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Things Turn Out Quite Weller for Clarkson

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, January 20, 2007

TROY - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's three-year unbeaten streak vs. rival Clarkson is over.

Golden Knights left winger and South Glens Falls native Shawn Weller pretty much saw to it himself on Friday night.

Weller scored what was officially the game-winning goal and assisted on all three others to ignite the Golden Knights to a 4-1 victory before a Houston Field House crowd of 4,626. Rensselaer had been 5-0-1 in the previous six meetings of the teams.

Clarkson goalie David Leggio stopped 30 shots.

Weller's beautiful, two-line headman pass to linemate Steve Zalewski led to a breakaway late in the second period.

Rensselaer goalie Jordan Alford stopped Zalewski's wrist shot but couldn't contain it and the junior center whacked it into the net from about three feet off the ground.

Other than that, one previous rebound that Alford didn't see, one quick turn of the head by an Engineers defender and the lack of a lucky bounce combined to thwart RPI's bid for an upset of the nation's 10th-ranked team.

Clarkson, owner of the nation's longest unbeaten streak at 10 games (8-0-2), stayed near the top of the ECAC Hockey League at 6-2-2 and improved to 14-5-3 overall.

The Engineers, winner of only two of their past 15 games (2-10-3), dropped to 2-6-3 in league play and 6-11-6 overall.

Despite the two months worth of losing, the Engineers came out fierce, held the talented Golden Knights to one shot on goal in the first period, outplayed them for much of the game and outshot them, 31-25.

"But they finished better," RPI head coach Seth Appert said of the Knights.

"I'm extremely pleased with how our team played," Appert said. "That might be the best offensive team in our league, we held them to one shot in the first period, we limited their offensive opportunities throughout the game and continued to create 2-on-1s."

"I'm pleased in our performance, our execution and our intensity," Appert said. "The only thing they did better was their finishing ability."

Weller said Clarkson seniors had mentioned the victory drought against RPI but he was on "no big motivation" Friday night.

"They caught us off guard," Weller said of the first period. "We stayed poised and got the job done, though."

On a Clarkson power play, Weller fired a blast from the mid slot that Alford couldn't hold and the puck bounced right to Nick Dodge at the left of the crease and the junior center slid the rebound between Alford and the left post at 4:08 of the second period.

Shortly after the ensuing faceoff, Weller fired home a left-to-right rebound from 15 feet on which Alford had no chance.

All of a sudden, the Engineers had outshot the Knights 9-4 but trailed 2-0 at 4:25 of the second.

Given the lack of production the RPI offense has generated of late, that seemed like a mountain of a deficit.

The Engineers soon regained command and pulled within 2-1 when Oren Eizenman took a Christian Jensen pass from the point behind the net, came around the left side and, while being checked, beat Leggio to the far side at 14:21 of the second period.

The Engineers kept control of the play for the next few minutes, before Weller sent Zalewski away.

Leggio made a big pad save on Jonathan Ornelas' steal-and-breakaway with 11:05 remaining in the second period.

"I had low blocker and I didn't shoot it where I wanted; the puck was bouncing on me a little bit," Ornelas said. "Bad break."

With 1:50 remaining in the first period, Zalewski saved a goal, blocking Kirk MacDonald's wraparound try while Leggio was not yet in position to close off the left goalpost.

"Yeah, it's probably a different ballgame and hey, if I score when I beat the 'D' man wide (midway through the second), it's 2-2," MacDonald said.

Midway through the third, Leggio got a pad on a hard blast by Seth Klerer and picked away Jake Morissette's bid on the rebound.

"There's no (moral) victory for us," Eizenman said. "We feel we can beat any team and when we don't, it's disappointing."