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RPI Shows Up, and Gets Shown Up

By Mike Kane

Schenectady Daily Gazette, March 14, 2004

HANOVER, N.H. - What now? Has Dartmouth wrested control of its ECAC playoff series with RPI?

No, said RPI players and coach Dan Fridgen. No, agreed Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet Saturday night, after his team beat the Engineers, 6-0, at Thompson Arena.

The series is tied at one victory apiece, but the Big Green emphatically answered RPIís 3-1 victory on Friday night with the college hockey equivalent of a whipping. Dartmouth got goals from six players by preying on defensive coverage blunders to hand RPI its worst defeat of the season.

"Whether itís 1-0 or whether itís 6-0, a loss is a loss," Fridgen said.

The decisive game in the best-of-three series will be played tonight, and RPI junior forward Nick Economakos said the scores of the first two games are unimportant.

"Somebodyís season is going to end," Economakos said. "It doesnít matter if we won 10-0 or they won 10-0 or it was 1-1 in seven overtimes. Itís all about advancing to next weekendís final four in the ECAC."

Actually, Economakos offered reasons to believe that there might be a positive reaction or two to be gained from the lopsided loss.

"I think 6-0 is almost better for our psyche," he said. "If you lose a 1-0 game, a heartbreaker, itís tough to come back from on an emotional level. When you get beat 6-0, itís almost like youíre waking a sleeping giant."

Economakos said Dartmouth answered the challenge to avoid elimination.

"It will be the same situation for us," he said. "A lot of guys are real anxious to get out on that ice and prove that we are a better team than we showed."

RPI wasnít very good in the first and third periods and missed converting on a few chances in the middle period that could have changed the game.

In the opening period, Dartmouth attacked RPI effectively with long passes through the neutral zone to forwards at the blue line. Jarrett Sampson connected on one of those chances that had the RPI defense scrambling at 11:51. Lee Stempniakís line was sent in a few times on those bombs through the neutral zone, but scored his goal at 16:34 by walking out from behind when he was left unchecked.

"The two goals they got, it was a matter of a one-on-one battle, and their guy won the one-onone battle," Fridgen said. "Thatís pretty much what it boiled down to."

Dartmouth frequently created chances by outworking RPI.

"We were very slow to react on our coverage in the zone," Fridgen said. "They came in, put pressure on us, and we basically were standing and watching."

RPI captain Scott Basiuk said he and his teammates were guilty of taking a night off after winning five games in a row. In his view, RPI didnít play very well in the first game of the series and still managed a victory, which might have impacted the second game.

"Obviously, we didnít come out with enough fire and thought we could just get it done by showing up," he said.

"The series is tied 1-1, no matter how you look at it. Both teamsí seasons are on the line. So itís going to be the team that wants it more. Weíve just got to show up and be ready to work, not like [Saturday] where we just showed up and thought it was going to happen."

Gaudet smiled at the suggestion that his team gained an advantage by handling RPI.

"Itís not like it carries over," he said. "That game is over. All it is is a W. It was a W for RPI in Friday night and a W for us."

"Itís a one-game playoff."