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Cornell Crushes Fumbling Engineers

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 11, 2007

TROY - Putting victories together continues to be a major chore for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The Engineers on Saturday night were unable to generate much momentum from Friday night's overtime victory over Colgate, played well only in spurts and only after falling way behind and absorbed a deserved 6-1 pounding by Cornell.

The Engineers, seemingly suffering from a letdown after Matt Angers-Goulet's overtime goal produced a much-needed victory one night earlier, showed little of the fire, drive and resolve that produced that comeback.

Saturday night, the Engineers were out of step, out of sync and out of position of Cornell's first two goals.

Then a fumbled pass - one of many on the night - led to Mark McCutcheon's shorthanded, breakaway goal and the Engineers trailed 3-0 with 1:01 remaining in the first period.

Paul Kerins answered with a shorthanded goal for RPI during the second period but this one was all-Cornell, all the way.

Don't get the idea that Cornell just stood around and jumped on RPI mistakes - which were many. The Big Red blew a 3-1 lead and gave away a point in a 3-3 tie at Union Friday night. They bounced back impressively, coming out focused, fierce and physical and played a near flawless game.

Left winger Colin Greening scored a pair of Cornell goals, while fellow freshman Tony Romano and senior captain Byron Bitz each added one goal and one assist. Freshman Blake Gallagher assisted three times.

"We got beat tonight by a bigger, stronger, faster team that came out with more mental fortitude and intensity," said RPI coach Seth Appert.

The loss drops the Engineers to 4-9-4 in the ECAC Hockey League and though they remain in ninth place, they now trail eighth-place Princeton (7-9-2) by two points and the Tigers possess the tie-breaker over RPI.

The No. 8 team gets the final home ice berth in the preliminary round of the league playoffs next month.

With the victory, the 20th-ranked Big Red (8-6-4, 12-9-4) shot back into fourth place in the ECACHL. The top four finishers receive byes into the quarterfinals.

When Rensselaer played at Cornell on Dec. 1, the Engineers jumped to a 3-0, first-period lead but then spent most of the rest of the game killing penalties and that fact was a major factor in Cornell roaring back for a 3-3 tie.

The 9-14-7 Engineers were grossly unable to turn the tables on Saturday night.

"They came out with a mental intensity to get pucks in (deep) on us, run us, be physical to us and take pucks to the net - which we knew they would, nothing surprised us - but we weren't ready to answer that."

Bitz said the Big Red "wanted to get the lead early again (as they did at Union) and then play a more complete game for 60 minutes."

They certainly did.

Appert didn't believe that the Engineers suffered from any emotional letdown from Friday night's high.

"I don't think," he said. "Nope. I think it's more attributable to Cornell's intensity and our inability to respond to that."

Some Engineers disagreed.

"I think we may have gotten a little too high (Friday) night," Kerins said. "That's something we've got to learn to deal with. It was a big win for us and to come out like that (Saturday) night was a big lesson we learned."

Assistant captain Kevin Broad echoed Kerins, saying, "maybe we got a little too high. Maybe we thought (good) things were just going to happen tonight instead of going out there and making it happen."

Kerins gave the crowd of 4.448 something to cheer about when he took a lead pass from Andrew Lord, maneuvered around a defenseman, went to his forehand to the right of Cornell goalie Troy Davenport, and reached back to slip the puck around him with a backhander.

"You try to draw him over a little bit and bring it back," Kerins said. "It feels good to score goals but it's never really satisfying when you don't come out with a win."