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RPI Solid in Goal

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, May 18, 2004

With the graduations of Nathan Marsters and Kevin Kurk, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was in need of another goaltender.

But RPI coach Dan Fridgen isnít ready to hand over the No. 1 job to incoming freshman Jordan Alford just yet.

Alford leads the list of seven recruits who will join the RPI hockey program in the fall, the school announced Monday.

He will join returnee Andrew Martin in the nets.

Alford posted a 23-15-2 record with a 3.42 goals-against average for the Canmore Eagles of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, with a .910 save percentage and two shutouts. Alford was named the teamís most valuable player, and earned the Stewy Stewart Award, given to the player in the AJHLís South Division who best exhibits character, dedication, perseverance, integrity and sportsmanship.

He is ranked 28 th among North American goalies in the final NHL Central Scouting Bureauís list of draft-eligible players.

"I only saw him play once," Fridgen said, "but Iím confident heíll be able to make the jump to college hockey."

Martin, who transferred to RPI from Fairfield, played in three games for the Engineers last season. He was 1-1 with a 1.87 GAA and a .922 save percentage.

Marsters was the No. 1 goalie last season. He was 21-13-1 with a 2.15 GAA, a .922 save percentage and five shutouts, and helped the Engineers reach the ECAC tournament quarterfinals. Kurk, who made 45 career appearances at RPI, played in only two games last season.

Alford and Martin will compete for the No. 1 spot.

"Iím not labeling any one guy as the clear-cut goaltender," Fridgen said. "Itís going to be a similar situation as in the case of Nathan and Kevin, where youíve got two guys who played pretty well. In the end, itís Nathan that wins out the position."

Five forwards - Tyler Eaves, Andrew Lord, Jake Morissette, Jonathan Ornelas and Dan Peace - and defenseman Jacob Schuster make up the rest of the recruiting class.

Eaves (5-foot-10, 190 pounds), the son of former Adirondack Red Wings star Murray Eaves and nephew of Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves, had 23 goals and 47 assists for Shattuck-St. Maryís (Minn.) last season.

Lord (6-3, 190) played for the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League. Lord, who committed to RPI two seasons ago, was the Vipersí fourth-leading scorer with 16 goals and 29 assists. He was the teamís top scorer in the playoffs with five goals and two assists in five games.

Lord is rated 175 th in the Central Scouting Bureau report.

Morissette (5-9, 180) played for the BCJHLís Williams Lake Timberwolves. He was the Wolvesí second-leading scorer with 43 goals and 47 assists.

Ornelas (5-9, 175) was the leading scorer for the Milton Ice-Hawks of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League with 35 goals and 32 assists.

Peace (6-1, 185), whose father, Dave, played at Cornell, led the North American Hockey Leagueís Toledo Ice Diggers in scoring with nine goals and 25 assists and 113 penalty minutes.

"Everybodyís got a little something to add," Fridgen said. "When you look at all our forwards, weíve got a good mixture of speed and size."

Schuster (6-3, 195) had six goals and 16 assists for the Walpole Stars of the Eastern Junior Hockey League.

"Iím real happy with the defense right now," said Fridgen, who lost just Scott Basiuk from the blueline corps. "There were some guys who didnít get a lot of time last year just because of the depth we had back there. Theyíll work themselves into getting some time this upcoming season."

Schedule change

There is another change in RPIís 2004-05 schedule.

The Oct. 30 home game against Merrimack has been canceled because the Warriors had scheduled too many games. The Engineers will now play Mercyhurst on that date instead of Dec. 31.

RPI was able to add a two-game series at Notre Dame Jan. 1-2, giving it 36 games.