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Makeshift Lineup a Winner for RPI

Despite Depleted Roster, Engineers Beat Clarkson

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, January 15, 2006

TROY - If there happens to be a turning point in RPI's hockey season, it probably came Saturday night when there seemed to be as many crutches as hockey sticks in the locker room after a battle with archrival Clarkson.

The Engineers faced the nationally ranked Golden Knights with a lineup decimated by injuries and further depleted in the game. But they outhustled, outscrapped and ultimately outscored Clarkson 4-3 in front of a fired-up crowd of 4,267 in an important ECAC Hockey League game at Houston Field House.

Playing without leading scorer Kevin Croxton (ankle bruise) and top defensemen Brad Farynuk (broken foot) and Alexander Valentin (knee surgery), RPI lost two more starters when forward Tyler Eaves went out in the first period and Kevin Broad exited in the second with injuries. The remaining players never lost their focus.

"We were already playing short, and it just kept going on and on and on," said RPI coach Dan Fridgen, who admitted he spent so much time juggling players and lines that he saw little of the game. "We had some guys step up tonight and pick up the slack for guys that were injured. We were left playing with four 'D' and nine forwards up front. All in all, I thought it was a great team win, and the guys should feel really proud of themselves."

The Engineers did all their damage in the second period after trailing 1-0, then held off a third-period rally on goals by David Cayer and Mike Sullivan less than two minutes apart for the Knights (12-8-2, 5-4-1 ECACHL).

Defenseman Keith MCWilliams, who has points in six of his past seven games, got it started with a long, high drive at 5:10. Dan Peace got the eventual game-winner on a 2-on-1 break on a power play at 11:43 off an outlet pass from freshman Kurt Colling, who would score himself less than three minutes later. Freshman defenseman Reed Kipp's long drive made it 4-1 at 19:17 on a 4-on-3 power play.

RPI (10-10-3, 4-3-3) had four power-play opportunities in the first period, but Clarkson got on the scoreboard first with an even-strength goal by Nick Dodge, who had a role in all three Clarkson goals.

"It was great," said Colling, who had the first two-point game of his young career. "There was a lot of heart and soul in the stands, and we just tried to match what those people bring to the table every time we play."