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Cornell Powers Past RPI

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 17, 2008

ITHACA - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute needed a good start against Cornell on Saturday night.

After playing the Big Red even for better than 10 minutes, a soft goal and a horribly unlucky break put the Engineers in a two-goal hole and the way things have been going for them lately, that hole must have seemed hundreds of feet deep.

They were then physically and psychologically worn down by the stronger and more talented Big Red and asborbed an ugly, 7-1 pasting.

Topher Scott scored one goal and assisted on three others, while defenseman Doug Krantz scored a pair of 5-on-3 power play goals in the third perod for the Big Red, who ended their first ECAC Hockey three-game losing in four years in emphatic fashion.

The Engineers meanwhile, managed only Tyler Helfrich's 5-on-3 goal in the second period. Rensselaer has won just one of its past 16 games (1-14-1), fell to 4-11-3 in ECACH play, 9-19-4 overall and stayed in an 11th-place tie with Dartmouth.

Cornell, 12-10-3 overall, fighting for a bye in the ECACH playoffs' preliminary round, improved to 10-7-1 in league play and regained fourth place.

Tyler Mugford scored on a long shot from the point with 8:21 remaining in the first period on a shot that RPI goalie Jordan Alford, said Rensselaer coach Seth Appert, "would like to have back."

Three and one-half minutes later, the Engineers received a horribly bad break when Chase Polacek was inadvertantly obstructed by referee Chip McDonald, then Alford lost his stick seconds later.

"Chase got picked by the referee," Appert said. "Chip didn't mean to do it but it happens and that allowed their man (Michael Kennedy to get free. Then our goaltender's stick was somehow dislodged from his hand, mysteriously and it (Kennedy's shot from the lower-right slot) winds up in the back of the net."

"I couldn't get around (McDonald)," Polacek said.

"It's a quick game and sometimes, rarely, those things happen but that allowed the (offensive) play to be made," Appert said.

"The first goal, we can't have," he added. "Not only from a goaltending perspective, but we had older, veteran players on the ice. And Andrei Uryadov was open for a breakaway and we should have executed and it should have been made. Those plays need to be made because that's what the game comes down to."

Having been shut out 4-0 at Colgate on Friday night, and having scored just 23 goals in its past 14 games, the Engineers were hard-pressed to come up with the confidence necessary to repeat Union's fete of coming from behind 2-0 to beat the Big Red on Friday night.

When a defensive mistake led to a 2-on-1 through the neutral zone, with the puck-handling wizard Scott rushing the puck, the game was put away.

Defenseman John Kennedy committed to Mike Devin and Scott just kept coming and coming down the left side - and put a short wrister past Alford easily for a 3-0 lead just 3:42 into the second period.

The Engineers' will seemed to be broken at that point.

Still angry from Friday night's defeat that temorarily dropped them from fourth place to fifth, and spurred on by a boistrous-as-always Lynah Rink crowd of 4,267, then Big Red smelled blood.

They kept pressing, kept aggressive in all three zone and the Engineers fell apart. They left opposing forwards open all over the slot, failed to block shots as they'd done in the first period, backchecked pooly and didn't communicate well.

They also had several chances to clear the puck prior to Taylor Davenport's extra-attacker goal on during a delayed penalty call but couldn't manage to do so.

To their credit, the Engineers, trailing 4-0 didn't quit, and through hard work, created the two Cornell penalties that led to Helfrich's goal.

Standing just outside the left crease, Helfrich tried to feed Polacek on the other side. The puck hit a Cornell skate and slid right back to Helfrich's stick and the junior winger flipped it behind Cornell goalie Ben Scrivens.

On the unsuing 5-on-4 power play, Polacek was open down low with net at which to shoot but the puck hopped over his stick.

Scrivens made a nice save on Matt Angers-Goulet later but the Engineers had no other big chance among their 17 shots on goal. And they marched to the penalty box in the third period, leading to Krantz's pair of goals.

"We needed, on the road against a better team, especially, to have a good start," Appert said. "And we didn't get it because of a lack of execution (offensively and defensively) on our part."

"We have to have a higher level of maturity," Appert said. "We have to learn how to not compound one mistake with another."