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Alert at Start, RPI Rebounds

By Bob Weiner

Schenectady Daily Gazette, December 7, 2003

TROY - Transportation problems caused by the major snowstorm delayed the start of Saturday night's game by 45 minutes and lulled the Princeton Tigers to sleep.

Luckily for opportunistic Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, it took two periods for the Tigers to wake up. By that time, it was too late, as the Engineers scored a pair of clutch goals and held on for a 6-4 victory before a hearty crowd of just 648 at Houston Field House.

RPI scored three early goals but needed late third-period goals by senior center Conrad Barnes and an empty-netter by sophomore Kirk MacDonald to hold off the Tigers, who found the net three times in the final period.

Goals by Mike Patton, Steve Slaton and Grant Goeckner-Zoeller helped the Tigers draw within 4-3 when Barnes took a perfect crossing pass from Kevin Croxton and deposited the puck into the net with 3:20 left for the game-clincher.

"We know what it's like to be late on the bus. Their mindset just wasn't there early," said Scott Basiuk, who had one of RPI's three first-period goals. "But you've got to give them credit. They didn't fold their tent, and they came right back at us. That's why Conrad's goal was a huge goal. That was the key goal of the game."

RPI head coach Dan Fridgen was pleased his team bounced back from Friday night's tough loss to Yale.

"They [the Tigers] had to turn it up in the third period, and they got some good luck against us," said Fridgen. "But we settled down. Conrad came up with a big goal for us when we needed it."

"I think we did a good job of rebounding from a tough loss last night. We had them back on their heels, but they came back and battled us."

The Engineers erupted for three first-period goals, including a pair before the Tigers ever got their sluggish skates moving.

Sophomore defenseman Alexander Valentin registered his second goal of the season to get things going. His slap shot from the blue line deflected off a Princeton defender at 5:20.

Two minutes later, freshman Tommy Green delivered on a beautiful individual move to beat Princeton goalie Eric Leroux. Green skated down the right wing, deked a Tiger defenseman to the ice and lifted a wrister into the corner of the net over Leroux's right shoulder. It was Green's fifth goal of the season.

Basiuk capped off the onesided period with a blistering slapper on the power play from just inside the blue line. The Engineers outshot the Tigers, 17-5, in the period.

RPI pushed its advantage to 4-0 when C.J. Hanafin stole the puck and scored unassisted on a quick wrister at 11:25 of the second period for his third goal of the season.

Princeton finally got on the board when sophomore center Dustin Sproat tallied on the power play with 1:20 left in the second session.