Preview: RPI vs. Army
Army come to Troy looking for their first win of the season
RPI faces off against Army for the third time in the past four seasons on Saturday night. You’ll remember their matchup in the 2018-19 season was one of the highlights of an otherwise pretty bleak year, with Jake Marrello scoring a goal in overtime to win 2-1 after Brady Wiffen had tied the game late in the third.
Earlier this year, the two teams played out to a 3-3 draw down in West Point (a game in which RPI had a 3-1 lead with just over 5 minutes to go). Since then, Army graduated their top scorer in Colin Bilek, and got considerably younger, bringing in a freshman class of 10. It left them in a position not-so-dissimilar to the Engineers, with plenty of fresh faces looking to make an impact.
Anthony Firriolo (LD, #17) is Army’s top threat on the blueline, and possibly top threat overall. He’s a true offensive-defenseman who scores a lot on the powerplay.
Joey Baez (RW, #23) is a smaller, but dynamic forward with high skill and a good shot. He’ll likely play alongside Brett Abdelnour and John Keranen on Army’s top-line.
Gavin Abric (G, #1) had a really strong 2021-22, finishing with a 0.925 save percentage in 30 games. He hasn’t necessarily gotten to that level through the first couple games of the season, but the upside is clearly there.
What to Watch For
Army is not playing on Friday night, so they’ll be well-rested for Saturday. It’ll be important for RPI to establish good puck possession so they don’t get stuck chasing the game.
RPI got all four forward lines rolling against LIU and were really able to create sustained pressure in the second and third period. Keeping this going is critical to the team’s success moving forward. Their strength is in their depth.
Ever since the two goals against Mercyhurst, the powerplay has been pretty ineffective. The Engineers had 5 chances on the man advantage against LIU and weren’t able to capitalize on any of them (or even create many dangerous looks). It’ll be interesting to see if Smith changes up anything on the two units going into Saturday.
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