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Saints Bottle RPI's Power

Engineers' Power-play Unit Fails 13 Times

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, November 7, 2004

TROY - After a league-opening power-play display that lit up Houston Field House only 24 hours earlier, it must have seemed as if somebody turned off the switch for the RPI hockey team Saturday night.

The Engineers, who scored five power-play goals against Clarkson to move into sixth among the nation's college teams in power-play percentage (25.4), quickly extricated themselves from that lofty status and it cost them in a 3-2 ECAC Hockey League setback against St. Lawrence in front of 2,991 fans.

It wasn't for lack of opportunity. St. Lawrence put RPI on the power play 14 times in this game, but the Engineers had only a second-period goal that gave them a 2-1 lead to show for it. Matt McNeely's drive from between the circles got through at 7:10 of the second period, but RPI was unable to get another score either at even strength or with the man- or sometimes two-man advantage.

"Live by the sword, die by the sword," said RPI forward Kevin Croxton. "They blocked an awful lot of shots tonight. They're probably the best team we've played this season. We just couldn't get it done tonight."

The Engineers haven't been able to get it done against St. Lawrence (5-4-1, 1-1 ECACHL) since the 2002-03 season, in fact. This was the fourth consecutive loss against the Saints for Croxton and company.

"Some teams you just don't match up well against" he said. "They played real well."

After McNeely's goal, St. Lawrence evened the score for the second time at 14:46, two seconds after a 5-on-3 power play had expired, on a shot by John Zeiler from the base of the left circle. SLU took the lead for good at 8:10 of the second when Chase Trull rifled a shot from between the circles that RPI goalie Andrew Martin never saw.

And if one positive came out of this loss for RPI (5-3-1, 1-1 ECACHL), it's that coach Dan Fridgen may have found a starting goaltender - at least for now. Martin made 32 saves.

"I thought 'Tex' (Martin) at times kept us in there in the pipes," Fridgen said. "Certainly it's a game we could have won, but we didn't have everybody going tonight. Goaltending-wise Andrew's certainly stepped up and gotten the job done. That's not to say that Jordan (Alford) isn't capable, it's just that (Martin's) hot right now."

The first-period script followed Friday night's game as penalties dominated play, but RPI got its first goal in this game at even strength when Kirk MacDonald sent a wrister from the base of the right circle in off goaltender Mike McKenna at 4:07, three seconds after a power play ended.

St. Lawrence, which entered the weekend ranked 13th nationally, tied it up on a power-play goal by Drew Bagnall at 5:49 as the first ended tied.

McKenna maintained his hold over the Engineers, making 30 saves in beating RPI for the fifth time in a row. The past two have been by a single goal.

"It was a frustrating game to lose," said captain Nick Economakos. "These are two very good teams you might see later on in the postseason."