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RPI vs. Yale

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 19, 2004

Scouting RPI

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Fr. Jordan Alford (2-1-1, 3.33, 87.9%), or Sr. Andrew Martin (3-4-0, 2.62, 90.1%).

Victory-starved: Rensselaer wasn't the favorite in the ECAC Hockey League but the Engineers certainly are considered among the contenders. To remain in the race when the schedule gets more demanding later on, the Engineers (1-3-0 in league play) need two wins - four points - this weekend. Making a charge to fourth place - and a first-round playoff bye - from this point on with four losses appears to be a monumental task.

Goaltending questions: Freshman Jordan Alford was so shaky last Friday night that head coach Dan Fridgen pulled him. Both he and Andrew Martin permitted goals that Fridgen termed 'soft' but there's a difference between soft goals when defensemen and backcheckers are in position and are tying up potential rebounders' sticks, and soft goals when a forward walks down the slot and tees off, as Union freshman Josh Coyle did to Alford on Friday. Fridgen was asked if Martin had been on the verge of establishing himself as the No. 1 goalie. "Not really," he said. "Right now, I'm just looking for more consistency in order to establish whether (either is) No. 1 or not."

"They're certainly going to be a key element for us," Fridgen said of the netminding tandem. As for Alford's confidence, which may have shaken, Fridgen said, "when you get to this level, experience, once he gains experience and gains that full confidence, he'll be able to perform consistently at the level he wants to. Right now, he probably feels he isn't and ... experience is only going to help him in that regard." Each goaltender is expected to start one game this weekend. As for soft goals, Fridgen said, "hopefully, down the road, the opposing teams will give up some of those goals and we'll benefit from it."

Fridge still confident in team: Fridgen, still seething from a late-game charging call on Economakos and a bench delay of game penalty that put the Engineers two men down and prevented them from installing an extra attacker - and bitterly disappointed in the 3-2 defeat at Union - still expressed confidence in his team. Recalling RPI's 2 games to 0 playoff victory at Union in 2003, after the Dutchmen had beaten and tied RPI during that season, he said, "we'll see who's there in the end."

Who's hot: Economakos has registered at least one point in 10 of RPI's 11 games. He has 2 goals-8 assists-10 points over his last five games, while Kevin Croxton is 3-6-9 during the same five-game stretch. Despite being blanked in both games last weekend, right winger Kirk MacDonald is still 10-3-13 over his past nine games. Winger Kevin Broad is 3-1-4 over his past six games. Center Andrew Lord is 2-1-3 over his past six.

Injuries: None

Notes: Lord had a goal in each game last weekend. Croxton, MacDonald, right winger-center Chris Hussey and defensemen Alexander Valentin and Matt McNeely are the only other Engineers with goals in consecutive games this season. ... The Engineers are 4-1-1 in their last six visits to Yale's Ingalls Rink but the Bulldogs have won three times at Houston Field House during that time. ... Bulldogs and Engineers combined for 30 goals in their two games in the 1989-90 season, RPI winning 8-6 (H) and 9-7. ... Economakos will play his 100th career game tonight. Defenseman Blake Pickett went over the 100-game mark recently.

Outlook: Look for the Engineers come out and try to assert themselves right off the faceoff with their forechecking.

Scouting Yale

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Jr. Josh Gartner (0-6-0, 5.32, 88.1%), or Sr. Peter Cohen (0-0-0, 4.50, 81.2%), or So. Matt Modelski (0-0-0, 8.00, 82.2%).

Some progress: One would have to spend some time pouring over game-by-game stats in all six conferences for many seasons to find a team more overwhelmed in its first four games of a season than Yale was last month. The Bulldogs were outscored in their four losses to Alabama-Huntsville, St. Cloud State, Dartmouth and Vermont, 27-5. It was enough to engulf a team in despair for weeks. The Bulldogs then went to two venues where they've had trouble winning in recent years, Harvard and Brown, and were at least competitive, losing at Harvard 3-1 and at Brown, 5-2. "We've come a long way since the St. Cloud game (a 10-0 drubbing)," said veteran Yale coach Tim Taylor. "We still have a lot of work to do, though."

Taylor says he doesn't remember having a team that's had such "a high frustration level" as this and he clearly remembers the 1987-88 team that began the season 0-11-0. No other ECAC team has begun as badly as 0-7-0 since.

Home, sweet home: The Bulldogs' last Ingalls Rink appearance was the nightmarish game with St. Cloud. And even though they lost their last six league home games last season (including two playoff games vs. St. Lawrence) but they won five of six ECAC contests at Ingalls prior to that. Certainly, Gartner and the skaters will be glad to get back among familiar surroundings.

Who's hot: No one, really. Only five Bulldogs have scored goals thus far and only Brad Mills (2-2-4), Jeff Hristovski (0-4-4) and freshman Blair Yaworski have more than two points.

Injuries: None

Notes: The Bulldogs upset RPI at Houston Field House last November and until the late-season, 6-0 drubbing in New Haven, had beaten the Engineers in three straight meetings. ... Yale has scored just one second-period goal this year, allowing 10. Overall, Bulldogs have been outscored 35-8. ... Bulldogs have led just twice this season - 1-0 both times - for 4:59 at Dartmouth, for 7:58 at Harvard. ... At 10-12-0, 12-19-0 last season, Yale was the only ECAC team without a tie. There were 14 ties within the ECAC and league teams were involved in 24 non-league deadlocks.

Inside the Numbers

Records (ECACHL-overall): Rensselaer 1-3-0, 5-5-1 overall. Yale is 0-4-0, 0-6-0.

Previous outing: Rensselaer lost at Union, 3-2. Yale lost at Brown, 5-2.

Past 5 outings: Rensselaer is 2-3-0. Yale is 0-5-0.

Last season's meetings: Yale won at Houston Field House, 5-4; Rensselaer won at Yale, 6-0.

All-time series: Rensselaer leads series, 45-31-5.

Power play: Rensselaer - 23-of-99, 23.2 percent. Yale - 5-of-41, 12.2 percent.

Penalty killing: Rensselaer - 70-of-84, 83.3 percent. Yale - 26-of-42, 61.9 percent.