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RPI Continues Its Downward Spiral

By Anthony G. Manfredi

Albany Times Union, February 23, 2003

HAMILTON - Playing from behind is never fun, especially on the road. But the RPI hockey team has started getting used to it.

The Engineers fell behind 2-0 less than four minutes into the game against Colgate on Saturday night, and despite rallying to tie the contest two different times, ultimately dropped their fifth straight road game in the Eastern College Athletic Conference, 4-3.

Colgate's Scooter Smith scored the first of his two goals at 1:29, and Kyle Wilson added another just over a minute later to give the Raiders a two-goal lead at 2:46 of the first period.

But RPI's Carson Butterwick rebounded a Nick Economakos shot and beat Colgate goaltender Steve Silverthorn to pull the Engineers to within a goal at 14:32 of the first. Alexander Valentin's goal a little over two minutes later tied it.

"(Colgate's) first two goals go in and you look up at the scoreboard and we're in a big hole before we even get to the 17-minute mark," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "Sure, we did come back a little, but that's just a tough, tough game play when you are playing from behind all night."

The 2-2 tie at the first intermission didn't last long, as P.J. Yedon redirected an Adam Mitchell shot past RPI goalie Nathan Marsters only 47 seconds into the second period, giving Colgate (13-16-3 overall, 8-10-2 ECAC) a 3-2 lead.

Nolan Graham pulled the Engineers to the second tie of the game at 9:12 of the second period, beating Silverthorn over his stick-side shoulder for a power-play goal to even the score at 3 heading into the final period.

"We were looking to go out and get (a goal) early in the third. We wanted to see how Colgate would play without the lead. But we just couldn't get it - and I don't know how they got it," Fridgen said.

The Raiders got it at 11:42 in the final period when Smith rocketed a slap shot from the point, beating Marsters on his stick side and giving Colgate the game winner. It was the second straight two-goal performance for Smith, who torched Union for a pair in the Raiders' 5-1 win over the Dutchmen on Friday.

Fridgen said he felt as though his team outplayed the Raiders, which is a feeling he's had after many losses this season. "It has just been so frustrating all year. We've gone out and given performances that generally earn you a win, but we just can't find a way to pull some of those games out," Fridgen said.

Economakos and Ben Barr picked up two assists apiece for the Engineers, who fell to 9-22-3 overall and 3-14-3 in the ECAC. RPI, which has dropped 10 of its past 12, has not lost as many games since the 1995-96 season, when it finished 10-22-3.