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RPI, Union Open ECAC

Clarkson, St. Lawrence Here for the Weekend

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, November 8, 2002

TROY - Clarkson is coming in with an 0-3 record and without its head coach, but the Golden Knights will be anything but an easy mark for the RPI hockey team tonight.

This will be the first game of the annual Capital Region trip for Clarkson and St. Lawrence and the beginning of the ECAC season for both RPI and Union, which plays host to the Saints.

Clarkson comes to Houston Field House amid a controversy that has seen head coach Mark Morris placed on administrative leave pending the investigation of an incident involving a player during practice before last Saturday's St. Lawrence game (SLU won, 2-1).

RPI coach Dan Fridgen doesn't think the incident will affect Clarkson's performance.

"As a player, when you get on that ice, you focus on the job on hand," Fridgen said. "I don't expect them to be any different. Clarkson over the course of their history has always started off kind of slow. It's right about now that they tend to kick it into a little bit of a high gear."

The Engineers split two games last weekend at St. Cloud. Special teams were dominant. St. Cloud got all its goals on the power play in a 3-0 victory Friday, then RPI scored two man-advantage goals in a 3-1 triumph Saturday.

"(In) Friday night's game we didn't do the little things, and the little things we didn't do happened to be on our special teams," Fridgen said. "The next night was a totally opposite game."

St. Cloud was 3-for-6 on the power play and RPI 0-for-7 in Friday's game. The Engineers were 2 of 6 and St. Cloud 0 of 8 on Saturday.

Fridgen said it has taken a little time but he is seeing progress in the 4-4 Engineers.

"I've been happy with the way things have been progressing as far as our systems are concerned," he said. "The players are recognizing the kind of work ethic and focus is needed to be successful game in and game out. We can't afford to take any nights off."

Veteran forward Carson Butterwick said: "Obviously, to start off with a couple of wins against two tough ECAC opponents like them would be phenomenal. If we just keep in mind how we played in the second St. Cloud game (3-1 win), we'll be all right. A lot of the guys are new learning the system."

Defense first: RPI has had a long line of potent forwards such as Matt Murley, Marc Cavosie, Brian Pothier, Brad Tapper and Eric Healey. Now it's the defensemen on top of the offensive statistics after eight games.

Freshman blueliner Brad Farynuk is on top of the heap with eight points (2-6), and fellow defenseman Danny Eberly is the top goal-scorer with three.

Top returning scorer Butterwick is off to a slow start and didn't score his first goal until the eighth game.

"I'm definitely not satisfied with the points I'm putting up," he said. "I guess I'm not going enough for offense. I really don't know why I haven't been putting up more points."

Ice chips: Union is looking to stop a three-game winless streak. ... RPI is 5-11-1 against Clarkson in the Fridgen era, but took two of three last season.

Jason Kean got his first goal of the season for Union in a 4-1 loss to Holy Cross. ... St. Lawrence is 25-9-2 all-time vs. Union.