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Engineers Now Officially Occupy ECAC Basement

RPI Alone in Last with 2-6-2 League Record

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, January 21, 2002

TROY - While the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers were enjoying an unbeaten weekend, they fell into last place.

They now have not only the worst record percentage-wise in the ECAC, they also have the fewest points (6) with their 2-6-2 conference record.

St. Lawrence, playing the fewest ECAC games prior to the weekend, had been in the basement with a 2-5-0 mark, but won twice over the weekend.

And with Vermont's shocking 2-0 upset of Clarkson on Saturday night, the Catamounts (3-6-1) also catapulted over RPI. The Engineers are the only ECAC team with fewer than three league victories.

Vermont had been having both defensive and goaltending problems, and optimistic RPI fans took hope in the fact that the Catamounts come to Houston Field House on Friday night.

Fourth-place but slumping Dartmouth is here on Saturday night.

Back to last weekend, though.

With a 3-0 victory over Bowling Green on Friday night, which was followed by a 2-2 tie with the Falcons the following evening, the 8-9-3 Engineers put an end to their winless skein (0-4-1).

They could have and should have won both contests, however, and continue to have problems.

Top scorers Marc Cavosie and Matt Murley continue to play on the same (Cavosie's) forward line and continue to do 80 percent of the team's scoring.

Right winger Carson Butterwick has played on that line lately and had a goal and two assists for the weekend. He now has 12 points (6-6-12), good for fourth on the team in scoring.

In a 5-4 loss at Union last Wednesday night, Murley, Cavosie, Ryan Shields and Andrew McPherson were the only RPI players to hit the scoring sheet.

Twelve - that's 12 - Union players figured in the five Dutchmen goals.

Perhaps that's why Union, in addition to going 1-0-1 against RPI for the second straight season, is ahead of RPI in the ECAC standings during January for the first time ever.

The Engineers would seem to need to balance their scoring - but coach Dan Fridgen isn't worried that too much pressure is placed on Cavosie, the ECAC's leading scorer at 12-16-28, and Murley (13-8-21 in five fewer games).

"I don't think that's pressure," Fridgen said. "I think they enjoy doing it. As players, when you're capable of doing (something of that caliber) and you can bring that to the table, I don't see that as pressure. From a player's perspective, that's fulfilling."

"Other players have to step up, elevate their play," he said.

Some have.

"I thought (Andrew) McPherson had a great weekend," the coach continued. "There are others who need to elevate their play because we're going to need them down the stretch. I'm not going to get into their names ... they know who they are."

Fridgen isn't worried either that RPI may be relying too much on special teams, that in two of the past three games (Wednesday and Saturday), the only equal-strength goal the Engineers scored came on Cavosie's clean steal six feet in front of Union goalie Brandon Snee.

"Not really," he said, "because I can think of two equal-strength situations where we go in alone and (the goaltender) makes a real good save on both of them."

And both Butterwick and Cavosie missed the net on open blasts from the top of the slot, Fridgen pointed out.

The Engineers have 12 ECAC games remaining and need to win four, perhaps even five, to reach the playoffs.

The other problem they have to overcome is fading late. In addition to being outscored 30-21 in the second period this season, the Engineers have tallied just three third-period goals over their past 12 games.

To have any shot at all of avoiding Cornell, Clarkson and Harvard in the first round of the playoffs - perhaps even making the playoffs - the Engineers must improve that mark.