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RPI Comes Through in Weekend Sweep

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 14, 2005

TROY - When it comes to weekend matchups within the ECAC Hockey League, the homeice weekend with Princeton and Quinnipiac is not among the toughest.

So, after Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Friday night took down 20th-ranked Quinnipiac, a strong team considering they've moved up in competition from the weaker Atlantic Hockey conference, beating Princeton was a must on Saturday night.

The Engineers played well for the most part against Princeton but lacked a killer instinct. An anemic power play repeatedly failed to produce goal-scoring chances and helped the Tigers stay in the game.

Outstanding individual efforts on Jonathan Ornelas' goal that broke a 1-1 tie and wrested the momentum away from the underdog Tigers midway through the game turned the game around.

Oren Eizenman won a defensive-zone faceoff, Ryan Swanson made a pretty headman pass off the boards to the speedy Ornelas and the sophomore winger made sure on his shot that beat Princeton goalie Eric Leroux under his blocker.

A loss would have severely damaged Rensselaer's chances to significantly improve its 11th-place finish in the 12-team ECACHL.

Finally gaining control of that 1-1, middle-of-the-third game and avoiding an upset defeat was huge.

Ornelas breakaways: Ornelas, who had another breakaway goal later in the third period, was asked if he'd ever had two breakaways in one period.

"Never," he said. "I've had two breakaways in one game before but I never scored on both before, let alone in one period."

Third, fourth lines contribute: Freshman center Mathieu Angers-Goulet began the season centering the third line. He sat out Friday's game with Quinnipiac but came back Saturday to headman the fourth line with Dan Peace on the right and right winger Andrew Lord playing on the left side.

Rensselaer coach Dan Fridgen lauded the group.

"Mathieu's line gave us some real good energy tonight," Fridgen said. "They did a great job when they were out there. They protected the puck down low and they got a couple of scoring opportunities."

Peace, the only Engineers forward without a point this season, rifled one off the Leroux's mask flap three minutes into the second period.

Lord, a big winger with a goal-scoring background, has been slow to make an impact on the RPI offense. He had four goals and five assists in 33 games last season but has just one assist in eight games this year.

"I came real close," Lord said. "I had a nice wraparound (chance) that I probably could have gotten further side with it there. And I had a 5-hole shot in the third."

"I thought our line had some jump," Lord continued. "Danny had a real nice chance in the slot in the second (period). Matty was doing a real nice job on the draws."

Angers-Goulet and Peace did a good job of forechecking midway through the first period.

Then when Ryan Swanson's shot was steered aside by Leroux, Princeton's Sebastian Borza interfered with Angers-Goulet on the chase for the rebound. Oren Eizenman scored the game's first goal on the ensuing power play.

"Matty's line deserves a lot of credit," Eizenman said. "The way they were playing, they didn't look like a lower line. Lordy had a great game. On my goal, you saw a great pass from (Kevin) Croxton but what goes unnoticed is that Mathieu's line drew that (penalty) with hard work, in the corner, cycling the puck, moving their legs."

Mac's back: Having tri-captain Kirk MacDonald back with the team brought smiles and a bright attitude to all the Engineers.

MacDonald will have to watch the rest of the season as he recoups from testicular cancer and its treatment-related surgeries, then play his senior year as a redshirt next season.

"Any time you have a guy of his stature around ...," Fridgen said. "It's great to have him back. I know he's comfortable being back and being home with the guys I think is something that's very healthy for him mentally and I think it's healthy for the team as well. We've been missing a captain and now he's back and that's great support for the guys ... and they're real happy to have him back. The four-point weekend says it all."

NOTES: Much was made of the irony of Ornelas, No. 9, scoring two goals Saturday and three goals for the weekend on a weekend when RPI honored an old No. 9, All-American Joe Juneau. No. 9 was wild on the women's team, too, as freshman winger Nicole McDonald had two goals Saturday night and one on Sunday. ... Croxton scored his 50th career goal Friday, while Brad Farynuk charted his 50th assist. ... It had been erroneously but widely reported and announced at Houston Field House that Colgate had scored five goals in the last eight minutes to beat Harvard, 7-6. The Raiders did rally with two goals, but lost, 6-4.