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RPI at St. Lawrence

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, January 21, 2005

SCOUTING RPI

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Fr. Jordan Alford (5-5-1, 3.02, 88.7%) or Sr. Andrew Martin (4-9-1, 2.87, 88.8%)

Engineers can't rush shots: Cornell is among the best shot-blocking teams in the nation but too often against the Big Red last week - and in several other games of late - Rensselaer wasn't patient enough in the offensive zone says head coach Dan Fridgen. Too often the Engineers were just firing the puck into the pads of opposing defenders. "When (an opposing) guy looks at you square in the shooting lane," Fridgen said, "you have to make an adjustment, sneak a peek (around) so that when you get the puck, it's a quick move one way or another and then just getting a release off. We just continued to blast away into them as they blocked shots. You've got to look from the stick. They're not playing the body, they're playing the shot. That's a quick step here or there and then that's a snap-off (snapshot) as opposed to a wind-up slapper."

Croxton remembers last win: The last time the Engineers beat St. Lawrence was five games ago - a 2-1 victory at Houston Field House early in the 2002-03 season. Then just a freshman, Croxton scored two third-period goals to lift the Engineers to a 2-1 victory. At the 3:10 mark, Conrad Barnes won a faceoff and, Croxton said, "(Matt) McNeely flipped it off and their guy misplayed the bouncing puck and I just went in on a breakaway." On the game winner about 4:16 later, Keith MCWilliams stole the puck near the blue line and "I was down low battling with a guy and just spun off him and Keith made a great play to me."

Can they do it again?: Saturday night at Clarkson, the Engineers will try to beat the Golden Knights for a fourth straight time. The last time RPI beat Clarkson in four straight? Nov. 12, 1993 to Nov. 11, 1994. The only other time the Engineers did so was 1959-61. Rensselaer had a 5-on-3 power play in overtime last season when Dave Nickerson was whistled for a major boarding penalty in the final minute of regulation, then Knights captain Trevor Edwards, incredibly took an offensive zone kneeing penalty at 2:55 of OT. Ben Barr scored the game-winner at 3:30.

Power play domination: At the time of the team's previous meeting, the ECACHL opener on Nov. 5, the RPI power play was in top gear and Clarkson's penalty killing was struggling. The Engineers put five power play goals into the Golden Knights net and rode the production to a 5-3 victory. The Engineers have just five goals in their past 52 chances, though, and two of those goals came on two-man advantages.

SCOUTING ST. LAWRENCE

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Sr. Mike McKenna (11-8-1, 2.93, 90.6%) or Fr. Justin Pesony (1-1-0, 3.32, 90.8%).

Kings of the neighborhood: The Saints are coming off a 7-2 pasting of arch-rival Clarkson, SLU's most lopsided triumph over the Golden Knights since the 1952-53 season. And it was their third straight win over the Knights and gave the Saints a season sweep of Clarkson for the second time in three seasons. The Saints were able to claim just one sweep of the Knights during the 90s (91-92) and the only season they were able to do so in the 80s was 1987-88, when SLU went 29-9-0 and reached the NCAA Tournament final.

Saints are hot: While the Saints may be in sixth place in the ECAC Hockey League at 6-4-0, they're as hot as any team except Colgate. Since losing back-to-back non-leaguers to UMass-Lowell and New Hampshire, the Saints swept Lake Superior State (the team that beat them for the '89 NCAA title) and ripped off three league wins. They've scored six or more goals in three straight games.

So is the power play: After the SLU power play sputtered along at 11 percent over the first 17 games, it's been successful on 11 of 32 (34.4 percent) during the Saints' five-game winning streak to improve to 15.9 percent (24-of-151) for the season.

High-scoring 'D' men: Rensselaer defensemen lead the ECACHL in scoring with 19 goals and 40 assists. St. Lawrence's blueliners can match the Engineers with 19 goals and they have 30 assists. The only teams in the nation with more goals from defensemen than the Engineers and Saints are Merrimack (22) of Hockey East and Miami (20) of the CCHA.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Records (ECACHL, overall): RPI - 2-9-1, 9-14-2. St. Lawrence - 6-4-0, 12-9-1.

Previous outing: Rensselaer lost to Cornell, 5-0. St. Lawrence beat Clarkson, 7-2.

Past 5 outings: Rensselaer is 0-5-0. St. Lawrence is 5-0-0.

Past 10 outings: Rensselaer is 2-7-1. St. Lawrence is 7-3-0.

Record vs. common opponents: RPI is 2-7-1. St. Lawrence is 5-5-0.

Previous meeting: St. Lawrence won at Houston Field House, 3-2.

Last season: St. Lawrence won 4-0 at SLU; St. Lawrence won at Houston Field House, 3-2.

All-time series: St. Lawrence leads series, 69-46-4.

Power play: RPI - 34-of-182, 18.7 percent. SLU - 24-of-151, 15.9 percent.

Penalty killing: RPI - 134-of-158, 84.8 percent. SLU - 131-of-154, 85.1 percent.