Preview: RPI at Clarkson
The historic rivalry gets renewed for the 2022-23 season on Saturday night
The Engineers will finish off the North Country trip with Clarkson on Saturday night, and they’ve been a really weird team this season. Let’s get into it.
Clarkson Team Outlook
Clarkson came into the season projected to be a top 4 team in the ECAC and an NCAA tournament contender once again. With lots of scoring and talent coming back to go with a good recruiting class, there were no reasons to doubt that.
It’s been a big struggle to start the year for Clarkson though. They’re only 2-5, and while some of the schedule has been tough, a lot of it hasn’t. Providence is a good team, but UNH and Merrimack are supposed to be mediocre to bad in Hockey East. They lost all 3 of those games. They split with Mercyhurst to give the Lakers their only win of the season. Last weekend, they split with Lake State to also give them their first win.
It really makes no sense how Clarkson is playing so bad with their talent and expectations. These losses are not because of bad luck or poor goaltending; they have been legitimately outplayed in most of these games. Clarkson has a corsi of 46.0% and a shots share of 45.6%, showing that they have not been controlling play. The shooting percentage is actually pretty good at 10.7%, so there are not any problems finishing off their chances. They just are not generating anywhere near enough offense.
The special teams have also been bad with a 16.0% PP and 71.9% PK. Overall, the stats show a bad team with few redeeming qualities. If the name were removed from the team and you presented these stats to me with no context, I’d tell you this is a bottom 4 ECAC team. With Clarkson’s talent though, you have to expect they turn things around at some point.
Noah Beck (#18, D) currently leads the team in points with 7 in 7 games. He’s a STL draft pick and last season, he was selected to the All-ECAC 2nd team. He’s a very talented two-way defenseman who can drive play at both ends of the ice and is key to Clarkson’s all-around game.
Ayrton Martino (#15, W) is another talented draft pick who can really do damage. Martino is a highly skilled playmaker who is great at setting up teammates for chances and goals. He’s always a dangerous player with the puck on his stick.
Last, but not least, Mathieu Gosselin (#13, C) and Alex Campbell (#11, W) were both All-ECAC 1st team selections last season with around a point per game. While both are off to slow starts this season, they are really good players who will start picking it up soon.
What to Watch For
The special teams battle
With both teams recent struggles on special teams, I expect this to be a key factor in the game Saturday. RPI will be looking to return to the quality of play that they started the year with, while Clarkson is looking to just get off the ground.
The scoring chances battle
As I said before, Clarkson has not been good at controlling play so far in the season. RPI has been quite good at it on the other hand, so in theory, the Engineers should have the upper hand. I still feel like Clarkson is going to pop and start playing really well at some point though, so I expect this to be a close battle.
The goaltending battle
Ethan Haider was the ECAC Rookie of the Year two seasons ago for Clarkson, and he has clear talent with that year combined with his NHL draft pedigree. Last season, he was a below average starter though, and this season, he’s off to a pretty bad start. You would think he can turn it around with his talent, but goaltending is voodoo.
For RPI, Watson has had a fine start to the year even though it hasn’t been up to the standard of his stellar play last season. An important aspect of this game will be which goalie is on their game, and even though Haider has more talent on paper, there’s definitely more confidence in Watson going into this game.
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