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In the Crease

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 7, 2004

SCOUTING RPI

Sputtering attack: Rensselaer has won with tight defensive play, solid goaltending and scoring a few more goals than the opposition. As the season enters the stretch run, however, the Engineers' hopes for a Top 4 finish may hinge on their ability to generate more goals, especially in equal-strength situations. Discounting overtime and empty-net goals, the Engineers have just three equal-strength goals over their past seven games.

"No, you're not going to win consistently with that," RPI head coach Dan Fridgen said.

Who's hot: Kevin Croxton has four goals and three assists in his past four games. Fellow soph right winger Kirk MacDonald had 12 points (6-6-12) in the nine games prior to Friday night.

Tough one to overcome: Both leading scorer Croxton and co-captain Scott Basiuk admitted the Engineers will have a tough time overcoming Friday night's disappointing 3-2 loss to St. Lawrence when they host rival Clarkson on Big Red Freakout Night tonight.

"Absolutely," Basiuk said when asked if Friday's game will still be lingering on the Engineers' minds when they hit the ice tonight.

"Yeah, this stings a bit," he said. "You want to sweep your home weekends when you can, especially on Freakout Weekend. We need these points in the standings and we just blew two tonight."

"It's not heart-breaking, we're not going to go home and cry about it," Basiuk said. "We have to come back to the rink, re-focus and play our butts off ... and cut down on our mistakes."

"Very tough one to put behind us," Croxton said. "But we can't hang our heads. It's a short season and we have to try to forget about it as best we can when we leave the rink."

Tonight, the Engineers will have to use the home building advantage, as well as the homeice advantage, Fridgen said, noting a sellout crowd of better than 5,000 will jam Houston Field House's rafters.

"The crowd will be excited and making a lot of noise and we'll have to feed off the crowd," he said.

Notes: The Engineers tonight will try to sweep Clarkson for just the second time since the national championship season of 1984-85. ... Fridgen will try again tonight to tie Ned Harkness for second-place (behind Mike Adessa) on RPI's all-time victories list with 176 tonight. Harkness, who coached RPI to the 1954 NCAA title, will be on hand with a group of players from that team.

SCOUTING CLARKSON

Engineers in Knights' crosshairs: Year 1 of the George Roll Era at Clarkson has been a disappointment, in that the Golden Knights have lost several games they should have won and haven't been able to put together a winning streak. The Knights are 6-6-2 in the ECAC, good for seventh place and are 11-10-5 overall.

The only times they've been able to win straight games, however, the opposition came from the upstart Atlantic Hockey conference or College Hockey America.

Last week, the Golden Knights held off Princeton for a 3-2 victory, but then blew a late lead after overcoming a 2-0 deficit in a 4-3 overtime loss to Yale.

That gave the Knights a 4-6 record in games decided by one goal. Throw in their five ties and it's been nail-biting time most nights.

Of last week's split, Roll said "we thought we played pretty good again this weekend. We had one bad period, the first against Yale but after that, I thought we turned the game around. But that type of weekend has really been the story of our season."

Who's hot: Center Mac Faulkner leads the ECAC in assists (21) and in scoring (11-21-32) and his line has been one of the hottest in the league. Faulkner is nursing a foot injury but took a 13-game scoring streak into the Union game and had 14 points (4-10-14) over his past 11 games. Right winger Chris Blight is 5-9-14 over his past 12 games and left winger Mike Sullivan is 2-3-5 in the past three games. Brother John Sullivan 2-8-10 during the past eight games and center Trevor Edwards is 6-2-8 over his past eight outings. Veteran wingers Jay LaTulippe (7-6-13 over his past 11 games) and Rob McFeeters (3-4-7 over his past eight) have stepped up their scoring of late, too.