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Engineers Packing Their Bags for Playoffs

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 24, 2003

TROY - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will have to open the ECAC playoffs on the road.

The Engineers have known that for a couple of weeks now. So they really wanted to get at least one conference road victory before the playoffs begin on March 7.

Colgate seemed to be the perfect opportunity to put a 1 in the 'W' column.

The Engineers went into the game with an 0-8-2 record in its 10 road contests.

Last month, Colgate scored three third-period goals for a 3-0 victory at Houston Field House - its only ECAC victory away from home this season (1-7-1).

The Engineers got some bad bounces and some real head-scratching calls from the officials and despite outplaying Colgate after an early 2-0 deficit, dropped a 4-3 decision. They'll enter the playoffs without a road win.

It would be hard to say the game was taken away from the Engineers but some calls and no-calls certainly hurt them.

One goal (by Nolan Graham) was disallowed after referee John Melanson signaled it was good and another quick whistle killed another goal.

Frustration ruled the RPI locker room but it was suggested that since they had the better of the play, perhaps the Engineers didn't feel so much like a road-winless team.

"Oh yeah. I think they do," Rensselaer coach Dan Fridgen said. "Like a number of other games, we played well enough to win, did the things we needed to do to win - and didn't win."

The defeat gave the Engineers a 2-9 record in games decided by one goal. That includes 2-5 in ECAC play, 0-3 in conference road games.

"It's frustrating," said Carson Butterwick, who scored his fifth goal - and fourth in nine games. "The guys have been putting the effort in, working hard, it's just not paying off for us."

"We're just going to have to look to next weekend, our last two games, try to get a win or two and put something together for the playoffs ... try to go into the playoffs with some momentum."

Fridgen made two statements that seemed as if he was urging some of the Engineers to dip a little deeper for the final two regular-season games with Dartmouth and Vermont, and the playoffs. "Right now, you have some players who are frustrated not only with the way the season's been going for the team but also the way their personal play has been. But there's still hockey to play and I think it's just a case of mental toughness."