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RPI Salvages Tie with UConn

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, October 18, 2003

TROY - As Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey coach Dan Fridgen strolled into the media room after the team's game with Connecticut, he let out a sigh.

It wasn't a sigh of relief. It was more one of frustration.

The Engineers were nearly embarrassed by the Atlantic Hockey's Huskies on Friday. They had to rally from a three goal deficit to tie UConn, 4-4, in their Houston Field House opener.

RPI (0-2-1) is winless in its first three games. It hadn't done that since 1995-96, when it opened the season 0-5.

The Engineers were 12:41 away from going 0-3 after Brian Burns and Cole Koidahl scored 45 seconds apart to make it 4-1. But two goals by freshman Oren Eizenman got RPI within one, and C.J. Hanafin tied it with 5:34 left in regulation.

"We had a lot of missed opportunities," Fridgen said. "We weren't really consistent with the process that we needed to apply. When we did apply pressure, it was the difference. It wasn't any magic. We shortened the bench. The guys that we wanted to go with made the difference."

The Engineers jumped out to a 1-0 lead 52 seconds in when Nick Economakos scored off a faceoff win by Ben Barr. RPI had some other odd-man rushes in the first five minutes of the game. But the Engineers stopped attacking after that.

They came out lethargic in the opening minutes of the second period, and were forced to dump the puck out of their zone to relieve the pressure. The Huskies were slowly taking control of the game.

"It can't just be 10 minutes we go hard, and then the next 10 we let them take it to us," Eizenman said. "We have to play the same way all the time. We started off well. But at the end of the first and the beginning of the second, we didn't do anything."

Huskies take lead

UConn (0-1-1), which was playing 12 freshmen, took the lead in a 21-second span. Trevor Stewart was credited with a goal at 10:19 when RPI defenseman Alexander Valentin put the puck into his own net. Eric Helstedt beat goalie Kevin Kurk on a two-on-one rush at 10:40.

"Bad reads," Fridgen said. "We've been saying that, as a defenseman, you've got to read what's coming at you. You're better off just to back off and play defense. A couple of times, we got caught being spectators."

Eizenman ignited the comeback with a power-play goal at 9:45. He tipped in a Scott Basiuk left-point shot past goalie Scott Tomes. Eizenman cut UConn's lead to one at 11:12 when he skated out of the left corner and put the puck past Tomes.

Hanafin tied it when he dug the puck out of Tomes' reach and pushed it past him at 14:26.

"We're a young hockey team," UConn coach Bruce Marshall said. "I would have hoped we could have hung on to a 4-1 lead."