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Engineers Done in By Overconfidence

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 10, 2003

CANTON - Ben Barr scored a huge goal for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Friday night.

Barr's celebration, from goal crease to the red line, resembled one you might see after a playoff game when he nudged in a rebound sliding through the crease to beat archrival Clarkson, 4-3.

By the time he toweled off and began tearing off his equipment in the Rensselaer clubhouse, though, the senior right winger was much more subdued. It was if he scored a routine goal at an unspecified time and the victory was 'just a routine win.'

Therein may lie one big reason why the Engineers were so dismal one night later in a 4-0 to a less than mediocre St. Lawrence team. Head coach Dan Fridgen said flat out that maybe some of the Engineers "thought maybe (SLU) was going to be a lot easier than it was," or that they were still "happy about the night before."

Barr, an RPI co-captain, spoke to that topic, when asked if his effort to keep things at a low keel after the big victory failed to carry over to the rest of the team.

"It may have been inexperience," he said, "coming off the big win Friday; we didn't win on the road last year (0-9-2 in ECAC road games). We just have to keep things on an even keel, can't get too up, can't get too down. We have to make sure we bring the same quality effort night in night out."

Barr certainly kept things in perspective Friday night.

"It comes with being around for four years and the older guys gotta make sure everyone stays on the same page."

Saturday night, all the Engineers were on the wrong page.

Fridgen said that goaltender Nathan Marsters "was probably the only guy going for us" and noted that without Marsters, the Engineers may not have beaten Clarkson, even though they outplayed the Golden Knights most of the game.

"We're the type of team that is going to have to work hard and grind it out every single night. We have to play with an edge, play with an attitude. (Friday) night we played with an attitude, tonight we didn't."

Neither Barr nor fellow co-captain Scott Basiuk offered no excuse for the way the team played Saturday.

"We can't make excuses for ourselves," Barr said. "We have to learn that it takes the effort we had (Friday) night every night."

"There is no excuse," Basiuk said. "It's not like we were tired from the overtime or anything."

Penalty shot stopped: The penalty shot awarded to Clarkson on Friday night was 'iffy' at best.

Clarkson winger Chris Blight had already turned and committed himself to his backhand when Barr hooked him. Referee Scott Hansen thought Barr prevented a shot on the breakaway when Marsters stopped Blight, it kept the Engineers from falling behind 2-0.

"I don't like them because you have too much time to think," Marsters said of penalty shots and perhaps speaking for all goaltenders. "But I think (Blight) may have been thinking too much, too. He got in too close and I was able to get (the puck) with the poke check."

Five-on-five in overtime?: Yes, the Clarkson Golden Knights are still asking that question today.

But while a major checking from behind penalty assessed to Clarkson's Matt Nickerson with one minute remaining in regulation time may have been called a minor earlier, Hansen felt compelled to make it a major because Nickerson had been running RPI players all night.

Clarkson loudly complained about senior Trevor Edwards' kneeing penalty, claiming Engineers Brad Farynuk, Kevin Broad and Matt McNeely had been guilty of the infraction earlier. However, Hansen could have called Edwards for obstruction inference, of which he was clearly guilty, depriving the Engineers of an odd-man breakout.

Fridgen was asked if he'd ever had a two-man advantage in overtime and answered, "and deserved it - yes. I thought it was the right call."

As for the victory, Fridgen said "it's huge and I don't think it was anything handed to us. I think it was well-earned from the drop of the puck and I think it's probably one of the most complete games we've played in (Cheel Arena)."

Coming home: So the Engineers finish their road trip at 1-1-1, having ended their 12-game winless streak (0-10-2) in regular-season ECAC road games, winning at Clarkson for just the seventh time in 42 seasons and evening this season's record at 3-3-1.

They'll host Vermont on Friday night in a Black Friday promotion. They'll wear special black sweaters and auction them off to fans after the game.

"It'll be good to get back home and play in front of the fans," Basiuk said. "It's always fun to play on the road. That's where you find out who you are and I think we found out we still have a lot of work to do. We can't expect it to happen, we have to make it happen."