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Lightning Strikes Twice for Engineers

RPI Caps Off Improbable Weekend with Second Win Over No. 5 St. Cloud State in As Many Days

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 23, 2003

TROY - The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers are a hot team these days.

Saturday night, they completed one of their best weekends in recent memory with a 2-1 victory over St. Cloud State, the second straight night the streaking Engineers handed the nation's 5th-ranked team a one-goal defeat.

Kevin Croxton banged a power-play rebound shot off the goalpost, off the back of the goaltender's stick and into the net midway through the third period to break a 1-1 tie.

The Engineers and goaltender Nathan Marsters held off the Huskies the rest of they way and the Engineers improved to 6-3-2 overall. Since their opening losses to Boston University and Providence, followed by a 4-4 tie with UConn, the Engineers are 6-1-1.

Marsters stopped 35 shots and dating back to last season, the senior goaltender has beaten St. Cloud three straight times, permitting just four goals and charting 104 saves.

"The guys in that lockerroom deserve a lot of credit," said Rensselaer head coach Dan Fridgen. "This is probably one of the best weekends I've seen from an RPI team in a long time. They're to be commended for it because, both nights, it was a total team effort. Just doing the little things to be successful."

Marsters gave credit to his teammates for "keeping everything to one shot, one save. They cleared a lot of rebounds for me. They made it really easy. I didn't really feel all that sharp this weekend. Our guys have been playing real well."

St. Cloud was called for a too many men penalty at 7:45 of the third period.

The Engineers cycled and re-cycled the puck about 1:30 later. Nick Economakos fired a blast from the right circle and Croxton grabbed the rebound in the left slot and forehanded it off the right goalpost. It caromed off goalie Tim Boron's stick and behind him.

"A goal's a goal I guess," Croxton said. "It's nice to get a bounce like that."

"It was kind of a fluky goal," said Kirk MacDonald, who also assisted on the goal, "but hey, we'll take'em."

"It was awesome," MacDonald said. "Nobody was giving us a chance this weekend but we proved that when all four lines are going and we work hard, we can compete with anybody."

The Huskies, who move the puck extremely well on their power play, tried for nearly 40 seconds to pull goaltender Tim Boron, but the Engineers kept the puck in the St. Cloud end. They forechecked, deflected a couple of clearing passes and battled for the puck along the boards repeatedly.

"That's nothing but hard work and determination," Fridgen said. "You've got a guy Kevin Broad (a freshman grinder-type) doing it, then you've got a guy like (scoring leader) Croxy doing it, who would love to take the puck to the net. He's just doing what needs to be done for the sake of the team as opposed to the individual accolades. It's real good to see."

Later, during St. Cloud's 6-on-5, three Engineers went down to block a slapshot from the high slot.

"Those are commitments that you have to make on behalf of the team in order to be successful," Fridgen said. "If that shot goes in, who knows?"

Mike Doyle's fifth goal on a St. Cloud power play gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead at 8:54 of the first period.

The Huskies got a bit careless about 4:50 into the second period, allowing defenseman Matt McNeely to walk down the right sideboards and he made them pay.

McNeely cut in toward the goal and got off an uncontested shot and made it count, flipping it between Boron's glove and the goalpost. Though he's not known as an offensive defenseman, it was McNeely's third goal and fourth point of the season.