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RPI Players Calm and Cool in Preparation for Final Five Game

RPI Players Calm and Cool in Preparation for Final Five Game

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, March 14, 2002

LAKE PLACID - It was a loose group of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey players that left the Lake Placid Olympic Center ice on Wednesday.

In this season during which they stormed back from last place in mid-January to within an ice shaving - or a controversial disallowed goal - of third place, the Engineers are calm and ready for tonight's ECAC semifinal qualifier against Dartmouth.

Face-off time is 7:30 p.m. at the Olympic Center's 1980 Arena, as the fifth-seeded Engineers (18-12-4 overall) will battle the No. 4 Big Green (14-12-5).

"We're loose," said RPI captain Steve Munn. "And we're confident. We've been on a roll, but we haven't gotten big heads. The job's not done yet and it'll be a very tough game but we're focused."

Rensselaer coach Dan Fridgen noted that when the Engineers hit rock bottom, RPI was no sure bet to even make the playoffs.

"I think a little bit of the anxiety of whether or not we were even going to get here (Lake Placid) is gone and that makes them a little more loose. Now, it's just a matter of enjoying the process."

"Yeah, the whole last month, every weekend's been like two playoff games," said Marc Cavosie. "You had to worry about who else was winning or losing, if we'd be able to get (first-round) home ice. Now, there's still pressure, but it's a situation that you totally control your own destiny. You win, you keep playing, and that loosens you up somewhat."

Rensselaer has beaten Dartmouth just once in the past five meetings of the teams and let third-period leads disintegrate this season in a 4-2 loss at home and a 2-2 tie in Dartmouth.

Actually, when you get past the fact that Cavosie and Murley are 1-2 in ECAC scoring, the teams are quite similar.

The teams are arguably the ECAC's deepest at forward.

Left winger Mike Maturo is third in the ECAC and leads Dartmouth in scoring with 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists). Cavosie is at 22-26-48, Murley 21-21-42. Interestingly, RPI's top six forwards - Cavosie, Murley, Carson Butterwick, Jim Henkel, Andrew McPherson and Nolan Graham - have combined for 179 points.

Dartmouth's top six - Maturo, Jamie Herrington (12-19-31), Kent Gillings (11-18-29), Chris Baldwin (10-19-29), Lee Stempniak and Frank Nardella - have 164. The Big Green also have two solid two-way defensemen in Pete Summerfelt (7-15-22) and Trevor Byrne (5-16-21).

While Dartmouth struggled going into the playoffs (0-3-1 in its last four), RPI is 9-2-1 since its excruciatingly tough loss to the Big Green in which the Engineers gave up Gilings' tying goal with 3:26 remaining in the game and Herrington's go-ahead tally with 2:24 left.

That fact could certainly cause Dartmouth some consternation in a tight game tonight.

"I hope so," Cavosie said. "I hope if things get tight they get down on themselves."

Fridgen didn't deny that he and the players from time-to-time have thought that had Munn's disallowed goal with 1:07 remaining in their 2-1 loss to Cornell had been allowed (and had the game remained tied through overtime, or had RPI won it), the Engineers would have been seeded third in the tournament and would not have to worry about tonight's game. Harvard would be playing it instead.

"Yeah, I have," the coach said. "But you can't dwell. Hindsight is 20-20 ... and you know Dartmouth could be thinking the same thing, because they were in the same boat."

"Had we taken care of business earlier on," he added, "we wouldn't find ourselves in this situation. You make your bed, you lay in it. Yeah, you know, a bounce here or there, it would have changed things (dramatically). But that's the way it goes."