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Engineers Think Positive, Stop Skid

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, December 18, 2006

TROY - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute had a two-goal lead midway through the third period on Saturday night.

Then UMass-Lowell's Nick Monroe scored to make the score 2-1 with 10:15 remaining.

Rensselaer assistant captain Kevin Broad admitted to thinking the Engineers might be about to blow another two-goal lead, for the third time in five games, for the sixth time this season (three times they were three-goal leads).

"Yeah, that crosses your mind," Broad says. "But you have to put it out of your head right away. You've got to be confident in Langer (goalie Mathias Lange) in the pipes, he's kicking it (scoring chances) away and confident in the guy sitting next to you on the bench and those out there on the ice with you that we're going to get the job done."

In addition to again playing without top forwards Kirk MacDonald and Oren Eizenman and veteran checking forward Tyler Eaves, regular defenseman Christian Jensen was sidelined by illness.

The Engineers weren't outstanding but they did rise up to take control of the game early and with Mathias Lange's goaltending, that was enough to end a seven-game winless streak (0-4-3).

"Tonight was a great example of how things have been around here," Broad said. "Guys are battling hard, we're short on bodies. They took it to us in the second part of the game but we hand enough; a win's a win."

Broad also said, "coach (Seth) Appert did a really good job calling a timeout (shortly after Monroe's goal) and settling us down and just letting us know to stay calm, make plays, do what we were doing and have faith and trust in the guy next to you and that we'll come out of here with a win."

"We had some good players out," Appert said, "and some other guys mentally worn down by (final) exams. So, to dig down and find a way to pull out that game with all those guys, especially without Kirk and Oren, is great, and great for the guys' confidence as well."

The Engineers got some breaks, though, on two Grade-A+ scoring chances by Lowell.

Midway through the second period, left winger Ian Schaser had two-thirds of the net to shoot at on a 10-foot rebound, but shot wide.

With about five minutes remaining, the River Hawks' Todd Fletcher wheeled around in for a short sweep shot - with Lange somewhat out of position - but the puck slipped off his stick as he did so.

Lange said the River Hawks had the puck deep in the RPI zone numerous times after Monroe's goal, but that he never lost sight of the puck, that his backcheckers did a good job tying up sticks and Lowell never came real close to tying the game.

"It's only a matter of time until those bounces go your way," Lange said, noting that some huge goals against have gone off RPI players this year. "We needed a win and it was good those bounces didn't go against us."

First for Cyr: Jordan Cyr scored his first collegiate goal on Dec. 9 at Princeton with no local media on hand.

The freshman winger recounted the play.

"I was basically in the corner and I just threw the puck toward the net," he said. "Coach Appert had been preaching earlier, just throw it at the net, at the goalie (Zane Kalemba), he's a freshman, weird-angle bounces may go in, or they may land right in front of the net."

"So, I tried one," the Winnipeg native said, "and luckily it ended up in the net. I think it hit off his outside pad."

The goal gave the Engineers a short-lived 2-1 lead and Cyr was excited.

"Yeah, it felt real good at the time because we were up 2-1 but it didn't last long," he said. "Few minutes later, we were behind. It's a team game and I'd gladly throw it back if we could have won."

Classy River Hawks: UMass-Lowell players showed a bit of class just prior to Saturday night's game.

After the Rensselaer band played 'O Canada!', a young girl sang the Star-Spangled Banner to honor her dad on his birthday - without any instrumental accompaniment.

The young lady was so nervous, she forgot the words at the beginning of the second verse and had to refer to a lyrics sheet and didn't hit the right octave until well into the anthem.

By the time she settled down, though, she did quite well and the Lowell players, lined up at the same end of the rink as the young singer, let her know with some energetic stick-banging.

Here were the River Hawks, winless in five weeks, nine games, playing their second non-league road game in two nights, making that gesture - and having the wherewithal to do so.

Players on both teams always smack their sticks on the ice after the anthems before skating to the bench or the faceoff circle but the Lowell players put a little extra into theirs.

It was a classy move - and appreciated.

ECACHL still has edge: While Union and Rensselaer were sweeping struggling Lowell over the weekend, Vermont (RPI's next opponent) was putting a 4-0 pasting on St. Lawrence. That gave the Saints an 0-3-1 record vs. Hockey East teams.

Overall, though, the ECAC Hockey League still has an edge against Hockey East - 9-8-4. Rensselaer is 2-0-1 against HE, Union 2-1-0.