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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Back To School: Clarkson 4 - RPI 2

If you were following along last night either at Gross Misconduct Twitter or thanks to the guys at WRPI you know that Clarkson College took out RPI 4-2.

What folks might not know is that for the fans of RPI, Clarkson is the big rivalry. For Clarkson... not quite so much. Clarkson fans view their travel partners St. Lawrence as well as Cornell to be bigger rivals than RPI.

Having been to a few Clarkson-RPI throwdowns in the past, I can say that I've seen RPI's Houston Field House packed to the rafters loaded with loud and often obnoxious fans.

Not so much on this night. RPI is in the midst of a very down season and Clarkson is in a bit of a rebuilding year. Suffice to say, the crowd was a little bit lighter than usual but with both bands in the house and two fan bases that can be loud when there's reason to be.

Adding to the craziness was it was RPI's night to do their duty for Coaches Vs. Cancer, something taken up by the ECAC on the whole. Very classy, yet confusing since the ECAC has their own style of jersey that the host teams wear on the nights they opt to do their part.

The other fun part of this is that the schools will put the game-used jerseys up for auction as well as the coaches ties as part of the means to raise money for cancer programs. You can find a list of the items currently up for auction on Ebay here, and it won't just be items from RPI but all the teams in the ECAC and if you're a jersey collecting freak like yours truly, the bidding for game worn jerseys starts at $150. Not bad at all.

Let's Go...Black? Pink? Ah screw it...

With the home team in black and pink and the visitors wearing gold, let's just say it made it look like a bit of a technicolor nightmare on the ice. See for yourself:

That's a bit much, but at least they didn't do things over the top the way folks in the AHL are wont to do. Don't believe me? Well, take a look at this Iowa Chops promotion.

Don't get me wrong, this is all done for a fantastic reason it's just that, well, pink ice? Really?

Oh yeah - really.

There are no words for this.

Since it's the final home weekend for RPI, that means they pay tribute to the seniors and before the playing of the national anthems it was announced that instead of playing "Oh, Canada" the Russian national anthem would be played in honor of RPI senior forward Andrei Uryadov.

No, it was not sung by Nikolai Volkoff nor Ivan Drago.

Not singing anything nor breaking anyone last night.

As for the game itself, Clarkson getting a pair of power play goals in the first period really sucked what little life there was in the field house right out of it - it was so down that even the Clarkson fans weren't being their usual boisterous selves.

Down years are a major drag.

RPI freshman goaltender, and Blue Jackets prospect, Allen York made a major blunder in the second period playing a puck and trying to send it behind his net and around the boards to his defensemen but ended up bouncing it off the side of the goal where the oncoming Clarkson forechecker tapped it in for a gimmie goal.

Yeah, it was that sort of night. York later on in the second had a Brandon Defazio wrist shot get ripped by him and the rout was seemingly on with the Golden Knights being up 4-0.

Play plodded along in the third period until about the 12 minute mark. I'm not kidding when I say the game plodded along, there was nothing to write home about or excitement - nothing.

RPI was able to control the puck a bit more, keep it in the zone consistently and then with about nine minutes to play, Chase Polacek rips a wrist shot by freshman goaltender Paul Karpowich and there was much rejoicing as the Engineers wouldn't be shut out.

Two minutes and change later, Tyler Helfrich puts home a backhand rebound in front of the net and now Clarkson is back on their heels and RPI is taking play to them.

Wha...what happened? RPI was lifeless and mostly shotless in this game. After two periods, Clarkson was outshooting them 19-7 and now Clarkson can't even get the puck out of their own end.

With about 2:30 to play, Clarkson picks up a very poor tripping penalty, possibly in honor of the Russian national anthem since Jake Morley appeared to give the RPI player he was chasing after the puck with a Russian leg sweep.

Volkoff approves - Clarkson head coach George Roll does not.

Whether they'll admit it or not, many Clarkson fans might recall being RPI's opponent at the Big Red Freakout in 2002, RPIs big annual tradition, and being up 3-0 heading into the third period only to see RPI storm back to tie the game with under a minute left and then win the game in overtime (check the box score here). Now RPI is going on the power play with all the momentum on their side and a goal away from making things very uncomfortable.

Of course, this is not RPIs year and they may have spent a lot of their magic earlier this season in their incredible 7-6 win in Appleton, NY beating St. Lawrence. Clarkson was able to withstand the pressure, Alex Angers-Goulet flattens Karpowich drawing an interference call with 30 seconds to play and then that's your game. 4-2 Clarkson hangs on.

The atmosphere for this game was a serious letdown as this is the big rival RPI waits for every year and the fans just didn't have it in them until the game got back to within two goals. The Clarkson fans weren't pushing the issue that they were shutting down RPI to the point of boredom and kicking their tails on the scoreboard. Everything about the whole night was just off.

Tonight's game against St. Lawrence is the last home game of the year for RPI and the seniors will all be honored this evening and there's word that many of the big time recruits on the horizon for RPI will be in attendance.

I'd also have to guess we'll hear the Austrian national anthem being played for goaltender Mathias Lange - expect to see lots of this guy in tomorrow's wrap-up.

He's the only other guy in America that knows what the Austrian national anthem sounds like.

Hopefully things for RPI will be more like The Terminator than they will be The Last Action Hero.

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