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No-goal Is Costly for RPI

Engineers Finish 7th, Host Quinnipiac in Playoffs

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, February 26, 2006

TROY - RPI will be home to 10th-seeded Quinnipiac next weekend in the first round of the ECAC Hockey League playoffs, in part because of an apparent third-period goal that none of the three officials nor the goal judge ever saw.

A long drive by defenseman Keith MCWilliams 8:10 into the final period appeared to quickly carom off the back of the net and go out, but the red light never went on and referee Alex Dell did not see it cross the goal line.

As a result of the subsequent 2-1 loss to Colgate, RPI will finish in seventh place instead of possibly sixth in the final standings had the game ended in a tie or an Engineers' victory.

"It went in off my shaft, standing in front," said RPI captain Kevin Croxton. "Ask the video guys; they've got it on tape. That's all I can say, really. They didn't call it a goal, so you can't worry about it. The game's over."

Playing for a share of the league's regular-season championship, Colgate (18-10-6, 14-6-2 ECAC) had taken a 2-1 lead on its second power-play goal of the game -- another controversial moment when the puck went into the net off the skate of forward Jesse Winchester at 6:19 of the final period.

"You could say they stole one," said RPI coach Dan Fridgen, whose team is winless (0-8-1) in its past nine games against his alma mater. "There was no phantom about it," he said when asked about RPI's non-goal. "There was no question about it whatsoever."

As for the game winner, Fridgen was advised by Dell that Winchester did not attempt to use a kicking motion on the long pass from Kyle Wilson that went in off his skate at the left post. According to the rules, a goal can be scored off a skate as long as there is no intentional effort to move it ahead with such a motion.

The Engineers should have been kicking themselves after a second period in which they outshot Colgate 19-2 and came away only with a 1-1 tie with both goals on power plays. Defenseman Brad Farynuk scored from long range on a 5-on-3 advantage at 6:34, but Colgate answered at 16:29 when Ryan Smyth took a pass from Peter Bogdanich behind the net and beat Mathias Lange outside the right post.

"(Goalie) Mark Dekanich was our best player tonight," said Colgate coach Don Vaughan, who admitted he didn't know whether RPI had scored or not and said he believed Colgate's goal went in off Winchester's stick. "It's a crazy game. Sometimes the puck bounces your way; sometimes it doesn't. We found a way to win."

Colgate will finish as co-champions, but as second seed in the playoffs, and gets a first-round bye. RPI (14-15-6, 8-8-6) would have faced Yale by finishing sixth.

"Their goaltender bailed them out big-time," Fridgen said of Dekanich, who had 35 saves. "It's just one of those things where it escapes four sets of eyes. It's a shame because we certainly earned it."

Notes: Seniors Croxton, Chris Hussey, MCWilliams, Scott Romfo, Farynuk, Alexander Valentin and Mark Yurkewecz of Troy were honored before the game. ... Croxton played in his 145th career game, an all-time RPI record, despite missing six games this season with a foot injury. ... Playoff tickets are on sale at the Houston Field House box office (276-6262).