Union-RPI Mayor's Cup pregame report
Good evening from the Times Union Center in downtown Albany, where itâ€™s time for the inaugural Mayorâ€™s Cup game between Capital Region rivals RPI and Union.
This is the annual non-league game the teams are playing. But for the first time, itâ€™s being played in late January, instead of the first three months of the season. In past years, the game has been played as part of the Governorâ€™s Cup and the Capital Skates Classic. However, the games failed to generate fans and excitement to the downtown Albany arena. The last two years, the game was played in Lake Placid as part of a double-header with Clarkson and St. Lawrence.
Maybe the reason the game hasnâ€™t generated that much interest is because it doesnâ€™t affect the ECAC Hockey standings. The belief is playing this game for a trophy will heighten the excitement level. TU Center general manager Bob Belber said that he expects around 8,000 fans for the game. We will see.
As far as the game is concerned, the 19th-ranked Dutchmen have dominated play, winning the last seven games. They took the two ECACH games back in November by scores of 4-2 and 7-3. In the 7-3 victory, the Dutchmen scored a team record-tying six goals in the second period. The one thing lost in that contest was the debut of RPI freshman goalie Jason Kasdorf. He replaced starter Bryce Merriam at the beginning of the third period, and turned aside all eight shots he faced. The Dutchmen didnâ€™t test Kasdorf much. They even had a five-minute power play, but spent most of it passing the puck instead of shooting.
Kasdorf has been outstanding. He is 4-1-2 with a 1.60 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage. Kasdorfâ€™s GAA and save percentage is fifth best in the nation.
He returned to the lineup last weekend after missing the previous six games because of a shoulder injury suffered during a game at St. Cloud State Dec. 27. All he did was stop 66 of 69 shots in helping RPI (8-10-5) to a sweep of Colgate and Cornell at Houston Field House. It was the first time the Engineers did that at home against the Central New York schools since Feb. 26-27, 1999. That helped Kasdorf earn ECACH rookie of the week.
Not knowing much about Kasdorfâ€™s style could be an advantage to the Engineers.
Both teams are on two-game winning streaks. Union beat Colgate, 2-1, last Saturday, and downed Harvard, 4-1, Tuesday. The Dutchmen have won three of their last four. It probably should be a four-game winning streak, if not for the debacle at Quinnipiac.
Wayne Simpson has been on a tear for the Dutchmen. The teamâ€™s leading scorer is on a five-game point scoring streak.
Center Josh Jooris will play in tonightâ€™s game for the Dutchmen, but defenseman Shawn Stuart wonâ€™t. Jooris suffered an upper-body injury in the third period of last Saturdayâ€™s game against Colgate. He was kept out of Tuesdayâ€™s game against Harvard.
Stuart will miss his fourth straight contest with an upper-body injury. He was hit in the first period of the Quinnipiac game two weeks ago.
Daniel Ciampini returns to the forward line with Kyle Bodie and Simpson.
Here is the Union lineup, starting with the forwards (LW-C-RW):
Daniel Ciampini/Kyle Bodie/Wayne Simpson
Matt Wilkins/Max Novak/Daniel Carr
Matt Hatch/Josh Jooris/Kevin Sullivan
Cole Ikkala/David Roy/Nick Cruice
The defensive pairings are:
Greg Coburn/Shayne Gostisbehere
Mat Bodie/Sebastien Gingras
Ryan Forgaard/Tim Boyle
Troy Grosenick starts in goal.
Here is the RPI lineup, starting with the forwards:
CJ Lee/Jacob Laliberte/Ryan Haggerty
Mike Zalewski/Brock Higgs/Milos Bubela
Matt Neal/Mark McGowan/Matt Tinordi
Johnny Rogic/Mark Miller/Marty Oâ€™Grady
The defensive pairings are:
Curtis Leonard/Nick Bailen
Guy Leboeuf/Chris Bradley
Luke Curadi/Bo Dolan
Tim Kotyra and Bob Ritchie are the referees. The linesmen are Ryan Knapp and Dan Taggart.
Iâ€™ll have updates on the on Twitter. If youâ€™re not following me, my Twitter handle is @slapschotts. The hashtags I will use for this game are #UnionHockey, #RPIHockey, #MayorsCup and #ECACHockey. If you have any questions during the game, feel free to ask.
Iâ€™ll update my Parting Schotts blog after each period, and have more description of the game.
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Enjoy the game!