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RPI Remains Cold in North Country

Engineers Lose to Saints for Third Straight Defeat

By Kelly Tomlinson

Albany Times Union, January 13, 2002

CANTON - Kevin Kurk claimed he never saw Blair Clarance coming.

The RPI goaltender, who was victimized on Clarance's short-handed goal 8 minutes, 36 seconds into the third, saw the St. Lawrence center dart into the left corner followed by an RPI defenseman.

The next thing he knew, Clarance was stuffing a backhand shot through his pads. That goal killed just about any chance the Engineers had of mounting a comeback and propelled St. Lawrence to a 5-2 men's hockey win in an Eastern College Athletic Conference game at Appleton Arena.

It was the first victory for SLU since Nov. 23.

"It surprised me," Kurk said. "I saw our D go back with him. Next thing, one of their guys is walking out in front. It caught me off guard. He made a nice move to put it in."

Clarance's goal, his seventh of the season, re-established SLU's two-goal lead with 11:24 left, and killed any momentum RPI had gained by cutting the lead to 3-2 on Vic Pereira's goal at 2:09 of the third.

"You need some big saves," said Engineers head coach Dan Fridgen. "I think Kevin was relaxing when we were on the power play, and they got one by him. That's where we need the big saves."

It was one of two soft goals allowed by Kurk, who stopped 25 of 29 shots.

The first came 12 minutes into the second.

Clarance won a draw in the RPI zone, pushing the puck to freshman Josh Anderson, who wristed a weak shot toward Kurk. Kurk thought he had the puck trapped between his arm and body, but it slipped through, rolled off his right pad, and made it just over the line, giving SLU a 3-1 lead.

"It's frustrating," Fridgen said of the team's third straight loss. "It's very frustrating. Looking back, I thought we were in the game. But throughout the whole game we took the momentum away from ourselves. And it's not the younger guys. It's our seniors, our upperclassmen. They turn the puck over, take penalties - I'm dumbfounded by it.

"And again, it's not the younger guys, it's the upperclassmen, who should know better. It's the players you expect better play from."

The loss means RPI (7-8-2, 2-5-2) leaves the North Country without a point.

Saints coach Joe Marsh can sympathize.

His team had lost eight straight games, it's longest since a nine- game skid in the 1993-94 season. Of the eight losses, five had been by a single goal.

"It's nice to get that 'W,'" Marsh said. "The guys played hard. They had to earn it every step of the way. It certainly didn't feel like a three-goal game."

For most of the night it wasn't.

Saints right wing Jim Lorentz opened the scoring just 3:48 in by poking a loose puck past Kurk off a goal-mouth scramble.

RPI answered at 7:39 of the second. SLU goalie Mike McKenna was bumped and lost his stick. Marc Cavosie fed Carson Butterwick in the slot and Butterwick beat McKenna low to the stick side for the 1-1 tie.