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RPI, Big Green Evenly Matched

Engineers Hope First Win of Season over Dartmouth Comes at Perfect Time

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, March 14, 2002

LAKE PLACID - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's two game sweep of Princeton - the No. 5 seed over the No. 6 seed - was the most one-sided of the ECAC's five first-round, best-of-3 series.

So, how does tonight's semifinals qualifier between the Engineers and No. 4 Dartmouth size up?

How about dead even?

Dartmouth (14-12-5 overall) has had RPI's number over the past two seasons, going 4-1-1 against the Engineers. But RPI's dramatic turnaround after winning just two of its first 10 (2-6-2) ECAC games may give the 18-12-4 Engineers a slight upper hand

Rensselaer coach Dan Fridgen says neither is a big factor.

"I would say there's not really an edge for either team because both teams have momentum with their sweeps in the quarterfinals (series)," he said, "so it's the play-in game with a wave of momentum."

"Ours is a little more extended, but I think our guys are confident that if they stick to the process that's led to our success, that it wouldn't matter who our next opponent would be, the end result would take care of itself in a favorable way. But in no way would I say we have an edge going in, or would I say they have an edge because we haven't beaten them."

Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet says "all of that is history and I don't think it really matters."

"It's a (different) building, a bigger ice surface, it's an ECAC championship. And when you get to this level, I don't think past records or results are that important," Gaudet added.

Much of Rensselaer's recent success has been due to its most effective forechecking, but one edge the Big Green have is they have two outstanding offensive defensemen - Pete Summerfelt (7 goals-15 assists-22 points) and Trevor Byrne (5-16-21) - who can counteract that forecheck.

"Trevor and Peter are both outstanding and are important in dealing with (RPI's) forecheck," Gaudet said.

Dartmouth junior goalie Nick Boucher has beaten RPI five times in his career, including one shutout, but he may not play tonight.

Sophomore Darren Gastrock started four games recently and won both playoff games against Colgate.

"Nick played a lot of hockey for us this year and we decided to give him a rest and Darren came in and did a pretty good job. But Nick is a high-quality goaltender," Gaudet said.

Word around this Olympic town is that the Engineers are much better than their No. 5 seed status; that lately they've been as good as any team, with the possible exception of Cornell.

"I would say, outside of Cornell, (seeds) 2-5, flip a coin," Fridgen said. "And I think that's what they mean by that."

Gaudet echoed Fridgen's words.

"Cornell obviously ran away with it (regular-season title)." he said, "but the rest of us are very tight."

Well, the Big Green handed Cornell two of its three ECAC losses, 5-3 at CU, 1-0 at home.

"We played one of our best offensive games down there (Ithaca) and our best defensive game in our place," Gaudet said.

And if some feel RPI's outstanding 1-2 punch of Cavosie-Murley might make the difference, Gaudet won't buy it.

"RPI has an outstanding team," Gaudet said, "and it's more than just Murley and Cavosie. Everybody wants to focus on (them). It's a very good hockey team from top to bottom."

An edge?

Tough to find.