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Engineers Cat-apult into ECAC's 10th Place

Win Over Catamounts, 6-4, Gives RPI Three-point Weekend

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 3, 2002

BURLINGTON, Vt. - Saturday night's 6-4 victory over the ECAC's weakest team - Vermont - certainly won't lead Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's highlight film this year, but it was a huge one.

The Engineers absolutely had to have it, they played without leading scorer Marc Cavosie as well as mainstay Nolan Graham and the reeling Catamounts held Matt Murley out of the 'G' column until his empty-netter with 22 seconds remaining.

Jim Henkel scored a pair of goals, while Carson Butterwick, Andrew McPherson and Murley each had one goal and one assist. Defenseman Jim Vickers assisted three times.

A loss would have buried Rensselaer in 11th place in the ECAC - the top 10 teams qualify for the playoffs - but the ugly victory gives them 11 points on a 4-7-3 ECAC record and shoots them past Brown (4-8-2) and into 10th place.

Twice prior to Murley's late goal RPI led by two goals - losing the lead once, nearly doing so the second time.

"We'd get'em going, we think we've broken their back with a goal off a skate, or off the shin pad, then we get into penalty trouble and they come back," said RPI coach Dan Fridgen. "But I thought we were pretty resilient all weekend."

It was the second straight 3-point weekend for the Engineers - they tied 2-2 at Dartmouth Friday - who failed to get more than two in each of their four previous tries.

Fridgen benched the slumping Graham (5-11-16) for a defensive zone error on Friday night and Cavosie, the ECAC's top scorer (16-19-35), sat out a game after incurring a slight shoulder injury Friday night.

"I should be fine for next week," Cavosie said Saturday night.

Patrick Sharp scored three power-play goals for Vermont (3-10-1, 3-18-2) as the Catamounts' power-play, which came in at a meager 14 percent, toyed with RPI penalty killers, who'd killed their previous 20 shorthanded situations.

Each time, Sharp would take a blast from near the blue line - beating RPI goalie Nathan Marsters once, ripping one off his glove another time and hitting the inside of the left goalpost on the final one.

"We'd been doing real well against some quality power-play guys," Fridgen said. "They really switched it up and got some movement going on and man, it was tough to figure. But I thought we hung in there."

Goals by Carson Butterwick, Mikael Hammarstrom and Jim Henkel had given the Engineers a 3-1 lead with 5:41 to play in the second period. However, as any RPI fan knows, two-goal leads have not been safe in the Engineers' hands this season.

Butterwick beat little-used UVM senior goalie Tim Peters with a full-stride slapper from the right circle 6:07 into the game.

Sophomore Hammarstrom scored his first goal of the season to break a 1-1 tie on a power play early in the second period. Standing in the right circle, Hammarstrom took Matt McNeely's pass from the blue line, raised his stick, waited, spun around, and, getting a screen from McPherson, he wound up and rifled the puck into the back base of the cage.

"Matty (McNeely) made a great feed," Hammarstrom said. "I thought (first) about a one-timer but I saw a guy going down to block it, so I just walled around him."

"The guy (Peters) had a huge 5-hole. I saw him open up and fired it"

Chris Migliore created a turnover in the Vermont end at about 6:45 of the second period and fed Henkel gliding alone down the slot, but Peters made a sliding stick save.

Henkel got a gift goal later when Peters came out of the net too soon and couldn't reach the puck when Henkel's long line-change shot deflected off the skate of a Vermont defenseman.

Henkel's second goal came on the power play, as he broke a 3-3 tie at 6:31 of the third period, chipping in a rebound.