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5 things: The good and the bad from RPI's North Country weekend
The Engineers need to shake off being swept by SLU and Clarkson
1. Watson bounces back
After allowing 5 goals in the Saturday game against Union before getting pulled, Jack Watson had a really good weekend in net. He only allowed 4 goals across the 2 games on 54 shots faced. His save percentage of 0.926% is what we’ve come to expect from him given his elite play. Watson being on top of his game is going to be really important this season to get a spot in the top 4, and it’s good that he’s back on track.
2. Strong starts in both games
Against St. Lawrence on Friday, the Engineers played a great first period and went into the intermission up 2-0. Against Clarkson on Saturday, it was 0-0, but RPI had largely controlled the play and had many scoring chances. Starting out strong in ECAC games bodes well for the future since it’s much easier to play from ahead than behind. This has also been a problem sometimes in the past for RPI, so it’s good that the team is coming out energized.
3. …but poor finishes
RPI had what might be its worst period of the season in the second period against SLU, which allowed them to score twice to tie the game up. The third period didn’t go great either, and the Saints scored again to win the game. It was a similar story the following night against Clarkson. The second and third periods were not very good from the Engineers, allowing Clarkson to take the lead with a goal in the second. Then, they sealed it with two empty-netters at the end. Continuing their strong starts to the rest of the game is hopefully something the team will continue to get better at.
4. Transition struggles continue
The main reason RPI had trouble generating offense goes back to the transition game again. It’s really tough to get good chances when you’re not controlling the puck in transition. It all starts with clean breakouts and then flows from there. Obviously, this was an area that they were really good at early on in the season. The struggles are only a recent development, so there should be confidence that they’ll get going again.
5. Close games despite level of play
We can all agree that RPI’s play was far from its best this past weekend. Despite that, both games were only one goal margins when you take out empty netters. The fact that both games were really close with RPI playing poorly shows how competitive this team should be throughout the season. When they’re on their game, they will be winning the majority of the time. They are a very young team this season with a lot of youth and inexperience. Teams like that always go through growing pains, and this weekend was definitely part of that. I still think in the long-term that this is a good hockey team that can make some real noise in the ECAC, and they will only continue to get better.
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