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RPI Still Searching for a 'Complete' Game Effort

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, December 7, 2004

TROY - A few weeks ago, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey coach Dan Fridgen, when asked about lineup changes and shifting forward lines said, "right now, I'm not worried about how to score goals, I'm worried how to prevent them."

Since then, the Engineers haven't allowed a lot of goals. They are also scoring about two per game and not winning games, with a 2-6-1 record in their past nine.

Rensselaer (7-8-2 overall) played well enough to win both games on its trip over the weekend but won neither, settling for a 3-3 tie at Brown after failing to hold a 3-0 lead, and suffering a 2-1 loss at Harvard despite outplaying the Engineers.

Fridgen was asked about the irony after the Harvard game.

"Right, it is (ironic)," he said. "But quite honestly, I don't think we've had a complete game this year where we've gotten offense, defense and goaltending all in one game. There's always an area that's been lacking." Exceptions may be Army and Mercyhurst, 5-1 and 5-0 victories but Fridgen is right if only games against the four traditional college hockey conferences are concerned. Still, as mentioned, the Engineers played well enough to have four ECACHL points last weekend, points that would have put them right back in the race with eight points at 4-4-0 instead of the 2-5-1 mark they have.

At both Brown and Harvard, an opposing goal went in off the skate or stick of an RPI player and another - the tying goal at Brown - seemed to hit goalie Andrew Martin's stick, though he said he never felt it. Also, the Engineers missed half-open nets in the closing seconds of both games.

Fridgen just shook his head.

"Hockey can be just a game of bounces," he said.

The Engineers' next four games, beginning Wednesday against Providence, are non-league contests.

Focus on positives: That's an age-old cliche but it would seem to apply to the Engineers. For several weeks, they found ways to lose close games, while last week they clearly were beaten by bounces. That's some progress and hopefully a fluke or cheap goal soon will, not only go RPI's way, but also decide a game.

"Those things eventually even out," said co-captain Brad Farynuk. "At some point; who knows (when)."

Fridgen was asked what he says to players to prevent them from having their frustration adversely affect their play.

"You just know that in a game in which you're capable of making a difference and you miss an opportunity (to do so), that's the worst feeling - other than losing - that's the worst feeling (a player) can have, knowing you can make a difference. It's got to drive you to not be denied. That's what sports is all about. You can't feel sorry for yourself. And you can't (dwell on) things that aren't positive within your own mind as far as your lack of scoring. You've just got to get hungrier. It should make you hungrier and make you more determined. That's the mindset we have to have."

Fridgen didn't want to single out goals-scoring leader (10) Kirk MacDonald but he did use an example Friday night involving the big right winger.

"(Harvard goalie Justin Tobe) made a real nice pad save on MacDonald (late in the third period)," Fridgen said, "but Mac kind of faded away from the net instead of staying on it in front ... and actually we had the same kind of thing with (Nick) Economakos."

"We have to have the mindset," Fridgen said, "that if we're going to put the puck in the net, we may have to put the goaltender in the net as well."

"I believe we're capable of putting it all together and I think we're getting close."

Nice shot: Sophomore defenseman Jake Luthi charted his first career point (in his 11th game) when he scored the game's first goal at Brown, firing a one-timer past Bears goalie Adam D'Alba.

"A real nice shot by Jake," Fridgen said. "He's been playing very, very well. He's got real good speed back there, and he's smart with the puck. He's certainly elevated his game."

Providence off a good tie: The Providence Friars come to Houston Field House off a 1-1 tie against (then) No. 2 Boston College, one night after BC suffered a tough, 3-2 loss at arch-rival Boston University. This was no 'sister-kissing' non-decision. Having been outshot 61-29, the Friars were quite pleased to get one Hockey East standings point out of the game.

Notes: Former RPI star center Joe Juneau will be in town Wednesday night to take in the team's non-conference game against Providence on Wednesday night. He'll meet with the media before the game. ... Rensselaer forwards have 44 goals, defensemen 12. ... Over half the RPI goals (29) have come on the power play. ... With one goal and one assist over the weekend, Economakos, with 21 points (5-16-21) has taken over the RPI scoring lead from Kevin Croxton (6-14-20). ... Engineers host nationally-ranked (14) Boston University on Saturday night.