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RPI Hoping to Avoid Bad News Bears

Engineers Wary of Dangerous Brown Team Tonight

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, January 4, 2002

TROY - For the first 93 percent of its hockey season, Brown University was a competitive hockey team and the ECAC's most improved group.

During their last 20 minutes, however, the Bears were as bad as they've been at any time during the past two seasons when they twice finished last in the ECAC.

Tied with New Hampshire 2-2 entering the final period of the championship game of the Badger Classic at the University of Wisconsin, the Bears were outscored 9-1 and suffered an 11-3 embarrassment.

One night earlier, they'd beaten host Wisconsin, 2-1, the only victory by an ECAC team over a WCHA entrant in 15 meetings of the conferences this season.

Which Brown team will show up tonight when the Bears take on Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at 7 p.m?

Well, don't expect the Engineers to have an eight-goal lead after one period.

The Engineers, of course, have their own worries as they host the Bears (3-4-1 ECAC, 4-6-1 overall) tonight and ECAC-leading Harvard (5-2-2, 6-5-3) on Saturday.

At least they'll have second-leading goal scorer Matt Murley back in the lineup. They figure to need him, having scored just 10 goals in their previous five ECAC games.

Brown coach Roger Grillo was asked often, all week long, 'what happened in that third period?'

"we played five great periods," he said. "They came out (in the third) and got two quick ones. We actually didn't play that bad. But then we began trying to do too much, running around, took a couple penalties and before you know it, they're up by four. Then, the flood gates really opened."

"It was the kind of game you had to see to believe," Grillo said.

Grillo said during their 2 hour, 15 minute flight home to Providence, the Bears reflected a great deal on the horrendous period. It's now behind them and shouldn't affect their performance tonight at Houston Field House.

"Totally forgotten," he said. "There was a lot of pride and there were a lot of positives from the way we played (prior to that period)."

The Engineers bring records of 2-2-1 (ECAC) and 7-5-1 into the weekend's action. They've gone 5-1-1 on their current nine-game homestand that ends Saturday night. Three of the wins, however, came against teams from the weaker Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and they won just one of three ECAC contests.

It would be premature to say RPI's season is at a crossroad but if they don't get a couple points this weekend, their goal of attaining home-ice advantage in the first round of the ECAC playoffs will take another serious jolt. They would then have a 1-3-1 record in home league games with contenders Clarkson, Dartmouth and Cornell still to come.

"We had a real good weekend last week," said scoring leader Marc Cavosie in reference to the Engineers' overtime victories over Quinnipiac and UMass.

"We probably should have won (by) bigger margins, but I think playing in close games really helps the team out, builds character ... so coming into this weekend, we have confidence, playing two overtime games and winning them."

"It's a pretty big weekend," junior center Nolan Graham said. "It's pretty much the start of our core of our league play. We've got to get the ball rolling."

Rensselaer captain Steve Munn called last weekend's results "a couple of big character wins" and expects the Engineers to build on them this week.

"We want to be the kind of team that wins those close games," Munn said. "The good teams will pull those games out. That's the kind of team we want to be. We had some guys whom we haven't counted on heavily really step up."

Brown, which shocked homestanding Harvard in the season-opener, winning 4-2, is led by sophomore Adam Saunders (6 goals-3 assists-9 points), soph left winger Brent Robinson (2-6-8), junior defenseman Paul Esdale (2-6-8), junior center Tye Korbl (4-3-7) and freshman center-left winger Les Haggett (3-4-7).

The Engineers should have an advantage in special teams; both the Bears' power play efficiency (15.4 percent) and penalty killing rate (72.2) are both 10 percentage points less than RPI's.

Dominic Moore makes Harvard scary any time. What makes the Crimson even more frightful right now is that at 5-8-13, the talented junior center is only third on the team in scoring.

Soph LW Tyler Kolarik (4-12-16), center Brett Nowak (5-9-14), soph RW Tim Pettit (7-5-12) - a Rookie of the Year contender last season - and freshman center Tom Cavanaugh (2-9-11) are the other mainstays.