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Engineers Don't Mind Facing Bears

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, March 4, 2005

TROY - No one on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey team is particularly happy that it finished 11th in the 12-team ECACHL for the second time in three years.

Despite that, the Engineers have received a favorable matchup in the first round of the ECACHL tournament.

The Engineers (14-20-2) travel to Providence, R.I., to face sixthseeded Brown (14-12-3) in the best-of-three series this weekend at Meehan Auditorium. Game 1 is tonight, followed by Game 2 Saturday and, if necessary, Game 3 Sunday. All contests start at 7 p.m.

Brown was one of three teams that RPI won the season series against this year, going 1-0-1.

The Engineers had a 3-0 lead in the Dec. 3 game at Meehan, but the Bears rallied for a 3-3 tie. On Big Red Freakout night Feb. 12 at Houston Field House, RPI rallied from a 2-1 deficit with two thirdperiod goals, including Kirk Mac-Donald's tally with 8.3 seconds left, to take a 3-2 win.

Even though it was disappointing to end up one spot near the bottom of the standings, RPI coach Dan Fridgen has confidence that his team can win the series.

"Considering the scenarios that could have occurred, I think this is the best-case scenario," Fridgen said. "The best-case scenario would have been us being home, but then that meant other teams would have had to lose. We really didn't have our own fate in our own [hands], which we should have taken care of earlier."

"That being said, and now that we have to deal with what we've been dealt, I'm happy with the draw."

Roger Grillo also likes it, because his team has home-ice advantage. He doesn't think the two regular-season games against RPI will mean much this weekend.

"We're going to respect no matter who we played at this time of the year," Grillo said. "The playoffs are a unique animal. It's a whole new season for everybody. You just have to come out, execute, play hard and play your game."

RPI has history on its side. Two years ago, the Engineers won in the first round as the 11th seed, upsetting sixth-seeded and Capital Region-rival Union in two games.

"I don't think it's a matter of confidence right now," Fridgen said. "It's a matter of everybody taking care of their responsibilities as individuals, which will add to the strengths of us as a team."

Kevin Croxton could be a factor for RPI. The junior forward ended a 22-game scoreless streak when he scored in each of last weekend's games.

"It's good to break a slump, especially before the playoffs," Croxton said.