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RPI to Hit Road after Loss

Engineers Go to Colgate for ECACHL's First Round

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, February 25, 2007

TROY - There will be no college playoff hockey in the Capital Region next weekend. Yale saw to that Saturday night at Houston Field House, with a little help from RPI's arch-rival Clarkson.

RPI joined Route 7 foe Union on the road for the ECAC Hockey League's first round by letting its own destiny slip through its gloves in a 4-3 defeat in the regular-season finale.

The Engineers (10-16-8, 6-11-5 ECACHL) finished in a three-way tie for eighth place and still had a chance to get home ice after Colgate lost to Dartmouth. But the Raiders won the second tiebreaker (points against top four teams) when Clarkson beat Quinnipiac to put Cornell into fourth place. Colgate thus had a better record than RPI against the top four bye teams this season and will now host RPI next weekend in a best-of-3 series. RPI and Colgate both had better records than Yale, which also finished with 17 points.

Other first-round matchups have Yale at Harvard, Brown at Princeton and Union at Quinnipiac.

"We had everything in our hands tonight," RPI coach Seth Appert said. "We obviously didn't know that Colgate had lost at that time. But you want to control your own fate, and we didn't do a good enough job of that tonight. So we have to go on the road."

Trailing 4-1 on a goal by Patrick Brosnihan that went in off an RPI defenseman with 3.1 seconds remaining in the second period, the Engineers needed a near-miracle. They got the near part.

Defenseman Jake Luthi's long drive went in over goalie Matt Modelski's shoulder only 16 seconds into the third period. Then fellow defenseman Christian Jensen repeated the feat from even closer to the blue line at 13:09 to make it a one-goal game. Appert pulled goalie Jordan Alford with 1:22 to play, but RPI couldn't tie it.

Defenseman Robert Page scored Yale's third power-play goal of the game from the slot 1:29 into the second period to make it 3-1, then RPI squandered nearly six minutes of power play that included a 5-on-3 for 21 seconds after Modelski stopped Kirk MacDonald on a breakaway.

As was the case on Friday, RPI gave up the first goal only 2:24 into the game. Freshman sensation Sean Backman sent a drive past Mathias Lange from the left circle on Yale's first power play.

RPI evened the score when Tommy Green took advantage of a Senior Night start and scored his first of the season on a wrister from the left circle. Bill LeClerc's tie-breaking goal from near the blue line with less than 47 seconds on another power play prompted RPI coach Seth Appert to remove Lange in favor of Alford.

Appert said he's confident in both goaltenders going to Colgate.

"We've had great matchups with Colgate this year," said Appert, whose team won two of three, including the Governor's Cup final. "All three games have been right down to the wire. It's been really good hockey against them, so we're excited for another series like that."

"It's a team that we definitely played well against before," defenseman Garett Vassel said. "It's tough when you have it right in front of you. Sometimes, it slips away from you. I think that as long as we do everything we can and everything we're capable of, I know we can pull through."