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Engineers Earn Second Tie in as Many Days

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 20, 2005

ITHACA - There are ties in college hockey that are annoying for weeks later and there are those where you leave the lockerroom with a good feeling.

For the second straight night, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute played one of the latter, battling Cornell to a 1-1 draw despite being outshot 36-13.

Mathias Lange recorded 35 saves and allowed only a 5-on-3 goal by Cornell's Matt Moulson in the final minute of the first period and Jonathan Ornelas scored his team-leading ninth goal for Rensselaer.

The Engineers played to the same score at Colgate on Friday night and since the road trip to Colgate and Cornell has been the ECAC Hockey League's toughest weekend in recent seasons, those two deadlocks are more like kissing the plain but mildly attractive girl in study hall rather than one's own sister, as the cliche goes.

"This is the toughest road trip in our league," said senior tri-captain Kevin Croxton, who came within inches of breaking the 1-1 tie late in regulation play.

"We played hard in both games and we keep getting better."

On the other hand, the Engineers aren't satisfied with the deadlocks.

"It's tough to say good ties," Croxton said. "I'd rather see 4-on-4 in a shootout."

"I thought we played pretty well," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "We kept a lot of the shots to the outside and the ones that got to the inside, Mathias was there to make the save."

"I thought we played a real solid game," Fridgen said. "We didn't get a lot of shots but any time you can come into Lynah Rink and get a point, it's a positive."

The back-to-back non-decisions gave the Engineers their first four-game unbeaten string (2-0-2) within the ECACHL since February of 2002. With a 2-1-3 league record, the Engineers (6-4-3 overall) moved into a fifth-place tie with Cornell in the ECACHL with seven points.

Lange had to make three saves in overtime, including a wide-open 10 foot chip shot by Mitch Carefoot. Then, inside the final 10 seconds, Cornell's big center Byron Bitz flipped a backhander into traffic that was blocked by the RPI defense.

Just 1:54 into the third period, Ornelas tied the score from a sharp angle just in front of the goal line to the left of Cornell goalie David McKee.

"He came sliding across (the crease)," Ornelas said of McKee, "and he just left a little room between his pad and his arm."

How much?

"A puck (width)," Ornelas said with a laugh, repeating Croxton's suggestion. "Enough to get through and hit the twine."

The Engineers nearly went ahead on a power play with 3:44 remaining in regulation.

Croxton rifled a wrist shot off the near goalpost from the left slot, then Alexander Valentin's rebound shot from the right slot banged around among McKee's pads but he was able to haul it in.

The Big Red (3-2-1, 4-3-1) were a blowout loser at Dartmouth and a 2-1 upset loser at home in their previous two games and they came out hungry.

They buzzed the RPI net for most of the period, putting 17 shots on Lange.

"And we knew they would," Fridgen said. "They were hungry to get a win and they really feed off the crowd in this building and you have to weather the storm."

The Engineers did, allowing only Moulson's blast.

The first of RPI's two penalties was a kneeing call to Jake Luthi that appeared to be a good hip check. "Yeah, but I didn't get my hip all the way around," Luthi said. "It was a knee. It was a good call."

Scott Romfo was charged with delay of game for lifting the net amidst Cornell pressure with 50 seconds remaining on Luthi's infraction.

The Engineers next see action at 7 p.m. Friday, hosting Holy Cross in the first round of the RPI Holiday Tournament, following the first game between Providence and Nebraska-Omaha.