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RPI vs. Providence

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, December 8, 2004

Scouting RPI

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Fr. Jordan Alford (3-2-1, 2.62, 89.1%), or Sr. Andrew Martin (4-6-1, 2.47, 90.2%).

No repeat of last season: Head coach Dan Fridgen and the ENgineers remember last season's 5-2 loss at Providence all too well. It came in Game 2 of the season and it was as poor of a defensive effort - position-wise, at least - as the Engineers had all season. One Friars goal came on a 4-on-2 break, two on 3-on-2s and one on a 2-on-1. "It was awful," Fridgen said. Despite the three-goal margin, he said afterward, "this is a game we should have won."

Is RPI a 10th-place team?: ECACHL statistics say that the Engineers should have about a .500 league record, not 2-5-1. They are in 10th place and not just because some teams have played more league games than they. The Engineers have the 10-best record percentage-wise in the 12-team league. Several players were asked if perhaps they don't feel like a 10th-place team. "The stats say we should be better than 10th place," said junior right winger Chris Hussey, "and we should be a lot better than a .500 team. We've got to start scoring more." Added co-captain Brad Farynuk, "I don't think by any means we're a 10th-place hockey club. I for one don't get sucked into stats, or standings this time of year." Sophomore center Oren Eizenman had a different perspective, though, saying "we are what we are. You can't really say we're not a 10th-place team. The games speak for themselves. Nobody cares if you lose by one goal or a bunch. We could be doing better but we haven't found a way to win consistently yet."

Freshman lines: Fridgen continues to have RPI's three top freshman forwards on the same line; center Andrew Lord and wingers Jonathan Ornelas and Jake Morissette. "It's fun," says Lord. "We can learn together."

Left winger Ornelas and right winger-center Morissette will play on their natural sides tonight. Fridgen had them playing the off wing last week at Brown and Harvard. "Through the course of the game, that happens with regard to our forecheck," Fridgen said. "Sometimes they'll be on their off (wing) and rather than switch in the (neutral) zone, they just stay there. I've got them on their natural side now, though." Fridgen noted that "offensively, players often like to be on their off wing (but) defensively it can be very difficult for those breakout passes when they come around (as they did a PU's Schneider Arena last season)." Providence has used an all-frosh line centered by Dylan Cox, with Vince Goulet on the left and Jon Rheault at right wing. "That would be interesting," Lord said Tuesday. It's not likely, though, that the Friars' three freshmen will be together, since Goulet has been playing center as well lately.

Scouting Providence

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Sr. David Cacciola (3-5-1, 2.55, 92.1%) or Fr. Tyler Sims (2-3-1, 3.29, 89.8%).

Victories decreasing: The Friars won two of their first three Hockey East games but have struggled since, going 0-5-2 and being outscored, 27-14. Rensselaer players can certainly relate to Providence's recent 5-2 loss to Merrimack in which the Friars outshot the Warriors, 38-16. In its season opener, RPI lost to Merrimack 5-3 despite outshooting the Warriors, 32-16. "There's no question that inconsistency has hurt us, the way we're playing," Friars coach Paul Pooley said. "Guys are (wondering) who's going to step up on the hockey team. That's where we're at now." Pooley hopes for a repeat of last season. Last season may be an indicator for what's to come this time around. The Friars began the campaign 4-0-0, then won just four of their next 18 games (4-8-6) before rebounding for a 6-1-0 finish. "The biggest thing is we've got to continue to get better," Pooley said. "We've got to get better with our specialty teams, our transition defense, and then getting pucks to the net. We get a lot of shots, but then we've got to make sure we're trying to get rebounds."

Big decision: How does a coach bench a goaltender after a 60-save performance? Well, that's a question for Providence coach Paul Pooley. Senior netminder Cacciola stopped 60 of 61 shots to help the Friars forge a 1-1 tie with Boston College, which was ranked No. 2 nationally at the time of the game on Saturday. Since tonight's game is a non-leaguer, though, and RPI hasn't been winning, Pooley may want to give some more time to Sims, who figures to be the No. 1 goalie next season. "David was outstanding," Pooley said after the BC game. Who'll play tonight? Pooley wasn't sure Tuesday.

Inside the Numbers

Records (league, overall): Providence - 2-6-2 in Hockey East, 5-8-2 overall. RPI - 2-5-1 in ECACHL, 7-8-2.

Previous outing: Providence tied Boston College, 1-1; Rensselaer lost at Harvard, 2-1.

Past 5 outings: Providence is 1-3-1. Rensselaer is 1-3-1.

Record vs. common opponents: Providence is 2-2-0; Rensselaer is 2-1-0.

Last season: Providence won at Providence, 5-2.

All-time series: Providence - 15-of-91, 16.5 percent. RPI - 29-of-136, 21.3 percent.

Penalty killing: Providence - 94-of-110, 85.5 percent. RPI - 96-of-115, 83.5 percent.