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RPI Defeats Harvard

Engineers End Losing Skid with Victory over Top Team

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, January 8, 2006

TROY - Harvard came to the Capital Region leading the ECAC Hockey League this weekend, but the Crimson went back to Cambridge with only a single point.

The RPI Engineers opened a three-goal lead and hung on for a 3-2 victory Saturday night, roughly 24 hours after Harvard was fortunate to eke out a 1-1 tie at Union College.

"We had to win this game," said RPI goaltender Mathias Lange, a freshman who stepped up with one of his best games of the season after RPI lost its senior leader, Kevin Croxton, for the second half of the game after being struck on the ankle by a shot. "It was not going to be easy; we knew that."

It seemed relatively easy for the first 56 minutes, but then Harvard stormed the RPI net and scrapped for goals by Dylan Reese and Alex Meintel within 2:29 to turn the game into a thriller for the 2,957 anxious fans who were looking for a shutout moments earlier. Freshman Jake Morissette's power-play score at 15:10 of the third looked like an insurance goal, but it turned into the game-winner.

"It didn't really enter my mind," Morissette said when asked if he was surprised by that development. "We seemed to stick to our game plan for the most part for the first 55 minutes, and then once we got away from it, that's when they started getting some chances. They were coming hard."

The Engineers broke loose for a pair of goals in the middle stanza, the first coming on a power play when defenseman Keith MCWilliams sent a wrister from between the circles that eluded goalie John Daigneau at 9:45.

Playing most of the second period without Croxton, whose high-scoring line was broken up for the first time by coach Dan Fridgen because of a scoring slump, RPI still managed to double the advantage when Croxton's new linemate Kevin Broad skated through the slot and beat Daigneau to the far side at 16:04.

Lange was brilliant protecting the lead, making a big glove save on Mike Taylor at 17:41 of the second. Then, he turned away three shorthanded attempts by the Crimson in the first two minutes of the third period with RPI still up 2-0.

"I thought that the right wingers - Andrew Lord, Chris Hussey and Morissette - did a great job rotating through after Croxy went down on that blocked shot," Fridgen said. "I thought Jake scored a real big goal."

The victory ended a three-game losing streak for RPI (9-9-3, 3-2-3 ECACHL). Harvard is 10-7-2 overall and 7-6-1 in the league.

Croxton, RPI's leading scorer, was on crutches and didn't see any of the third period.

"I'm fine," Croxton said. "It's probably just a bone bruise. I'll get it checked out on Monday. It was just good to get some goals and then hold them off in the end."

RPI had scored only one goal in each of its past three league games. Lange stopped 30 shots and the Engineers turned away all five Harvard power plays.