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Vermont Rolls to 3-0 Victory

By Phil Janack

Schenectady Daily Gazette, January 9, 2005

TROY - Coming off its worst home loss in three decades, the RPI men's hockey team showed a marked improvement Saturday night.

Against ECACHL leader and nationally ranked Vermont, it still wasn't enough.

The Engineers came out a step slow and wound up three goals short in a 3-0 ECACHL loss before 2,812 at Houston Field House.

Still stung by Friday's 9-1 rout at the hands of Dartmouth, RPI (2-7-1, 9-12-2) dropped its third straight overall and first in eight home games against the Catamounts dating back to 1999.

"Not well enough. Not well enough," head coach Dan Fridgen said. "Definitely, I thought we had better jump tonight."

"You can play pretty darn well, but a perfect game is unrealistic. Things are going to happen and you've got to have some offense in order to come back from that. We didn't get it tonight, and we didn't get it last night."

Including its 4-0 win at Union on Friday, Vermont (7-1-2, 13-6-3), 14th in the latest USCHO.com/CSTV poll, played a near-perfect weekend. It is the first time in the Cats' 31-year Division I history that they posted back-to-back shutouts.

"I'm just so proud of our effort," Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said. "We did all the little things very, very well this weekend. I can't say enough about our attention to detail on the defensive side of the puck."

The Cats jumped out to a 1-0 lead 4:20 into the game, with the teams skating four-on-four after coincidental penalties to Kenny Macaulay and RPI's Kevin Broad for roughing.

Defenseman Jaime Sifers hit Chris Smart with a lead pass at center ice, and Smart skated around the defense and whipped a shot inside the far post that looked to surprise goalie Andrew Martin.

"That was big," Sneddon said. "Getting that first goal was a boost for us and probably a little bit of a question mark in their guys' minds after last night. To Fridge's credit, his guys battled right to the final buzzer. They're certainly a team that's going to rebound from this weekend."

The second period wasn't a minute old when Vermont extended its lead, just six seconds after its third power play expired. Mike Arcieri left the puck in the left circle for Matt Syroczynski, who was wide open to snap a wrist shot high over Martin's blocker at 53 seconds.

RPI was outshot, 11-3, in the second period, but two of them were solid scoring chances. Cats' goalie Travis Russell stuck out his left pad to stop Nick Economakos' turnaround slap shot at 9:26, and denied Kirk MacDonald on a pointblank one-timer from Economakos at 12:19 on the power play.

"We've got to get some offense," Fridgen said. "At times we had it, but not consistent enough. Maybe we've got to change things up as far as systems, but it still comes down to execution no matter what system you have."

Syroczynski, a junior who had just one goal in 15 games this season and seven in 60 for his career, got his second of the night with 2:49 left in the second. Martin made a fantastic point-blank save on Syroczynski, who was able to jam the puck through on his third try in the ensuing scramble for a 3-0 lead.

Notebook

Ryan Swanson and Keith MCWilliams replaced Blake Pickett and Alexander Valentin on defense for RPI. . . . Also in were forwards C.J. Hanafin, Dan Peace and Mark Yurkewecz, for Andrew Lord, Vic Pereira and Tommy Green. . . .

Hanafin has six points (2-4) in six career games against Vermont, and 10 points (5-5) in 76 games against other opponents. . . .

RPI remains tied for 10th in the ECACHL with Clarkson, which lost to Yale on Saturday. . . . The Engineers host Colgate and Cornell this weekend.