Engineers? Really? That's almost as bad as a Seawolf. But at least I know what an engineer is. With the least intimidating mascot in the college hockey world, the RPI Engineers got in to Fairbanks last night, getting ready to take on UAA and UA this weekend in the 2nd annual Brice Alaska Goal Rush.
Last season, RPI posted a 10-27-2 record in NCAA play, sporting a defense that allowed a whopping 3.38 goals against per game, while the offense was held to just 1.95 goals scored per game. The only team that Alaska and RPI played last season that we have in common was the Miami RedHawks, about a month and a half apart. Miami swept RPI, with Miami scoring a combined 10 goals across two games, compared to RPI's 2 goals. Quite the difference. Alaska split with Miami, winning 2-1, and losing 5-0 at Steve Cady Arena in the 08-09 season.
I wasn't able to dig up any RPI vs UA history, so this may be the first time that Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will ever face each other.
Based on their production last season, look for the Nanook defensemen to shut these guys down. I liked a lot of what I saw in the Kendall tournament in defensive pairings. The Molle brothers look sharp paired together. Their passing clicks and they know what each other is doing with the puck. Great guys to have on the ice in the transition game. Unfortunately Justin Daigle didn't play in the Kendall tournament last week. Not sure what kept him off the ice, but hopefully he'll be suited up this week. His aggressive coverage skills should pair him up with Joe Sova on the PK unit. Sova and Gens should still be paired on the number one defensive line. Enders and Butcher make a great pair on line two, but once the Nanooks get in the groove, look for Justin Daigle and Kaare Odegard, two of our rookie defensemen, paired with Enders and get some ice time. Derek Bradish and Cody Butcher would be a good pair to see as well.
Our forwards will hopefully keep their average of over 4 goals per game this weekend (3 GPG, if you don't include the exhibition game). Chad Gehon, Andy Taranto, and Jarret Granberg have really been good in the offensive zone for the 'Nooks, posting a combined 9 points across all 3 games so far this season, with Taranto having a 3 point solo performance in the Mercyhurst game.
Forward lines should stay pretty consistent. Line one with captain Derek Klassen, asst. captain Kevin Petovello, and Brandon Knelson. Not sure what the official line numbers are beyond here, but line predictions with Ryan Hohl, Carlo Finucci, and Justin Filzen. Dion Knelson, Andy Taranto, and Chad Gehon. Granberg, Meyers and Sather. With the odd-man being Nik Yaremchuk, who has proven to be a very versatile forward.
Hopefully the Engineers can engineer some good goal scorers. It's going to take a pair of them to beat Greenham. Although, with Greenham taking the spot between the pipes last weekend at the Kendall classic, after Ferguson said at the banquet that Steve Thompson would get the start in goal, maybe Thompson starts in both of these games. Maybe Scott made a deal. But it worked out, as he won the Kendall Classic MVP award, and earned the CCHA Goalie of the Week.
Nanooks win it 3-0.
A few RPI and RMU fans have actually emailed me asking about media coverage. All of the Alaska Nanooks home games can be heard live on KSUA, webstream at http://ksua.uaf.edu
And live high-quality video streams can also be purchased through B2 Networks for around $7.
And of course you can always follow my Twitter feed at http://www.twitter.com/nanookhockey for live in-game updates.
I've got some great information to share after the games this weekend during the off week. Including next years tournament's participants, CCHA game scheduling changes for the upcoming season, with 11 teams (the first news post with official information).
I'm also sad to say that I won't be able to do the live in-game updates on Twitter for the Ferris State games on the 30th and 31st, since I will be out of town, but hopefully the new information for next season should make up for it. But a game preview and recaps will still be posted.