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Slumping Power Play, Late Goals Doom RPI

By Mike MacAdam

Schenectady Daily Gazette, January 16, 2005

It's like debating whether a nail or a pin is better at popping a balloon.

They both work.

In the first period Saturday night, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute wasted an early two-man advantage, and gave up a goal in the closing seconds. Then the Engineers did it again in the second period.

The Engineers' anemic power play and inability to get into the locker room without giving up a late goal took the wind out of any chance RPI had of beating Cornell at Houston Field House, as the Big Red won, 5-0, before 3,274.

Charlie Cook scored with seven seconds left in the first period to make it 2-0, and Shane Hynes' power-play goal with three seconds left in the second period gave Cornell (7-2-1 ECACHL, 11-4-2 overall) a 5-0 lead.

The Engineers (2-9-1, 9-14-2) were 0-for-10 on the power play, managed to get just 14 shots on goal all night and, just for good measure, they hit three pipes in the third period.

"We can't buy one out there," said Engineers right wing Kevin Croxton. "I'm just going to keep going to the net and hope one goes off my head, or off my chest or whatever. You just keep shooting the puck, and by the law of averages, one's got to go in."

That law was repealed by Cornell sophomore goalie David McKee and his defense, who repeatedly blocked shots, a hallmark of the Big Red's style of play.

The Engineers struggled to get shots on McKee despite a twoman advantage for 48 seconds in the opening minutes of the game, and another two-man advantage resulting from three overlapping penalties early in the second.

"Our penalty kill did a great job killing off five-on-threes, and did a tremendous job blocking shots," Cornell head coach Mike Schafer said. "We didn't give them a whole lot."

"In situations where we've got to hit the net, we shoot it over top of the net," RPI head coach Dan Fridgen said. "Offensively, it's not happening at this point."

"It's past the point where you're frustrated," defenseman Brad Farynuk said. "You've just got to put as many pucks on net as you can. You've just got to keep banging it. You see a guy like Croxie, and you just know it's going to be one that hits him in the pants and goes in when it turns around for him. That's how life works."

Daniel Pegoraro gave the Big Red a 1-0 lead at 6:23 when he deftly slid the puck under Jordan Alford from in close off a backhand feed from Topher Scott on a two-on-one.

Hynes set up Cook for a slap shot that went in off Alford's blocker just before the first intermission.

"You're fighting all period long, and then you know there's some closing seconds and you're looking to get out of the period, yeah, it was disheartening," Fridgen said. "But it's not like it got us to a low where we didn't think we were going to be able to rally."

"That's tough, especially in the first period, because I didn't think we played all that bad, and then you give one up with 6.8 seconds left," Croxton said. "One-nothing to 2-0 is tough, especially when you're playing a team like Cornell. The margin of error is slim to none."

Andrew Martin replaced Alford in the second period, but fared no better.

As they did in the first period, the Big Red weathered a five-on-three early and snuck one in late to put the game away.