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Preview: RPI vs Brown
The Engineers try to bring their momentum from last weekend back home
After earning their first road win of the season, RPI looks to keep the good vibes rolling this weekend at home. First up is Brown on Friday, and they have always been a tough out for RPI with their very defensive style. This year appears to have a similar trend.
The two teams seem to be very evenly matched this game.
Offensively, the two teams are honestly eerily similar. In every even strength statistic, they are not separated by more than 5 spots in the rankings. Both teams have struggled offensively this season, with Brown being slightly better overall.
RPI evens up (if not overtakes Brown) with their big power play advantage though. The Engineers have been very strong on the PP most of the season, and that has helped make up for the lack of even strength offense. Brown’s power play is weak comparatively, which has made their offense weaker overall with 2.3 goals per game to RPI’s 2.4.
Defensively, the teams are also similar, but Brown has had elite goaltending this season on the back of Mathieu Caron. Caron has followed up a good freshman year with an outstanding season. He has a 0.924 SV% this season, good for 9th in the country. He has turned what should be a bad defense into a top 20 one.
Unfortunately for Brown and fortunately for RPI, it appears he will be out on Friday night.
Brown’s backup goalie is Jacob Zacharewicz, and he struggled a lot last weekend. He allowed 6 goals to both Clarkson and St. Lawrence in those losses and has a 0.797 SV% on the season. Needless to say, if he plays like that this weekend, Brown is in big trouble against both RPI and Union.
Overall, I would expect a fairly even game at even strength with RPI winning the special teams. The goaltending situations are something to watch for both teams in this though. Watson had an excellent game against Colgate on Saturday, and if he continues to play like that and return to his form from last year, RPI will be a very tough team to beat. Goaltending will be a big factor in this game with that and Caron’s injury.
Jake Lee returned to the lineup on Saturday, which is a big boost for RPI’s center group that had been down to only one healthy usual center at points in the past couple months. Unfortunately, John Evans and Brendan Budy were inactive, presumably with injuries, which one again hits at RPI’s depth. It feels like the forward group hasn’t been fully healthy in literal ages.
The lineups seem to be mostly even as well, which is not a surprise. RPI is being hurt by missing some key depth guys, but the top 3 lines are looking pretty good now. If Evans and Budy can return, the forward group is looking to have depth on all 4 lines.
For Brown, Ryan Bottrill and Jordan Tonelli have been real bright spots offensively with good production and play driving. Cole Quisenberry and Bradley Cocca have combined with Bottrill to give the Bears one real solid line to lean on for offense. Thomas Manty and Zackary Tonelli are two examples of low event players who barely get any minutes and end up with inflated game scores because of it, but they have done well in depth roles.
Their defense is led by James Crossman who has been great at controlling play all year. He has been good with Luke Krys on the top pairing. Krys plays over 25 minutes a night for Brown against the top competition AND is expected to produce for them offensively. Long story short, they are having him do way too much, and it has really hurt his underlying numbers.
Brett Bliss has been pretty good offensively, and he has played well with Niinisaari on that second pairing to give Brown a solid top 4 overall. It certainly helps your confidence and play when you’re in front of Mathieu Caron, and this group has combined to give Brown its top 20 defense.
I’m looking forward to a real battle on Friday. Let’s Go Red!
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