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In the Crease

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 28, 2003

Scouting UMass-Lowell

In a conference loaded with strong teams, UMass-Lowell is Hockey East's surprise team this year. Despite 17 freshmen and sophomores on the roster, the RiverHawks are 4-3-1 in Hockey East play and 6-4-3 overall, fresh off a huge victory at No. 3 New Hampshire.

Sophomore center Elias Godoy scored a hat trick in the Tuesday night game, including the game-winner with 3:57 remaining. Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald said there was nothing 'magical' about the victory - Lowell's second at UNH in 10 years - and that was the best part. "What's really great is we didn't need a magical night," MacDonald said. "Usually you need something magical to win here, like a goalie making 48 saves or something but we just outplayed them."

RiverHawks center Ben Walter leads the nation in power-play goals with seven. ... Prior to Nov. 21, Lowell had been 0-16-2 in its previous 18 meetings with nationally ranked teams, since a 4-1 win over No. 12 Colorado College on Oct. 12, 2002. Since two weeks ago, though, the RiverHawks have tied No. 10 Boston University, beaten the Terriers on the road, and then whipped UNH. "There's no one (on the team) who's surprised by what we've done," Godoy said. "No one else should be. We have a very good team here." ... Lowell has outscored opponents 17-9 in the second period this season, and that includes surrendering all four of UNH's tallies in the middle stanza Tuesday night. Three of those came within five minutes of one another late in the second period. "Great poise to overcome that run, with all these underclassmen," MacDonald said. ...Rensselaer penalty killers should take note: Lowell power play is 6 for 40 within rugged Hockey East, 10 for 33 outside the conference.

Scouting RPI

It seems like a long time ago, but Rensselaer's 8-4 loss to Lowell at Houston Field House 13 months ago was as poor a performance as the Engineers have turned in during recent seasons. They didn't skate, didn't hit, didn't battle for loose pucks, turned the puck over in all three zones and didn't take advantage of the fact Lowell goalie Chris Davidson had a far less than stellar game. It mattered little, though, as the Engineers allowed Lowell forwards to do just about whatever they pleased for the entire game.

"Yeah, that one's easy to recall," said RPI captain Scott Basiuk. "We'd like to atone ourselves for that game."

Doing so won't be easy for the Engineers, who get no break in the schedule. In their past six games, they've gone to Clarkson and St. Lawrence, one of college hockey's toughest road trips, played host to unbeaten Dartmouth, now ranked No. 11 nationally and twice beat then fifth-ranked St. Cloud State.

Lowell is coming off a big 5-4 victory at New Hampshire, where visitors rarely survive and if the RiverHawks win tonight, they will likely be ranked next week. In the meantime, RPI visits No. 3 UNH on Saturday night.

"Two more tough challenges," said RPI coach Dan Fridgen. "The guys are playing well and they're looking forward to meeting those challenges."

The Engineers can expect both UML and UNH to play with much more intensity than St. Cloud showed last week. How well they match that intensity level will define their chances to win both nights.

"We've got to keep on building," says captain Ben Barr. "We can't be satisfied with what we've done. Once you get satisfied, that's when mistakes start coming back again. We're just going to keep going." Rensselaer has permitted just four goals in their past three games and have limited quality scoring chances. ... Hockey East teams have been a big tormentor of RPI during the league's 19-plus seasons. Only three times has RPI won two straight road games against Hockey East teams and should the Engineers win tonight, it will be just the second time they've won two straight road games against Hockey East during the same season. In November of 1993, RPI was victorious at Boston University (4-2) and at Maine (5-4).