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Engineers Relegated to Consolation Game

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, December 29, 2003

TROY - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute had several great chances to snap a 2-2 tie against Mercyhurst in the third period of Sunday's opening round of the Rensselaer/HSBC Holiday Tournament, but the Engineers came away empty.

The Lakers got one good opportunity, and they buried it.

T.J. Kemp scored with 1:44 left in the third period, capping a rally from a two-goal deficit as Union can't hold three-goal lead, Page C4 the Lakers stunned the Engineers, 3-2, at Houston Field House.

Mercyhurst (7-6-1), which became the first Atlantic Hockey team to beat RPI (8-6-2), takes on Northeastern in the championship game tonight at 7. The Engineers will face ECAC foe Colgate in the 4 p.m. consolation game. Northeastern beat Colgate, 6-4, in the first game Sunday.

This marks the second straight year that RPI will play in the consolation game. The Engineers lost last year to Princeton, 4-3, and finished last.

RPI outshot Mercyhurst, 42-21, for the game, and 19-5 in the third period. Lakers goalie Jordan Wakefield made 40 saves. Only Nick Economakos was able to beat Wakefield, scoring both goals.

"It's very frustrating, but that's the game of hockey," Economakos said. "You see it time and time again. A goalie gets hot in the playoffs, he may be getting outshot all the time, but they're coming out with wins all the time. You have to give credit to their goaltender."

Matt McNeely had the first great opportunity to break the tie midway through the third period. He made a great move around Mike Carter in the left circle, and fired a shot that hit the post.

With just under seven minutes left, Wakefield stopped Mikael Hammarstrom on a onetimer, and also robbed Mark Yurkewecz on the rebound.

"You outshoot a team like that, you're looking for a better fate than what we ended up with," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "If you're only going to score two goals in a game, then your defensive game has to have no flaws in it. You have to have everybody doing what they're supposed to be doing, [have] real good communication and you can't have any letdowns."

Carter led a rush into the RPI zone. With Engineers defenseman Scott Basiuk backing up on the play, Carter sent a pass to Kemp coming down the slot. He fired it past goalie Nathan Marsters.

"Jordy Wakefield played very, very well in goal," Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin said. "We really liked our effort all game. We thought we started to execute in the second period, making passes [and] making plays. We got better and better at that.

"The outcome, obviously, was something that we feel real good about."

At the start, it looked as if the Engineers would be smiling by the end of the game.

Economakos scored a powerplay goal with 4:27 left in the first period. He was stopped twice by Wakefield before putting the third shot home.

It became 2-0 13 seconds into the second period when Economakos tipped a Keith MCWilliams drive past Wakefield.

But David Wrigley rallied the Lakers in the second. He scored a power-play goal at 7:49, and then was left alone along the right side and one-timed a Scott Champagne pass past Marsters at 15:35.

Now, the Engineers are left to avoid a second straight lastplace finish in their own tournament.

"We had a bitter taste in our mouth from last season," Economakos said. "Nobody wants to lose close games in their own tournament. We're very unhappy with tonight's result. It's just going to feed the fire for us to come out with a very strong game [today]."

Huskies win

Steve Sanders and Ray Ortiz scored 24 seconds apart in the second period, erasing a Colgate one-goal lead and giving Northeastern the victory.

The Raiders (7-7-2) led, 3-2 after the first period on goals by Joey Mormina, Kyle Wilson and Justin Spencer. Ortiz and Aaron Moore had the Huskies goals.

Mike Morris tied it for Northeastern (3-9-2) 2:06 into the second period. Mormina's powerplay goal midway through the second gave Colgate a 4-3 lead before Sanders and Ortiz struck.

Jason Guerriero scored in the third period for Northeastern, which reached the final of the 2000 tournament.