Sunday, October 11, 2015

RPI Preview

First of all, great to see Union, a team that tied Sacred Heart Friday night, pick up a stunning 5-3 win over the "#2" Terriers. Always an awesome night when the scarlet and white fall.

Ironically, the arch rivals of both those squads mentioned above will faceoff fifteen miles down the road from last night's battle at Messa Rink when the #1 Eagles travel to RPI for a Sunday afternoon tilt. This will be the 36th meeting all time between Boston College and RPI with the good guys holding a 20-14-1 lead in the series. Their last meeting was in October of 2013 when BC defeated the Engineers by a 7-2 score in Chestnut Hill. The red and black come into tomorrows contest fresh off a 3-0 loss @ Lowell on Friday night, a game in which they were outshot 38-27 overall and 31-14 through two periods. Safe to say that despite it only being one game, fans in Troy are getting desperate for their club to get back it's winning ways of the 80's and 90's. RPI has not made the NCAAs since 2011, which is their lone appearance in the dance since 1995.

Leading the way for the home team will be forwards Drew Melanson (20 points last year), Milos Bubela (15 points), and sophomore Riley Bourbonnais (13 points). The Engineers lost two of their top three point getters from the 2015 campaign and will most likely be without top forward Mark Miller who did not play against Lowell. On the back end, RPI lost two of it's top six defenseman from a season ago and clearly a unit with two or three underclassmen will have their hands full with the #1 team in college hockey. Although they may have some holes to fill up front and on the blue line, RPI boast one of the top goaltenders in the ECAC, if not college hockey. Senior Jason Kasdorf, a Winnipeg Jets draftee, is undoubtedly the best player on Seth Appert's squad and if the Engineers are going to have any chance tomorrow, they will need him to be nearly perfect.

Boston College comes into tomorrow's contest 1-0 after a thrashing of Army up in West Point. The big question for the Eagles will be the status of senior forward Brendan Silk who was hurt in the early-goings on Friday. I do not know his status but I would bet on Joey Dudek getting his first career start tomorrow afternoon on the fourth line. I am interested to see what the staff does with the lines as they have so many options. I don't think they will touch the first unit of Bracco, Sanford, and Tuch but I wouldn't be shocked if they shook up the second line of Fitzgerald, White, and Gilmour. On the defensive side of things, I think Travis Jeke will get his first taste of action as freshman Josh Couturier had a little bit of a tough time on Friday night. They don't have to play Jeke or Couturier on a regular shift throughout the game but if those guys can go in and perform when they're asked to, McCoshen and Santini won't be summoned to play every other shift. In college hockey they don't keep track of playing time but I would say the staff drastically cut back on the two junior blue liner's time in the third period when things got out of hand. If Casey Fitzgerald keeps playing the way he is, he will soon be the Eagles' third guy in the rotation. With a days rest and just one game looming next weekend against lowly Wisconsin, I expect Thatcher Demko to get the nod once again after his stellar performance on Friday. In fact, Demko's first career victory was vs RPI in 2013.

As I said earlier, I expect RPI to come out swinging. It has been a long time since they have had a meaningful win and head coach Seth Appert needs something to fend off the hounds asking for his dismissal. Houston Field House is said to be one of the toughest places to play in college hockey so BC has got to find a way to start out on fire. Like Army, RPI's only chance is to get pucks behind our D and play as physical as possible. If the Eagles are able to move pucks out of the zone and start the transition game, they should be able to pot a few goals.

Scouting RPI- 

Record- 0-1

Top returning scorers from last year- Drew Melanson (9-11-20), Milos Bubela (8-7-15), Riley Bourbonnais (5-8-13)

Power play- 0 for 5 against Lowell

Penalty Kill- 5 for 5 against Lowell

Projected starter- Jason Kasdorf (2.97 GAA and .902 save percentage in 2015)

Keys for BC- 

1. Take the crowd out of it in the first period. This is by far and away the biggest game RPI has hosted in a few years so we can expect a raucous crowd looking for a big win. I am more confident in this year's BC team to come back from deficits but historically, the Eagles are a much better club when scoring the first goal.

2. Cut back on the defensive zone turnovers. Early in the season, one can expect a good amount of errors but hopefully BC cleans things up in their own end. Army forced a lot of blind passes that could have ended up in the back of the net if not for Demko.

3. BC needs better play from a couple of their defenseman. I am interested to see whether they go with Couturier or Jeke as the 6th guy. No matter who gets the start, the bottom three defensemen need to take their games up a notch.

Injury Notes- I would be surprised if Silk played, expect Dudek to be in.

Off to Troy....Go Eagles !

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