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RPI vs. Clarkson

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 5, 2004

Scouting RPI

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %; Friday's game not included): Fr. Jordan Alford (2-1-1, 2.95, 89.1%), or Sr. Andrew Martin (2-1-0, 2.03, 88.2%).

'So who is in goal': When he doesn't have a clearly defined No. 1 goaltender, RPI head coach Dan Fridgen often waits until game day to name his starter. He took that a step further earlier this week. When asked who would be asked to stop the high-scoring Golden Knights, he said, "how can you take out a guy who just had a shutout?" The 11-year coach was joking, though. Martin blanked Mercyhurst (5-0) last week and allowed just one goal in his previous start at Army. Alford is the Engineers' goalie of the future, though, and he could start both tonight and Saturday against St. Lawrence. Fridgen is leaning toward dividing the pair for at least one more week, though.

Moving things around: The Engineers practiced without five different colored line shirts most of the week, as all forwards wore either white or red. "I'm still making changes," Fridgen said, "because when you have depth, (some) guys will be in and out of the lineup on a regular basis." Nick Economakos' line of Kevin Croxton and Kirk MacDonald leads all ECACHL lines in scoring with 31 points (12-19-31) among the three. Sophomore center Oren Eizenman will for the second straight game be with freshman Jake Morissette on the left and consistent Chris Hussey on the right. Look for freshman Andrew Lord to again center for LW Vic Pereira and RW Kevin Broad, for at least one game this weekend. The fourth line could contain anyone, though senior C.J. Hanafin will likely be its center.

Who's hot: MacDonald has seven goals and two assists over the past five games. Hussey (4-4-8) is the only Engineer who has charted at least one point in all seven games. Other hot players are Croxton (3-7-10 over the past six games), Eizenman (3-2-5 over the past three), Economakos (1-7-8 over the past five), defenseman Alexander Valentin (1-4-5 over the past two) and defenseman Scott Romfo (0-4-4 over the past four games).

Notes: Rensselaer has yet to play a game decided by one goal, thanks mainly to UMass-Lowell's Ben Walter, who put in an empty-netter - his fourth goal of the game - in the closing seconds of the River Hawks' (5-3) victory over the Engineers last week at Houston Field House. Rensselaer was 7-9 in such games during the regular season last year after a 5-0 start in one-goal decisions. ... The Engineers are winless (0-2-1) when they score fewer than four goals, 4-0-0 when they score four or more. They are unbeaten at 4-0-1 when they permit four or fewer goals, 0-2-0 when they allow five. ... The Engineers have been outscored 7-4 in the first period but have outscored the opposition 26-12 after that.

Injuries: None

Outlook: Three in a row over Clarkson? Why not? Unless they come out too pumped up, the Engineers, with everything going for them, should carve out a victory tonight.

Scouting Clarkson

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %; Friday's game not included): Jr. Dustin Traylen (0-3-0, 4.10, 86.1%), or Fr. David Leggio (2-0-0, 3.30, 89.4%) or So. Kyle McNulty (0-1-0, 5.06, 78.3%).

Rough start: With veteran stars such as ECACHL scoring champ Mac Faulkner, Jay Latulippe and Chris Blight, some forget that Clarkson is a young team with 10 freshmen (more than half of whom have seen plenty of action) and eight sophomores on the 27-man roster. Second-year head coach George Roll is confident the Knights can improve upon last season's record of 8-12-2 (ECAC) and 18-18-5 (overall). He expected things might be tough early in the season, however. "We've struggled a bit with our consistency," Roll said. "Our work ethic hasn't been there game in and game out. I thought the second night against Niagara that we played with a lot more urgency. That's the type of effort we are going to have to play with to be successful. It's good going into league play on a winning note."

Banged up 'D-men': Also contributing to the rough start was the fact that sophomore defensemen Jamie McKinven and Nathan Beausoleil each missed the first two games with injuries. The Knights are at full strength now.

'We've got Weller ...': That was the gleeful reprise of the Clarkson community last year when the Golden Knights landed prize prospect Shawn Weller. The South Glens Falls native and 3rd-round draft pick of the NHL's Ottawa Senators. However, the Knights didn't have the big, talented left winger for their first four games. High school transcript problems left him ineligible. The NCAA cleared him just hours before Clarkson's first home game against Niagara one week ago. He scored two goals in the Knights' 5-3 defeat that night and added an assist the next night when Clarkson rebounded to beat the Purple Eagles, 4-3.

Who's hot: Other than Weller's three points in two games, Faulkner, with 4 goals and 3 assists over the past five games, and Latulippe (2-5-7 in five games) are the hottest Golden Knights. Another is Brodie Rutherglen (2-2-4 in four games).

Injuries: None.

Outlook: This one's a toss up on paper but the Golden Knights, in addition to merely being on the road, will have to match what's expected to be sky-high emotion and intensity to have a chance tonight.

Inside the Numbers

Records (ECACHL-overall): Clarkson 0-0-0, 2-4-0 overall. RPI 0-0-0, 4-2-1.

Previous outing: Clarkson beat Niagara, 4-3. Rensselaer beat Mercyhurst, 5-0.

Past 5 outings: Clarkson is 2-3-0. Rensselaer is 4-1-0.

Last season's meetings: RPI won at Clarkson, 4-3 in OT; RPI won at Houston Field House, 4-2.

All-time series: Clarkson leads series, 75-38-6.

Power play: Clarkson - 8-of-53, 15.1 percent. RPI - 13-of-60, 21.7 percent.

Penalty killing: Clarkson - 44-of-56, 78.6 percent. RPI - 48-of-55, 87.3 percent.