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Union Bounces RPI

Pair of Unusual Goals Help Dutchmen Rally for Victory over Their Capital Region Rival

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, January 17, 2002

SCHENECTADY - In a college hockey rivalry as intense Union and RPI's, could the outcome of a game rest on the flick of a glove?

Not when there's a back - or two - to bounce a puck off.

Whether it was Jeff Wilson's glove or Jason Kean's stick that knocked in Union's tying goal in the second period really didn't matter a period later Wednesday night, when the winning goal bounced in off Doug Christiansen's back at 11:23 for a 5-4 Union victory in front of 2,497 frenzied fans at Achilles Rink.

"I think we had a couple of breakdowns that ended up in our net," said frazzled RPI coach Dan Fridgen, whose team lost the season series to Union for the second straight year. "Then you have another goal that's batted in out of the air by a hand. I think that's just ridiculous. Second time in this building where they've allowed a goal that should have been disallowed. We've got it on film.

"That was a huge goal for them. The same last year when they knocked the net off and got a goal in here (a 4-2 Union win). If I didn't have the evidence I wouldn't be talking about it. That goal where they tied it was a backbreaker. I don't understand when you've got three (officials) on the ice and not one sees it."

What happened on the game's second-most important play is that Kean took a shot from outside that sandwiched between goalie Nathan Marsters and another stick in front. The puck shot into the air, and Wilson took a swipe at it with his gloved hand. He claims he missed the puck, and that it simply dribbled across the goal line.

"It never hit me," Wilson said. "It went up in the air, hit the goalie's back and went into the net. Thank God I didn't hit it."

That goal wiped out what was left of a 4-2 RPI, an edge the Engineers enjoyed following Matt Murley's third goal of the game at 1:25 of the second period. It was his third career hat trick, but there was nothing for him to celebrate after Union got another fortunate bounce, this time off Christiansen's back.

"I was in the right place at the right time," said the 6-foot-5 Christiansen, who was parked in front of the net when teammate Brent Booth's shot was stopped by Marsters, but dropped onto Christiansen's rear end. "All I know is it took a long time to get from his shoulder across the goal line."

Union (8-7-3 overall, 4-5-1 ECAC) moved three points ahead of the Engineers (7-9-2, 2-6-2), who are 0-4-1 in their past five.

In stark contrast to their first meeting, a 1-1 tie on Dec. 1 in Troy, the first period of this game produced five goals and a 3-2 RPI lead - all three coming on the power play.

Murley scored on a slap shot that went off goalie Brandon Snee's glove at 2:41, five seconds after the faceoff that followed Union's first penalty. Ryan Shields made it 2-0 at 11:19 on a rebound before Nathan Gillies cut the deficit to 2-1 on a drive that went through Marsters' legs at 13:17.

"There's some positive things that came out of this," said Murley, who may have played Union for the last time. "I think we're a better team than we showed tonight."

A group of Union fans hurt their team when they tossed about a dozen oranges onto the ice after the Gillies goal, resulting in a delay-of-game penalty. Skating 4-on-3, Murley knocked in his 11th of the season on the third of Marc Cavosie's four assists. Union cut it to 3-2 when Gillies stole the puck and fed Marc Neron for a score at 17:31.

"We had some nice goals as well," Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. "I credit both teams. From a fan perspective, this is what you want to see in a college hockey game."