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Engineers Continue to Make Strides in Weekend Split

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 1, 2004

TROY - The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute power play has looked better than it did over the weekend.

Want the good news?

The Engineers, in their 1-1 weekend, were able to put in some 5-on-5 goals.

They've relied too much on their dangerous power play too often over the past two seasons and getting a few more conventional goals is a good sign.

After beginning the season with just four goals among their first 27 power plays - and both power-play goals in the 3-3 tie with Connecticut came during extended 5-on-3 advantages - the Engineers put in three PP tallies against both Northeastern and Army.

UMass-Lowell penalty killers deserve much of the credit for the River Hawks' 5-3 victory over the Engineers on Friday night and the RPI power play showed only flashes on Saturday, going 2-for-10 in a 5-0 whitewash of Mercyhurst.

Meanwhile, over the first 10 games - discounting empty-net goals - the Engineers scored just nine even-strength goals, eight during 5-on-5 action.

This past weekend, they scored five. It's a small item but a good sign.

Fridgen on top: Dan Fridgen, with his 187th victory against Mercyhurst on Saturday night, surpassed Mike Adessa as Rensselaer's all-time winningest coach.

Fridgen said "there's some satisfaction," with the record now but added, "I'll probably enjoy it more when I'm even grayer than I am now with less hair than I have right now."

Fridgen said he "thought it was fitting that (Mercyhurst head coach) used to be a member of the coaching staff (under Adessa) here at Rensselaer and he's part of the rich tradition that we have carried on, not just academically but athletically as well. So, to do it with Rick here will be forever etched in my memory."

With losses at both Union and RPI over the weekend, Gotkin is stuck on 299 victories. Fridgen needs 13 for 200.

He says he's not thinking about that milestone yet - "only the start of our league play next weekend."

Fridgen's biggest victory?

"I would probably have to say the (1995) ECAC championship game (a 5-1 victory over Princeton)," he said, "but probably the Colgate game (in the semifinals) was best. We were the underdogs, they have beaten us twice that season and they were heavy favorites and (goalie) Mike Tamburro came up big for us, standing on his head, and we ended up beating them, 2-1."

One win that wasn't etched was No. 100. That came on Dec. 3, 1999, a 3-2 decision over Harvard at Houston Field House. That was the first RPI game ever covered by this writer.

"Dad, how can you not remember that," asked Fridgen's 13-year old son Corbin. "It's (the writeup) hanging up in your office."

Brian Pothier had a goal and an assist for the Engineers and Doug Shepherd gave RPI a 3-1 lead with 32 seconds remaining. Then though, Harvard's Aaron Kim scored an extra-attacker goal with 10 seconds remaining and Engineers goalie Joel Laing had to make a tough save on Mark Moore just before the horn sounded.

Third-period terrors: After blowing a 3-1, third-period lead in the tie with UConn in Game 2, the Engineers have been a solid third-period team.

Over the final 20 minutes of games, they've outscored UConn in the second meeting, 2-0, Northeastern 5-3, Army 2-0, Lowell 2-1 and Mercyhurst, 2-0.

Add to that the fact that RPI has outscored the opposition 12-4 during second periods of games, and things are looking good as league play looms.

First periods? The Engineers have totaled just four goals in its seven opening periods - one by Nick Economakos at 1:06 at Northeastern. They've allowed seven first-period scores.

Seeking a streak: The loss to Lowell ended a three-game winning streak for the 4-2-1 Engineers, who have lost just one of their last six games.

Rensselaer, despite a 22-15-2 record last season, did not put together three straight victories until after the postseason had begun.

The Engineers open ECACHL league play with home games against Clarkson and St. Lawrence this weekend and the November slate has eight games (six league) RPI could win.

Shockers: There have been some head-scratching scores around the nation early this season, some concerning ECACHL teams.

This weekend produced several that included green-clad ECACHL teams.

Quinnipiac - not picked among the Atlantic Hockey contenders this season (they will be now) marched into Dartmouth's Thompson Arena and with the hot goaltending of Jamie Holden, upset the 12th-ranked Big Green, 2-1.

The Bobcats were outshot 43-11 but pushed two of those 11 across the goal line.

And how about Vermont? The Catamounts, 1-4-0 as they packed their bags, went out to Duluth, Minnesota and knocked off top-ranked and 2004 NCAA Tournament runnerup Minnesota-Duluth.

Then the next night, despite being outshot, 42-18, held the Bulldogs to a 2-2. The two scores will almost certainly drop Duluth from the lofty No. 1 spot.

Then there's Colgate. The Red Raiders were riding high at 5-1-0 until Army, which showed little against RPI, went to Hamilton and dealt them a shocking, 3-2 defeat.

NOTES: Graeme Townshend, who played at RPI when Gotkin was an assistant, stopped to say hello to the Mercyhurst coach after Saturday's game. ... Rensselaer wingers Kirk MacDonald, Kevin Croxton and Chris Hussey have each scored at least one point in six of the Engineers' seven games. ... Despite being outscored in the first period, RPI has outshot opponents 73-51 in opening sessions. The Engineers have outshot foes by a wide 81-43 during second periods.