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RPI Finds Power vs. Mercyhurst

Power-play Goals Early Provide Engineers Cushion

By Tim Wilkin

Albany Times Union, November 18, 2001

TROY - Those not in the know would have thought it was going to be a picnic on ice for the RPI hockey team Saturday night. The Engineers had a date with Mercyhurst of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Now, the MAAC will never be confused with the WCHA, Hockey East or even the ECAC. But the bridge between the MAAC and the country's power conferences is getting shorter.

RPI saw that firsthand at Houston Field House as the Engineers held on for a 4-3 win in front of an announced crowd of 3,351.

"We definitely knew they were a good hockey team," said RPI junior Nolan Graham, who scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with 37 seconds left in the second period. "They weren't going to be a pushover."

Mercyhurst (5-4-1 overall, 5-1-1 in the MAAC) came into Saturday tied for first place in its league with Iona, RPI's opponent here next week.

The MAAC has been playing hockey for four years.

The Lakers turned some heads in the college hockey world last year when they lost to Michigan 4-3 in the NCAA West Regional and the Wolverines advanced to the Frozen Four at Albany's Pepsi Arena.

Mercyhurst spotted the Engineers a 3-1 lead after one period, but scratched its way back into contention.

With 50.1 seconds left, the Lakers pulled to within 4-3 on a goal by Marty Rychley, but the Engineers held on to improve to 3-4 (1-1-0 in the ECAC). This was just the Engineers' second home game.

"This was a good hockey game for us," said RPI coach Dan Fridgen. "I will tell you this: teams from the MAAC are making headway in college hockey."

RPI came into this with losses in three of its last four games. The Engineers had also been outshot in all six of their games. Saturday was no exception as the Lakers enjoyed a 36-30 shot advantage.

The Engineers made the best of their opportunities as three of their goals came via the power play. Carson Butterwick and Danny Eberly scored first-period, power-play goals for RPI, and Chris Migliore added an even-strength score, giving the Engineers a two-goal lead after 20 minutes.

After Mercyhurst's Mike Carter scored at 14:55 of the second period to cut the RPI lead to 3-2, Graham gave the Engineers a much-needed cushion with his fifth goal.

RPI sophomore goalie Nathan Marsters stopped 33 shots to get his first victory of the season.

The Engineers played without senior co-captain Matt Murley of Troy, who missed just the second game of his career. Murley was hit by a stick in last week's game at Colgate and required 11 stitches above and around his left eye. Six of the stitches are still in.

He is RPI's leading goal scorer (six) and third-leading scorer overall (nine points).