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Engineers Happy to Get off the Road

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, October 23, 2005

TROY - For two weeks, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute men’s hockey players have been road warriors.

The Engineers’ travels have taken them from Lowell, Mass., to Anchorage, Alaska, to Boston. They have logged nearly 10,000 miles of air and bus travel. They also posted a 2-2 record.

Finally, the Engineers get an opportunity to play some home games.

RPI opens its Houston Field House schedule this afternoon at 2 when it hosts Army. Next weekend, the Engineers host Northeastern and Merrimack.

After dropping the first two games of the road trip, the Engineers are on a two-game winning streak. They won last Saturday against Michigan Tech, 4-3, in the second round of the Nye Frontier Classic in Anchorage, and then went into Harry Agganis Arena and stunned 12th-ranked Boston University, 3-2, Friday.

"The guys are looking forward to it," said RPI coach Dan Fridgen, who is a win away from 200 for his career. "Part of the game plan was to get out on the road and get some bonding going, and go into some hostile environments.

"You go out to Alaska, and having a game that is basically [starting] at midnight, and then to come back and go into Boston [Friday] night, and they really get it going in their building and they’re all fired up in front of their fans. We weathered that storm.

"We’re learning. We’re going through a process here that I think will be important for us down the road."

The players are thrilled to play a home game after their two-week road trip.

"It’s amazing," junior forward Oren Eizenman said. "Not just for us, but for our fans, too. We’ve been on the road, and haven’t been able to treat them to any hockey. We’re hoping that it will not only be a nice homecoming for us, but for our fans."

Both of RPI’s wins have been the come-from-behind variety.

In both games, the Engineers fell behind, 2-0. Against Michigan Tech, RPI cut the lead to 2-1, then trailed, 3-1, before scoring twice in the second period to tie it and then win it in the third.

Friday against BU, RPI started its rally when Alexander Valentin scored at 7:46 of the second period to make it 2-1. Kevin Broad and Kevin Croxton scored early in the third period to give the Engineers the lead.

Fridgen likes what he has seen in these comeback victories.

"It just shows that we’re not pressing any panic buttons, and we’re staying composed out there," Fridgen said. "We’re never out of it. We just keep plugging away.

"It seems that we got our legs going in the second period [against BU], and we got an early goal, which helped our confidence, and then come out in the third period and get a couple.

"It’s one of those situations where you learn. Comeback hockey is not a great game to play, but it’s not been a situation where talent and skill have put us behind the eight-ball. We’ve had a couple of situations where we turned the puck over, put ourselves in that predicament and we work our way out of it."


MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. - Emily Donowick scored twice during the Engineers’ three-goal second period Saturday, and RPI remained unbeaten by completing a sweep of the Colonials.

RPI, playing its first season in Division I, improved to 5-0-1. The Engineers beat Robert Morris (0-4), 2-1, on Friday.

Julie Welte gave RPI a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 6:05 of the second. Donowick netted her first goal, a power-play tally, with 5:13 left in the second. She scored her second goal with two seconds left in the period.

RPI goalie Emily Ford made 14 saves. She lost her bid for a shutout when Ali Proodian scored with 43 seconds left in the game.