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Engineers Complete Sweep

RPI Finishes Off Successful Weekend With Win Over Princeton

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 13, 2005

TROY - It was a struggle, but Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute completed its weekend sweep of Quinnipiac and Princeton on Saturday night.

Jonathan Ornelas willed it so. His speed and stick-handling played a big part - and perhaps a bit of heaven-sent irony did, too.

On the night when RPI honored former All-American Joe Juneau and his No. 9, Ornelas, the current wearer of that number, scored on a pair of third-period breakaways to lift - literally - the Engineers to a 4-1 victory over Princeton.

The Tigers had tied the game 1-1 on Brent Wilson's goal early in the third period and thoroughly outplayed the Engineers over the next six minutes.

Then Oren Eizenman won a defensive-zone faceoff to defenseman Ryan Swanson who banged the puck off the sideboards to Ornelas.

The flashy sophomore left winger lifted the stick of a Princeton defender, nudged the puck ahead and raced off toward Tigers goalie Eric Leroux.

"He (Leroux) gave me a low blocker, I went there and it went in," Ornelas said. "It was a great draw by Oren, then Swanny's pass, we executed the play perfectly."

Ditto, said RPI coach Dan Fridgen.

"Executed perfectly," he said. "Swanny made the pass nice pass. And it was a great call by that (Eizenman) line. It's designed to spring (Ornelas) because he's got such good speed. We've tried it in the past but it might take weird bounce off the boards."

Princeton continued to play hard - the Tigers had 18 third-period shots on goal, forcing RPI goalie Mathias Lange to make several critical saves - but Ornelas put a dagger into them with 3:43 remaining.

He blocked a shot from the point by Princeton defenseman Mike Moore. The puck bounced out to the neutral zone as Ornelas, recoiled by the shot, gathered himself.

He beat Moore to the puck, streaked into the Princeton zone and fired a wrister that hit Leroux's glove, dropped down and trickled into the net.

"I was thinking low blocker again but he wasn't giving it to me," Ornelas said. "So, I went low glove and luckily it just squeaked in."

"He certainly honored the number (9) in fine fashion," Fridgen said of Ornelas.

Defenseman Keith MCWilliams added an empty-net goal with 48 seconds remaining, Lange charted 28 saves and Eizenman scored his sixth goal as the 6-4-1 Engineers improved to 2-1-1 in ECAC Hockey League play.

Eizenman had scored his sixth goal on a fine through-the-slot pass from Kevin Croxton in the first period. Throughout the scoreless second period, the Engineers had four power-play chances to try to put the game away but did next to nothing on each.

The Tigers (1-3-0, 2-4-0) thanked them by taking firm control at the outset of the final stanza.

"We let them stay in the game the whole first and second when they had no life at all," co-captain Croxton said. "That's what happens. They got some life and we had a battle. But we were able to come back and it's a nice four-point weekend"

"They got us back on our heels," Fridgen said. "We started standing around, they started to outwork us in our building and that's unacceptable. That faceoff play certainly got us going."

Lange made big saves in the third on Sebastian Borza, Lee Jubinville, Erik Pridham and Patrick Neuendorfer (twice) and Wilson hit the post.

"I just try to guard the net and stop each one," the freshman goalie said.

The Tigers scored when Brandan Kushniruk stole the puck along the boards and fed Jubinville from behind the net, he found Wilson in front.