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Goalies Dominant As Rivals Draw

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 5, 2006

TROY - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute desperately needed a victory on Saturday night.

Kris Mayotte wouldn't permit it, though.

Union's senior goaltender made a number of dazzling, game-saving stops and the Dutchmen held the slumping Engineers to a 1-1 tie.

Mayotte and RPI freshman netminder Mathias Lange turned in a crowd-pleasing exhibition of stellar goaltending before a Houston Field House crowd of 4,296.

It marked the second time in Union's hockey history the Dutchmen have won the season series against RPI for two straight seasons. The Engineers have won only five of the past 14 meetings (5-5-4) with the Dutchmen.

The good news for the Engineers is that their four-game losing streak is over. The bad news, other than their non-winning streak expands to five games, is that they continue to struggle to score goals. At 5-7-4, they remain in eighth place in the 12-team ECAC Hockey League. Both they and 6-8-2 Yale have 14 points, but the Bulldogs have the tie-breaker over RPI.

While the Engineers certainly could have won the game, only a fine outstanding play by RPI junior right winger Andrew Lord prevented defeat, as things turned out.

After the Engineers were unable to generate any scoring chances to speak of, Lord raced toward a loose puck in the neutral zone, grabbed it, stepped around a defender and blasted one past Mayotte at 5:034 of the second period.

Union freshman defenseman Lane Caffaro tied it 2:44 later, though, and both goalies stoned any remaining chances.

"That was a great, great college hockey game," Union coach Nate Leaman said. "I've only been in this rivalry for three years but that's by far the best game of the six we've played. I thought big players on both teams were making plays. That's what I was happiest with and that's what I told the players."

"That was a real battle," echoed RPI coach Dan Fridgen. "Both (goalies) played extremely well."

The 13-11-6 Dutchmen held onto sixth place at 6-6-4 and are just three points out of fourth place.

Rensselaer injured star right winger Kevin Croxton played on his severely sore ankle for a second straight night but he's still not able to use all his skills.

"Hopefully, it'll be all right by (next) weekend," Croxton said.

Among many fine scoring chances on both sides, Engineers freshman left winger Kurt Colling had a great scoring chance with 2:25 remaining in the first period, as a rebound came to his forehand 10 feet from the crease and Mayotte still on the other side of the net. By the time he reeled in the bouncing puck, Mayotte was sliding through the crease and got enough on the puck to steer it aside.

"For sure, that's supposed to be a goal," Colling said. "It was bouncing a little too much. Then when I did get it, I waited a bit too long ... and I should have lifted it a little bit. That was kind of the game right there for us."

Oren Eizenman also had several big chances throughout the game, including a rebound on which Mayotte robbed him from just outside the crease 1:49 into the third period.

Caffaro's goal came on a 2-on-2 and RPI winger Jonathan Ornelas was right with Caffaro to Lange's left. Ornelas didn't see Augie DeMarzo's backhand pass from the left sideboards coming, though, and Caffaro one-timed it over Lange's shoulder.

"I could see it coming but he had his back toward the puck and was watching me," Caffaro said. "So, I was hoping he wouldn't turn around."

"I definitely didn't know (the pass was coming)," Ornelas said. "I didn't think (DeMarzo) was going to be able to get the pass across, so I was just going to my guy. At the last second, I saw him wind up, so I went for his stick. It went off my shin pad and I guess (that) didn't help Matty (Lange) too much."

"Big mistake on my part, one I wish I could have back," Ornelas said.