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RPI Tries to Undo Knot

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, October 16, 2004

TROY - The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey team is having a difficult time with the University of Connecticut.

Over the past year, the Engineers haven't lost to the pesky Huskies. But they haven't beaten them, either.

The last two games between the teams have ended in ties. RPI is hoping for a better result tonight when it hosts UConn in its Houston Field House opener at 7.

It will the second time in six days that the 0-1-1 teams will face each other. They played to a 3-3 tie in the consolation game of Sunday's Mutual of Omaha Stampede in Omaha, Neb. UConn earned third place by winning a shootout, but the game is a tie in the record books because the NCAA doesn't recognize the shootout as a method of determining winners and losers.

Last year in RPI's home opener, the teams played to a 4-4 tie.

"I don't know exactly what it is," RPI forward Kevin Croxton said. "I think we played well on the weekend. We just shot ourselves in the foot with some penalties. They play well against us. They go hard, and they work hard. They're a good hockey club."

The two games have had some similarities.

In last year's contest, the Huskies had a 4-1 lead in the third period. The Engineers came back with two goals by Oren Eizenman and one by C.J. Hanafin to tie it.

In Sunday's game, RPI took a 3-1 lead into the third period. But an even-strength goal by Mike Neilon and a power-play tally by Brian Burns helped UConn even the score.

"Quite honestly, if we knew the answer, we wouldn't be tying these games," RPI defenseman Brad Farynuk said. "Regardless, we've got to step it up this weekend."

The Engineers outshot the Huskies, 7-0, in overtime. But the play of goalie Brad Smith, who replaced injured starter Scott Tomes midway through the second period, kept the game tied.

"I thought we pressed them in the overtime," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "Their goaltender played real well."

Fridgen wants to see a little more spirit and a some smart decisions in tonight's home opener. To that extent, there will be some lineup changes, but Fridgen wouldn't say who would or wouldn't dress.

"You can count on some new faces in the lineup, based on the fact we've already played two games," Fridgen said. "Some guys took some penalties that were certainly uncharacteristic of them. We had some guys I thought could have performed better with the opportunity that they were presented with."