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'Freakout' Streak Continues

In Past 16 Editions, RPI Remains Unbeaten

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, February 12, 2006

TROY - They call it the "Big Red Freakout," and it's no place for opponents to venture expecting to leave with a smile on their faces -- especially the Brown University hockey team.RPI whipped the Bears 4-2 Saturday night to go 8-0 against Brown on "Freakout" night and extend its record to 12-0-4 in the past 16 editions of this once-a-season spectacle in front of a standing-room only crowd of 5,317 at Houston Field House. Only the 5,506 that attended in 1985 surpassed this crowd of red-clad "freaks."

"It was certainly a weekend we needed to get in the bank, considering the way things are," said RPI coach Dan Fridgen, whose club swept a weekend series for the first time since Nov. 11-12. "We've been fighting the injury bug, and you take the cards that you're dealt. Now that we're starting to get some bodies back, and throughout this whole situation we still have some guys to get back into the lineup."

The Engineers (13-14-4, 7-7-4 ECACHL) took a 3-1 lead at 8:33 of the second period when Andrew Lord's long wrister went in off the glove of freshman goaltender Mark Sibbald, but Matt Vokes scored with a minute left in the game to make it interesting before Kurt Colling ended the suspense with an empty-net goal 18 seconds later.

RPI earlier had to stave off a 5-on-3 power play for 25 seconds after a five-minute major that extended into the third period when Dan Peace hit Brown's David Robertson from behind. Robertson left for the night at 16:37 and Peace will sit out RPI's next game after receiving a game disqualification, but that was the extent of the damage.

RPI took a 1-0 lead at 9:58 of the first period when captain Kevin Croxton made a nifty move across the slot and beat Sibbald on the short side with only two seconds left on a power play.

Brown's Jeff Prough tied the score at 13:53 on a 4-on-3 power play when his shot from the left circle caromed in off defenseman Ryan Swanson past goalie Mathias Lange. RPI regained the lead at 14:30 on a delayed penalty when Swanson scored his first career goal in 42 games on a drive from the right circle that also appeared to be deflected.

"That ended the longest scoring drought of my career," said Swanson, who also assisted on Lord's game winner.

Croxton's goal was his first since recording a hat trick here on Dec. 20 before a foot injury sidelined him for six games.

"It felt great," said the senior forward after his 12th of the season. "It's good to get the win, too. The four points this weekend is huge."

RPI is alone in seventh place with four games to play. Brown fell to 3-16-6 and 2-12-4. Notes: Former RPI All-American Matt Murley was here for the weekend games along with a large contingent of alumni introduced after the first period. Murley, a Troy native, had six points (1-5) for the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins before being sidelined with a left-shoulder injury last month. He is slated for surgery next week. ... Also on hand this weekend was RPI "Ring of Honor" member Joe Juneau, whose jersey was recently retired. He played in 828 NHL games.