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Harvard Handles RPI, 3-1

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, December 1, 2002

BOSTON - Rensselaer hockey coach Dan Fridgen would love to have a team of finishers like 13th-ranked Harvard has.

Unfortunately for Fridgen, the Engineers have nowhere near that kind of talent, and it showed in a 3-1 ECAC loss to the Crimson on Saturday at Bright Center.

Two of Harvard's top players, Tyler Kolarik and Brett Nowak, scored a goal each. It was Kolarik's team-leading sixth and Nowak's fifth. Rob Flynn had the other Harvard goal.

The Crimson (7-2 ECAC, 7-3 overall), who had a 41-21 shot advantage, have four players with five or more goals. That's four more than the Engineers (1-4-1, 6-8-1) have.

Harvard and RPI have each scored 36 goals. The Crimson are averaging 3.6 goals per game through 10 contests. In 15 games, RPI has a 2.4 goals per game average.

"They've got some guys that can dangle with the puck," Fridgen said. "They have a lot of experience. They're offensively gifted, no question. They've got a lot of firepower there."

The Crimson took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. Kolarik was standing to the right of the net and was open. That allowed him to deflect Noah Welch's blast from the top of the slot past goalie Nathan Marsters.

A delayed penalty against RPI set up Harvard's second.

Engineers defenseman Keith MCWilliams was going to be called for holding Nowak's stick, but Nowak was able to leave the puck for Flynn, who skated from behind the net and scored with two minutes left in the first.

The Engineers took advantage of a two-man power-play situation for 1:49 midway through the second period to cut the Crimson's lead to a goal.

Back-and-forth passing along the point by Danny Eberly and Kevin Croxton forced the Crimson's penalty killers to keep shifting position. Eberly made them pay when he blasted a slap shot past goalie Dov Grumet-Morris at 10:16.

The Engineers had numerous chances to tie the score in the third period, none bigger than Carson Butterwick's opportunity early in the period. He fired a hard wrist shot that was headed for the top right corner of the net, but Grumet-Morris got a piece of it with his catching glove to keep it out.

"I think I got a lot of power behind it," Butterwick said. "It just looked to me like he threw his glove up and caught maybe a piece of it and directed it over the net."

That save proved to be important when Nowak scored with 2:36 left in the game to clinch the win and extend RPI's ECAC winless skid to four games (0-3-1).