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Holiday Tournament Field

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 26, 2004


Location: Troy

Nickname: Engineers

Colors: Cherry red, black & white

League: ECAC Hockey League

Head coach: Dan Fridgen, 11th year (189-160-31)

Record (league, overall): 2-4-0, 6-6-1

2003-2004 records: 13-8-1, 22-15-2

RPI Tournament championships: 16

Last championship: 2002

Record vs. tourney field: 0-0-0

Record vs. common opponents: 2-0-0

Previous outing: Lost at Princeton, 3-2

Past 5 outings: 1-4-0

Scouting the Engineers

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Fr. Jordan Alford (2-1-1, 3.33, 87.9%), or Sr. Andrew Martin (4-5-0, 2.60, 89.8%).

'We won't be last': While the tournament may be somewhat of a step down in competition for the Engineers, it also affords them a rest for the league-schedule grind. They've been bewildered by four one-goal defeats in the previous five games and for the next six contests, they can rid themselves of the demands of league play. And with 15th-ranked Boston College and a pair at Notre Dame on the slate before they return to the ECAC Hockey League slate, they'll get another taste of strong competition. Don't get the idea the Engineers don't care about the tournament. They've finished in last place in each of th past two Rensselaer Holiday Tournaments. Watching two other teams play for the tourney title is bad enough, so it's a safe bet the Engineers will have enough tonight to avoid the upset bug against first-year program Robert Morris University.

"I still have a bad taste in my mouth from both (tournaments)," said co-captain Brad Farynuk. "It's kind of humiliating."

Rensselaer's all-time record against College Hockey America is 1-1-0, beating Army during the Cadets' only season in the conference and losing to Niagara. The first Niagara-RPI games (each team winning one) came before the CHA was formed in 1999. The Engineers are 16-1-2 against Atlantic Hockey teams, including 1-0-0 vs. Sacred Heart.


Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Nickname: Falcons

Colors: Air Force Blue, silver, white

League: College Hockey America

Head coach: Frank Serratore, 8th year (109-138-17)

Record (league, overall): 2-2-0, 4-4-2

2003-2004 records: 6-13-1, 14-21-2

RPI Tournament appearances: 2nd

All-time record vs. RPI: 0-5-0

Record vs. tourney field: 2-0-0

Record vs. common opponents: 2-2-1

Previous outing: Beat Robert Morris, 2-1 in OT

Past 5 outings: 2-3-0

Scouting the Falcons

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): So. Peter Foster (4-4-2, 2.35, 90.7%), or Fr. Ian Harper (0-0-0, 2.30 91.8%).

Big improvements: When head coach Frank Serratore took over the Air Force program in 1997-98, the Academy had a 64-118-11 record with four 20-loss seasons during the previous six. And those schedules were sprinkled with Division III teams. The former Bemidji State goaltender has made the Falcons more than respectable. The best they've been able to do, though, has been three .500 seasons. Contending for the COllege Hockey America title has eluded them. The current team is loaded with freshmen and sophomores and Serratore hopes by next year the team can be at or near the top of the conference standings. "I think we have come a long way. We don't play Division III teams anymore. We've taken the team to the D-I level."

Young team: The Falcons' youth has bothered them even more in the offensive zone than defensively. "We're having a hard time getting goals this year," Serratore said. "We've got freshmen on our top two lines ... hopefully, down the road, we'll mature a bit ... but we need to get to the point where we have more juniors and seniors and that's going to take some time."

"We like the players we have," Serratore said. "We have some good players. They just need more experience."


Location: Fairfield, Conn.

Nickname: Pioneers

Colors: Red, gray & white

League: Atlantic Hockey

Head coach: Shaun Hannah, 9th year (113-124-24)

Record (league, overall): 5-1-0, 4-6-0

2203-2004 records: 12-8-0, 14-17-5

RPI Tournament appearances: 1st

All-time record vs. RPI: 0-1-0

Record vs. tourney field: 0-0-0

Record vs. common opponents: 4-1-0

Previous outings: Beat Quinnipiac, 5-2

Past 5 outings: 1-4-0/2-3-0

Scouting the Pioneers

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Sr. Kevin LaPointe (3-4-0, 3.85, 88.0%), or So. Jason Smith (1-2-0, 5.00, 84.0%)

Big victory: The Pioneers come to town off a huge, 5-2 Atlantic Hockey victory over neighborhood rival Quinnipiac. "A very big win," said head coach Shaun Hannah. "Our guys came out strong and took command early." The victory improved the 5-6-0 Pioneers to 5-1-0 within Atlantic Hockey and kept them on the heels of Canisius (also 5-1-0) and Mercyhurst (3-0-0). Scoring leader Pierre-Luc O'Brien and freshman right winger Zach Dehm, playing in just his second game, each had one goal and one assist. "They're our crosstown rivals," Hannah said of Quinnipiac, "and they've dominated the series. We always get up for them and they guys had on the short end a lot. It was nice to turn the tables a bit."

Rebound: The Quinnipiac victory was especially nice because it got the Pioneers back on the winning track after a disappointing loss. On Nov. 12, they rallied from a 2-0, third-perid deficit to post a 3-2 overtime triumph at Canisius, as O'Brien and Will Billinghurst scored at 14:35 and 18:02 to tie the game, then Scott Marchesi banged in the game-winner just 56 seconds into overtime, marking the first time in five years Sacred Heart won a game in which it trailed by two goals in the third period. The next night, though, Canisius soundly whipped the Pioneers, 4-1. "Yeah, that took some of the sting off (the Canisius loss)," Hannah said. "That Buffalo trip is a rough one, it's so long on the bus. We played fairly well the second night but our power play let us down. But (the Quinnipiac win) helps a lot."


Location: Moon Township, Pa. (Pittsburgh)

Nickname: Colonials

Colors: French blue, crimson & white

League: College Hockey America

Head coach: Derek Schooley, 1st year

Record (league, overall): 0-5-1, 2-8-1

2003-2004 records: This is program's 1st year

RPI Tournament appearances: 1st

All-time record vs. RPI: 0-0-0

Record vs. tourney field: 0-2-0

Record vs. common opponents: 2-5-0

Previous outing: Lost at Air Force, 2-1 in OT

Past 5 outings: 0-4-1

Scouting the Colonials

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Fr. Christian Boucher (2-6-1, 3.12, 90.7%), or Fr. Jamie Flury (0-2-0, 4.55, 89.7%)

First-year growing pains: The Colonials won their first-ever game, beating Canisius 3-1 back on Oct. 22. Since then, they are 1-8-1. They earned their first College Hockey America standings point two weeks ago with a 1-1 tie against Wayne State. They also suffered one-goal defeats to Wayne State and Air Force. "We knew it was going to be difficult," said coach Derek Schooley.

About the Colonials: Beginning a Division-I hockey program from scratch isn't easy, even in one of the newer, partial-scholarship conferences. Robert Morris' roster contains 24 freshmen and four upperclassmen. Among the upperclassmen is junior defenseman Bryan Mills, a transfer from Niagara who had two goals and nine assists in 45 games with the Purple Eagles. He's not eligible this season but Schooley says "he'll provide leadership at practice this year and on the (game) ice next year. Any time you can get a guy with 45 Division I games of experience ... who's played in the NCAA Tournament, you've got to jump at that."

Schooley is also happy with the leadership provided by 23-year old junior winger Kurt Wright, who comes to Robert Morris form the folded Findlay program. "He brings veteran leadership," Schooley said of Wright. "He's been around ... he works hard and he'll be a good role model." Another Niagara transfer is sophomore center Doug Conley, who centers the Colonials' second line. The best player, though, may be freshman Jeff Gilbert, the Colonials' best defensive defenseman and also the team's leading scorer at 3-4-7. Wright and left winger Brett Hopfe share the lead in goals (4-1-5).