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Rensselaer vs. Princeton

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 25, 2005

SCOUTING RPI

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Sr. Andrew Martin (8-14-1, 2.93, 89.4%) or Fr. Jordan Alford (5-5-1, 2.87, 88.8%)

Pepper that net: When a team is coming off back-to-back shutout defeats, and has games against the two weakest defensive teams in its league, well, you get the idea. The Engineers have to be confident they can get some goals against Princeton and Yale just the way the rest of the ECAC Hockey League. Rensselaer's leading scorer Kirk MacDonald, while admitting Princeton and Yale aren't Cornell and Colgate, said, "I don't think you can look at who you're playing and say you're going to score some goals. But hopefully we can come out this weekend and pot a couple." Added co-captain Nick Economakos, "put a lot of pucks on the net, drive the net hard and hopefully we'll start filling the net a little bit."

Top line intact?: Rensselaer head coach Dan Fridgen said he may have the forward line featuring the team's top three scorers - right wingers Kirk MacDonald and Kevin Croxton and left winger Nick Economakos (with MacDonald centering) together but will likely split them again. "Nick and Kevin will be together (with a yet to be determined center)," Fridgen said, "but I'm not so sure I'll leave that line together. I'm going to try to spread the (goal-scoring) wealth out a little bit as far as the depth among the forward lines is concerned." MacDonald could play on a line with wingers Chris Hussey and Kevin Broad.

Croxton anxious?: Junior right winger Kevin Croxton has 6 goals, 3 assists in eight previous games against the Tigers but he may be looking ahead to Saturday's game with Yale. His last goal, his 39th in 90 games, came with 8:43 remaining in the first period of RPI's 5-2 victory at Yale on Nov. 19. He's been held without a goal in 22 games since.

SCOUTING PRINCETON

Goaltenders (W-L-T, goals against avg., saves %): Jr. Eric Leroux (5-11-2, 3.38, 89.9%), or So. B.J. Sklapsky (2-5-0, 3.80, 87.5%).

Motivation?: Regardless of what happens this weekend, the Tigers will have to open the ECACHL playoffs on the road. If they win tonight, or even tie RPI, the Engineers' hopes of being at home for the first round will be ended. Does that motivate the Tigers? "I hadn't realized that," said leading scorer Dustin Sproat, "but it might be a possible motivator. But we're just trying to get ourselves going in the right direction for the playoffs."

'Wow, what a difference': Rensselaer fans who think the Engineers have lived and died by the power play, get this. The Princeton power play was among the nation's leaders earlier in the season, netting 20 goals in 71 chances (28.2 percent) over their first 11 games. They went 4-6-1 in those games. Since, though, they've fallen on hard times, going 5-for-76 (6.6 percent) and posting a 3-12-1 mark.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Princeton at Rensselaer

Records (ECACHL, overall): Princeton - 5-14-1, 7-18-2. RPI - 4-11-1, 12-16-2

Previous outing: Princeton lost to Vermont, 4-1; Rensselaer lost at Colgate, 1-0.

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

Past 10 outings: Princeton is 2-7-1. Rensselaer is 4-6-0.

Record vs. common opponents: Princeton is 5-15-1. Rensselaer is 5-14-1.

Previous meeting: Princeton won at Princeton, 3-2.

Last season: RPI won at Houston Field House, 6-4; RPI won at Princeton, 5-1.

All-time series: RPI leads series, 57-23-8

Power play: Princeton - 25-of-148, 16.9 percent. RPI - 44-of-228, 19.3 percent.

Penalty killing: Princeton - 106-of-139, 76.3 percent. RPI - 168-of-201, 83.6 percent.