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Can Engineers Fill Yale Net?

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 10, 2006

TROY - When a college hockey team gets shut out by the team leading the league in goals permitted, well, revenge may be sought the next time the two teams meet, especially if the team doing the shutting out has a worse record than the team being blanked.

That's the case for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute tonight but the big question is, 'can the Engineers' offense get enough goals to avenge their 5-0 loss at Yale three weeks ago?

The 7 p.m. contest between the two teams bunched right beside each other in the middle of the ECAC Hockey League standings - the Engineers are eighth at 5-7-4, Yale is seventh (by tie-breaker) at 6-8-2 - kicks off a Big Red Freakout! weekend at Houston Field House.

Saturday night at 7, last-place Brown (2-10-4, 3-14-6) hits the Houston ice, marking the third time in four years the Bears have provided the Big Red Freakout! opposition.

Yale's 0-6-0 (all league games) start to the season is a faded memory and the Bulldogs were flying high when they whipped the Engineers, 5-0 on Jan. 21. Their overall record may be a mediocre 8-12-3 but the Bulldogs are the No. 3 scoring team in the ECACHL.

"Big time (revenge)," said sophomore left winger Jonathan Ornelas. "Not only because they beat us 5-0 but because the standings show it's (tonight) a big game."

"They did beat us pretty good there," RPI junior right winger Andrew Lord said when asked about revenge. "They had a lot of momentum. We definitely didn't come out very well in the first (period). But that was a while ago."

The 11-14-4 Engineers, 0-4-1 in their past five games, are certainly healthier now, with leading scorer Kevin Croxton (11-20-31) back in the lineup and senior defenseman and tri-captain Brad Farynuk expected to return tonight.

What made the loss even tougher to take was the fact that Yale allows the most goals in the ECACHL, permitting four or more 11 times.

Can the RPI attack handle a high-scoring game?

"For sure," says Ornelas, RPI's goals leader with 13. "Last couple of games haven't been going our way. But we're over that ... (no) more excuses. It's time to get down to business."

Lord says it's a matter of efficiency.

"We're close," he said. "We had quite a few chances against Union (last week), both games. We just have to put them in. We start putting in a few, we'll be fine."

Both 11th-place Quinnipiac and Princeton, which moved from 10th to ninth, went 2-0-0 last week, giving each six ECACHL victories. That means only last-place Brown has fewer wins than 5-7-4 RPI.

'Why us?': The Brown Bears could be forgiven if they were to ask that question, given that RPI is 11-0-4 on the past 15 Freakout! games and the Bears are 0-7-0 all time on Freakout! night.

Since sweeping Clarkson and St. Lawrence in the second week of their season, the Bears' only victory in 19 games (1-12-6) was over UConn.

They've been more competitive with a tightened defense lately, though, allowing two or fewer goals in six of their past 13 games, going 1-2-3 in those games.