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Goalie Shakes Jitters

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, March 11, 2002

TROY - Rensselaer goalie Nathan Marsters was not happy Friday night following Game 1 of the Engineers' ECAC playoff series against Princeton.

Although the Engineers had won, 5-3, Marsters didn't play very well. He finished the game with 19 saves, but he felt he should have stopped two of the shots that eluded him.

"I was awful," Marsters said.

Marsters had another 19-save performance Saturday against the Tigers. This time, it was a much sharper effort.

The sophomore goalie looked more confident and was more aggressive in the Engineers' series-clinching 6-0 triumph over the Tigers. The victory sends RPI (18-12-4) to Lake Placid for the ECAC tournament final five, where the fifth-seeded Engineers will play fourth-seeded Dartmouth (14-12-5) in the play-in game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The winner meets top-seeded Cornell in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

On Friday, Marsters allowed a soft goal to Sharam Fouladger-Mercer on a slapshot that tied the score, 1-1. The puck hit Marsters' stick, dribbled between his pads and into the net.

Princeton's third goal, which came 32 seconds after Chris Migliore scored two goals in 13 seconds, was another misplay by Marsters. The Rensselaer goalie went down early, giving Josh Roberts the top half of the net. Roberts didn't miss with his wrist shot from the right wing, cutting RPI's lead to 4-3.

But in Game 2 Saturday, Marsters was a stone wall.

Two minutes after Jim Vickers gave RPI a 1-0 lead early in the first period, Marsters stopped a Chris Owen wrister as he drove down the right wing on a two-on-one break. The rebound ended up behind the net, and when Owen tried to bank the puck off Marsters, the goalie caught it with his glove.

With the Engineers ahead, 3-0, late in the first period, Dan Hursh drove to the net, but Marsters was aggressive. He challenged Hursh, gave him no room to put the puck past him and stopped the shot.

"It felt good to get the first shot," Marsters said. "[Once] you get that, then they all just start coming. It felt good that I could get back after it, after having a bad night Friday."

Crowd-pleasing save

Marsters punctuated his strong performance by making an excellent toe save on a George Parros shot. Parros had a scoring opportunity from just a couple of feet in front of the net when he whirled around and fired a quick wrister.

But Marsters was faster. He quickly stuck out his right pad, and knocked the puck away with his skate.

"He was probably fighting a little bit of the jitters," RPI senior defenseman and co-captain Steve Munn said. "But whatever happened Friday night didn't happen [Saturday]. He was absolutely outstanding. He didn't have a lot of work. But when he did, he was rock-solid. That toe-save was unbelievable."

Marsters gave way to third-string goalie James Palmer with 3:41 left in the game. It was the second shared shutout for the two. The other one came in a 3-0 win over Bowling Green on Jan. 18.

After posting a 14-13-1 record with a 2.35 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage last year, Marsters expected to get better.

Instead, he struggled early on, allowing 10 goals in his first two starts. His GAA was over three during the first half of the season.

Marsters has regained his confidence in the second half. He has started 14 of the last 15 games, compiling a 13-8-3 record with a 2.61 GAA and a .919 save percentage.

"I needed to get my confidence back," Marsters said. "The first game of the season [against Boston University], I got lit up. Then we went up to Minnesota-Duluth and I got lit up there. I started questioning myself a lot. You can't do that as a goalie, or you're done."