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RPI Pulls Out 2-1 Triumph, Faces Cornell

Scores Twice in Final 2:36

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, March 15, 2002

LAKE PLACID - For nearly 58 minutes Thursday night, the Rensselaer hockey team couldn't get anything going on offense in its ECAC tournament play-in game against Dartmouth. The Engineers had 16 shots on goal, didn't threaten Big Green goalie Darren Gastrock much and were down by a goal.

RPI's season appeared to be over.

But in a 1:28 span late in the third period, the Engineers scored on their final two shots of the game. Senior forward Matt Murley tied it with 2:36 left, and sophomore defenseman Scott Basiuk won it with 1:08 remaining, helping the fifth-seeded Engineers pull out a stunning 2-1 victory over the fourth-seeded Big Green at Olympic Center.

The Engineers, 19-12-4, ranked 14th in the USCHO.com/NCAA poll and 15th in the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine poll, meet regular-season champion and eighth-ranked Cornell (23-6-2) in the semifinals at 7:30 tonight. The winner advances to Saturday's title game at 7:30 p.m., and the loser plays in consolation game at 4 p.m.

Clarkson meets Harvard in the first semifinal today at 4 p.m.

RPI was outshot, 35-18. But that hasn't been a problem for the Engineers. They have won seven straight games, and are unbeaten in eight in a row, when they are outshot. They are 10-8-2 when outshot this season.

It was an ugly win for the Engineers, but one they will gladly take.

"The best way to sum it up is that the nightmare has turned into a dream," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said.

The Engineers, who played with passion and commitment for the past six weeks, looked tentative through two periods. They were outshot by the Big Green, 23-9.

RPI sophomore goalie Nathan Marsters kept his team in the game, stopping the first 30 shots he faced. With neither team having success scoring, it appeared that the game would be decided in overtime.

But Dartmouth (14-13-5) broke the tie with 9:01 left in the third period. Marsters couldn't cover the puck during a scramble in front of the net. The puck ended it on Chris Baldwin's stick, and he slipped it past Marsters.

"I was trying to cover it, and I didn't," Marsters said. "They took a shot, then it hit Nolan [Graham] and then it hit me in the back."

The Engineers kept their composure after surrendering the goal and waited for a break. They got it with 2:38 left.

Scott Basiuk's right-point drive hit a Dartmouth player's skate. The puck rolled to Murley at the bottom of the right circle. With Gastrock out of position, Murley had an open net. He didn't miss, scoring his 22nd goal of the season.

"I got a lucky goal there," Murley said. "It settled the nerves of a lot of our guys and got us playing our game again."

With just under two minutes left, Ben Barr dumped the puck from the right wing in the neutral zone into the Dartmouth zone. The puck rolled around the boards behind the net, and came out to the let point.

Basiuk was there, and drilled a slap shot past Gastrock's right side.

"It's an incredible feeling," Basiuk said. "I've had a couple of those where you just get it on net, and they seem to trickle in sometimes. That one was the biggest one of my college career."

Fridgen can't wait to face Cornell. RPI dropped a 2-1 decision to the Big Red two weeks ago and had two goals disallowed in the game.

"They're fresh in our memories because we had them the last weekend of the season, so there's really not much we have to go over, as far as game tape," Fridgen said. "We know what we're going to get. With them sitting in the stands [Thursday] watching this one, we didn't show them anything. We're looking forward to [tonight]."