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Preview: RPI at Yale
The Engineers look to put their recent struggles against Yale in the past
RPI is heading back on the road this weekend, starting with a Friday matchup at Yale. They’ll be looking for their first road win of the season.
Yale Team Outlook
Yale has been one of the worst teams in the country this year. They are 56th in the pairwise right now, courtesy of a 2-10-3 record, and they are also last in the ECAC standings. However, they have been looking better recently and have gone undefeated in their last 3 games, which includes a 5-1 win over Army and a tie against a top 10 Merrimack team. In fact, they were actually up 3-1 heading into the 3rd period against Merrimack.
Most of Yale’s struggles can be attributed to the offense. They’ve been shutout in 1/3 of their games this season, and they’re averaging 1.3 goals per game. They’ve scored 3 or more goals in only 4 games. Similar to their results though, the offense has looked better recently with an average of 3 goals per game in their last 3 games.
The defense isn’t as bad with 3.1 goals against per game. For a team that generates so little in the offensive zone, that’s pretty solid, and Yale’s key in their wins and ties has been the defense, not the offense. In their wins and ties, they are allowing 1.2 goals per game, so it’s clear that they want to win by playing low-scoring, slugfest type games.
Yale’s goaltending decisions have made zero sense to me for nearly two seasons now. Last year, Luke Pearson (#30, G) was clearly better, but they gave Nathan Reid the majority of the starts. Then, they started out this season too by starting Reid all the time. However, they recently turned to Pearson, and he has delivered with a crazy good 0.952 SV%. He’s been the starter in 6 out of their last 7 games, so expect to see him Friday. He’s talented and can definitely steal games. It is truly baffling to me why it took them a full season and a half to make him the primary starter.
David Chen (#24, W) is the team’s leading scorer with 9 points in 15 games. He was solid in the USHL last season, so I’m not surprised to see him contributing right away as a freshman.
The Yale Factor
For whatever reason, RPI has had a lot of trouble beating Yale recently. The Engineers currently have a whopping 9 game losing streak against them, with the last win coming on December 1st, 2017. Yale’s level hasn’t seemed to matter whatsoever during this stretch since Yale was last in the ECAC last season, and RPI still got swept by them. Every time, it seems to be something new. There’s been a few times where their goalie has decided to turn into Dominik Hasek, there’s been some bad bounces, there’s been players surpassing their career goal totals in a single game.
What does this mean? Obviously, RPI cannot take Yale lightly despite their struggles. I already mentioned how they have picked up their game recently, but RPI’s history with Yale these past 5 years should be enough by itself. They’ll need their A-game to break the losing streaks, both against Yale and the road record for this season.
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