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RPI at Brown

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, December 3, 2004

Scouting RPI

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Sr. Andrew Martin (4-6-0, 2.43, 90.3%), or Fr. Jordan Alford (3-1-1, 2.72, 89.4%).

Need more 5-on-5 goals (revisited): Rensselaer has played 11 games other then the four against teams from the still-growing Atlantic Hockey conference. In those 11 outings - discounting empty-net goals - the Engineers have just 11 equal-strength goals. It's been pretty much a season-long problem; RPI is either carried or let down by its power play. Head coach Dan Fridgen wasn't concerned when asked about the problem two weeks ago, saying power plays are cyclical, that in today's zero-tolerance policy on obstruction, you're power play better be strong and that, at the time, he was more concerned about allowing goals than scoring them. After allowing just one last week, though, he admits guys have to "start capitalizing on chances. They've got to work hard (in practice), work hard, shoot the puck and then make sure we're going to the net real hard. That's all you do. We can't control the performances of (opposing) goaltenders but we can certainly make it difficult for them. That's what we needed to do (during the slump) and that's what we need to continue to do."

Mac not pressing: The fact that the entire team is in a slump may put added pressure on the team leader in goals, it was suggested to RPI's goal-scoring leader Kirk MacDonald. "I can't really let it affect me or the way I play," the junior right winger said. "I just have to go out and play the way I know I can play. I think the last couple games I may have been worrying about scoring a little too much and I've gotten away from what's made me successful. I think if I just keep it simple and do the little things it's going to lead to more scoring opportunities than if I'm getting a little too complicated out there. You just have to keep working - finish your checks, throw the puck on the net, drive the net hard as you can and hope one goes off your shin pad or hits your stick and goes in. Try to get a garbage one and hopefully the flood gates will open up."

Big line back together: Fridgen would love to keep the Engineers' depth and forward but until the pucks start crossing opposing goal lines, he'll keep the team's top three scorers - Kevin Croxton (6 goals-14 assists-20 points), Nick Economakos (4-15-19) and MacDonald (10-7-17) - together. "We kind of went back to where we knew we had some chemistry," Fridgen said.

Scouting Brown

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Fr. Adam D'Alba (3-0-0), 1.29, 96.5%) or Sr. Scott Rowan (0-3-1, 4.52, 84.8%), or Jr. Kevin Kliman (1-1-0, 3.65, 87.0%).

Bears playing well: After failing to win any of their first four games (0-3-1), the young Bears have won four of their past five games. Included was a North Country sweep, as the Bears downed Clarkson 4-2 and physically whipped St. Lawrence, 4-1, Brown's second North Country sweep in four seasons. Some ECACHL teams go a decade without winning there on consecutive nights. The Bears are 5-3-2 in their past five North Country visits and the four-point weekend put Brown in a fifth-place tie with Harvard in the ECACHL standings. "It's huge going to the North Country and getting two wins," said sophomore left winger and ECACHL Rookie of the Year Brian Ihnacek. Northwood native and co-captain Les Haggett added, "we go out west and beat the No. 1 team (Minnesota-Duluth), then we carried that high back into our league games and put ourselves in a good position." And, being just a few towns away, Haggett had loads of family and friends watching at both Clarkson and SLU. "It was great," he said. "The guys are playing with a lot more confidence right now" says veteran coach Roger Grillo.

'No time like now': Beating a nationally top-ranked team is always fun but the way the Bears beat Duluth was spectacular. Freshman right winger Jeff Prough put in the winning goal with just one-tenth of one second showing on the clock.

Inside the Numbers

Records (ECACHL, overall): RPI - 2-4-0, 7-7-1. Brown - 3-3-1, 4-4-1.

Previous outing: Rensselaer lost to Air Force, 1-0. Brown won at St. Lawrence, 4-1.

Past 5 outings: Rensselaer is 2-3-0. Brown is 4-0-0.

Record vs. common opponents: Rensselaer is 2-2-0. Brown is 4-1-0.

Last season: Brown won at Houston Field House, 1-0. RPI won at Brown, 4-0.

All-time series: Rensselaer leads series, 41-17-4.

Power play: RPI - 27-of-125, 21.6 percent. Brown - 9-of-59, 15.3 percent.

Penalty killing: RPI - 88-of-104, 84.6 percent. Brown - 39-of-53, 73.6 percent.