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Freshman Goalie Wasting No Time

RPI's Lange Shows Signs He's One of League's Best

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, November 25, 2005

TROY - If there's one thing RPI coach Dan Fridgen can say about this year's freshman class, it's that he's found a real "keeper" in goaltender Mathias Lange.

The Austrian-born rookie has improved from week to week in establishing himself as RPI's starting goalkeeper. Last weekend's performance in the difficult trip to Cornell and Colgate was among the best by any ECACHL netminder this season -- two games, two goals allowed against two top-20 teams.

"It's unbelievable how much a goaltender can make your team look better," senior defenseman Brad Farynuk said. "Every time Mathias has the puck or there's a shot opportunity on him, you never see him panic. He's so composed, so patient, and you never see him flailing his body. For a freshman goaltender that's unbelievable."

Only 11 games into his collegiate career, Lange is already being mentioned in the same breath as former RPI netminders Joel Laing and Mike Tamburro by Fridgen, who says that Lange's non-flop style makes him a dangerous man in net despite his average height (5-foot-11).

Farynuk says Lange is the principal reason the Engineers have given up only five goals in their past four games (four on power plays).

"It takes a lot of pressure off," he said. "The 'D' men might have been a little hesitant before when you don't have a goaltender playing that well. When you have a race to a loose puck, it gives us a little extra confidence. You think, 'I'm going to get to that puck first. I've got an awesome goaltender behind me if a bad bounce happens or a mistake happens.' That's a big lift."

Lange will face one of the nation's top goaltenders tonight when RPI takes on Holy Cross in the first round of the 55th Holiday Tournament. The Crusaders' Tony Quesada is seventh in the nation in save percentage and eighth in goals-against average. Meanwhile, after stopping 62 of 64 shots last weekend, Lange has seen his own GAA drop to 2.37. His .920 save percentage ranks 17th nationally.

"You almost shake your head because he just looks so composed and his confidence keeps the ball rolling," said Farynuk, RPI's co-captain. "He's going to turn a lot of heads. As far as his angles and being a textbook goaltender, he's probably the best since I've been here. (Nathan) Marsters got the job done, too, but he was more of a flashy, big-save guy."

The soft-spoken Lange, already a three-time Rookie of the Week in the ECACHL, just wants to contribute.

"I saw a lot of rubber last weekend," said the 20-year-old goalie. "That's just the way I like it. It's easier for me to stay in the game if I have to make some saves every minute or so. I didn't really expect much coming into this year. As long as coach keeps putting me in, I'll try to do everything I can to give the team a chance to win."

Ice chips: Freshman defenseman Reed Kipp, who has missed five games with an injury, was back on the ice for RPI's Wednesday practice. ... Union's 2-1 upset at Cornell last weekend was even more impressive considering it came during first-quarter exam week. Beginning next season, the Dutchmen will not have games scheduled during exam week.

Ohio State, Colgate and Niagara will play in next year's RPI Holiday Tournament over Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 24-25).