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Engineers Get Homey Feeling

RPI Brushes by Colgate, Hosts Princeton in ECAC

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, March 3, 2002

TROY - The biggest roar of the night went up from the crowd of 3,946 at Houston Field House when public-address announcer Al Shibley gave out the final score: Yale 5, Brown 3.

Oh, by the way, inside the building it was RPI 3, Colgate 1. But that score wouldn't have really mattered much if Brown had defeated Yale. The Engineers needed not only to beat Colgate but also have Brown lose to assure the fans of home ice for next weekend's ECAC hockey playoffs.

RPI finished in a three-way tie for third but gets the fifth seed based on head-to-head competition with Harvard and Dartmouth. The Engineers will face Princeton in the best-of-3 series starting Friday, with the winner advancing to Lake Placid the following weekend. The winner there is assured of a spot in the NCAA tournament. RPI and Princeton split two games this season, each winning on the opponent's ice.

"I thought we still had that fire in our bellies from last night," said coach Dan Fridgen, referring to a controversial 2-1 loss to Cornell when RPI had two goals disallowed. "We came out and got the jump on them early and didn't look back."

The Engineers scored a pair of goals in the second period and killed off six power plays in the game to finish the ECAC regular season at 10-9-3 with 23 points.

RPI (16-12-4 overall) killed three penalties in the first period and escaped with a 1-0 lead despite being outshot 15-9. Carson Butterwick wristed in a shot from 10 feet in front of the left post at 1:22 on a power play off assists by Matt Murley and Marc Cavosie, extending Cavosie's scoring streak to 17 games.

RPI took a 2-0 lead at 10:23 of the second period when Jim Henkel sent a hard shot from a tough angle in the left circle past goalie David Cann, but Colgate cut the lead in half on a long drive from Etienne Morin at 12:12.

The Engineers regained their two-goal advantage just before the second period ended when Ben Barr blasted a shot from between the circles past McCann with only 24 seconds left for a 3-1 lead. That would be all they needed as goalie Nathan Marsters rejected 34 of 35 shots Colgate put on net.

"Being a senior and going out there knowing that could be the last time you hear both national anthems in your own building, you kind of get a little upset," said Henkel, who scored his ninth goal of the season. "On the other hand, you sit there and say it's been a great four years and I have no regrets. Now we've got another two games here, possibly three."

It was senior night for eight RPI players, and co-captain Matt Murley said they dedicated the game to Kurt Weisel, a player whose career was halted by injury before he ever got to play a game at RPI.

"We were all thinking about him before the game," Murley said. "He's one of our good friends. He stayed here and went to school, and he's been a great guy to all of us."

RPI played at Dartmouth last year in the playoffs and was eliminated in two games. The last time the Engineers had home ice was the year before, when they reached the ECAC title game.

"I'm really happy for our seniors," Fridgen said. "They wanted to play another weekend at home. It's something we wanted to do throughout the season. The situation a few weeks ago we left ourselves little room for error. Give the guys credit."