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Fridgen Fuming after RPI Setback

By Mark Singelais

Albany Times Union, October 21, 2002

AMHERST, Mass. - It's only four games into the season, but RPI hockey coach Dan Fridgen already has run out of patience after a dismal 4-3 loss Sunday to the University of Massachusetts in a non-league game at the Mullins Center.

After watching his Engineers get outshot 41-12 by the Minutemen, who won for only the second time in 19 games dating back to last season, Fridgen said he's going to start benching those who aren't giving their full commitment.

Asked if he would threaten to sit players, Fridgen responded, "I don't think you threaten, you do (it). I'm not a big believer in threatening. I'm proactive."

The Engineers lost their third straight to fall to 1-3 overall, squandering a 3-1 lead in the second period. The loss came only two days after an abysmal 8-4 setback to UMass Lowell in the Engineers' home opener Friday.

"After a performance like (Friday), we definitely needed to step it up," RPI senior defenseman Danny Eberly said. "We didn't come to play Friday at all. Tonight, we came to play, but not for a full 60 minutes. Give them credit. They capitalized on our turnovers. We made a couple of mistakes in the third period and it cost us the game. That just can't happen. We're a Division I squad."

Eberly, Nolan Graham and C.J. Hanafin scored for RPI, of the Eastern College Athletic Conference, which has lost three straight to Hockey East schools - Boston University, UMass Lowell and UMass.

Trailing 3-2, UMass (1-1) scored two goals in a 55-second span early in the third period to seize the lead for good.

Defenseman Jeff Lang scored off a face-off to tie the game at 3 with 18:05 left in regulation. He blasted a shot from the right point past RPI goaltender Kevin Kurk, who was screened.

UMass' Tim Vitek scored the game-winner with 17:10 remaining. He broke in alone down the left wing, got a pass from Lang, and beat Kurk to the far side to make it 4-3.

Fridgen said RPI broke down on the play because a defenseman came off the ice too early. He declined to name the player, saying he didn't want to single anyone out.

"I think playing strong defense is an attitude that has to be adopted by everyone on the team," Fridgen said. "It's an attitude you take pride in. I think you have to be totally committed to it, and I think we have some guys that are and some guys that aren't."

RPI didn't put much pressure on UMass' defense, either, with only four shots in the first period, two in the second and six in the third.

"Hey, you're not going to get a shot on the net unless you shoot the puck," Fridgen said. "We've been guilty early on of passing up shooting opportunities. We're the type of team that has to shoot and get someone to the net."

RPI meets Iona of the MAAC on Friday at Houston Field House.