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Rensselaer vs. Harvard

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 11, 2005

SCOUTING RPI

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Sr. Andrew Martin (7-11-1, 3.07, 89.1%) or Fr. Jordan Alford (5-5-1, 2.87, 88.8%)

Offense comes alive: While the opposition was from the lower-level Atlantic Hockey League, the Engineers gained some confidence last week when their offense exploded in an 8-4 victory over Holy Cross. Rensselaer had scored more than three goals in a game just twice in its previous 19 games and it was the first time all season the Engineers totaled more than five goals. "I don't care who you're playing," said head coach Dan Fridgen. "To go out there and create opportunities and then finish on eight of them ... at least three of them were excellent plays." The most important aspect, Fridgen said, was that the Engineers attacked the net. "It's not like our first shot (of a sequence)," he said, "the goaltender was catching it or killing it. We were getting it into his feet and (thus) creating rebounds and we were putting the rebounds home as well. When you're trying to score goals, those are the little things you have to do as forwards; keep that puck alive and then jump on it when it's around the crease area."

Tonight, though, the Engineers will play one of the nation's leading defensive teams. Harvard permits just 1.95 goals per game, good for sixth nationally and which is in line to break the school record of 2.27 (1986-87).

'Let's use homeice advantage': As mentioned before, Rensselaer will need big help from opponents of Union, St. Lawrence and Clarkson to gain the final homeice berth in the ECACHL playoffs. Some players, noting the team has a better road record this year than it does at Houston Field House, say it doesn't matter where (or whom) they play. The Engineers won their ECACHL opener, 5-3 over Clarkson at the Field House. then dropped their next six home league games. They are 6-9-0 at home overall, while away from home, Rensselaer is 3-5-1 in league games and 5-10-1 overall (including 0-1-1 at neutral sites). "We're just hockey players," said junior center Oren Eizenman. "We just play hockey. We don't care where or what color the shirts are."

Keep them to two - or less: Only twice this season have the Engineers held an ECACHL opponent to under three goals. One was in the 2-1 defeat at Harvard (the other was a 3-2 win at St. Lawrence). "We played a great game against them I thought," Eizenman said. "We definitely gave ourselves a chance to win. We got some bad breaks and we didn't win. I hope we just play as well (tonight)."

SCOUTING HARVARD

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Sr. Dov Grumet-Morris (14-6-2, 1.69, 94.3%).

Same sad result: The Boston Red Sox ended their eight-decade-long chant of 'Wait til next year' in 2004. For the Harvard hockey team, though, that refrain remains.

For the seventh straight season earlier this week, the Crimson were beaten in the first round of the Beanpot Tournament - the nation's most prestigious all-local event - dropping a 2-1, double-overtime decision to Northeastern.

Two minutes into the second extra session, the Crimson failed on a good chance to clear the puck after a difficult save by Dove Grumet-Morris. Northeastern defenseman Tim Judy then rifled a shot through heavy traffic in the slot and past the screened Grumet-Morris, sending the Crimson into shock and dismay.

"Four (Beanpot) consolation games," said Crimson captain Noah Welch. "It's not something I had planned when I came to Harvard. I planned to win four Beanpots."

The Crimson haven't won the tournament since 1993 and the fact that Northeastern hasn't since 1988 gives them no solace whatsoever.

"I feel very badly for the guys," said first-year Harvard coach Ted Donato. "Playing in a Beanpot final is quite unique and those (seniors) have missed out on something special"

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Records (ECACHL, overall): Harvard - 11-14-1, 14-6-2. RPI - 4-11-1, 12-16-2

Previous outing: Harvard lost to Northeastern at Boston Fleet Center, 2-1 in double OT; Rensselaer beat Holy Cross, 8-4.

Past 5 outings: Harvard is 4-1-0. Rensselaer is 3-2-0.

Past 10 outings: Harvard is 6-3-1. Rensselaer is 3-7-0.

Record vs. common opponents: Harvard is 10-6-1. Rensselaer is 5-11-1.

Previous meeting: Harvard won at Harvard, 2-1.

Last season: RPI won at Houston Field House, 4-1. RPI won at Harvard, 3-2.

All-time series: Harvard leads series, 39-30-2.

Power play: Harvard - 27-of-119, 22.7 percent. RPI - 43-of-211, 20.4 percent.

Penalty killing: Harvard - 90-of-111, 81.1 percent. RPI - 155-of-185, 83.8 percent.