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Engineers Click on Power Play

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, February 11, 2004

Opposing teams should avoid taking penalties against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, because they are going to get burned on the power play.

After Saturday’s 3-for-9 effort in a 4-2 victory over Clarkson the Big Red Freakout, the Engineers lead the ECAC with 37 powerplay goals, including a league best 23 in conference play.

The Engineers have the nation’s 11 th-best power play at 20.4 percent (37-for-181). They have scored at least one powerplay goal in 10 straight games, and 18 of the last 19. Sophomore forward Kevin Croxton leads the nation with 10 power-play goals.

"It’s been great for us all year," said freshman forward Oren Eizenman, who scored the gametying goal on the power play in the third period. "We work hard on it in practice."

However, while the Engineers have been excellent on the power play, they haven’t been scoring much at even strength. In the last eight games, RPI has scored 21 goals, only five of which have come at even strength.

RPI coach Dan Fridgen isn’t too concerned about the lack of even-strength goals.

"Games are coming down to special teams," Fridgen said. "Generally, five-on-five hockey is played pretty evenly, and those are the tough goals to get. So, if we’re doing a good job of. . . scoring on the power play, that’s how you have to win hockey games."

Ben Barr, who scored the game-winning goal on the power play against the Golden Knights, doesn’t want to see the team become too dependent on the power play for all the goals.

"We do need to score some more goals even strength to put ourselves in a better position come the end of the season," Barr said. "But as long as our power play is clicking, we can’t really complain."

Fridgen ties Harkness

Fridgen earned his 176th career win Saturday at RPI, tying him with Ned Harkness on the school’s all-time hockey coaches’ win list.

Fridgen downplayed tying the coaching legend.

"He’s just a super person, and a fantastic coach," said Fridgen, who has a 176-150-30 record in his 10 years as RPI’s head coach. "There’s a legend. Just to be mentioned in the same sentence with his name is an honor."

Mike Addesa leads the career win list with 186.

Harkness speaks

Fridgen invited Harkness to speak to the team before Saturday’s game.

"He wished them luck and had a couple other words of wisdom, as well," Fridgen said.

Barr was impressed.

"We have so much respect for the guy, even though most of us hadn’t met him until [Saturday]," Barr said. "He just commands respect when he walks around because you know what he’s done for the program, and what he’s done everywhere he’s been. It was great to have him in there and wishing us luck."

First sellout

The Freakout crowd of 5,159 was the Engineers’ first sellout of the season. It was a loud, boisterous crowd from start to finish.

Eizenman, who was experiencing his first Freakout, wishes it could be like that all the time.

"I loved it," Eizenman said. "The only thing is I don’t see why every game couldn’t be like that. We’re out here every weekend playing the exact same game. We feed off the fans. The fans are great. We appreciate them so much. It makes a huge difference when they’re there."

Morissette commits

RPI received a verbal commitment for next season from center Jake Morissette of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League’s Williams Lake TimberWolves.

Morissette, who attended the Freakout, made his commitment before the game, according to college hockey sources. The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder leads the team in scoring with 36 goals and 41 assists in 50 games.

Beal back

Union junior forward Joel Beal has been reinstated by coach Nate Leaman, and is expected to be in the lineup Friday when the Dutchmen visit Brown.

Beal, who is the team’s secondleading scorer with six goals and 15 assists, was suspended from the Clarkson and St. Lawrence games for what Leaman said was a violation of team rules.

Thiel out

Union freshman forward Jon Thiel, who had yet to play a game for the Dutchmen, was dismissed from the team by Leaman for academic reasons.

Thiel had been injured since the start of the season. He came to Union from Waterloo of the Mid-Western Junior "B" Hockey League, where he had 15 goals and 45 assists last season. RPI, Union notables

RPI goalie Nathan Marsters recorded his 50th career victory Saturday. The senior netminder is fourth on the school’s win list, trailing Neil Little (58), Daren Puppa (54) and Joel Laing (52).

Marsters is second in two other categories: games played with 104, six less than Little; and minutes played with 5,988:49. Little also leads that category at 6,302:01. Marsters is third in saves with 2,802. Little is first with 2,935 saves, and Laing is second with 2,881.

Dutchmen junior forward Jordan Webb had just three goals and seven assists in his first 23 games. But in the last five games, Webb has been on a tear. He has 12 points (seven goals, five assists) over that span, including a hat trick and a pair of two-goal games.

Webb, who leads the Dutchmen with 10 goals and 12 assists, was named ECAC player of the week Monday.

Scott Seney increased his team record when he collected his fifth game-winning goal of the season in Friday’s 3-1 win over Clarkson.

Seney also set another Union record. It was his third gamewinner in ECAC play, breaking the record of two held by nine players.

Streak ends

The Union women’s hockey team is on a 15-game losing streak after getting swept in two games by Princeton over the weekend.

But it did end a scoreless streak in Sunday’s 10-1 loss. Elise Nichols’ goal 11 seconds into the second period ended a drought of 229 minutes, 47 seconds without a goal. The Dutchwomen had been shut out in three straight games.

Incredible comeback

Harvard, the preseason pick to win the ECAC, has struggled all season. And after trailing Yale, 4-0, after the first period, and 5-2 after the second Friday at Ingalls Rink, the Crimson appeared headed to their ninth loss in ECAC play, and 12th overall.

But the Crimson pulled off an incredible comeback. They scored five goals in the third period to pull out a 7-5 victory.

Dennis Packard, Tyler Kolarik, Tim Pettit, Noah Welch and Brendan Bernakevitch scored in the third for the Crimson, who outshot the Bulldogs, 28-10, in the period, and 58-29 for the game.

"One of the things we, as a young team, have to learn to deal with is finding a way to stave off overconfidence and hubris when success comes so easily in the first period like that," Yale forward Christian Jensen told the New Haven Register. "It was a lesson on how to bear down and stay on top of our game without letting up at all. It teaches us to never be overconfident, especially against a hard-working team like Harvard. Maybe it will help us down the stretch, but right now, it’s painful."

BC No. 1

There is a new No. 1 team atop the USCHO.com/NCAA hockey poll.

Boston College ended North Dakota’s 12-week run at No. 1. The Eagles received 36 first-place votes and 596 points.

The Fighting Sioux, who were swept over the weekend by WCHA-rival Wisconsin, dropped to second.

Beanpot win

Ryan Murphy’s goal 6:07 into overtime Monday gave BC a 2-1 win over Boston University in the Beanpot tournament championship game at the FleetCenter.

The Eagles outshot the Terriers, 52-13, but were down, 1-0, late in the third period. Ty Hennes sent the game into OT with a goal at 16:30 of the third.

BU goalie Sean Fields made 50 saves and was named the Beanpot MVP, the first time a player from a losing team has won the honor.