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Engineers Escaped Weekend With Ties

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 22, 2005

TROY - The best part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's road trip to Colgate-Cornell - other than the fact that the Engineers didn't lose either game - is that it's over.

Those games could have been lost at any point in the season, even after RPI's many freshman and sophomore forwards improve. To escape both dates with a 1-1 tie - even though the Engineers came within inches of winning both - is certainly something to take positively.

Rensselaer had dropped three straight at Colgate, five of its past six at Cornell.

Rensselaer coach Dan Fridgen told his players that the pair of deadlocks "is like a split" and not to be satisfied with ties.

It was the third deadlock in six ECACHL games for the 2-1-3 Engineers, who with seven points are tied for fifth place with Cornell. They finished 11th in the 12-team league with just 13 points (6-15-1) last season.

On the other hand, and despite RPI's near misses in each game, Fridgen said, "it's definitely something we can build on."

Kevin Croxton rang a wrist shot off the goalpost with 3:44 remaining in regulation play.

Andrew Lord could have nudged in the game winner on Friday night as the puck rolled to him and Colgate goalie Mark Dekanich didn't see it. A Red Raiders defenseman had Lord's stick effectively tied up, however.

As is the case in any tie, both teams had chances to win it and that's part of the frustration.

"I don't know if it's frustration," he said. "It just would have been nice to get the game-winner."

Streak extended: Junior center Oren Eizenman's assist on Jonathan Ornelas' goal at Cornell extended his scoring streak to 11 games. He tallied the Engineers' only goal of the Colgate game, deflecting in Scott Romfo's drive from the point.

During the skein, the flashy Eizenman totaled seven goals, nine assists.

"When he's motivated and he wants to play, he can really play," Fridgen said of Eizenman. "You could see it (Saturday night). He went out there on a shift in overtime like he wanted to end it right there. (He almost did.) That's the way he's been playing."

Lange outstanding: Freshman goaltender Mathias Lange after being chased in the Northeastern game, has been brilliant over his past four outings.

Over the weekend, he permitted just two power-play goals - one being the aforementioned 5-on-3 - and stopped 62 of the 64 shots he faced.

During his past four games, Lange has permitted just five goals - only one at equal strength - has played to a 1.20 goals against average and has turned away 97.5 percent of the shots he's faced (118 of 121).

Against two of the league's top offensive teams, Quinnipiac and Colgate, he did not permit an equal-strength goal.

"He's been real solid," Fridgen said. "He just has a lot of composure out there. He doesn't get overly excited and he doesn't concern himself with other people out there, just stopping the puck."

Lange even displayed a sense of humor during a press conference after the Cornell game when asked if the puck spent some of the five-minute overtime in his goalcrease.

"No, not at all," he said. "Not that he could see," Fridgen said with a laugh.

"I don't think the ref saw it either," said Lange, who wanted a whistle a bit sooner than referee Scott Hansen gave him one.

"I've been seeing the puck real well," the Austrian native said. "But the guys did a good job keeping things wide. All I have to do is find the puck."

Needing a call: Officiating has been quite good around the ECACHL thus far, but the Engineers got a bad break late in the first period of the Colgate game when, 15 seconds into an RPI power play, referee Tim Kotyra put away his whistle.

Kevin Croxton tugged on the glove of Colgate goalie Mark Dekanich as the whistle blew for a faceoff, then skated behind the goal line and toward the left corner.

Colgate's Alex Greig skated several steps toward Croxton and shoved him to the ice. Kotyra gave Greig the 'protecting-the-goaltender' benefit of the doubt, even though the hit came 3-4 seconds after the whistle and 15 feet from the goal crease.

Seconds after the ensuing faceoff, Colgate center Kyle Wilson gave Croxton a wind-up elbow in the back.

The Engineers would have had a 5-on-3 for 1:45, 1:40 had Kotyra whistled one of those incidents and that could have made the difference in the game.

"It's ECAC officiating and you've got to fight through it," Croxton said.

By contrast, on Saturday night, Scott Hansen made a call against Romfo for delay of game that put Cornell two men up for 50 seconds and led to the Big Red's goal.

Romfo grabbed the crossbar of the net goalposts as Cornell was pressuring the RPI net. However, the rule states a player must do so deliberately. Romfo did so to protect himself while being hit.

"No, I didn't do that on purpose," he said. "I got checked into the net."

Said fellow defenseman Brad Farynuk to Romfo, "actually, I think I checked (Cornell winger) Topher Scott and he ran into you."

Fridgen noted that such an infraction must be deliberate but said, "it probably looked to (Hansen) as if it was."