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RPI Denied at Own Tourney

Air Force Goalie's 32 Saves Shut Out Engineers

By Buzz Gray

Albany Times Union, November 28, 2004

TROY - Even a switch from the traditional weekend couldn't alter RPI's recent problems with its 54th annual Holiday Hockey Tournament.

The move from Christmas to Thanksgiving this year still left the Engineers out in the cold when the championship trophies were handed out.

Peter Foster, a 5-foot-9 sophomore goaltender, rose up and almost single-handedly ushered Air Force to a 1-0 triumph over RPI in the title game Saturday night at Houston Field House.

Foster, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, stopped 32 shots.

"I don't care about the shutout," Foster said. "I care about winning. This is definitely a team thing."

"I know a lot of people thought beforehand that RPI just invited us so they could win their own tournament. So we had no pressure on us. We were the underdogs."

It was a far cry from nine years ago, when Air Force last played the Engineers here. Although it was not in the Holiday Tournament, RPI blew out the Falcons by double digits in back-to-back games. Now the Engineers have gone without a championship trophy in this, North America's oldest college hockey tournament, for three consecutive years.

Air Force had more to celebrate.

"This is a historic moment in our program," coach Frank Serratore said. "This is the first time we've ever won a major tournament."

The Falcons, who defeated Sacred Heart 3-2 in overtime in a first-round game, improved to 6-4-2 overall this season with Foster leading the way.

"He also leads the nation in shutouts (four) and came within a few minutes of a couple of more (shutouts)," Serratore said about Foster, whose father, Dwight, played for the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings.

"He (Foster) stood on his head," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "We had some good looks, but he just stoned us."

Air Force also withstood 11 RPI power plays.

"You have to give them credit," Fridgen said. "It was a well-played game. I can't think of anything to be disappointed about as far as something we didn't do. The goalie just won the game for them."

Air Force scored the game's only goal at the end of the second period. Brian Gineo shoveled a rebound through a pile of players in the crease during a power play with 83 seconds remaining.

Queensbury's Brandon Merkosky, a sophomore winger, took the original shot and picked up an assist. His father, Glenn, was a coach and player for the Adirondack Red Wings and is now a scout for the Detroit Red Wings.

RPI (7-7-1) wound up being the tournament's lowest-scoring team. Although the Engineers defeated Robert Morris 2-0 in the first round, they suffered through their own shutout.

Two Engineers - forward Kevin Broad and defenseman Brad Farynuk - were named to the all-tournament team.

In Saturday's consolation game, Christian Boucher made 28 saves for Robert Morris (3-9-1) in its 4-2 victory over Sacred Heart (5-8-0).