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Power Outage Cost RPI

Man-advantage Execution Reflective of Team Results

By Jon Paul Morosi

Albany Times Union, December 1, 2004

Sure, you can look at the scoreboard if you wish, but an equally reliable measure for RPI's hockey team is its power-play performance.

The Engineers are 7-1-1 when scoring more power-play goals than their opponent, 0-6-0 when scoring fewer.

In its most recent game, RPI outshot Air Force 32-20, but the Falcons were 1-for-8 on the power play. The Engineers were 0-for-11.

So, RPI lost. Simple as that.

"We did everything we could, other than get that goal," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said.

So goes a frustrating, promising season in Troy. The Engineers, who play Friday at Brown and Saturday at Harvard, have been competitive in every game thus far but are 7-7-1. Why? As Fridgen said, they haven't been able to "get that goal."

RPI's past five losses have been by one goal. Another, against Lowell, was a two-goal margin only after an empty-netter. The only true multi-goal defeat this season was the 5-3 opener against Merrimack. And there has been no more certain harbinger of an RPI defeat than a bad night on the power play - especially as the Engineers have struggled to score at 5-on-5 recently.

Jake Morissette was the team's last forward to score an even-strength, non-empty-net goal - midway through the second period against Yale two weeks ago. The Engineers have played 207 minutes, 52 seconds since.

"We've relied upon our power play, but when you're not getting goals on the power play you have to be scoring 5-on-5," Fridgen said.

Fridgen indicated the team's top line of Nick Economakos, Kirk MacDonald and Kevin Croxton could play together for at least part of this weekend. As he did at times last weekend, MacDonald will move from right wing to center when that line plays together.

Night out for Union: One of the least-talked-about travails of the college hockey life is an inability for players and coaches to spend time at home during the holidays. Time spent with family becomes time spent with teammates.

The Union hockey team resolved to make the most of it last Wednesday by organizing a night of costume bowling. "I thought we, as coaches, had some pretty good costumes, but once we got there we saw we just couldn't compare," coach Nate Leaman admitted.

Leaman said junior forward A.J. Palkovich had the best getup. "He dressed up like Woody Harrelson, from that movie where he's the bowler and loses his hand, so he has the hook - you know, Kingpin," Leaman said. "He did a phenomenal job, hair slicked back and everything. Jordan Webb had a pretty phenomenal thing going, too."

The Dutchmen, who saw their seven-game unbeaten streak end against Holy Cross on Sunday, resume their ECAC Hockey League schedule at Harvard and Brown this weekend.

Assistant captain Scott Seney chalked up Union's sluggish weekend at the Dunkin' Donuts Coffee Pot Tournament - a tie and a loss - to post-exam period lethargy. "I think the guys were still a little tired from exams, so our energy level was down," Seney said. "We'll regain it this week."

As good as goal: Fridgen does not expect to settle on a goaltender for Friday's game until the team boards the bus to Providence on Thursday night.

Both goaltenders performed well in the RPI Holiday Tournament last weekend: Jordan Alford recorded his first collegiate shutout against Robert Morris; Andrew Martin allowed one goal on 20 shots against Air Force. Fridgen called it "a positive weekend from a goaltending perspective."

Fridgen rotated all his available skaters into the lineup for at least one game last weekend. Defenseman Jake Luthi, a sophomore from Palmer, Alaska, played in back-to-back games for the first time this season and demonstrated that he may deserve more playing time.