Providence, RI. - Brown and RPI entered Friday night with a lot on the line. Rensselaer entered the evening in seventh place, just two points ahead of Bruno for that spot. Both teams could clinch home ice with a win and the way the chips fell, Rensselaer would have left the night with home ice, win, loss or tie.
The game had a playoff type feel and both goaltenders went toe toe. The first two periods did not disappoint, as the teams entered the third period scoreless. Jacob Laliberte broke the tie at five minutes, 45 seconds of the third period as a loose puck came to him on the doorstep of the net and he was true to give Rensselaer the first lead of the game. Mark Miller scored five minutes later to make it 2-0 Engineers. Rensselaer added an empty netter off the stick of Zach Schroeder and would hold on to the defeat Brown, 3-0. The win clinched home ice in the first round for the Engineers, while Brown holds on to dear life to eighth place one point up on Harvard, SLU and Dartmouth in the ECAC Standings for home ice in the first round.
What I Saw
- Rensselaer came out as the agressor and just could not finish. It had a plethroa of opportunities in the first half of the first period but the puck would either jump off the stick or a pass would miss by inches. It has been the story of Rensselaer’s season and it appeared that it was going to cost them another game. On this night though, the Engineers would get those bounces in the third period, a period in which they were outshot 17-9 and outchanced by a wide margin.
- Brown played extremely well in the last two periods but much like RPI’s struggles to finish in the first period, it struggled to find the back of the net when it mattered most. Credit Scott Diebold, a bit, but Brown needs to do the dirty work a little more often to put the puck past the opposing goalie. Brown sent 8 grade A opportunities toward the RPI net in the third period and not one of them found the back of the net. For Bruno to win games in the tournament, it will need to finish many of those glorious chances they had in that period, they were numerous.
What I Thought
- The difference in the game was clearly Scott Diebold. Diebold was the star of the game and in all honesty he deserved all three stars because he was the only reason RPI defeated Brown on this night. For a guy that came into the season as a second string, he looked as solid as any goaltender I have seen this season. In the third period, Diebold was peppered with shots. He was solid on all the ones that he saw and he made a bunch of point blank saves that saved the day. Brown had a finishing problem, yes, but Diebold had a great period and game as a whole. He stopped 17 total shots in the third period and eight quality opportunities. Scott Diebold has not been Rensselaer’s biggest issue this year, that has been scoring.
- Brown’s goaltending is just a step below where it was last year, hence the Bears are going to need to score goals to make it as far as it did last year in the ECAC tournament. Tonight it struggled to do so and lost, but it is capable. I am by no means calling Tyler Steel a low level goaltender because he is not. The kid is a freshman goaltender and he plays the part. His positioning is very solid, though, and he made some big saves in the first period tonight. He was the only reason Brown left the first period in a scoreless tie. He is certainly a rising goaltender in the league and he is going to be ever solid in his career.
What They Said
Brown coach Brendan Whittet said,
“It was a playoff game for both teams. They clinched with that win and if we would have won we would have had home ice too. Now it comes down to one game for home ice. We have to refocus. We started off really slow and picked it up as the game went on. But the same problem keeps creeping in; a power-play that can’t execute and takes any type of momentum away from us. The guys have to get back to fundamentals, we make it too complicated. If you don’t score any goals you aren’t going to win.”
“Tomorrow is important because we want to go into the playoffs on a good note. it seems like we have been in a win one, lose one situation. Some it is just mental consistency. Of course we want to play at home because it become infinitely harder to go on the road in the first round because we have to knock out one team than another on the road. We are comfortable at home, that is where we want to be. We can’t be thinking of the end result tomorrow. If we do, we wont get the result we want.”
RPI coach Seth Appert,
“On the scoreboard, the third period was a good period but a lot of this win was because of Scotty (Diebold). Brown played really well in the second half of that game. I thought we were really good in the first half and they were good in the second half. We made a big play to score a goal on the faceoff, when we were getting dominated on faceoffs for much of the game”
“I thought both goalies were great. It was a playoff game and it felt like that. Tooth and nail. Both teams played strong defensively and blocked shots, fighting for home ice. You just know its going to come down to one play and who made the bigger mistake first. Scotty was great tonight, though. The nice thing about Scott tonight was when he gave up rebounds he stayed calm and our team did as well. We did a great job of not giving up second looks.”
What Else You Should Know
Brown has a huge game tomorrow night against Union. Win and it is assured of a home ice series but lose and it is at the mercy of Dartmouth, St. Lawrence or Harvard. Brown holds the tiebreaker against all three if they were to tie and one or more of the others picked up a win. It needs a single point, hypothetically, to control its own destiny.
RPI has a game tomorrow night against Yale and can finish no higher than sixth. It is pretty simple, win and it finishes sixth. Lose and it finishes seventh. For RPI though the new season will be great for them.