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RPI Shows Scoring Balance

Engineers' Top Guns Go Scoreless in Tourney Wins

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, January 4, 2002

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of RPI's two overtime victories in the 51st Holiday Tournament was that the championship was accomplished without a goal from the team's top three scorers.

Matt Murley missed both games after battling mononucleosis, but neither Marc Cavosie (two assists) nor Nolan Graham contributed goals to the wins over Quinnipiac and UMass.

That's good news for the Engineers, who needed more balance after those three had accounted for 21 of RPI's 36 goals entering the tournament. Danny Eberly assisted on the tying and winning goals in the opener, and Ben Barr did the same in the finale.

"We had some guys step up and come up big," said RPI coach Dan Fridgen. "It was the second night in a row we had a freshman pick up their first goal of the season, and both goals were just unbelievable."

C.J. Hanifin got his first career goal against Quinnipiac, then first-year defenseman Blake Pickett went end to end and made a great fake on UMass goalie Mike Johnson for the first of his career.

"Who'd have thought Blake would take it from his own end?" Fridgen said. "They parted like the Red Sea. It's one thing for a freshman to see that, and I could see his eyes lighting up right around the red line. To finish it off the way he did showed a lot of composure."

Sophomore Ryan Shields became the tournament hero when he scored the tying and winning goals. The equalizer came unexpectedly when Johnson went behind his own net and was slow getting back to position. Shields pounced on a loose puck at the goal mouth in OT for the winner.

Chris Migliore, who came into the tournament with two goals in 10 games, had the winner in the first game - the longest in RPI history finishing at 10:50 of the second overtime. Shields needed only four minutes of the first OT for his winner.

"I considered putting Migliore out there to start the period to get it over a little quicker," Fridgen said jokingly. "But that wasn't an option."

It was also a breakthrough weekend for goaltender Kevin Kurk, who was on the bench when the tournament started but picking up the MVP award when it was over after getting both victories. Kurk played just under 130 minutes and posted a 0.93 GAA.

"We put him in situations where we left him out to dry, but he came up with the big save," Fridgen said. "He certainly did an outstanding job and the team feeds off that. I had every intention of having him play in that second game and giving Nate (Marsters) that first one, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way."

Now it's back to league play this weekend, and with Murley expected back in the lineup and the momentum from the tournament, RPI (7-5-1, 2-2-1 ECAC) should be ready to tackle Brown and first-place Harvard. Ice chips: Union came back from the holiday break with a nice win over Northeastern of Hockey East, but the Dutchmen were touched for three power-play goals in the 5-3 win. Northeastern was 3-0-0 against ECAC teams entering the game. ... RPI went 0-for-7 on the power play in its tournament title game after a 3-for-6 performance in the first-round win. The Engineers allowed 3 of 10 on the power play in the two games.