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Great Scott!

Defenseman Basiuk's Blast with 1:08 Remaining Gives RPI 2-1 Win Over Dartmouth and Berth in Semis

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, March 15, 2002

LAKE PLACID - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was due for a lucky bounce.

When it came Thursday night, Scott Basiuk buried it deep into the Dartmouth net with 1:08 remaining in the game, sending the delirious Engineers into the ECAC semifinals.

Matt Murley had tied the game for the Engineers on a sharp-angle shot about 90 seconds earlier, when it appeared Dartmouth was headed for just the third ECAC semifinal in school history.

Nathan Marsters was brilliant in the RPI net, stopping 33 shots by the Big Green, who were dominant for about half the game.

The only goal he allowed, by Chris Baldwin at 10:59 of the third, was off a scramble, as the rebound of a Lee Stempniak shot trickled out from underneath him and Baldwin banged it off an RPI backchecker, off Marsters' back and into the net.

Despair became jubilation later as the Engineers rallied.

"The nightmare became a dream," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "I'm very proud of the guys to stay focused, stay positive even though things weren't going our way."

Having two goals disallowed late in a 2-1 loss to Cornell late in the season, and having a tying goal batted in by a Union player in a 5-4 loss earlier, the Engineers figured that, in Marc Cavosie's words, "a few bounces should go our way, I would hope."

A tie in either of those losses would have kept the Engineers out of Thursday's so-called 'play-in' game.

One of those bounces, a weird one off the sideboards just inside the Dartmouth zone, came right to Basiuk's stick.

The cannon-shooting sophomore defenseman ripped a riser that bounced off goalie Darren Gastrock and into the net.

"That's the biggest goal of my career," Basiuk said matter-of-factly. "I was just hoping that I could do something to help us out."

How he did.

The 19-12-4 Engineers thus get another shot at runaway regular-season chaampion Cornell (23-6-2).

Whether or not they'll have their breath back after Thursday night's big sigh of relief is a question.

"Well, they were sitting in the stands and we certainly didn't show them anything," Fridgen said.

The Engineers, 13-3-1 in their last 17 games, were extremely loose at Wednesday's practice and again at Thursday's game day skate.

By game time, some tightness had set in.

"I thought we were tentative throughout the game," Fridgen said, "but we were doing a good job of keeping the (Dartmouth) shots to the outside, even though we didn't get many ourselves. And when we got the (scoring) opportunities, we capitalized on them. There weren't very many up to that point. I give these guys a lot of credit. Things weren't really going our way. I didn't think we played the way we're capable of playing, but good teams find a way to get the job done."

"And Nate (Marsters) did an excellent job of allowing us to get back into the game," Fridgen said.

Dartmouth (14-13-5) dominated the first period, outshooting the Engineers 17-5 - though few of them were quality shots - but the stanza ended scoreless, as did the slow-moving, listless second period.

Despite the fact they weren't at their best, the Engineers deserve credit because when Baldwin scored his sudden goal, it aroused RPI more than it gave the Big Green any lasting momentum.

"That's a great offensive team," Baldwin said, "and they're going to capitalize when they get chances."

Murley's goal was even more sudden than Baldwin's.

The Engineers tried to work a faceoff play to Murley but Dartmouth defenseman Trevor Byrne deflected the puck.

"But Danny Eberly stayed composed," Murley said, "and got a shot to the net. It just went through their defenseman's legs and I was at the right spot at the right time."

That spot was at the lower right slot just a couple feet inside the goal line and Dartmouth goalie Darren Gastrock was in front of the crease.

"I saw the (open) net and I just buried it," Murley said.