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RPI's Seniors Make All the Plays

By Phil Janack

Schenectady Daily Gazette, November 8, 2003

POTSDAM - Not every senior on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute roster got into the lineup for Friday night's ECAC men's hockey opener against Clarkson.

The five that did, though, got their final trip to the North Country off to a flying start.

Fourth-year winger Ben Barr whacked in a loose puck with 90 seconds left in overtime on a two-man power-play advantage as the Engineers rallied past the Golden Knights, 4-3, at Cheel Arena.

Captain Scott Basiuk assisted on the winner, Conrad Barnes set up one goal and scored another, Ryan Shields picked up an assist and Nathan Marsters made 22 saves, including a firstperiod penalty shot to lead RPI's senior charge.

It was the Engineers first victory in the North Country since Nov. 13, 1999, also over Clarkson. They play at St. Lawrence tonight, where they haven't won since Feb. 7, 1997.

"This is the first win for my class up here," Marsters said. "We all knew, but you don't want to talk about that stuff. The third period is our period right now. The guys have been playing well."

RPI scored twice in the third to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead before Matt Nickerson's power-play goal with 2:22 left sent the game into overtime. The Engineers had scored only once in each of their three previous trips to Cheel, including last year's 7-1 rout.

"It's huge," said head coach Dan Fridgen, who picked up just his third North Country victory in 19 tries (3-15-1). "I thought we did a real good job the whole game of staying with it and battling back. We pretty much dominated play and I'm thankful we have something to show for it."

In a penalty-filled game, it was Nickerson's major for hit- ting Kirk McDonald from behind with 59 seconds left in regulation that helped set the stage for RPI, which had failed on its first eight power-play attempts.

When Trevor Edwards was called for kneeing Barr near Clarkson's net with 1:45 left, the Engineers had a rare two-man OT advantage. Fifteen seconds later, after an initial save on Basiuk's one-timer, Oren Eizenman jammed the puck free into the slot where Barr was waiting to sweep it into the open net.

"It just squirted through and came right to me, and I was just in the right place at the right time," Barr said. "For us seniors, we hadn't won a game here yet. It feels great."

Clarkson got on the board first, 47 seconds into a penalty to RPI forward C.J. Hanafin. Standing behind the net, center Jay Latulippe, a junior from Saratoga Springs, made a quick pass out front to Jean Desrochers, who beat Marsters with a onetimer from the slot at 2:49.

Marsters kept it a 1-0 game, stopping Clarkson's Chris Blight on a penalty shot at 9:12. Blight, who was hauled down from behind by Barr on a shorthanded breakaway, faked a forehand and backhand before trying to stuff in a forehander at the right post, which Marsters kicked away with his left skate.

The Engineers mustered few scoring chances on three consecutive power plays late in the period before getting the equalizer from Barnes with 27 seconds left.

A roughing penalty to Nickerson at the first period horn gave RPI a power play to start the second, but it was Clarkson that scored on the advantage just 28 seconds after the faceoff.