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Consolation Not There Yet

RPI Coach Unhappy Over Latest Loss

By Tim Wilkin

Albany Times Union, December 29, 2002

TROY - RPI has the matinee game this afternoon in its own hockey tournament. That means things didn't go so good for the Engineers in the first round Saturday night.

The Engineers continued to struggle on the offensive end and dropped a 2-1 decision to Merrimack in the second game of the 52nd annual RPI Holiday Tournament at Houston Field House.

RPI will have to settle for playing for third place, taking on ECAC foe Princeton today at 4. Merrimack, of Hockey East, will play Wayne State of College Hockey America in the championship game at 7.

Wayne State beat Princeton 7-0 in the first game Saturday.

RPI coach Dan Fridgen wasn't fussing over playing the early game today. He was ticked off the Engineers fell to Merrimack, giving RPI an 0-5 record against Hockey East teams this season.

"It's more frustrating to me that we lost this hockey game," Fridgen said outside a quiet RPI locker room. "That (consolation game) is a bridge I will cross at 4 p.m. on Sunday."

RPI's offensive woes have been well documented since losing Matt Murley and Marc Cavosie, two high powered forwards from a year ago. In their last five games, the Engineers (6-6-3) have just eight goals and four came in a win over Union.

Fridgen is obviously tired of answering the question about the lack of scoring and there isn't much he can do about it. Of the four teams in the RPI Tournament, ironically, it's the Engineers who came in with the most goals this season (42).

"We have to keep working at it as much as we can and chip away," Fridgen said. "When we needed to get a goal tonight, we got it."

That came from defenseman Scott Basiuk with 16:02 left. His drive from inside the blue line hit the stick of Merrimack goalie Joe Exter and trickled into the net, tying the game at 1-1.

"We played a good game other than two shifts," Basiuk said. "Right after we scored, we had three shifts where we were really buzzing but we missed a couple of good opportunities."

Merrimack (7-10-1) got the game-winner when Brendon Clark, positioned to the left of RPI goalie Kevin Kurk, was left open and took a feed from Rob LaLonde and scored at 12:24. Fridgen was trying to get a line change but, before the goal was scored, Kurk played the puck instead of freezing it, which would have allowed RPI to get some fresh legs on the ice.

"They caught us a few times tonight, too," said Merrimack coach Chris Serino. "We were just fortunate that we found a way to win this game. Believe me, it could have gone either way."