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Fridgen in Need of Thaw

Coach Unable to Engineer an End to RPI's Cold Spell

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, January 18, 2003

TROY - With a new contract in hand and the alma mater he had beaten five times in a row across the ice, this was supposed to be a good night for RPI coach Dan Fridgen. Somebody forgot to tell the guys from his old school.

Colgate broke open a defensive struggle with three goals in the third period and rode the timely goaltending of David Cann to a 3-0 ECAC hockey victory over Fridgen's Engineers Friday night in front of 2,848 discouraged fans at Houston Field House.

One question posed itself almost immediately after RPI extended its two-game goal-less streak to 89 minutes and 49 seconds: What can the Engineers do to beat the best defensive team in the country tonight when Cornell comes calling?

"As I told the team, we're facing a little adversity here," Fridgen said. "I think that's a good matchup for us right now."

Colgate figured to be an easier test, with only two victories in eight ECAC games coming in. The Raiders left at 3-5-1 (8-11-2 overall) and moved ahead of the Engineers into eighth place.

Joey Mormina's long drive from the blue line at 2:54 of the third went in off Blake Pickett's skate to break up the shutout, then RPI attacked the Colgate goal for much of the next 10 minutes to no avail as Cann turned away every good opportunity.

"We just didn't get the bounces," said RPI forward Ben Barr, who had good scoring chances in the first and third periods. "They capitalized on a couple of breaks they got. Game over."

Adam Mitchell sent many of the fans heading for the exits when he scored in close at 17:08, then leading scorer Scooter Smith walked in and beat goalie Kevin Kurk at 18:50 on a power play.

"I thought we played really, realy well," said Fridgen, whose team is winless in its last three (0-2-1) and shows only one victory in its last seven starts. "Opportunities were there. Again it comes down to a bounce here or there. I don't know what else you can do at this point."

The Engineers had the better opportunities in the first period, the best coming when Barr mishandled the puck at the left goal mouth with Cann scampering from the other side on a power play.

It was more of the same in the second as the Engineers squandered 5:20 of power-play time. Cann made a nice glove save on Nolan Graham at 4:42, then RPI lost captain Danny Eberly. The senior defenseman was woozy as he left the ice with a shoulder injury after a ferocious collision into the boards attempting to check Rob Brown. That left the Engineers with five defensemen the rest of the way.

Cann finished the game with 28 saves for his second shutout of the season.

Now the Engineers have to regroup tonight against Cornell, the fourth-best team in the country, according to both college hockey polls.

"We could make a big statement tomorrow if we come out and work our butts off," Barr said. "You never know. We can show a lot of heart and turn our season right around."