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One Shot Stymies RPI

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, March 15, 2004

HANOVER, N.H. - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute goalie Nathan Marsters did everything he could against Dartmouth to keep his team’s hopes of playing in this weekend’s ECAC tournament championship round alive.

But a tricky backhand shot that eluded him early in the third period, combined with another game where the offense fired blanks, ended the Engineers’ season Sunday night.

Eric Przepiorka beat Marsters with a backhander past his right pad from the slot 21 seconds into the final period, and goalie Dan Yacey made 32 saves for his second straight shutout, leading the Big Green over the Engineers, 1-0, in the deciding game of their quarterfinal series at Thompson Arena.

"It was right there," Marsters said. "One more save, and we’re going to overtime. All backhands are tough."

The fourth-seeded Big Green (14-9-9) won the series, 2-1. They will face Harvard, the sixth seed, in the second semifinal at 7:45 p.m. Friday at Pepsi Arena. The first semifinal, at 4:30 p.m., pits top-seeded Colgate against ninth-seeded Clarkson.

After winning Game 1 Friday, 3-1, the Engineers, who finished 22-15-1, couldn’t get another puck past Yacey. They were blitzed, 6-0, in Game 2 Saturday, and ended the season with a scoreless streak of 120 minutes, 57 seconds.

"It’s real disappointing," RPI senior forward Ryan Shields said. "[Saturday] night, they came out with their backs against the wall, and played like their lives were on the line. Tonight, we gave it all we’ve got. We left nothing in the tanks."

The Engineers had some chances to score. Brad Farynuk hit the crossbar with a shot from the left wing late in the second period. In the dying seconds of the game, with Marsters pulled for an extra attacker, Yacey made a save on a Kevin Croxton shot from on the doorstep. Nick Economakos then hit the crossbar just as time expired.

"We played well," RPI senior co-captain Scott Basiuk said. "We had a lot of shots, and a lot of quality opportunities. You’ve got to give it to [Yacey], he’s pretty good. Right at the end of the game, Crox had the short side open, and I watched the kid see the puck. He covered that top corner. Crox had it."

Before the weekend, the only playoff shutout Dartmouth ever recorded was in the 1980 quarterfinals. Current coach Bob Gaudet made 23 saves in an 8-0 win.

"I couldn’t ask for anymore," Gaudet said of Yacey. "Two shutouts in a row against a good offensive team, and they threw everything at him toward the end. I don’t know how it stayed out of the net, but he did a great job."

Marsters made 35 saves, including 29 in the first two periods.

Hugh Jessiman had a chance to score the first goal for Dartmouth when he crashed the net less than two minutes into the game, but Marsters stopped it. Jessiman, Mike Ouellette and Lee Stempniak all had opportunities to score with Marsters down with 14:31 left. Marsters didn’t let the puck get past him.

Seventeen seconds later, Marsters made a glove save on a Jason Costa shot from three feet out.

"You look at the season [Marsters has] had, and he’s basically taken two goals off of his goals against average," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "He just had an outstanding season for us."

Marsters continued his stellar play in the second. His best save came with 11:33 left when he got his glove on a Jessiman shot from the left circle after a faceoff win by Ouellette.

But during a four-on-four situation, Przepiorka took a pass from Tanner Glass, caught Basiuk flat-footed along the left wing in the RPI zone, cut to the net and slipped a backhander past Marsters.

"I got a good chip from Tanner Glass off the boards," Przepiorka said. "[Basiuk] overcommitted. I just put it through his legs, and I was able to go in on my backhand and get a shot past [Marsters'] short-side pad."