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RPI Works Overtime for Holiday

Engineers Win Own Tourney with Their Second OT Victory

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, December 30, 2001

TROY - Sophomore Ryan Shields doubled his season goal output in little more than a period Saturday night, and he'll have a difficult time scoring two more important ones than he did in the championship game of the 51st RPI Holiday Tournament.

Shields scored the tying goal in the first minute of the third period, then knocked in the championship winner four minutes into overtime to give RPI a 3-2 victory over Massachusetts and its 16th tournament championship.

"It was sure nice to see that puck go in and get that game-winner," said Shields, who picked up a loose puck near the left goalpost and tucked it past goalie Mike Johnson for his fourth goal in 12 games this season. "We came in 3-on-2 and I got a good shot. (Ben) Barr was there for the rebound, then it just came out to me and I was just standing beside the net and put it home."

This championship was a testament to desire as much as ability, maybe more. The Engineers had to play two overtimes and the longest game in tournament history in the first round to beat Quinnipiac 5-4, then summon energy to go extra time again in the title game."

We went a long way last night (Friday), but not once did we consider fatigue a factor," said coach Dan Fridgen, whose club could have had an easier time but for seven fruitless power plays. "We wanted to win this tournament. We haven't done it in three years, especially without one of the spokes in our wheel (co-captain Matt Murley). This was a great team effort."

The Engineers trailed 2-1 entering the final period of regulation, but Shields wasted little time knotting the score.

The sophomore winger grabbed a loose rebound off a shot by Ben Barr and had the left side of the net open only 53 seconds into the third period.

Less than six minutes later, with the teams skating 4-on-4 on overlapping penalties, RPI had a great chance to win it. Eric Cavosie led a 3-on-none break down the right wing, but his shot from the slot caromed off the left post and the teams were unable to break the tie in regulation.

RPI (7-5-1) had taken the game's first lead when freshman defenseman Blake Pickett scored on a dazzling individual effort. He stole the puck in the neutral zone, skated in and faked goalie Mike Johnson, leaving the left side of the net wide open for a 1-0 lead at 9:10 of the second period.

But UMass (7-11-0) went into the second intermission with a 2-1 lead on a pair of power-play goals. Tim Turner picked up a loose puck after a clearing pass bounced into the slot, and he beat goalie and tournament MVP Kevin Kurk at 13:08 to tie the game at 1.

Then, with less then five seconds left in the middle period, Greg Mauldin took a perfect pass from Toni Soderholm from behind the net and made it 2-1. Kurk, who came on in relief in the first game and was unbeaten on 22 shots, was impenetrable the rest of the way in this one.

"It was a shock getting put out there," said the 6-4 sophomore goaltender, who has been battling flu symptoms. "It was a great experience. I don't usually get too many awards. I think the whole team deserves the MVP award."

The Engineers played both tournament games without Murley, who failed to obtain medical clearance after a three-week bout with mononucleosis. "The doctor said I should wait until next week," Murley said.

Rob Bumbaco scored a natural hat trick as Niagara improved to 13-8-0 in a game they trailed four times. Neil Breen had two goals and two assists for Quinnipiac (7-8-1).

Shields and RPI defenseman Danny Eberly were named to the all-tournament team along with Bumbaco, Johnson, Quinnipiac forward Ryan Olson and UMass defenseman Nick Kuiper.