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RPI falls to Union in Mayor's Cup
Reviewing the disappointing 6-0 loss
“The great equalizer though is in Union’s favor. RPI has struggled with finishing at even strength this season and also struggled with goaltending, which neutralizes their advantages in corsi and xG in this game. Union’s finishing is top 20 in the country, so even if they’re not generating a lot of chances that are dangerous, they’re still scoring. The goaltending has been mediocre for them at even strength, but that still gives them the advantage over the Engineers. The key to Saturday’s game will likely be which team can get the saves they need or snipe one past the goalie.”
I wrote this in the Mayor’s Cup preview, but I did not expect it to be so dead-on. As you’ll see below, there were some things that RPI did well and better than Union. However, Union simply was better in the most important areas and capitalized on the mistakes RPI gave them.
For starters, the Engineers did fairly well in the possession game by winning both Corsi and Fenwick. That was expected based on the numbers going into the game, so RPI delivered there.
RPI also mainly controlled the transition game with more controlled entries and more controlled breakouts. Union seemed to prefer more of a dump-and-chase game, which usually isn’t what leads to success. However, it definitely worked for them on Saturday. They did well at recovering the puck, and then, turning their zone time into quality chances. On the other hand, even though RPI was able to transition with possession more frequently, they weren’t able to use that to get more chances.
The major penalty by Altti Nykanen at the end of the 2nd period seemed to be the nail in the coffin for the Engineers. Union was able to score twice in the 5 minute span to put the game totally out of reach.
According to Instat, the Tyler Watkins one-timer goal only had an xG of 0.03 meaning that shots from that location have a 3% chance of going in the net. I personally don’t think Watson had much of a chance on that one despite that low number. It was a low to high one-timer where Watkins had all the space in the world, and he placed it perfectly in the top corner. The other Union goal was a deflection right in front of the net that had an xG value of 0.25, which is pretty high compared to most shots.
Outside of those two shots, RPI’s penalty kill actually did well with the other 4 shots in the game not being dangerous at all. Both the quality chances ended up in the net, which is just the way it goes sometimes.
Conversely, the Engineers had a lot of chances on their power plays, which totaled a whopping 0.91 xG but just couldn’t finish.
That is half the story of the game at large. RPI did have some good chances, namely some good rebounds on the power play and a few breakaways. They just didn’t score them. Meanwhile, Union kept getting open in the slot with ease, so I don’t think the xG does their chances justice. The xG and scoring chances were close with Union winning both battles, but I think it was clear that Union had more of an advantage than those indicate.
Union still had to finish those chances, and they did a very good job doing that. They deserve a lot of credit for how they played as they clearly were the better team on Saturday.
But hey, at least RPI won the IMPORTANT thing Saturday.
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