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RPI Taking Bead on Title

Playing in Own Tourney Final for First Time in Three Years

By Mark Singelais

Albany Times Union, November 27, 2004

TROY - So what if it was a tougher-than-expected victory over a first-year hockey program?

All that mattered to the RPI hockey team Friday night was advancing to the final of its own tournament after a two-year absence.

Brad Farynuk and Kevin Broad scored to support goaltender Jordan Alford's first career shutout as RPI beat Robert Morris 2-0 in a semifinal of the Rensselaer Holiday Tournament before a crowd of 2,950 at Houston Field House.

The Engineers (7-6-1) had suffered the indignity of finishing last in their four-team tournament the past two seasons.

RPI will meet Air Force, a 3-2 overtime winner over Sacred Heart in Friday's other semifinal, in the championship game tonight at 7.

"It's really nice," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "When you think about it, in life, you don't play for too many championships, and here we get an opportunity to play for a championship in our own tournament to make up for a couple where we let it slide away from us."

Robert Morris, which belongs to the College Hockey America conference, fell to 2-9-1 in its first season as a varsity program. But the Colonials didn't play like a team that suited up 22 freshmen out of its 24 players on Friday night.

"We didn't exactly execute as well as planned this evening, but we gritted it up and we got through it and played our 60 minutes and came out with a 'W'," Farynuk said. "I'll give those guys (Robert Morris) a lot of credit. I thought they're a lot better than a lot of teams we've played this season. You definitely have to respect them."

RPI scored both of its goals on the power play. Farynuk scored his second goal of the year with 5:30 left in the first period on a slap shot that beat Robert Morris' Jamie Flury only eight seconds after Joel Gasper was sent to the penalty box for hooking.

Broad made it 2-0 with 3:49 left in the second period on a rebound of a Keith MCWilliams shot that he lifted over Flury's shoulder. Alford, a freshman, stopped all 17 shots he faced.

Broad said the non-league win could create momentum for RPI, which had lost four of its past five games in the ECAC Hockey League.

"We got the win, that's the bottom line," said Broad, who has four goals. "The way we've been playing, we'll take a win any way we can take it. A chance (tonight) to win our tournament, I think any team would take it."

This is the first time since 1987 that RPI is playing its holiday tournament earlier than the final week of December.

"I like it," Fridgen said. "It doesn't seem that we're as rushed - and the fact people had today off work and generally around Christmas you've still got people working. It's a nice change."

Air Force 3, Sacred Heart 2: Brooks Turnquist scored at 13:19 of overtime for Air Force (5-4-2) in the early game.

The Falcons got on the board at 9:40 of the first period on Turnquist's power-play goal.

Sacred Heart (5-7-0) tied it on Pierre-Luc O'Brien's power-play goal at 14:59 of the second.

Air Force regained the lead on Brian Gineo's slap shot at 11:36 of the third period.

But Sacred Heart forced the game into overtime when Garrett Larson scored with 4:02 remaining in the third.