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RPI Starts Fast Then Loses

In Opener, Engineers Drop Early 3-1 Advantage

By Steve Myrick

Albany Times Union, October 10, 2005

LOWELL, Mass. - Despite a five-point performance from the starting line of Jonathan Ornelas, Oren Eizenman and Kevin Croxton, RPI dropped the opening game of the season to the University of Massachusetts Lowell at Tsongas Arena in Lowell.

The Engineers held a two-goal advantage deep into the second period, but surrendered four consecutive goals to the River Hawks, losing 5-3.

"They just turned it up another notch," said RPI head coach Dan Fridgen. "This was our first game, playing a team that we knew was going to have some jump."

Freshman goaltender Mathias Lange faced an offensive assault which included 42 shots, earning praise from his team and his coach, despite the loss.

"He's a very poised goaltender," said Fridgen. "He made some real key saves early in the game. Unfortunately we broke down in defense and left him wide open for the goals that they scored. Overall I thought he had a strong game."

Mark Pandolfo scored twice for Lowell, including a disputed goal in the third period which proved to be the game-winner.

RPI took the play to Lowell in the opening minutes, and gained the early advantage on a power play. The textbook attack yielded several scoring chances, before Ornelas took a centering pass from Eizenman and shoveled it into the roof of the net for his first point of the season.

The Engineers spent much of the rest of the opening period on the opposite side of a power play, successfully defending three minor penalties. The imbalance led to a 17-12 shot advantage for the River Hawks, but it was RPI which took 1-0 lead into the second period.

Croxton, who notched 35 points last season, served notice he will be a scoring force again this year with a highlight-reel goal early in the second period. Charging down center ice, Croxton lifted a wrist shot over the shoulder of Lowell netminder Peter Vetri to give RPI a 2-0 lead.

Lowell got on the board when Pandolfo deflected a pass across the crease and into the net behind Lange to make it 2-1.

RPI freshman defenseman Reed Kipp answered with the first goal of his collegiate career just 38 seconds later. From outside the left face-off circle, the Victoria, British Columbia native lifted a perfectly placed wrist shot over Vetri's glove hand. Eizenman and Croxton recorded assists on the play.