player Scott Young is a big supporter of Pontarelli, and several other people speak highly of him. With the high character Union coach Rick Bennett and assistants Joe Dumais and Jason Tapp have, they aren’t going to bring someone in who is going to be a troublesome player. If they are assured by Pontarelli that this won’t happen again, then there is no reason not to give him an opportunity.

Pontarelli is playing for the Central Canada Junior Hockey League’s Cornwall Colts. Despite missing five games because of mononucleosis, Pontarelli is the team’s second-leading scorer with five goals and five assists.

Quinnipiac wins

Quinnipiac, which is my dark horse to make a run at the ECACH regular-season title, opened its season with a 2-1 win at Maine on Saturday.

Connecticut native Jordan Samuels-Thomas, who sat out last season after transferring from Bowling Green, scored the game-winner with 1:26 left in the third period. Samuels-Thomas played for Bowling Green for two seasons, and lead the Falcons in scoring both times.

Goalie Eric Hartzell made 31 saves.

“This is an excellent road win,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “I didn’t think we played well out of the gate, but we weathered the storm and got better as the game went on. We had a lot of timely shot blocking and did a great job of killing penalties. I thought Hartzell kept us in the game, he was great.”

Oh, Canada

RPI was the only ECACH team to beat a Canadian university hockey team by more than a goal this weekend.

In Saturday games, Colgate edged Queen’s, 1-0, and St. Lawrence needed overtime to beat Carelton, 3-2.

Carelton made sure there wouldn’t be overtime in its game Sunday at Clarkson. Scoring the first six goals of the game, Carelton cruised to a 6-2 win over the Golden Knights.

Also on Sunday, Acadia beat Quinnipiac, 2-0.

Dutchmen tumble in polls

After its 4-1 season-opening loss to Merrimack on Saturday, Union took a tumble in the national polls.

The Dutchmen fell from fifth to 10th in the USCHO.com/NCAA top-20 poll, and went from No. 5 to No. 9 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine top-15 poll.

Union will look to rebound from the loss when it visits Bowling Green for a two-game series Friday and Saturday.

USCHO.com/NCAA poll
Team (First Place Votes) Record Points Last Poll
1 Boston College (37) 0- 0-0 978 1
2 Minnesota (12) 0- 0-0 948 2
3 Michigan (1) 0- 0-0 871 3
4 North Dakota 0- 0-0 837 4
5 Cornell 0- 0-0 704 6
6 Massachusetts-Lowell 0- 0-0 680 7
7 Denver 0- 0-0 624 8
8 Miami 0- 0-0 588 9
9 Western Michigan 0- 0-0 584 10
10 Union 0- 1-0 581 5
11 Ferris State 0- 0-0 466 11
12 Boston University 0- 0-0 429 13
13 Minnesota-Duluth 0- 0-0 404 12
14 Notre Dame 0- 0-0 400 14
15 Wisconsin 0- 0-0 242 18
16 Michigan State 0- 0-0 222 16
17 Harvard 0- 0-0 179 17
18 Quinnipiac 1- 0-0 126 NR
19 Merrimack 1- 0-0 120 NR
20 Maine 0- 1-0 102 15
Others receiving votes: Colorado College 101, Air Force 93, New Hampshire 64, St. Cloud State 62, Ohio State 20, Nebraska-Omaha 13, Lake Superior 8, Northern Michigan 8, Providence 8, Niagara 7, RIT 7, Northeastern 6, RPI 5, Michigan Tech 4, Yale 4, Minnesota State 3, Robert Morris 2.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine
2012-13 Men’s College Hockey Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)
Rank School Last Week’s Ranking 2012-13 Record Weeks in Top 15
1 Minnesota, 483 (14) 1 0-0-0 2
2 Boston College, 482 (19) 1 0-0-0 2
3 Michigan, 429 (1) 3 0-0-0 2
4 North Dakota, 406 4 0-0-0 2
5 Cornell, 284 6 0-0-0 2
6 UMass-Lowell, 263 7 0-0-0 2
7 Western Michigan, 250 11 0-0-0 2
8 Miami (Ohio), 234 9 0-0-0 2
9 Union, 227 5 0-1-0 2
10 Denver, 200 8 0-0-0 2
11 Ferris State, 176 14 0-0-0 2
12 Minnesota Duluth, 140 12 0-0-0 2
13 Notre Dame, 136 10 0-0-0 2
14 Boston University, 119 13 0-0-0 2
15 Wisconsin, 63 15 0-0-0 2
Others receiving votes: Harvard, 40; Quinnipiac, 36; Michigan State, 33; Colorado College, 21; Merrimack, 26; Maine, 13; Ohio State, 6; St. Cloud State, 6; New Hampshire, 5; Air Force, 2.

My vote

I have a vote in the USCHO.com poll. Here is how I voted, and apologies to Merrimack. It was an oversight on my part:
1) Minnesota
2) Boston College
3) Ferris State
4) Michigan
5) Cornell
6) Minn.-Duluth
7) North Dakota
8) Boston U.
9) Union
10) UMass-Lowell
11) Miami
12) Harvard
13) Denver
14) Michigan State
15) Quinnpiac
16) Western Michigan
17) Notre Dame
18) Colorado College
19) Northern Michigan
20) Maine

If you have any comments, post them below, or e-mail them to me at schott@dailygazette.com. You can follow me on Twitter (@slapschotts) Also, please become a fan of two Facebook pages — The Daily Gazette On Ice, and my "Slap Schotts" college hockey segment page.

Good Monday! Good Hockey!

 
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