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RPI Usually Goes South Up North

Engineers Open ECAC Season Where Wins Are Few and Far Between

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 7, 2003

TROY - Pity a team that must begin its conference schedule at a site where it's won only six times in its previous 45 visits.

That's the chore for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute tonight as the Engineers open the ECAC campaign at Clarkson.

Since 1960-61, the Engineers are 6-35-4 at Clarkson.

On the back end of the two-game assignment is Saturday night's game at St. Lawrence.

"I know exactly what you're going to ask me," Rensselaer co-captain Scott Basiuk said after a recent practice.

What?

"Why haven't we won there in the last three years," Basiuk replied.

"Well, many teams rarely win there," it was mentioned.

"Well, Union did it last year," Basiuk said, apparently unaware that the Dutchmen have won in three of their previous four visits to Clarkson.

The big factor for RPI players, and those from other teams who've rarely won at Clarkson, is keeping previous losses out of their minds; telling themselves that previous records, even as poor as 6-35-4, mean nothing at all when a team takes the ice anew.

"It really doesn't," Basiuk said. "Every year is different. Each year you go out and you've got something to shoot for. You didn't win last year and you've got to win this year. That (previous history) stuff doesn't mean anything."

Basiuk added that "we had an absolutely disastrous outing there last year (a 7-1 defeat). Nothing went together, everything fell apart right from the start of the game. But we just have to put a good showing out against Clarkson. We've played well against them in the (recent) past. A couple of years ago, we beat them twice."

The Golden Knights are thought to be one of the ECAC's biggest question marks this season under first-year head coach George Roll.

They're still a talented team, but they are overcoming the turmoil of last season, which surrounded the dismissal of 15-year coach Mark Morris and his subsequent lawsuit of the school. Thus far, the Knights are 3-1-1 overall. Included were a tie and a one-goal defeat to tough Colorado College.

Clarkson junior left winger Mac Faulkner looks to be having a breakout season with five goals and four assists thus far. He had a pair of goals in the 7-1 contest last season. Right winger Chris Blight has four goals and four assists.

St. Lawrence (1-5-3) has gone eight games without a victory since a 3-1 season-opening triumph over Miami.

Senior Rich Peverley's line (T.J. Trevelyn, John Zeiler) has totaled 11 goals and 14 assists but the team's other forwards have a total of just four goals.

Fridgen said that fact wouldn't alter Rensselaer's preparation for the game.

Both Fridgen and Union coach Nate Leaman were asked if their teams were ready for the opening of conference play.

"Last week set a tone that we can build from," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said in reference to the Engineers' 5-4 comeback victory at Merrimack.

"On the road, hostile environment, being down by three goals (3-0), and putting together a strong third period and come out victorious, I think that was a great character-builder. It shows the character this team has and certainly it was a nice step toward this weekend."

"We're not as ready as we could be, but we're ready," Leaman said. "We're climbing the mountain."

The Dutchmen, in addition to the three victories in four games at Clarkson, are 3-1-0 in their last four meetings with St. Lawrence.

"I don't really know why," senior captain Brent Booth said. "We just seem to play some of our best hockey against them. I hope it continues (tonight and Saturday)."