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In the Crease

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 21, 2003

Scouting RPI

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute takes a two-week respite from ECAC play with three of its next four games against teams ranked in the Top 5 nationally. ... Fifth-ranked St. Cloud State will pose a huge test for the Engineers, who are 4-1-2 since a 0-2-0 start. The Huskies lead the rugged WCHA at 6-1-0 after splitting two games at North Dakota, each by a 2-1 score. ... Rensselaer split a pair of games at St. Cloud's National Hockey Center last November. The Engineers were blanked the first night, 3-0, then rebounded for a 3-1 victory. That victory will give Rensselaer some measure of confidence. Since a 6-4 victory over No. 6 New Hampshire in Oct. of 2001, the Engineers are 2-13-0 against nationally-ranked teams and 1-6-0 vs. Top 10 teams.

"Yeah, they're a strong team and I don't think they're a whole lot different than last year," said Rensselaer co-captain Ben Barr. "Obviously, they're a better team (than one year ago) but so are we. But (having beaten them) certainly helps. ... We have a pretty good team right now and it'll be a good test for us."

St. Cloud coach Craig Dahl said he hasn't seen RPI on tape this season and when asked what he remembers most about the Engineers, he said, "they have a very good goalie (Nathan Marsters)." Marsters charted 40 saves during Rensselaer's victory at St. Cloud last season. Dahl expressed deep surprise when told Marsters had lost the No. 1 job to Kevin Kurk for a long stretch last year.

"They play pretty solid at both ends," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said of the Huskies. "They're equally capable of winning 2-1 or 6-5. They split two games at North Dakota. That's pretty impressive." ... Even one win this week would earn RPI some balloting points in the national polls and a sweep of the Huskies could shoot the Engineers into the Top 15.

The Engineers have 12 players with four or more points this season, while St. Cloud has nine. ... The Huskies have a big statistical advantage when it comes to special teams. St. Cloud's power play has clicked on 21.6 percent (11-of-51) of its chances and the Huskies are among the nation's leaders in penalty killing at 92.0 percent (46 of 50). Take RPI's 3-of-4 success rate in 5-on-3 situations and the Engineers' power play is an anemic 9.3 percent (5-of-54). Rensselaer has killed 41 of its 47 shorthanded situations (87.2 percent).

Scouting St. Cloud State

What does a team do after splitting a pair of road games against the nation's top-ranked teams? Fans at Houston Field House tonight and Saturday night will get to see just what fifth-ranked St. Cloud State does in that situation. The 8-1-1 Huskies went to North Dakota's Engelstadt Arena - one of the few places as tough to play as St. Cloud's National Hockey Center - and divided a pair of 2-1 decisions.

"They were both outstanding games," said St. Cloud coach Craig Dahl. "We could have won on Saturday but they (UND) deserved it. We deserved to win on Friday night and they deserved to win on Saturday." ... Dahl will reach a milestone on Saturday night when he coaches his 800th collegiate game. He has a career record of 384-363-51 and is 314-271-46 at SCSU. ... St. Cloud was 0-7-2 at North Dakota since its previous victory there in December of 1997. ... The Huskies have the Western Collegiate Athletic Conference's best record to date at 6-1-1, including victories of 3-2 and 5-3 at Minnesota-Duluth. ...The Huskies will be shorthanded tonight. Starting goaltender Adam Coole pulled a hamstring in the first North Dakota game. His win over UND was his and the Huskies' third straight road triumph over a nationally-ranked team (Wisconsin, Duluth). Next night, though, backup Jason Montgomery stopped 30 of 32 shots in the 2-1 defeat. He'll be in goal tonight. Also out is Huskies 'A' line center Peter Szabo (2 goals-3 assist-5 points), who's sidelined with a concussion. ... Coole, 5-0-0 this year, was a combined 5-23-4 in two previous seasons. ... St. Cloud is scoring at about the same rate as last year's team but the Huskies are giving up fewer goals. The Huskies have scored 3.0 goals per game (30 in 10) and allowed 2.0. Last season, they scored 3.4 per game, allowed 3.1.