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Injury-depleted Engineers Suffer Shutout Loss to Bulldogs

Troy Record, January 23, 2006

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - During their recent rash of injuries, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers were fortunate in that, while they played several nationally-ranked teams, they hadn't run into a hot team.

That wasn't the case on Saturday night.

The Engineers, needing a victory to keep the fourth-best record in the ECAC Hockey League, ran into the hottest team in the league.

The Yale Bulldogs aren't the best team in the league and likely will not finish among the league's Top Four, but to the banged up, outmanned Engineers, they were as dangerous as any team in the league.

The Bulldogs took command from the opening faceoff and handed the Engineers a 5-0 drubbing.

Yale, which was 0-6-0 in ECACHL play in November, pulled even at 6-6-1.

The Engineers had won three of four games since losing leading scorer Kevin Croxton, and two of three since top defenseman Brad Farynuk and forwards Kevin Broad and Tyler Eaves joined Croxton and senior defenseman Alexander Valentin on the injured list.

Included was a 3-1 victory over Brown on Friday night in which the Engineers, while not spectacular, played an efficient game and were fairly solid in all three zones.

Rensselaer appeared to run out of gas Saturday night, though, after three power-play chances in the first period didn't produce a scoring chance.

The second period has clearly been RPI's best this season and Saturday night, the Engineers outshot the Bulldogs, 14-9. Andrew Lord, Chris Hussey, Jonathan Ornelas and Mathieu Angers-Goulet all had fine scoring chances but none could come through.

The Bulldogs seized the momentum back and built a 3-0 lead on goals by Joe Zappala and Jeff Hristovski.

The Engineers couldn't recover and dropped to 5-4-3 in ECAC Hockey League play, 11-11-3. With 13 points, they are in a three-way tie for fifth place in the league with Dartmouth and Yale, though RPI and Dartmouth have a game at hand over the Bulldogs.

Rensselaer coach Dan Fridgen said to have a chance to escape with another victory, the Engineers needed to be focused from start to finish. They weren't.

"They jumped on us right off the bat," Fridgen said of the red-hot Bulldogs. "We never sustained any momentum throughout the course of the game."

Yale, 7-10-2 overall, the league's doormat last season at 3-18-1, began this year by losing their first six ECAC Hockey League games, giving the Bulldogs a 4-33-1 mark in their past 38 ECACHL matchups (playoffs included).

Though Yale did play a scoreless tie with Colgate last season, Saturday's decision marked the Bulldogs' first shutout victory since a 5-0 win over Colgate on Dec. 1, 2001 and their first blanking of RPI since Dec. 9, 1950.

The Engineers, with Farynuk out but hopeful of having at least Croxton back, travel again next weekend for important ECACHL games at Harvard (7-6-1, 10-7-2) and Dartmouth (6-5-1, 8-10-1).