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Revenge Is Sweet for RPI

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, October 17, 2004

TROY - Jordan Alford welcomed another shot at Connecticut.

This time, his Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute teammates gave the freshman goalie a few goals to work with and didn't permit any rebounds to sit in the lower slot and the Engineers finally beat the upstart Huskies, 4-1 Saturday night.

Kirk MacDonald scored a pair of goals, Brad Farynuk broke a 1-1 tie with a chip-in rebound goal late in the second period and Alford did the rest. He stopped 23 of 24 shots put on him and the 1-1-1 Engineers held to a 4-4 tie by the Huskies last season at Houston Field House and a 3-3 deadlock last week in the Nebraska-Omaha Tournament, posted their first victory of the season.

Alford stonewalled Matthew Scherer from the doorstep on a UConn power play with 13:21 remaining.

Earlier, he came up with big saves on close-range shots by Brian Burns and Mike Neilon.

Kevin Croxton and Nick Economakos each assisted twice for the Engineers and Chris Hussey put his team-leading third goal into an empty net with 18 seconds remaining.

"I think everybody was ready to get back at them after what happened last week," Alford said.

Last week, the Engineers could have cleared a couple of rebounds that the Huskies put past him during his first collegiate game.

"I think we just stayed out of the box and played smarter (Saturday night)," Alford said. "The (defensemen) played great and we played well defensively as a team."

As for his big stick save on Scherer that certainly could have changed the complexion of the game, Alford said, "just trying to get in the way."

UConn freshman goalie Brad Smith, who was outstanding in last week's tie, kicked a rebound of a Croxton shot from the left circle toward Farynuk at the right of the goalcrease shortly after an RPI power play ended.

"Team's are catching on to the shot coming from the top," said Farynuk, the point man on RPI's power play. "So, Crox and I talked about, me attacking the crease and opening up some space for him to shoot. The goalie kicked it out, I stopped it with my skate and banged it in."

That gave the Engineers a 2-1 lead and they controlled the third period.

"They play us really, really hard," RPI head coach Dan Fridgen said of the Huskies. "As you can see, they have a team that doesn't quit."

"I thought we played real well," Fridgen said. "It would have been nice to capitalize on all of our opportunities because I thought we had enough of them, especially in the first period. But I thought everybody played real hard and we stayed out of the box."

Compared to last week, Fridgen's statement was accurate. Still, the Engineers were shorthanded eight times, including a 5-on-3 for 1:22 of the second, and killed each one.

At 4:28 of the third, MacDonald, standing just in front of the sideboards, fired a slapper off Smith's shoulder and into the net.

"A seam kind of opened up and I just fired it," he said. "I don't think (Smith) was really ready for the shot from that weird angle."

On the first RPI goal, Matt McNeely rifled a shot from the point that MacDonald deflected off the right goalpost and into the net 12:31 into the game.

"McNeely just walked down (the slot) on the power play and fired it and I just got a piece of it with my shaft and it went post and in."

The Engineers failed to clear the puck just prior to the Huskies' tying goal, and Neilon took a feed down from center Eric Helstedt and flicked it behind Alford, tying the score at 1-1 at 14:41 of the first period.

Hussey, who had just one goal in 29 games over his first two seasons, was asked if he could score one goal per game - 36 goals.

"No," he said with a chuckle. "I don't think so."

Why's he scoring so well?

"It might just be ice time ... year older, year wiser, I'm not sure. But since the first game, everything's just been clicking."

"I'm definitely more confident," he added.

The Engineers have little time to celebrate, as they travel to Northeastern - victor over Michigan last week - on Tuesday night.