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Bobcats Hold Off Engineers

By Phil Janack

Schenectady Daily gazette, March 4, 2006

TROY - RPI allowed as many goals in the first 4 1 /2 minutes Friday night as it did in last weekend's split with a pair of irstplace teams.

It turned out to be enough for visiting Quinnipiac, who got 28 saves from freshman Bud Fisher and held off the Engineers, 2-1, in their ECACHL first-round playoff opener.

Sophomore Jamie Bates and freshman David Marshall scored for the Bobcats (18-16-1), who can wrap up the best-of-three series with a victory in tonight's rematch. RPI (14-16-6) must win to force a decisive third game Sunday night.

"We're at home. It's the playoffs. There's no excuse for it," Engineers coach Dan Fridgen said. "We didn't even get going when we got behind, 2-0. In playoff games, you can't have that happen."

The Engineers haven't won a first-round playoff series after dropping the opener since beating Harvard, 2-1, in 1998-99. They were swept by Dartmouth in 2000-01 and Brown last season.

"It was a big wakeup call," senior captain Brad Farynuk said. "It's unfortunate we had to learn it this way, but it's desperation hockey now. If we don't show up [tonight], you're packing up and going home."

It wasn't until the third period that RPI rediscovered its game, getting its only goal from junior center Oren Eizenman at 2:58, seven seconds after its fourth power play expired.

"I don't know what we were thinking to start the game," Eizenman said. "They came out and just outworked us. When a visiting team comes into your barn and outworks you, something's wrong. We tried to rectify it in the second and third periods, but it took us too long to get going."

An opportunistic Quinnipiac offense struck quickly, scoring twice on three shots 75 seconds apart before the game was five minutes old.

Bates got the puck near the left hash marks after a turnover along the boards, spun and fired a shot low to the far side for a 1-0 lead at 3:04.

RPI captain Kevin Croxton went off for interference at 4:17, and the Bobcats needed only seven seconds of the ensuing power play to stretch their lead to 2-0.

Mark Agnew won a faceoff clean in the right circle to Reid Cashman at the right point. Cashman caught and dished the puck right away to Marshall, whose sharp-angle shot from the top of the left circle rang off the far post and landed in the net.

It was Marshall's 22nd goal in 35 games this season, the most in the country among Division I freshmen.

"The first goal was huge, but I think the first game was even bigger," Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold said. "We have a lot of freshmen that we play and play a lot, and that goal gave us a lot of jam on the bench and gave us some confidence."

"Certainly, RPI will come at us with the kitchen sink [tonight] and play hard. We're going to need to probably play even better."