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Engineers Aim to Get on Track

RPI Also Started Slowly Last Year, But Rebounded

By Tim Wilkin

Albany Times Union, October 25, 2002

There is no need for panic in Troy. At least not yet.

The RPI hockey team is doing a slow burn in the infancy of its season, going 1-3-0 in its first four games.

If the past is any indication, there is plenty of time for coach Dan Fridgen to get things right. Last season, RPI had the same record after four games but managed to rebound and finish at 20-13-4.

The Engineers, who won their opener at Wisconsin, will look to stop a three-game skid tonight at 7 when they play Iona at Houston Field House.

This RPI team, though, is much different from that of a year ago. The Engineers had two of the most dynamic scorers in the East in Matt Murley and Marc Cavosie. Both have moved on, leaving Fridgen looking for someone to pick up the scoring.

That hasn't happened yet. RPI is coming off a miserable game last Sunday, losing to UMass (4-3) on the road. In that game, RPI was limited to 12 shots and surrendered 41.

"It's always frustrating when you know you can play better," Fridgen said. "But you still have to have patience. The thing I was most upset about was we had them (UMass) on the run. We had them down 2-0 in their own building and we let them fight back. We have to do a better job of playing a full 60 minutes. We haven't done that."

After the UMass game, Fridgen said he might make changes. A few days of cooling off have allowed the coach to reassess the Engineers. The changes could be in place when RPI takes the ice tonight, but Fridgen did not say what they might be.

RPI will again be without junior defenseman Scott Basiuk, who injured his wrist in the Engineers' 8-4 home loss to UMass-Lowell a week ago. Fridgen said Basiuk is out indefinitely.

That leaves the RPI blue line very young.

"We have one senior (captain Danny Eberly), two sophomores and four freshmen back there," Fridgen said. "I knew going into this season there would be growing pains. I think it will be interesting to see how we face our first real test in adversity."

After tonight, the Engineers will get a few more chances to see if they can get it right on the road. Saturday, RPI will travel down the Thruway to play Army and then go to St. Cloud State for two games next weekend.

During these games, Fridgen will look for the Engineers to shoot the puck - something they have not done much thus far. RPI has been outshot 152-82 in its first four games, including 60-26 in the first period.

"That is something we definitely have to work on," Fridgen said. "Whenever we get a shot we can not pass it up. You're not going to score when you're not shooting. We have been playing too tentative. Right now, we know where we are at and we known where we need to go. We'll keep plugging away and work as hard as we can and that is all you can do." Union on the road: After winning their home opener, the Dutchmen go back out on the road. Coach Kevin Sneddon's Dutchmen will play tonight and Saturday night in Minnesota against Bimidji State.

After this weekend, Union will play at UMass-Lowell next Friday, giving the Dutchmen five away games in their first six starts.

Union's next home game is Nov. 2 when the Dutchmen will oppose Holy Cross. The following weekend Union will open its ECAC schedule with games against St. Lawrence (Nov. 8) and Clarkson (Nov. 9).