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Martin Shows Promise

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, December 3, 2003

Goalie Andrew Martin knew when he transferred from Fairfield to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute during the summer that he wasn't going to play much. With seniors Nathan Marsters and Kevin Kurk ahead of him, Martin was content to sit on the bench.

But the junior got a surprise chance to display his skills Friday and made the most it. He had 24 saves and nearly earned a shutout in leading RPI to a 2-1 victory at UMass-Lowell.

RPI coach Dan Fridgen wanted to give Marsters an extra day of rest before facing No. 4 New Hampshire the next night.

"I was kind of expecting to get a shot later on [in the season]," Martin said. "I wasn't expecting it to be [last] weekend."

Getting the notice two days ahead of time didn't bother Martin.

"I don't get nervous before games anymore," Martin said. "I got to start at Fairfield, so I got that out of my system last year. It's not nervousness, but excitement."

Martin appeared in 18 games last season for the Stags, who dropped their program last spring. He posted a 5-11-1 record with a 3.13 goals-against average and one shutout. His two-year career record at Fairfield was 6-14-1 with a 3.22 GAA.

Martin said Fairfield's announcement that it was dropping hockey caught everyone by surprise.

"The day that happened, we were supposed to be hearing about getting a new rink," Martin said. "We knew the football team was going to get cut, so we were expecting to be one of the top teams there.

"At first, there was complete confusion. You were with a bunch of guys who were your family for two years, and then you hear everyone is going their own way. It's almost like the school turned its back on you."

Fairfield's loss has been RPI's gain. Fridgen now knows Martin is a quality player, and that takes the pressure off him to recruit a second goalie for next season's freshman class. RPI has already received a verbal commitment from Canmore Eagles goalie Jordan Alford.

"I wanted to see what we had in Andrew, since I hadn't seen him perform for Fairfield," Fridgen said. "From a recruiting perspective, if I liked what I saw, then there's no need to bring in two goaltenders.

"We've refocused our recruiting since we've already got a good lead on a goaltender. We can certainly pay more attention now to filling other areas as far as recruiting slots are concerned, especially up front."

Martin has the perfect attitude for the Engineers. He realizes he won't see much playing time this season, but it doesn't dull the excitement of being a member of the team.

"Just going out there for warmups is exciting enough for me," Martin said.

RPI moves up

RPI's 1-1 weekend helped it in the Inside College Hockey.com top 20 power rankings. The Engineers (7-4-2) moved up two spots to No. 15.

RPI earned 29 points in the latest USCHO.com/NCAA poll, fourth-best among honorable mention teams. It also received 25 points in the USA Today/ American Hockey Magazine poll, third-best among honorable mention teams.

Winless bowl

Two teams still looking for their first victories of the season meet Saturday in Boston.

Vermont (0-10-2) takes on Northeastern (0-9-2) in a nonconference game at Matthews Arena. Both teams are off to the worst starts in their schools' history.

The Catamounts have a new coach in Kevin Sneddon, who has been through a rough start before. In his first season as Union's head coach in 1998-99, Sneddon won his first game, but then went 2-26-3 the rest of the way.

The Huskies missed the Hockey East playoffs last season. Head coach Bruce Crowder has had only two winning seasons since taking over the program in 1996-97. Last season, the Huskies were 10-21-3.

"It's like a dog chasing its tail," Crowder said after Saturday's 4-2 loss to Boston College, a game in which his team blew a 2-0 lead. "My dog can chase its tail for 20 minutes and keep itself occupied, and that's what this is like for us."

Streak ends

The Atlantic Hockey Association earned its first win against Hockey East on Saturday when Quinnipiac beat Merrimack, 3-2.

Hockey East had a 40-0-5 record against the AHA, which included its years as the MAAC The teams that comprise the AHA left the MAAC during the summer.

Merrimack was 6-0 against AHA/MAAC teams, while Quinnipiac was 0-6.

Matt Craig ended Quinnipiac's and the AHA's drought by scoring two goals against Merrimack, including the gamewinner at 12:04 of the third period that snapped a 2-2 tie.

Quinnipiac goalie Jamie Holden stopped 29 shots.

Home woes

Cornell entered the new season with a 24-game unbeaten streak at Lynah Rink. Its last loss had been Jan. 12, 2002, against Dartmouth.

But home ice hasn't been friendly to the Big Red this season. After a 3-3 tie with Mercyhurst on Saturday, Cornell's home-ice record this season is 0-2-3.

Scott Reynolds' goal with 5.5 seconds left in regulation helped the Lakers to the tie and prevented the Big Red from getting their first Lynah Rink win this season.

"We expected these games to be difficult, but obviously coming into Lynah Rink, had you asked me if we expected to be 0-2-3 in our own rink, I'd have thought you were crazy," Cornell coach Mike Schafer said after the game. "But at the same time, if we don't capitalize on our own chances, it doesn't matter where we're playing, it's going to be a long night. We have to do one of two things: either stop giving up any chances at all, or start to capitalize. And it has to be a combination of both of them going into next weekend."

It won't be easy for Cornell. It hosts ECAC-leading Brown on Friday and preseason favorite Harvard on Saturday.

Good shooting

Brown was outshot, 38-18, by St. Lawrence in Saturday's game, but the Bears made the most of their shots, connecting on 44.4 percent in their 8-0 victory.

Brian Ihnacak, whose uncle, Miroslav, played for the Adirondack Red Wings in the late 1980s, had two goals and two assists. Ihnacak is the son of former NHL player Peter Ihnacak.

Brent Robinson had two goals and an assist, and Sean Dresch added two goals.

Brown scored on three of its five shots in the first period, two of seven in the second and three of six in the third.

"Obviously, we capitalized on the chances we had," Brown coach Roger Grillo said. "I can't ask for much more."

Slap shots

The WCHA swept the CCHA in their annual College Hockey Showcase over the weekend. On Friday, Minnesota beat Michigan State, 5-1, and Wisconsin downed Michigan, 3-1. The next night, Wisconsin edged Michigan State, 2-1, in overtime, and Minnesota defeated Michigan, 4-2. . . .

Clarkson blanked Harvard, 3-0, marking the first time the Golden Knights have ever shut out the Crimson. Dustin Traylen made 31 saves and Saratoga Springs native Jay Latulippe scored two goals for the Knights. . . .

Clarkson defenseman Dale Good has left the school for St. Michael's of the OHL.