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Win Keeps RPI in ECAC Hunt

Engineers Top Vermont Without Leading Scorer

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, February 3, 2002

BURLINGTON, Vt. - It may not have been an artistic masterpiece, but Saturday night's 6-4 victory here over Vermont put RPI back in the ECAC hockey playoff picture.

With league scoring leader Marc Cavosie sitting out his first game of the season with a minor injury, the Engineers (4-7-3 ECAC, 10-10-4 overall) found some offense from his teammates to move into the 10th and final playoff spot as they earned three points for the weekend.

"I got banged up in front of the net on the first goal (Friday at Dartmouth)," said Cavosie, who scored both goals in that 2-2 tie. "I was a little sore tonight and we didn't want to take a chance. The guys stepped up tonight and played real well."

Jim Henkel, who had been struggling, scored a pair of goals and Mikael Hammerstrom got his first of the year for the Engineers. Defenseman Jim Vickers had three assists, Andrew McPherson a goal and assist, and co-captain Matt Murley sealed it with an empty-net goal in the final minute for his 16th of the season.

"I thought we were pretty resilient all weekend," said RPI coach Dan Fridgen as his team avoided moving into a tie with Vermont for last place with the victory. "We bent, but we didn't break. This is a real big road win."

It wasn't easy as Vermont (3-10-1 ECAC, 3-18-2 overall) came into the game with only 14 power-play goals in 100 chances. The Catamounts nailed three against the Engineers, who entered the game having killed 20 in a row. UVM sophomore Patrick Sharp scored a power-play hat trick, but it wasn't enough.

"We've faced adversity all season," Fridgen said. "We needed for other guys to step up. We just want to concentrate on the process and let the end result take care of itself."

RPI took a 3-1 lead in the second period, scoring on a power-play goal by Hammerstrom on a shot from the right circle at 2:26. The Engineers later got a break when Henkel's shot from just inside the blue line went off a defenseman's skate and caught goalie Tim Peters out of position at 14:19.

Sharp got his second of the night from between the circles at 17:19, only four seconds after a five-on-three UVM advantage had expired to cut the lead to 3-2. They tied the game at 1:57 of the third period when Scott Mifsud deflected in a shot to make it 3-3.

Henkel got his fifth of the season at 6:31 on a rebound in close, and McPherson took a perfect pass from Carson Butterwick to make it 5-3 at 8:34 of the final period. Vermont refused to quit, and when Sharp banged a long drive off the left post it was 5-4 with more than half a period to play. The Engineers held on and Murley iced it at 19:38 after Peters left the net with 1:25 left to play.

The teams traded first-period goals, RPI drawing first blood when Butterwick blasted a drive from the right circle past Peters at 6:09. The Catamounts converted on their second power-play opportunity when Sharp beat Nathan Marsters from the top of the left circle at 10:10.

The victory was the second in little more than a week over the Catamounts, but was much tougher than the 6-0 pasting RPI delivered in Troy. In the standings it was no less important.

"It's coming down to the end of the season and we've got eight games left," Henkel said. "Three points is huge for us. We'd like to make a little run to get up there so we get some kind of a good matchup come playoff time."