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Rensselaer Gets Stuck in Clay

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, November 17, 2002

PRINCETON, N.J. - Rensselaer tried just about everything to score a goal against Princeton goalie Trevor Clay on Saturday.

The Engineers fired shots from everywhere. They crashed the net. They had 10 power-play chances.

But Clay was nearly perfect. He stopped 45 shots as the Tigers held on for a 4-3 ECAC win at Hobey Baker Rink.

Neil Stevenson-Moore scored twice for the Tigers (1-3 ECAC, 1-5 overall), including one with 4:06 left in the third period that gave them a 4-2 lead. That proved to be the game-winner when RPI's Danny Eberly scored a power-play goal with 2:11 remaining.

Clay was particularly strong over the final 40 minutes. During that span, he made 39 saves. Clay made 29 saves on 32 power-play shots. The way Clay was playing, he could have stopped the kitchen sink had the Engineers (1-3, 5-7) thrown it at him.

"I don't know how much of it was him stopping them, or us shooting it into him," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "There was a lot of net [open] at times that we had, and we shoot it right into his leg."

Two particular saves frustrated the Engineers, both in the third period.

With 13:48 left and RPI down a goal, Ryan Shields believed he had scored on a one-timer from the slot. The Engineers started celebrating, but they discovered that the puck was underneath Clay's pad.

"I could have sworn the puck went in," Shields said. "From where I was, it looked like it went into the side of the net."

Late in the game, Kevin Croxton had a chance to cut into Princeton's 4-2 lead. He was on top of the goal crease when he moved the puck from his backhand to forehand, and he fired a quick shot that appeared about to beat Clay.

But Clay quickly flicked his glove, robbing Croxton.

"It's all reaction," Clay said. "You just watch the puck as close as you can, and he put it in a spot where I could catch it. He must be shaking his head right now."

Clay was right about that.

"It's tough when you have a goalie like that making some good saves," said Croxton, who scored a power-play goal with 4:59 left in the game that made it 3-2. "You've got to be good to be lucky, and lucky to be good. He was a little bit of both tonight. It's pretty frustrating to run into somebody like that."

The Tigers took advantage of a lethargic RPI start and took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by Dan Hursh and Stevenson-Moore.

The Engineers came out with more passion in the second period. They outshot the Tigers, 22-9, but Scott Romfo's power-play goal was the only puck to get past Clay.

"The difference in the game was the first period," Fridgen said. "I didn't think we started real strong. They started very, very strong. From the second period on, we pretty much dominated the game."