Weekend Preview: 11/8 vs St. Lawrence, 11/9 vs Clarkson

Forward Danny DiGrande carries the puck into the zone against Clarkson (photo: RPI Athletics)

RPI welcomes the North Country rivals to Troy this weekend for some more ECAC action.

Friday 11/8 vs St. Lawrence
The Skating Saints come into this game at 2-5-1 after getting swept by Clarkson last weekend in a pair of overtime games. St. Lawrence was projected to be one of the worst teams in the country this season after their coaching change this offseason. They have been better than expected, however, and after they took a top 10 team in Clarkson to overtime two nights in a row, they cannot be overlooked. Their main weakness has been the offense with a 1.88 goals for per game, which ranks 50th in the country. St. Lawrence’s defense is definitely better than the offense at 2.75 goals per game, which is in the middle of the pack. This is because their main goaltender, Daniel Mannella, has been outstanding with a 0.932 save percentage. This is a game where RPI getting a goal or two early would pay big dividends, and they will really need to start out hot to try to break through Mannella. As for special teams, SLU’s power play has been in line with the rest of their offense at only 11.76%. In fact, RPI has nearly double their power play goals with only 2/3 the number of attempts. Their penalty kill has also been right in line with their defense with a solid 84.21%. Overall, the Engineers look like the much better team, but anything can happen on any given night.
Prediction: RPI comes out with a fire as they want to avenge their loss against Union in their last game. They take an early lead and maintain the edge throughout the game. RPI 4 – St. Lawrence 1

Saturday 11/9 vs Clarkson
RPI will look to get its first win in 2+ years against Clarkson on Saturday night, and it could easily be argued this is their best chance yet. Clarkson comes into this game ranked 8th in the USCHO poll and is 5-2-1 despite a pretty tough schedule. While they lost their best 2 players from last season to the pros in Jake Kielly and Nico Sturm, they returned all other important players and brought in a good freshman class. Graduate transfer Frank Marotte has allowed the Golden Knights to not have to worry about goaltending. He has filled in for Kielly with ease with a 0.937 save percentage, and he has started every game. Their offense has not been outstanding, but they are scoring a good 2.88 goals per game and have depth throughout the lineup. The defense is truly Clarkson’s calling card as they are only allowing 2.12 goals per game, 15th in the country. Their penalty kill falls right in line with this lockdown defense at 94.87%, which is 5th in the country. This is by no means a death knell for the Engineers; let’s make that clear. They played a just as good, if not better, defense against UMass Amherst (statistically) and still scored 3 goals. It will without a doubt be a challenge to score, however, and they must bring their A-game. Expect this to be a low-scoring, close game. I also expect whoever scores first to win; Clarkson is 5-0-1 when scoring first but 0-2 when allowing the first goal. This is a real chance for RPI to make some noise against a top 10 team and put the country on notice. Hopefully, we’ll see just that.
Prediction: It is a tight, close game throughout, and it goes to overtime. Clarkson manages to pull through in OT. RPI 2 – Clarkson 3

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