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For Now, Alfie's What It's All About

Hot RPI Freshman Goalie Has Earned Run of Starts

By Jon Paul Morosi

Albany Times Union, January 6, 2005

How do you know Jordan Alford is playing well?

Is it his goals against average near 1.50 last weekend?

How about his stretch of four starts in five games?

Yes and yes.

No statistic, though, is as telling as the word spoken by RPI coach Dan Fridgen on Thursday. Normally reluctant to publicly name a starting goaltender, Fridgen was asked if he knew who would play tonight against Dartmouth.

He nodded: "Alfie."

Fridgen has stopped short of naming Alford his long-term No. 1 goaltender, but indications are he will continue to see time as long as he maintains his current pace. The freshman has a GAA near 2.00 over his past four starts, all against major conference opponents.

Senior Andrew Martin has played only once in the past four weeks, a 4-1 loss to Boston University on Dec. 11. Alford was supposed to start that night but came down with the flu.

Both goalies had save percentages below .900 during the first half. Had those figures been higher, the Engineers might be better than 1-7 in one-goal games, including 0-5 in ECACHL play.

If RPI had won two of those league games, its record would be 4-3-1 - good for a sixth-place tie with No. 9 Cornell.

Returns: Union forwards Josh Coyle and A.J. Palkovich have recovered from appendectomies performed last month and will return tonight against Vermont. The game features teams predicted to finish near the bottom of the league but are now tied for second.

"If someone would've told you at the beginning of the season that Union and Vermont would play for first place, a lot of people would have been surprised," Union coach Nate Leaman said, "except for (UVM coach) Kevin (Sneddon) and myself."

Palkovich lost 15 pounds after the surgery, Coyle 5. Coyle is the team's top scoring freshman (5-4-9). Palkovich is having his best season at Union (2-2-4). Their operations were a week apart in early December.

"Freaky thing," Leaman said. "It's something you don't realize as much as an assistant coach. I've been a head coach two years and already dealt with a major concussion, ruptured spleen, and two appendixes."

On a roll: Sneddon's 14th-ranked Catamounts (11-6-3) have surpassed last year's win total. Sneddon points to the leadership of junior defenseman Jaime Sifers. He has been captain since the middle of his sophomore season, a rarity in college hockey.

Sifers went undrafted - "I don't know how," Sneddon said - and is garnering attention from pro scouts as a free agent.

Memories: South Glens Falls native and Clarkson winger Shawn Weller is back from the World Junior Championships and will play at Princeton tonight, three days after Team USA's overtime loss in the bronze-medal game.

Weller did not record a point and was minus-2 in Team USA's seven games. He is eligible for next year's tournament in Vancouver, British Columbia.

"It was an awesome experience, just to play with the best under-20 players in the world," he said. "It's disappointing, too, because we all went there for one reason - to defend the gold medal - and we didn't win."