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RPI Unable to Complete Weekend Sweep of Irish

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, January 3, 2005

South Bend, Ind. - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute won't be bringing home a winning streak.

The sluggish Engineers weren't effective in the offensive zone Sunday, produced just 17 shots on goal and dropped a 2-1 decision to offensively weak Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish, who'd been outscored 26-7 in the third period previously this season, broke a 1-1 tie on Tim Wallace's hard rebound forehander with 10:51 remaining in the game.

It was just the fifth victory in 19 games (5-10-4) for the Irish, who were beaten 3-1 by the Engineers on Saturday night.

The Engineers were trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 5 but they simply weren't hungry enough. They thus come home again with a losing record at 9-10-2 and will return to ECAC Hockey League play with the toughest stretch of their schedule directly ahead of them.

Freshman Jordan Alford was again sharp in net with 32 saves and defenseman Jake Luthi scored his third goal of the season but the entire RPI forward corps was blanked for the fourth time in the past nine games.

What makes the narrow defeat even more frustrating than RPI's 1-7 record in one-goal decisions is the fact that the Irish average well below 2.00 goals per game.

The Engineers won Saturday night's game because they eventually asserted their superiority against the youthful Fighting Irish. Sunday, they never did so - and it cost them.

Wallace's goal came on a broken play, when RPI goalie Jordan Alford deflected a pass through the crease. It wound up on Wallace's stick as he cut down the left slot and Alford just couldn't get reset in time.

"We kind of got caught puck-watching," said RPI head coach Dan Fridgen.

"I didn't find us as sharp as we were (Saturday) night," he said of the overall effort. "I didn't find we were able to make plays when we could have or needed to make plays. I can think of five or six times where we have the puck and if we just get it up to that forward, be it with a pass, or a drop pass, for a 2-on-1. You make that play and you get real good opportunity but I didn't find us making those plays tonight."

Rensselaer scored just seconds into a power play midway through the second period.

Brad Farynuk faked a shot from the left point and fed Luthi in the right circle. The sophomore one-timed a two-hand forehander that hit Notre Dame goalie Morgan Cey and trickled over the goal line.

"We get the puck back to Brad and he usually becomes the shooter on that play," Luthi said. "Teams know that. I kind of get lost in the action there (in the circle). But he made a heckuva pass and it was an easy put-in for me."

The Engineers - again with a minimum of shots - had pressured the Irish for a couple minutes before Luthi's goal at 10:20 and for several minutes after that but were not able to score again. Discounting Kirk MacDonald's empty-net goal on Saturday night, the RPI attack has produced two or fewer goals in eight of the past 11 games.

Freshman Jake Morissette made a nice deke around a defenseman and sent Kevin Croxton in on a semibreakaway early in the third period but Croxton hit Cey's pads - as he did on a feed from MacDonald in the first period.

Later in the third, a giveaway set up Luthi 10 feet in front of the net but Cey denied his shorthanded bid.

Alexander Valentin fired one off the crossbar a few minutes later.

"I thought we had several quality scoring opportunities that we didn't capitalize on," Fridgen said, "which always seems to be the case when you lose by one."

"It came down to (a lack of) execution and capitalization," Fridgen said. "Again, going into the third period (tied) on the road, you have a real good opportunity to win. Tonight, we didn't."

The Engineers had a power play early in the third period and with 3:24 remaining, but totaled just one shot on goal during the four minutes.

That stat typified their night.

"And they really picked up their play (from Saturday)," Fridgen said of the Irish.

"We got some positives out of the weekend, though," he said. "Jordan played real well in the nets and gave us an opportunity to win, he came up with some big saves for us. And giving up just three goals over the course of two, we played some solid defense, that's a pretty big positive. And our penalty kill ... they didn't get any goals (in 13 chances)."

"We just need to be more consistent."

The Engineers, 2-5-1 in ECACHL play, host Dartmouth (3-4-0, 5-6-2) on Friday night, their first ECAC home game since Nov. 12.

Surprising Vermont (5-1-2, 11-6-3) comes to Houston Field House on Saturday night.