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Engineers Send Big Red Tumbling

Streaking RPI Scores Two First-period Goals En Route to Upset of No. 7 Cornell

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 25, 2006

TROY - Seems the only way for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to beat Cornell in recent seasons is to shut out the Big Red.

Freshman goalie Mathias Lange and the Engineers did so on Friday night, ending a five-game home ice losing streak to the seventh-ranked Big Red and knocking them not only from first place - but all the way to third - with a 2-0 decision.

The Engineers got spectacular goals by Oren Eizenman and Kevin Croxton - the 14th for each - rode a 30-minute wave of Cornell pressure and increased their unbeaten string to six games (3-0-3).

Lange was a pillar in goal with 34 saves and withstood continued pressure, as the Engineers lost 18 of 20 defensive-zone faceoffs during one stretch.

Rensselaer's only other victory in its 12 previous meetings with the Big Red was a 2-0 blanking at Lynah Rink two years ago.

The seventh-place Engineers, 8-7-6 in league play for 22 points, can move into sixth place tonight if they beat new co-leader Colgate (13-6-2, 17-10-6) and Union (9-8-4, 22) doesn't beat Cornell, or if RPI ties and Union is beaten.

The sixth-place Dutchmen have the tie-breaker over RPI.

"It was a real good win and fine team defensive effort right from Mathias on out to the defense and the forwards," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said.

Prior to Friday night, Rensselaer (14-14-6 overall) had a 1-6-3 record against the six teams ahead of them in the standings, so the victory can be a big builder.

"It's huge," said co-captain Brad Farynuk. "When you hit the playoffs, it's the teams that are rolling at that time are the ones that will do well."

"Yeah, and because they (Cornell) played well, too," Croxton said. "It sends a message."

Eizenman gave the Engineers a 1-0 lead with a 'worth the price' goal with 3:19 remaining in the first period.

The junior center picked up a loose puck at center ice, cut around one CU defender at the blue line, cut into the left circle, put the puck behind his back and between his own legs to get by another Big Red player, wrapped the puck around a third as he sidestepped him, faked Cornell goalie David McKee with a forehand shot and slipped a backhander between his legs.

"I don't know," Eizenman said. "It just came naturally. I have no idea what happened. It's kind of a weird play. I pulled it back through my legs. And you flip your stick over and drag it with the backhand."

"It's something you expect from Croxy more then me," he said.

With 1:42 remaining in the period, freshman left winger Kurt Colling passed behind his back from the left crease area to Croxton breaking down the right slot and the slender right winger buried the 57th goal of his career, beating McKee high as he leaped over from the other side of the crease.

"Unbelievable ... one of the nicest feeds I've had," Croxton said of Colling's pass. "It was easy to put that one in. And he had a couple guys on him. It was eyes in the back of his head. He's got great hockey sense and it's nice to play with him."

"I kind of knew he was in the area," Colling said of Croxton. "He's one of those guys who are in the scoring area when the puck's around the net. So I just threw it out there and sure enough, he was there."

Lange denied Daniel Pegararo's deflection try from the left crease early in the second period, then stonewalled Cam Abbott's point-blank range shot later in the period and chested Topher Scott's tricky, backhand rebound try 7:17 into the third.

Lange, who lost shutout bids late in games against Brown and Yale, said blanking the Big Red (12-6-3, 17-7-4) and sending them tumbling in the standings "feels great."

"It's really nice for myself to hold on to the shutout," he said.

The repeated faceoffs in front of them didn't start to affect him, he said.

"No, I've got to play every faceoff the same, anyway," he said.

Despite the fact that the Engineers believe they should have won both their 4-4 ties last week at Princeton and Quinnipiac, Eizenman said, "we hope we're peaking at the right time."