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RPI's Unwillingness to Quit Results in Four-point Weekend

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 11, 2002

TROY - With all that's been said about Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this season, with the great detail in which the Engineers' shortcomings have been chronicled, no one ever suggested they were quitters.

"Lacking focus, underachievers, unmotivated, inspirationally lacking, mentally weak, uncaring, indifferent to defeat, undisciplined"; each had been stated or implied about the Engineers from many corners.

But quitters? No way.

One thing they wouldn't do is totally tank when things just weren't going well and a big deficit was at hand.

Saturday night's 4-3 overtime victory over Clarkson, in which the Engineers trailed 3-0 with under 13 minutes remaining, was beautifully indicative.

"This team doesn't quit," said junior star Marc Cavosie, who scored two goals and set up a third.

"Going down 3-0, it would have been real easy to quit," Cavosie added. "I think it (the comeback) says a lot about the character of this team, to keep plugging away. We killed off a major (penalty) and people just kept stepping up for us."

Yep, the Engineers not only had the three-goal deficit to hurdle, they had some puzzling and questionable calls and no-calls to overcome.

There was no question about Ryan Shields' checking from behind major at 3:21 of the third period. But Shields was protecting Cavosie, who had just been slammed into the boards from behind.

Earlier, Matt Murley had put the puck into the net - Clarkson goalie Mike Walsh had it under his glove well behind the goal line - but neither the goal judge nor referee Jack Dunn saw it. Seconds later, RPI's Danny Eberly hit the post as the second period ended.

So, with a pair of near-misses, followed by the major penalty early in the third - and several missed chances late in the first period while trailing 2-0 - caving in to the frustration would have been understandable.

"They didn't throw in the towel, they didn't give it up," coach Dan Fridgen said of the Engineers. "We kept working at it, working at it and it certainly paid off."

The huge victory, coupled with Friday night's 3-2 victory over St. Lawrence marked the first time all season, and just the third time in two years, RPI has enjoyed a four-point weekend.

The sweep of two teams that had each beaten them previously shoots the Engineers into a tie for sixth place with Union in the ECAC race with a 6-7-3 record, 15 points.

And the victory over Clarkson was RPI's first over one of the conference's season-long contenders. With a 5-1-2 streak in their past eight games, the Engineers now hit the road for their next four games.

This week, they visit two teams right behind them in the race - Princeton (6-9-1, 13 points) and Yale (5-9-2, 12).

Cavosie's tying goal Saturday night, with 58 seconds remaining, came on a faceoff play, a faceoff won by sophomore Conrad Barnes. Fridgen said the key was the players' effort, not simply design.

"You can draw up all the faceoff plays and you can have all the systems in the world but it comes down to execution," he said. "They executed and earned that comeback win. I thought we really executed in that third period."

Indeed, Clarkson, with much better puck-handling and passing and superior special teams play, looked to be on the verge of blowing out the Engineers. On the other hand, RPI's play, except for a couple of defensive mistakes, was playing well.

Then, with about six or seven minutes remaining in the second period, the Engineers dominated the rest of the game.

"A superb job in all areas," Fridgen said.

On Friday night, discounting a late goal by St. Lawrence's Jim Lorentz, the Engineers played one of their best defensive games of the season.

"I thought we did a real good job defensively," Fridgen said. "Making sure a forward was down (low) to support. I thought all five guys in the defensive zone did an incredible job of making sure we didn't have many breakdowns ... and when we did, Nate (goalie Nathan Marsters) was there to make the save for us."

And Carson Butterwick had a pair of goals, then tallied the game-winner in overtime Saturday night.

Thus, the Engineers take their only three-game winning streak of the season to Princeton on Friday night.

"We have to keep it going," Murley said. "We're on a roll and everybody's playing well."

"We still have some things to prove," senior Jim Henkel said.