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Rensselaer at Cornell

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 18, 2005

SCOUTING RPI

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Sr. Andrew Martin (8-12-1, 3.02, 89.1%) or Fr. Jordan Alford (5-5-1, 2.87, 88.8%)

Engineers seek second straight at CU: If the Engineers can upset the Big Red again (Nathan Marsters shut them out 2-0 last year), they'll have two consecutive victories at Cornell and no other ECACHL team can make that statement over the past three seasons. It was a battle last year and will be even tougher tonight. "It's going to be a battle and we're going to have to play with a lot of discipline and really limit their opportunities," RPI head coach Dan Fridgen said. The Engineers certainly didn't do that in their 5-0 loss to the Big Red at Houston Field House on Jan. 15. Four of the five CU goals came from the crease area. And the Big Red also got two power-play goals. Cornell, not an offense-oriented team, has been among the nation's leaders in PP efficiency and has been around 25 percent all season. Fridgen isn't at all surprised. "No, because they do the little things you need to do on the power play. They move it (the puck), they shoot it, they crash the net and get a goal. That's as simple as I can put it and that's pretty much all you're looking for power plays to do. They just move the puck around, find the seam and when they find that seam, the puck's at the net. They don't waste time looking for somebody else around the perimeter, they don't look for that ESPN goal, they get it to the net and have guys there at the net banging away looking for second and third chances."

Special teams key at Colgate, too: Rensselaer has dropped six straight games to Colgate after winning the previous five. In their 4-2 victory at RPI on Jan. 14, the second-place Red Raiders' (12-4-2, 20-8-2) first and fourth goals (by Dave Thomas and Adam Mitchell) were shorthanded. So, Fridgen says, "special teams is going to be real important. We didn't take care of the things we needed to take care of. That night, their special teams were better than ours. That's one improvement we're going to have to make and we're going to have to capitalize on our chances." While Cornell gets most of the defensive kudos for being the nation's top defensive team (1.40 goals allowed per game), it goes unnoticed by many that Colgate is No. 3 nationally (1.90 allowed per game).

RPI defense needs to step up, too: The Engineers are now 2-1-0 when holding ECACHL foes to two goals or less. That's right, just three times in 18 games. By comparison, Cornell has held league opponents to two or fewer goals a whopping 17 times in 18 games (the Red are 13-2-2 in those games), while Colgate has done so 15 times (12-1-2).

Who's hot: Junior center Kirk MacDonald has shrugged off two long point-less skeins and has 4 goals and 7 assists over his past seven games. Linemate Nick Economakos has six goals over his past five. Junior RW Kevin Croxton is 0-6-6 in his last six and is tied for 12th in the nation in assists with 23.

Injuries: None.

Notes: The Engineers' victory over Brown gave them a 10-1-0 record when they score the first goal of the game. They are 3-16-2 when the opposition scores first. ... Rensselaer is 2-16-0 when trailing after two periods, 10-0-2 when leading after two. The Engineers have outscored their foes 34-27 during the third period overall but have been outscored 14-12 during the third period of ECACHL contests. And they've been outscored 28-17 in the second period of those games. ... The Engineers are 3-5-1, 6-7-2 away from home, 2-7-0, 7-10-0 at Houston Field House.

SCOUTING CORNELL

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): So. David McKee (18-4-3, 1.35, 93.9%).

Back on top: The Big Red are on the verge of winning their third ECAC Hockey League regular season title in four years. The Big Red, 14-2-2 in league play for 30 points, have a four-point lead over 2003-04 champion Colgate. After reaching the league title game for three straight years, the second-seeded Big Red were upset by No. 8 Clarkson in last year's quarterfinals. That bitter defeat still lingers in the minds of Big Red upperclassmen, who readily admit anything less than a league title will be a disappointment and not at least reaching the league championship game (March 19 at Pepsi Arena) will constitute a lost season.

McKee phenomenal: The sophomore goalie from Dallas certainly has numbers (above) that speak for themselves. But they go much further. McKee has not permitted an equal-strength goal in his past five games, permitting just four power-play scores over that time. He's had three shutouts in the past three weeks, has six for the season, 11 for his career and needs just three more to break the school record of All-American and NHL great Ken Dryden. McKee has started the past 57 games, breaking the mark of 55 set by Laing Kennedy (1960-63).

Top defensive team - by a lot: The Big Red have prided themselves on being an outstanding defensive team for decades. This year's team may be as good as any. They're the nation's leader in goals allowed - 1.40 per game - by a wide margin over the No. 2 defensive team - and top-ranked - Boston College, which allows 1.69 per contest. Three times in 25 games the Big Red have permitted more than two goals in a game - a 5-3 victory over Princeton, a 4-3 win over Maine and a 4-2 loss to Boston College.

Who's hot: Junior center Daniel Pegoraro has three goals and one assist during his past three games. Junior LW and leading scorer Matt Moulsen is 5-5-10 over his past nine games and senior left winger Mike Knoepfli is 3-5-8 over his past nine. Sophomore center Byron Bitz is 2-7-9 over the same nine-game stretch and freshman winger Topher Scott is 2-6-8 over his past eight.

Injuries: Jr. LW Cam Abbott (3-7-10), shoulder, questionable.

Notes: The close-to-the-vest Big Red hadn't scored a shorthanded goal in over two years when the season started. They have six to date. Senior center Mike Iggulden has three of them. ... Junior right winger Shane Hynes (4-17-21) had one goal and two assists in the Big Red's 5-0 win at RPI. He also had 1-2-3 as a freshman in CU's 5-0 over the Engineers on Feb. 21, 2003.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Records (ECACHL, overall): RPI - 4-11-1, 12-16-2. Cornell - 14-2-2, 18-4-3.

Previous outing: Rensselaer beat Brown, 3-2. Cornell won at Yale, 5-2.

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

Past 10 outings: Rensselaer is 4-6-0. Cornell is 9-0-1.

Record vs. common opponents: Rensselaer is 6-11-1. Cornell is 14-0-2.

Previous meeting: Cornell won at Houston Field House, 5-0.

Last season: RPI won at Cornell, 2-0; Cornell won at Houston Field House, 2-1.

All-time series: Cornell leads series, 48-29-3.

Power play: RPI - 44-of-221, 19.9 percent. Cornell - 33-of-129, 25.6 percent.

Penalty killing: RPI - 161-of-192, 83.9 percent. Cornell - 126-of-144, 87.5 percent.