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Poor Stick-handling, Miscues Cost RPI

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 24, 2008

TROY - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Saturday night was trying to win hockey games on consecutive nights for just the second time this season -- first time in ECAC Hockey action.

The same factors that have compromised the Engineers' chances at victory plagued them again Saturday night, as poor stick-handling led to a dearth of quality scoring chances and two big mistakes - as they've done all season – hurt Rensselaer in a 3-1 loss to rival Clarkson.

The Engineers played with intensity and determination throughout but managed just 16 shots on goal, couldn't find the net until one tick remained on the clock and thus conclude the home portion of their schedule with a 4-9-4 record at Houston Field House, 2-6-3 in the ECACH.

"I thought it was a well-played game," RPI coach Seth Appert said. "Both teams executed their systems real well and … a playoff-style game in terms of defensive concepts and how physical it was."

For the second time in three games, a turnover in the RPI end led to a soft goal of the blocker of goaltender Jordan Alford for the game's first goal and Andrei Uryadov's major checking from behind penalty, led to the Golden Knights' second-period goal, though the Engineers' fine penalty killing shut off the first 4:45 of the penalty.

Rick Dodge scored a power play goal midway early in the second period and his empty-net goal gave the Golden Knights a 3-0 lead with 44 seconds remaining and 12th-ranked Clarkson (18-10-4 overall) remained in first place in the ECAC, one point ahead of Princeton.

The Engineers avoided what would have been their fifth shutout defeat of the season but they've scored two or fewer goals in 14 of their 20 ECACH games and in 22 of their 34 games overall.

The loss, their 20th (10-20-4) of the year, kept them tied for ninth place with Brown but Dartmouth won to make it a three-way tie.

Rensselaer seniors Lord, Jonathan Ornelas, Jake Morissette, Tyler Eaves, Dan Peace and backup goalie Will Neubert were on the ice for the power play goal at 19:59.

Ornelas fired a blast from near the blue line and Lord tipped it over Leggio's glove for his seventh goal of the season.

"That was cool," Lord said. "Jonny really let one fly. It would have been nice to win but it was still special."

"Coach threw us all out there and let us have our last time together," Eaves said, "and we got a goal. It was great. It was pretty emotional when we got together to celebrate the goal."

"Very emotional night, especially once the game's over," said Morissette, RPI's captain. "This is the last time at home … we love coming out and playing in Houston Field House in front of our fans. This was the last time."

Eight minutes into the game, a careless clearing pass was picked off by Clarkson freshman left winger Scott Freeman. Rensselaer defenseman Jeff Foss addressed him but Freeman's mid-speed shot bounced off Alford and into the net.

On his power-play goal, Dodge batted down the rebound of Matt Beca's shot out of the air and into the net.

"That's a skilled play by them and not a mistake by us," Appert said.

A poor crossice pass led to Dodge's empty-netter, though it must be added that after intercepting that pass, he turned and fired the puck from 15 feet inside the Clarkson blue line.

With 6:30 remaining in the first period, Matt Angers-Goulet hit the right post from the right side, grabbed his own rebound and shot again.

"The puck was wobbly and I just banged it," Angers-Goulet said. "It hit a shin guard or two and I think (Scott) Halpern was whacking at it, too, but it wouldn't go in."

With 11:52 remaining, two Clarkson penalty-killers collided, allowing Bryan Brutlag to skate right down the slot but his 15-footer was wide.

"I was being checked a little bit," Brutlag said. "That would have been a nice one to get."

"We didn't get as many looks (at the net) as we like," Appert said, "but we had enough looks, we just couldn't get the execution around the net that we needed. I thought we played very hard, played well systematically but we were a little hyper with the puck."