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RPI Freshman Goalie Off to Hot Start

Lange's Consistency, Style Impress Coach

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, October 28, 2005

TROY - Before the season began, RPI hockey coach Dan Fridgen said he hoped one of his goaltenders would "step up right off the bat" and win the starting job. And while he's not quite ready to give that nod to freshman Mathias Lange, it appears the job is his to lose to sophomore Jordan Alford.

"I split them in the Ottawa game, and since then Jordan's had one game," Fridgen said. "At this point, I've gone with Langer. He won the Michigan Tech game, so you go with him for the BU game, and he wins that, so you go with him for the Army game as well. That's kind of what you're looking for in a goaltender - a consistent performance."

Consistent enough to earn himself both Goaltender of the Week and Rookie of the Week in the ECAC Hockey League - a distinction that's occurred only twice in the last five seasons. The 5-11, 185-pounder from Austria earned his first shutout against Army after upsetting Boston University in Boston two nights earlier.

"I like the fact that he's a hybrid," Fridgen said. "He's not a butterfly; he's not a stand-up. He's got a little bit of both. That's the thing about him that every shot that he faces, he handles it in his way with his style as opposed to butterfly guys that tend to go down a lot. He's very, very quick."

In the two games, Lange stopped 43 of the 45 shots he faced, 29 of 31 at nationally ranked BU. For the season, he has a 2.51 goals against average and a .913 save percentage with all three of the team's wins.

"The other thing is that he's got a great head on his shoulders as far as how he approaches the game," Fridgen said. "He doesn't put a lot of pressure on himself. I think that has a lot to do with the background he has as far as his experience in the World Juniors and the various junior teams he's played on since then (Lange started for Austria in the 2004 World Junior Championships in Finland)."

Fridgen said he first saw Lange play in an Eastern Junior Hockey League All-Star game when he backstopped for the New York Apple Core.

"The first thing I recognized was his pads," Fridgen said. "The way he moved around his crease was very similar to a couple of guys we've had here - Joel Laing and Mike Tamburro, who in their own right were pretty good goaltenders."

Alford came in here highly touted as a freshman, but ultimately was unable to unseat veteran Andrew Martin while playing in only 13 games. Now it appears he'll have to outplay the freshman to get the starting job once the league season begins next week in the North Country. He may get that chance this weekend.

"I think it's too early to say I'm just riding one guy," Fridgen said. "There's a lot of hockey left to be played."

Union returns: The Dutchmen and leading scorer Olivier Bouchard had a week off before tonight's nonleague game with Bentley, then a trip to Lowell on Saturday.

"I feel my role on the team has progressed," said Bouchard, who has eight points (4-4) for the Dutchmen (1-2-1). "I hope it's going to progress even more. I feel stronger."