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In the Crease

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 27, 2004

SCOUTING RPI

'Play loose, see what happens': No longer in control of their own destiny, perhaps the Engineers can play a little looser this weekend. 'Just win your games and not worry about other scores as the evening wears on; just notice them long after your game is over'.

Should either Cornell or Dartmouth earn no more than one point in its two games, the Engineers can get a first-round bye if they win tonight and at Yale (10-10-0, 12-15-0) on Saturday night.

"You can't (worry about other scores)," Rensselaer head coach Dan Fridgen said. "This past weekend was the time, during the games, that we had control of our own destiny. Now, we don't. We're going to have to have help from other teams in order for it to shake out."

"That doesn't mean that it's not still attainable but the only thing we can do to help (that) destiny is to take care of the little things that need to be taken care of during 60 minutes of hockey and hopefully come out on the winning end."

Co-captain Scott Basiuk said the team seemed tight against Colgate last week and agreed the team could be more loose this week.

"I don't know if it'll be any easier," Basiuk said, however. "Every week is pretty much the same. Every week is big, no matter what the circumstances." And, with the fact that two of their three victories in all of their 2002-03 season (3-26-2), came against RPI - as well as one of their ties - the Tigers will be confident tonight.

And with a chance to once-and-for-all end the Engineers' chance at a first-round bye, Princeton will likely be pumped up.

'Get some goals': Last time they played Princeton and Yale, the Engineers scored a total of 10 goals, by far their most of any weekend this season. Those two teams have allowed the most goals of any ECAC teams on the season.

The Engineers have not been strong during the first period of most of their recent games and Vic Pereira's goal last week against Colgate was RPI's first opening-period tally in eight games.

Princeton has been outscored 37-14 in the first period this season and within that stat is RPI's 3-0 first-period lead during the Engineers' earlier 6-4 victory at Houston Field House. Is this the weekend the Engineers jump on an opponent?

"Hopefully," said Pereira, who was the only RPI forward to score a goal last weekend and who's scored three of the Engineers' last eight equal-strength goals (excluding empty-netters).

"Obviously, our 5-on-5 situation hasn't been where we want it to be."

SCOUTING PRINCETON

Long road for Tigers: Earlier in the season, Princeton looked as if it may rival RPI and Colgate for most-improved team in the ECAC. The Tigers went 3-26-2 last season but back in November, a 3-0 shutout of Yale gave the Tigers a 3-4-0 ECAC record. They've won only twice since then and are winless in their past 13 outings (0-11-2). Their last win was a 2-1 decision over on Dec. 16.

Injuries have been a big part of the recent slide. For several games, the Tigers were without second-leading scorer Mike Patton as well as veteran forwards Neil Stevenson-Moore and Sharim Fouladger-Mercer and defenseman Seamus Young.

Patton (4-8-12) is still out.

Equal billing: As well as being the ECAC's lowest scoring team (all games) with just 53 goals in 27 games (1.9). the Tigers have also allowed more goals (in conference games - 75) than any other team.

Princeton has permitted five or more goals in a game 13 times - including 10 ECAC contests - and has allowed four on three other occasions. The Tigers are 0-15-1 when allowing four or more goals.

Since its 5-4 loss to Yale on Dec. 5 and 6-4 victory over Princeton the following night, Rensselaer has permitted more than three goals in a game just once.

Who's hot: Princeton has only eight goals in its last six games and the only Tiger who has any sort of scoring streak is freshman right winger and leading scorer Grant Goeckner-Zoeller (5-12-17), who has two goals and two assists in his past four games.