Did You Know: The Clarkson Hockey program has amassed 10,001 goals since the 1920-21 season?

Friday, March 03, 2006

ECAC(HL) Men's 1st Round Playoff Preview - Part 3

Breaking down 10th seeded Quinnipiac at 7th seeded RPI is tricky due to the inconsistent nature of both squads. Quinnipiac is a team loaded with young talent who started strong, slumped in the middle of the season then finished strong. RPI is a team loaded with senior talent who started strong, slumped in the middle of the season, was plagued by injuries, and finished strong. This series will be fun to watch as it features six of the leagues top ten scorers.

Why RPI will win:
Despite season ending injuries, six to eight week injuries, and the absence of their captain, RPI has hung on to 7th place in the league with a 3-1-3 finish in league play. Led by senior forward and acting co-captain Kevin Croxton, RPI is averaging 2.91 goals per game. Unfortunately for RPI, forty percent of this goal scoring was done by a single line. The CEO line of Kevin Croxton, Oren Ezienmen and Jonathan Ornelas has combined for 41 goals, 54 assists and 95 of the team's 160 points. For RPI to have any success this line will need to keep contributing as they have been all season. RPI will also have to have one of the other three lines to score some key goals.

RPI will have to improve on special teams to win this weekend. RPI's powerplay ranked 7th in the conference at 16.6%, while Quinnipiac came in 5th on the penalty kill with a 84.4% rate. RPI's penalty kill will need to step up from it's 81.8% rate to try and stop the Bobcats. Quinnipiac currently scores 16% of the time on the man up. RPI can take some solace in the fact that they only take about eight penalties a game. If they can keep this number down, the PK will have a better chance at succeeding.

On the blue line RPI will need to have co-captain Brad Farynuk step up and provide some leadership to the Engineers depleted defensive corps. RPI has played in eight overtime games and has gone 0-2-6. RPI will need its "bend but don't break" defense to step up and keep the game limited to 60 minutes or fatigue may become a factor. In net rookie Matias Lange has kept RPI in most games, and in a 34 save effort against Cornell last week proved he can steal a game or two. However, if RPI's defense allows 34 shots to Quinnipiac's gifted scorers, things wont be any prettier in Troy.

Why Quinnipiac will win:
Quinnipiac will win for one reason, they're not supposed to win. They are an new team in the league, lead by a strong freshman class, which has never experienced an ECAC playoff game. This is the perfect setup for the ECAC, a league where recently #10 seeds have knocked out #1 seeds, where #9 seeds have made the championship game, and where #6 seeds have won it all. Quinnipiac is going to be riding a burst of energy in the opening five minutes of the first game and it could carry them to a series win.

We know Quinnipiac can score, but can they stop RPI from scoring? Freshman Bud Fisher has put up a 15-12-1 record between the pipes and has posted a 2.59 GAA and a .902 save percentage. This will put him in contention for first team rookie honors with Lange of RPI. The major difference between Lange and Fisher is that Fisher has the offense in front of him to back up his numbers. On defense, junior Reid Cashman has a league leading 33 assists and sophomore Matt Sorteberg has chipped in with 22 points. Quinnipiac has allowed 2.88 goals per game and their defense has been good at times, but has struggled coming into the series giving up seven goals last weekend. Expect Cashman and company to be ready to play Friday night.

Up front the Bobcats are lead by Rookie of the Year candidate, and the league's second leading scorer Brian Leitch. Leitch along with Cashman, Jamie Bates, Ben Nelson and David Marshall all have over 30 points on the year and will be looking to continue their solid play on a RPI defense which has allowed over three goals per game. Despite the poor play of the defense last week Quinnipiac, still put in nine goals on the weekend and has the offensive talent to take 2 of 3 from the Engineers.

Quinnipiac gets the upset in 3.

Quinnipiac 5 - RPI 3
RPI 2 - Quinnipiac 1
Quinnipiac 6 - RPI 3


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