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Engineers Have Silenced Army's Attack Since 1999

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, October 23, 2004

Unless you are really a diehard Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey fan, the name Brian Sarner wouldn’t be recognizable. RPI coach Dan Fridgen didn’t even know who Sarner was.

Sarner played college hockey for Army. When he scored a goal against Engineers goalie Scott Prekaski at 6:44 of the third period of RPI’s 5-2 win at West Point on Nov. 27, 1999, little did anyone realize that would be the last goal Army would score against RPI.

The Engineers (2-1-1) have shut out the Black Knights in their last three meetings. They look to make it four in a row when they visit the Black Knights at Tate Rink tonight at 7.

Nathan Marsters got the first shutout, making 15 saves in a 3-0 win at Houston Field House on Oct. 28, 2000. Kevin Kurk posted the next shutout when he made 17 saves in a 3-0 win at Army Oct. 26, 2002. Marsters continued the streak last Oct. 25, when he made 12 saves in the Engineers’ 6-0 rout at Houston.

The shutout streak stands at an impressive 213 minutes, 16 seconds. Fridgen hasn’t decided if freshman Jordan Alford or senior Andrew Martin will get a chance to extend the streak.

"Defense is something that we take a lot of pride in," Fridgen said. "Obviously, we’ve played pretty solid defense against that team. In the opportunities that they’ve gotten, you would have to look and see how the goaltender was."

The fact that RPI has held Army to 44 shots on goal in the last three games is a testament to its defense-first concept.

"We’ve played them pretty solid over the last couple of years, and limited their scoring opportunities," Fridgen said.

The Engineers will look to extend another streak against the Black Knights, who played an Atlantic Hockey game against Bentley on Friday. RPI has won eight straight against Army. The Black Knights’ last win came Nov. 3, 1995, a 6-4 triumph at Tate Rink.

"Army’s a tough team to play against," said RPI junior forward Kirk MacDonald, who is second on the team in scoring with four goals and three assists. "They’re probably the most physical team we play against all year. They’re always in great shape, and work real hard. I don’t know what it is about shutting them out the last couple of years. Hopefully, we can try an continue the streak for another year."

If RPI wins, it would move Fridgen into a first-place tie with Mike Addesa with 186 career wins at the school.

"I’m not even giving it a thought," said Fridgen, who is in his 11th year as head coach and has a 185-155-31 record.

Dutchwomen home

The Union College women’s hockey team makes its Messa Rink debut today at 2 p.m. when it hosts Sacred Heart in a nonleague game. The two teams will also meet at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Dutchwomen opened their season last weekend with a pair of ECACHL losses at Clarkson.

One of Union’s four wins last season came over Sacred Heart, a 5-2 decision on Nov. 30.