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Q...Pacs Plenty of First-Year Punch

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 11, 2005

TROY - So much for Quinnipiac being a first-year pushover as it enters the ECAC Hockey League.

Picked by media and coaches to finish last in the 12-team league, the Bobcats looked like title contenders last week in more-than-convincing victories over Harvard (5-2) and Dartmouth (7-5).

If Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute fans thought the Engineers would have an easy victory in their first home league game of the season, they likely have reconsidered.

The Bobcats bring an 8-2-0 overall record and a No. 20 national ranking into tonight's (7:00) battle with RPI at Houston Field House. The Engineers, 0-1-1, 4-4-1, hope to use a little Black Friday magic to slow down the high-flying Bobcats. They'll wear their black shirts, then auction them off to fans afterward. All RPI fans are asked to wear black, too.

Rensselaer has won both the previous Black Friday games, 7-1 over Vermont two years ago, 5-3 over Clarkson last season.

The Engineers will then host Princeton (1-1-0, 2-2-0) on Saturday night.

Quinnipiac's eight-game winning streak is the nation's longest and both the Bobcats' losses - 3-1 and 5-3 - came to 2nd-ranked Michigan.

"They're a good team, I wasn't surprised at all," said RPI tri-captain Kevin Croxton. "They're having success so far and making some (forecasters) eat their words."

Quinnipiac junior defenseman Reid Cashman was one of the top players in the East when the Bobcats were in the weaker Atlantic Hockey conference. He leads the ECACHL in scoring with one goal and 15 assists.

Among nine freshmen, most of whom have played regularly, right winger David Marshall looms large with 13 points, leading the Bobcats with nine goals.

Sophomores Jamie Bates (left wing, 6-4-10) and center Ben Nelson (4-5-9), have also been outstanding.

Princeton blanked 0-3-0 Dartmouth last week, then lost to Harvard. The Tigers, like the Engineers, are not a high-scoring team who'll try to eke out a narrow victory with defense.

Junior goalie B.J. Sklalsky (2-0-0) has allowed just 1.50 goals per game and has stopped over 96 percent (75 of 78) of the shots he's faced.