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Brown Cools Off RPI, 2-1

Loss Costs Engineers Big Chance to Move Up in ECAC Standings

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 24, 2002

PROVIDENCE - That's quite a tumble for just one tight defeat.

That's what Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute must be feeling this morning after Saturday night's 2-1 loss at Brown.

The defeat snapped RPI's six-game winning streak and sent the Engineers from a tie for fourth place to seventh place in the ECAC with a record of 9-8-3, 21 points.

And with streaking Brown - the Bears have won six straight - playing at Princeton and Yale next weekend, RPI's chances for gaining the final home-ice berth for the first round of the ECAC playoffs were dealt a big blow.

Worse for the 15-11-4 Engineers psychologically was the fact that, the way things turned out Saturday night, they would have been part of a three-way tie for second place had they won.

So, to get to fifth place and the final home-ice berth, the Engineers will have to sweep regular-season champion Cornell and Colgate, which is tied with Brown for fifth, at Houston Field House next weekend.

Both Brown and Colgate are 10-8-2 in conference play for 22 points.

"From fourth to bleeping seventh," senior Jim Henkel said in the RPI locker room, speaking for all of his teammates.

It was senior night at Brown Saturday night and RPI was coming off a big 5-1 win at Harvard. The Engineers came out a bit flat and never did skate with the same drive they had Friday night. They played well, however, and the tight-checking game came down to a couple of miscommunications and the stellar goaltending of Brown sophomore Yann Danis.

The Engineers trailed 2-0 with less than five minutes to go when Marc Cavosie split two Brown defenders and set up Matt Murley on right wing with a hard cross-ice pass. Murley buried his 20th goal high into the net and gave the Engineers plenty of momentum.

But Brown didn't buckle and checked well at center ice, preventing the Engineers from pulling goaltender Nathan Marsters until just 35 seconds remained. They couldn't get another strong scoring chance.

They had many earlier.

On a power play five minutes into the third, Henkel outfought two Bears for the puck behind the net to Danis' left and fed Andrew McPherson down the right slot.

McPherson's chipper found Danis' pads.

"Jeez, that was a great pass," McPherson said. "I just went in too close and I couldn't (lift) it. I gotta stay back a little bit but I was going hard to the net because we hadn't been doing that tonight. So I wanted to go hard and the next thing you know I'm in too close."

Shortly after Murley's goal, Nolan Graham got a chance when the puck went under the stick of a Brown defenseman and right to his. Next, it glanced off the right goalpost and hit the side of the net before Danis reacted.

"Hit the side of the post and side of the net," Graham said, "...There was an opening there."

Danis also stopped Cavosie's semi-breakaway backhander with 5:20 left in the first period and stick-saved a screened blast from the mid-slot by Mikael Hammarstrom late in the second.

"I thought it took us a little bit to get going," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "They (Brown) came out real hard, which I expected because of the emotion of the last home game, the seniors. But it was a well-played hockey game."

A communication breakdown among Rensselaer backcheckers on Brown's 3-on-2 rush into the RPI zone left Tye Korbl alone in the left slot. He rifled a one-time past Marsters for a 2-0 lead 10:39 into the final period.

Brent Robinson scored on a rebound in the first period for the Bears. Keith Kirley fired the puck from a mass of players in the mid-slot.

Marsters made a pad save but was unable to control the rebound and Robinson, from the lower left slot, didn't miss the half-open net.

Cavosie, who extended his point-scoring streak to 15 games, admitted the defeat was deeply disappointing. But he's confident the Engineers can bounce back with three or four points next week.

"They came out harder than we did and played a real solid game," Cavosie said of the Bears. "They really did the little things. I don't think they had any turnovers at either blue line. They always got the puck deep and they always got it out of (their) zone when they needed to."

Another big chance RPI had was a 2-on-1 - Cavosie and Graham - that never materialized. The two Engineers collided and never could separate from Bears defenseman Vince Macri.

"Just a little miscommunication," Cavosie said. "Sometimes that happens. We've been switching the lines up (both are centers but Cavosie was Graham's right winger this week). I thought he was going wide and he wanted to cut in front and across and create confusion."

"It was a well-played game," Fridgen said. "A bounce here and there was the difference. We didn't get the puck as deep as we wanted to but they played a solid hockey game."