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Engineers Swept by Pac Men

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, March 5, 2006

TROY - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute got lucky bounces for two goals on Saturday night.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the Engineers' lucky night. Those two tallies were all that they could produce and it wasn't nearly enough, as Quinnipiac turned several RPI miscues into goals and ended the Engineers' season with a 4-2 victory.

A stunned Houston Field House saw the Engineers, after taking the lead 41 seconds into the game, put forth a sporadic effort again.

Facing elimination from the ECAC Hockey League playoffs, the Engineers needing a 60-minute effort and fell short in that regard, falling two goals behind after one period for the second straight night.

They seemed tentative and even disillusioned after Quinnipiac took the lead midway through the opening period. They finish the injury-plagued but still underachieving season with just 14 wins in 37 games (14-17-6).

The defeat marks the first time since 1998 that the Engineers lost a playoff series at home to a lower-seeded opponent.

"I though we laid it on the line," said RPI head coach Dan Fridgen. "None of the guys left anything in the lockerroom, they left it all out there on the ice. It seemed when we made a mistake, we paid for that mistake. I thought we started off well, but again, they capitalized on our breakdowns."

Rensselaer junior winger Kevin Broad returned from an abdominal injury after missing 13 games. His shot with 4:37 remaining in the second period went off the glove of Bobcats defenseman Matt Sorteberg, a few feet away, confused Q-pac goalie Bud Fisher and flicked off his glove and into the net.

"I'd trade it for a few others to any of the guys in this room," Broad said, wishing for seniors such as Kevin Croxton, Brad Farynuk, Keith MCWilliams, etc., that the team could have just had a shot at overtime.

"We had all the momentum after (Broad's) goal," Fridgen said. "I thought, 'here we go', I felt good on the bench, I think the guys felt real good. And then..."

And then it was gone.

Just 1:28 later, Quinnipiac fourth-liner John Kelly lifted the stick of RPI defenseman Reed Kipp as the puck was approaching him, swept the puck away and beat Engineers goalie Mathias Lange with a 20-foot blast.

Fisher had made two big saves on Croxton about 1:30 before Broad's goal but the Engineers just didn't create enough quality chances. And Quinnipiac scored its seventh and eighth power-play goals against RPI this season, as the Bobcats' special teams were superior for the third straight meeting of the teams.

Forty minutes after the game's end, every RPI player was still in full pads and uniform - and tears flowed.

"Obviously, it's a big shocker," said Farynuk, a tri-captain. "It's over but you have to somehow sum up your four years, put it into perspective and realize how hard you worked. I told these guys how proud I was of them, especially to be their captain."

Croxton assisted on Eizenman's goal and finished his career with 143 points (57-86-143), tied for 19th in assists on RPI's all-time career list and 24th in points.

"I haven't cried once since we got in here," said tri-captain Croxton, who hugged every one of his teammates.

"Sure it's disappointing, but I didn't leave anything and I don't have any regrets. None whatsoever."