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Barr Raises RPI with Two Goals

Move from Wing to Center Provides Engineers Power

By Buzz Gray

Albany Times Union, November 24, 2002

TROY - When it came to being special, Ben Barr was all over the place. Not only did he score a power-play goal and collect an assist on another one, the RPI center also converted an unassisted short-handed one.

That tidy trifecta was more than enough to carry the Engineers to a 5-3 victory over Mercyhurst in a non-league college hockey game at Houston Field House on Saturday night.

Barr's special-teams burst came when RPI needed it most, with the contest still on the line. First, he assisted on Mikael Hammarstrom's power-play goal at 15:04 of the opening period to give RPI a 2-1 lead. After Mercyhurst tied it less than two minutes later, Barr gave the Engineers a 3-2 lead on a power-play tally with 49 seconds remaining in the period.

The junior saved his best for last, however, when he notched the only goal of the second period on a short-handed breakaway that he created by stealing the puck.

"That kind of changed the game," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said of Barr's short-hander. "It kind of relaxed us a little bit."

Barr tried to dodge extra credit for the victory, a satisfying one which halted a two-game skid for RPI (6-7-0)

"We just got the bounces tonight," Barr said.

His game-winner, though, was a thing of beauty.

"I just chipped it (puck) by the first D-man and then outskated the second," Barr said of his short-handed goal. "When I saw (Mercyhurst goalie Matt Cifelli) come out to try and poke check me, I went up stairs."

Barr, who usually plays on the wing, was moved over to center by Fridgen for Saturday's game for his defensive skills.

It was RPI's third consecutive victory over Mercyhurst (4-6-1) in the brief, three-game rivalry.

"I think our special-teams play was the difference tonight," RPI defenseman Brad Farynuk said.

The freshman added two more assists to give him 10 points, most on the team.

Scott Romfo, another freshman blueliner, tied the game at 1 for RPI when his laser of a slap shot ripped through Cifelli's armor halfway through the first period.

"I thought we did a good job of shooting the puck," Fridgen said. "We were getting to the net."

Nick Economakos provided an insurance goal early in the third period as Blake Pickett picked up his second assist of the night.