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RPI Players' Faith Is Rewarded

Since Slump in Early January, Team is 7-1-2

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, February 22, 2002

TROY - When every significant piece of evidence pointed in that direction, co-captain Steve Munn refused to believe this was not going to be a good season for the RPI hockey team.

"It's been really good the way the guys have stuck together and stayed positive," said the 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior defenseman from Saskatchewan. "We've always believed in ourselves and it's finally starting to come together for us."

RPI's recent surge included road wins at Yale and Princeton last weekend that gave the Engineers five wins in a row and a 7-1-2 record after they had lost four in a row in early January.

It seems that the Engineers have been a different team ever since a 5-4 overtime loss at archrival Union when a controversial goal turned the tide. RPI has lost only once since then, moving from 11th place to sixth in the ECAC.

"I think it was just the result of everyone staying focused," said Munn, who has played in 131 games in his four-year career, including all 28 this season. "It took a while for it to come together, but if we were going to start on a roll this was the perfect time to do it."

The Engineers have leap-frogged from the playoff fence to a chance to earn home ice. They can clinch a playoff spot with two more points in their final four games, but could get one of five home-ice spots if they can win two or three games. RPI (8-7-3) is three points back of second-place Dartmouth (9-5-4).

"All we're interested in doing is winning as many games as we can before the playoffs and letting the rest of it work itself out," said Munn. "Home ice is definitely in the back of our minds; it's a huge advantage, especially when we've got fans as good as we have here." Marc Cavosie (19-23-42) and Matt Murley (18-16-34) have become two of the most prolific scorers in the country and certainly the dominant offensive duo of the ECAC. But they have had much more help in the second half of the season, and that may be the key to the team's turnaround.

"We knew that we were a better team than our record showed the first half of the year," Munn said. "There's not one guy in that locker room who hasn't contributed to our recent success. It hasn't just been those two guys, it's been team wins. There's other guys blocking shots and making plays in our end, and goaltenders have been stopping the puck."

Nine players accounted for RPI's 10 goals in wins last weekend.

Union stands eighth: Coach Kevin Sneddon's Dutchmen are one of eight teams still alive for six playoff spots (Cornell, Dartmouth, Clarkson and Harvard are in.)

But they must face Harvard, Cornell, Colgate and Brown - all currently ahead of them - over the next two weekends.

Union (7-8-3) split last weekend and is 1-3-1 in its past five.

Ice chips: Cornell (14-3-1) is only two points from clinching the ECAC title. ... Clarkson freshman Jay Latulippe, who played for the Capital District Selects, is second in the ECAC in scoring among first-year players with 19 points (5-14).