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Engineers Feasting on Home Cookin'

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 26, 2001

TROY - Two down, seven to go.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, blessed with not only a nine-game homestand but the clear favorite's role in at least seven of those games, made it 2-0 on the homestand Saturday.

The Engineers survived some spectacular goaltending by Iona's Mike Fraser, got a couple of goals from their third line, played a solid defensive game and posted a 3-1 victory.

The Engineers won even though the Nolan Graham line (Matt Murley-Carson Butterwick) was blanked for the first time this season.

Goals when neither Graham's nor Marc Cavosie's line was on the ice had been rare this season.

But Jim Henkel's third line got goals from Ryan Shields and Nick Economakos and Cavosie scored his first in five games (he had nine assists during that time), breaking a 1-1 tie with a power-play blast 4:37 into the final period.

Goaltender Nathan Marsters showed some flashbacks of his outstanding freshman season and posted his second straight victory.

Though they were repeatedly denied by Fraser, the Engineers persevered and put 48 shots on the Iona net.

And RPI pulled even overall at 4-4-0 with a three-game return to ECAC play looming.

Rival Union invades Houston Field House Saturday night, then the Engineers host Yale and Princeton Dec. 7-8.

Though all three teams have had some surprising results thus far, each was picked to finish among the bottom five in the ECAC.

"To get back to .500 I thought was real important," Fridgen said. "We outshot our opponent and overall we kept four lines rolling all the way right to the end of the game."

And Fridgen was pleased to see the Engineers take control over the final 20 minutes of the game.

"We did a much better job in the third period than we did in the first two periods as far as our systems and our forecheck," he said. "We caught them back on their heels a little bit and won the game in the third period."

And while Rensselaer isn't a heavily physical team, Fridgen doesn't want the Engineers to become an unphysical bunch. He told them so between the second and third periods.

"I thought we needed to be a little more physical than we were in the first and second," Fridgen said. "I thought we were letting them off the hook a little bit. Some guys who didn't have any hits should have hits. Let's take the body on them and keep working our system, play solid defense and build our offense off of it. I thought we did a good job doing that."

Marsters had struggled mightily controlling rebounds - and with his confidence - prior to his 4-3 victory over Mercyhurst last week.

He had lost the No. 1 job he held most of last season and figured fellow sophomore Kevin Kurk would be back in the net Saturday night.

"Yeah, a litle (surprised), the way things have been going," he said. "It's nice to get two wins finally. It was a rough start for me. It feels good."

Fridgen wanted to give Marsters some added rhythm and confidence, rather than go back to Kurk.

"I think that was real important for him," Fridgen said. "He's been fighting things a little bit but he made some key saves for us. In practice he's been looking good and I thought this was a real confidence booster for him."

Fridgen said it's not a rotation system between Kurk and Marsters, but rather "whatever my gut tells me."

"I made the decision (on Marsters) just prior to the pre-game skate," the coach said.

And as for Union, "I don't have to worry about (that) until next Saturday."

Fridgen felt Economakos' goal could spark not only his confidence, but that of the other freshmen forwards, too.

"I thought he showed a lot of poise there for a freshman," Fridgen said. "Jim (Henkel) made a nice pass to him on a 2-on-1 and Nick was poised enough to hold it, wait for the goaltender to go down and then he just roofed it. Those are the types of goals that instinct takes over. He knew that the goaltender was going down, so he fired it up top. It was a great goal for his first (collegiate) goal and I hope that's one of many for him."

Rensselaer captain Steve Munn was "pretty happy with how things turned out. I thought our defense played real well. Our offense was a little slow getting going. We had our chances early but we couldn't finish and (Fraser) really robbed us a few times. He had a great glove hand."

Munn gave credit to all four freshmen in the lineup - Economakos, winger C.J. Hanafin and defensemen Matt McNeely and Blake Pickett.

"Two first-year guys playing solid on the blue line," he said. "Up front, Hanafin had a couple of breakaways and Economakos had a two-point night. Nick was unbelievable. He's out there making stuff happen every shift. He's not playing like a freshman. We're happy to see him being successful. He really deserves it."

"Our freshmen really led the charge tonight," Munn said.