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Engineers Dominant in Skating to 4-1 Win Over Crimson

By Bob Weiner

Schenectady Daily Gazette, January 4, 2004

TROY - Hard work eventually paid off for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey team.

The Engineers dominated Harvard in nearly every facet of the game en route to a 4-1 victory Saturday before a crowd of 2,839 at Houston Field House.

By the time freshman right winger Tommy Green scored an unassisted goal after he stole the puck in front with 2:55 left in the game, the hard-checking Engineers had already wrapped up their ninth win of the season to move over the.500 mark in both ECAC play (4-3-1) and overall (9-8-2).

Harvard, which had beaten RPI in five of the previous six meetings, fell to 5-6-1 and 7-8-2.

"That was no different than the last three games we played. We stuck with our work ethic," said RPI head coach Dan Fridgen, whose team was just 1-4 on this current homestand, the team's longest of the season. "We got a couple of scrappy goals."

"I can't say enough about the team as a whole. They were working so hard with not much to show for it. But they turned it up a couple of notches. It was a big win, and we needed it."

The Engineers, who got to most of the loose pucks by sheer determination, got on the board early in the opening period when senior center Conrad Barnes rifled in a shot from between the circles after Cody Wojdyla dug the puck out from behind the net and slid it perfectly onto his stick. RPI dominated play from there.

"I thought we were hungrier tonight," said Barnes. "I thought we played real strong defensively. Every guy on the team was finishing his checks."

Sophomore right winger Kevin Croxton helped awaken RPI's sleepy power play with a hard wrister in front at 2:29 of the second period. The Engineers had gone 0-for-8 with an extra man Friday night against Brown.

After senior goalie Nathan Marsters made a brilliant stop on Brendan Bernakevitch during a three-on-none breakaway seven minutes into the second session, the Crimson finally scored on a Dan Murphy rebound goal at 12:49.

But RPI regained its two-goal advantage when sophomore Kirk MacDonald scored on a two-on-one breakaway from the left wing. MacDonald faked a pass and blasted in a shot from the left circle at 15:27 for his eighth goal of the season.

"That's the most physical I've seen this team play in four years," said Marsters, who recorded 21 saves. "We've been playing well, but we just haven't scored many goals. I'm usually in my own little world back there, but I noticed that it was a very physical game, and our guys made a lot of good checks."

"We've been working on attitude adjustment after disappointing losses," explained Fridgen, whose team has struggled scoring goals since the holidays began.

"This team just didn't give up. Harvard is a really good team, and this is a good win for us."