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Just a Joke, But Engineers Deliver 10 Goals in Victory

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, December 12, 2005

TROY - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey coach Dan Fridgen was chatting with Rochester Institute of Technology coach Wayne Wilson and assistant Brian Hills prior to Saturday night's game and he joked, "first one to 10 wins."

With that thought (prediction?) in mind, the Engineers didn't 'win' until just 1:10 remained in the game when Chris Hussey scored on a blast from the right circle.

The Engineers' 10-7 victory was no joking matter when one considers their porous and sloppy play in the defensive zone.

While Fridgen may have anticipated a high-scoring game, he certainly didn't foresee that his team would allow so many soft goals.

While starting goalie Jordan Alford could certainly be blamed for one of the five he allowed, five other RIT goals came when RIT players slipped in behind the Rensselaer defense or were left standing alone for easy rebound shots.

Fridgen said he'd have to view game tapes to evaluate Alford, who was pulled after Steve Pinizzotto's goal at 11:05 of the second period tied the game at 5-5.

Fridgen said that after two periods, "all I know is, they had 14 shots on goal (later officially changed to 13) and six goals. That's all I knew. I don't think we did a very good job of helping him out at all."

The door to the RPI lockerroom was closed noticeably longer than following most other victories. Fridgen was asked what he said to the team concerning the poor defensive-zone play.

"I don't think I had to tell them anything," he said. "They're intelligent enough."

After exams and Christmas, the Engineers travel to the Ohio State Tournament on Dec. 29-30, where they'll meet No. 2-ranked Miami in the first round.

Obviously, the Engineers will have to play much better than they did on Saturday night to have a shot at knocking off the 12-2-2 Red Hawks.

"Well, that speaks for itself," Fridgen said. "They're sitting at second in the nation and I think we will (play better). We'll take something from this game tonight, not just the 'W'."

Eizenman brilliant: Kevin Croxton, as he's often done for better than three seasons, led the RPI attack with three goals and three assists. His centerman, Oren Eizenman, made great plays on the game's two prettiest goals.

With the Engineers trailing 3-2 with 5:53 gone in the second period, Eizenman was behind the RPI net, from where he fired a laser beam headman pass to Croxton right at the RIT blue line.

Croxton, with a half step on the Tigers' defenseman, deked down RIT goalie Louie Menard and flipped the puck past him.

"Unbelievable," Croxton said of Eizenman's pass. "It's so fun to play with him."

With the Engineers clinging to an 8-7 lead midway through the third period, Eizenman took the puck from near the left corner, sped to the net and after a couple nifty moves, slipped the puck between Menard's legs.

"That's a move I developed working at goalie schools," the Toronto native said. "It's one of those drills you never think you can score on but actually there are a couple little openings, so I just walked it out in front of the net, kind of pulled him over a little bit and slid it between his legs."

Eizenman changed from forehand to backhand several times; he couldn't remember how many.

"I went back and forth once or twice," he said. "I don't really know what I did. I was just trying to put it in the net and it went in."

Croxton outstanding: While not as flashy as Eizenman, or as quick, Croxton is regarded as the Engineers' top playmaker.

"Crox had (not only) a hat trick," Fridgen said, "I thought he did a great job in getting the momentum going back our way at times when it was taken away from us. I don't think I've been involved in a game with so many momentum switches throughout the course of the game."

Puzzling: While teams want to play their best hockey within their league schedule, but Rensselaer has some head-scratching numbers in the GA column.

After permitting just a total of 11 goals in six ECAC Hockey League games, including dates with high-scoring Colgate, Clarkson and Quinnipiac, the Engineers have permitted a total of 16 goals in three games against Sacred Heart and Holy Cross, as well as first-year Division I entrant RIT.

Rensselaer senior defenseman and tri-captain Brad Farynuk is as perplexed as any, though he didn't address the fact that those three teams are in the partial-scholarship, lower tier of Division I hockey.

"I can't really look at anybody being lower-level, especially in college hockey right now," he said. "Tonight we had an independent team (RIT) and in couple weeks, we'll be playing the No. 2 in the nation.

"It really comes down to who plays their game that night and who plays aggressive and who plays for 60 minutes," Farynuk said. "It's just who comes to play and who's consistent with their work ethic and bringing 60 minutes a night."

NOTES: Dan Peace's third-period goal means every RPI skater has at least one point (goalie Mathias Lange also has one assist). ... Eizenman's scoring streak is at 15 games, during which time he has 24 points (11-13-24). He has scored in 16 of the Engineers' 17 games. ... Croxton's hat trick was RPI's first since Nick Economakos had one last Feb. 5 against Holy Cross and the 10 goals marked the first time the Engineers hit double figures since a 10-2 triumph over Holy Cross on Nov. 2, 1999. ... Eizenman, Croxton and former Miami U. recruit Jonathan Ornelas each has 11 goals. The other 14 RPI forwards have combined for 19, five by senior Hussey.