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Engineers Hope to Get Untracked

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, October 25, 2002

The way the Rensselaer hockey team has been playing lately, it could use an easy game.

With the Engineers hosting Iona in a non-conference game tonight at 7 at Houston Field House, one could conclude that this is the breather they need.

Guess again.

"You can't ever assume any game is going to be a cakewalk," RPI forward Ben Barr said. "They're a good team. I've read that they've been giving some bigger schools some good games. I'm sure they're going to come in here and be excited."

"With the way we've been playing lately, we need to try and make a statement."

RPI (1-3) is looking to snap a three-game losing streak. The Gaels (0-2-1) have been shutout twice in three games, including a season-opening 11-0 loss to Providence.

Iona played last weekend in the Nye Frontier Classic in Anchorage. The Gaels tied Alaska-Anchorage, 2-2, and lost to Colorado College, 5-0.

Last year, RPI outshot Iona, 48-26, but only won, 3-1. The score was 1-1 after two periods.

The Engineers aren't playing well right now. They opened the season with a surprising 5-1 win over Wisconsin in the first round of the Ice Breaker Tournament two weeks ago, but have yet to recapture that magic.

"This is a huge game for us," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said.

The Engineers haven't been generating many shots. They managed 15 in their 5-1 loss to Boston University in the Ice Breaker championship game. Last Sunday in a 4-3 loss to Massachusetts, RPI had only 12 shots.

"I see it as a result of not executing our systems," Fridgen said. "Right now, we're not doing a very good job of executing our forecheck. It's a learning process and a learning curve that you have to continue to practice. As players feel more comfortable with it, I think the results will slowly come."

Dutchmen head west

Union College takes a 1-1-1 record to the state of Minnesota, where it will play Bemidji State in a two-game series. It starts tonight at 8:35, with Saturday's game at 8:05.

The Dutchmen are coming off a 5-2 win over Niagara in their Achilles Rink opener last Friday. Even though Union took a 1-0 lead in the game, it struggled handling Niagara's attack in the first 10 minutes.

It was the second straight game that the Dutchmen had a slow start. They fell behind, 3-0, to Merrimack on Oct. 12, but came back to earn a 4-4 tie.

Union defenseman Brent Booth believes it is critical for the Dutchmen to get off to a good start.

"It's a routine we have to get into," Booth said. "We don't want to get into the routine of starting to pick it up in the second period. We want to score first and put the pressure on."

The Beavers opened their season last weekend with a pair of ties against Sacred Heart. Last year, Union won and tied against Bemidji at Achilles.

"They have tremendous speed and skill with their forwards," Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. "They have very good offensive tendencies up front. But the way I would sum it up best is that they are a nuts-and-bolts team. They have good skill, but it all comes down to being very disciplined and a strong work ethic."

Notebook

  • Kris Mayotte, who was named ECAC goalie of the week after his 30-save performance against Niagara, will make his second straight start for the Dutchmen tonight....
  • Union freshman forward Jonathan Poirier, who missed the first three games with a shoulder injury, is expected to play in one of the two games....
  • RPI travels to West Point on Saturday to take on Army at 7 p.m. It is the first meeting between the schools since Oct. 28, 2000. The Engineers won that game, 3-0, in Troy....
  • Fridgen said he expects defenseman Scott Basiuk to be out four to six weeks. Basiuk cut his hand on his skate in last Friday's game against UMass-Lowell....
  • This is the third straight year that Union and Bemidji State have faced each other. They first met in the consolation game of the 2000 Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis. The game ended in a 2-2 tie, but the Beavers won in a shootout to finish third....
  • Union will make another trip to Minnesota this season, playing at Minnesota-Duluth Dec. 28-29.