Monday, February 27, 2006
Sunday, February 26, 2006
by Rob Tricchinelli/Special to USCHO
TROY, N.Y. — A deflection off a skate here, a non-goal there, and the Colgate Raiders stole two points from the RPI Engineers at Houston Field House on Saturday, edging them 2-1.
After weathering a difficult second period when the Raiders were out-shot 19-2 but still managed to stay even on the scoreboard, Colgate’s conference-leading power play got a lucky bounce at 6:19 of the third. A centering pass from Kyle Wilson deflected off of Jesse Winchester’s skate and found plenty of open net to give the Raiders the lead.
“It’s a crazy game, you know?” said Colgate Head Coach Don Vaughan. “The puck bounces funny and sometimes it bounces your way and sometimes it doesn’t. We got a couple of nice bounces tonight.”
Minutes later, the Engineers appeared to tie things up on a power play of their own. A blast from the right point by defenseman Keith MCWilliams appeared to go in the net. It bounced just inside the crossbar, off a pad on the top part of the net, and back out. The goal light, however, never went on and the officials allowed play to continue.
The crowd reacted angrily, and after the game, RPI Head Coach Dan Fridgen put it very succinctly: “That was no phantom. That was a goal. No question in my mind whatsoever.”
The missed call notwithstanding, the Engineers had plenty of offensive chances in the last two periods, but Raider goalie Mark Dekanich stood tall. He made 35 saves in the win, including 18 in the second, as RPI generated plenty of traffic in front of the net and peppered him with shots from the point. MCWilliams alone had six shots on goal in the second period.
Engineer captain Brad Farynuk gave his team the 1-0 lead at 6:34 of the second while on a two-man advantage. After he and MCWilliams were denied by Dekanich on point shots, Oren Eizenman recovered the puck in the right-wing corner and sent it to Farynuk at the point. Farynuk took a few strides toward the net and fired a shot that beat Dekanich to the stick side.
Farynuk was upbeat about the Engineer effort despite the loss.
“I think that we did a real good job of sustaining pressure for most of the second and most of the third period,” he said. “Give credit to the goaltender; I think he played a heck of a game.”
Colgate’s first goal, which Jon Smyth scored on a behind-the-net feed from Peter Bogdanich, also came on the power play. Three RPI penalty killers were fighting for the puck along the left-wing boards. When the puck popped free to Bogdanich, he had plenty of space to work the puck to Smyth.
Each Raider goal came with Engineer Mark Yurkewecz in the box for interfering with Dekanich. The first penalty was a high-sticking call that came while Yurkewecz fought for the rebound of a Reed Kipp shot, and the second was an obstruction-interference call.
RPI pulled Lange with just over a minute to go and had other chances to tie the game, but the Raiders held on and skated away with the victory despite being out-shot 36-18 and playing much of the game in their own end.
“We found a way to win, and that’s something we’ve done all year long,” said Vaughan.
The win gave Colgate a 14-6-2 conference mark (18-10-6 overall) and guaranteed them a tie for the regular-season ECACHL title. With Dartmouth’s victory over St. Lawrence, the Big Green will share the Cleary Cup with the Raiders. Dartmouth, however, holds the tiebreaker and will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed. Both teams will have next weekend off.
The Engineers (14-15-6 overall, 8-8-6 ECACHL) finished tied with travel partner Union for sixth place, but the Dutchmen hold the tiebreaker. RPI will host tenth-seeded Quinnipiac in an opening round, best-of-three series starting on Friday. In the regular season meetings between the teams, the Engineers won 4-2 at home in November, and the two teams skated to a 4-4 tie at Quinnipiac two weeks ago.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
by Rob Tricchinelli/Special to USCHO
TROY, N.Y. — RPI fans brought the thunder and the Engineer forwards provided the early flash in a 2-0 home shutout of Cornell on Friday.
With RPI’s Houston Field House packed with 3,945 thunderstick-wielding fans, Kevin Croxton and Oren Eizenman netted first period goals just 1:37 apart and Mathias Lange made 34 saves to lead the Engineers to victory.
The Big Red defense, playing without defensemen Ryan O’Byrne, Sasha Pokulok, and Doug Krantz, allowed an uncharacteristic number of chances to the Engineers in the early going. The Engineers grabbed the early lead on a pair of Big Red defensive miscues and rode the two-goal edge to victory.
“I’m really disappointed in our hockey team,” said Cornell Head Coach Mike Schafer. “We’re down three of our best defenseman, but early on, we didn’t believe we could win without those three guys. I’m disappointed in that mentality, as opposed to coming out and taking control of the game and going after it the way we wanted to.”
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Eizenman’s goal came at 16:41 of the first period. He took the puck in the neutral zone and came up the left wing. He made a series of tricky moves through the Cornell defense, including tipping the puck through his legs to himself, before cutting across to his backhand and depositing a five-hole goal past Cornell goalie David McKee.
“I got it with a toe drag, then pulled it back through my legs,” said Eizenman. “Then I was alone with the goalie. I waited for him to go down and I put it through his legs.”
RPI doubled the lead at 18:18 of the first with Eizenman’s line on the ice again. Engineer captain Kevin Croxton stripped the puck from a Big Red defender behind the net. The Engineers cycled the puck and a point shot from Keith McWilliams rebounded to Kurt Colling on the doorstep. Colling sent it across the crease, through a pair of defenders, and Croxton tucked a one-timer over the shoulder of a diving McKee and just under the crossbar.
“That was probably one of the nicest feeds I’ve ever seen,” Croxton said about Colling’s through-traffic pass. “It was easy to put that one in.”
After falling behind, Cornell took over the game. The Big Red out-shot the Engineers 13-3 in the second period and 15-6 in the third. They could not, however, solve Lange.
That’s not to say they didn’t have their chances. Midway through the third period, Lange made a pair of quick saves on Ryan Kindret and Taylor Davenport. Minutes later, Byron Bitz vaulted over a diving Engineer defenseman in a one-on-one situation and fired a shot. The puck hit Lange and trickled over the line, but referee Alex Dell had already blown the whistle.
“We knew they were going to throw everything they had at us in the third period, but I thought we did a good job defensively, and Mathias played a heck of a game,” said RPI Head Coach Dan Fridgen.
RPI had a late power play but gave up a shorthanded breakaway to Cam Abbott. Abbott put a move on Lange and tried to go the glove side but came up empty.
“It went off the tip of my glove,” said Lange about the breakaway chance. “I just tried to stay up on my feet as long as I could to let him make the first move. He went to his backhand, I slid over, and I got the tip of the glove on it.”
RPI took a penalty with 2:20 left and the Big Red pulled McKee for the extra attacker seconds later, setting up a six-on-four situation. After a minute of intense pressure, Cornell gave it right back with 53 seconds left on a bench penalty for too many men on the ice. Daniel Pegoraro had a prime chance to bring Cornell within one with 20 seconds left, but he fanned on a one-timer attempt and fell into the net, knocking it off its moorings.
Lange notched his first career conference shutout in the win. McKee made 15 saves in the loss. RPI’s record improves to 14-14-6 overall and 8-7-6 in ECACHL play. The Big Red loss drops them to 17-7-4 overall and 12-6-3 in conference. The loss, coupled with wins by Colgate and Dartmouth, also drops Cornell to third in the league.
The Engineers host Colgate tomorrow and Cornell travels to Schenectady to take on Union. Both games start at 7 pm.
Friday, February 24, 2006
While Rensselaer forced a tie on Cornell earlier this season at Lynah, that game is deceiving. The Engineers were only in position to steal that point thanks to the brilliant play of Mathias Lange, as Cornell outshot Rensselaer 36 to 13. I expect a more competitive game as far as the stat sheet is concerned, but less equality in the final score.Prediction-Cornell 2, Rensselaer 0.
Colgate at Rensselaer: I outline above why this game is critical for Colgate, especially if it fails to collect two points against Union. For Rensselaer, this game can only determine who its faces in the first round. The Engineers are assured of home ice in the first round, but whether they face Brown or Yale or Princeton or Quinnipiac is uncertain. With all due respect to Brown, everyone is going to be gunning for that 5th place finish and the opportunity to host the Bears.Prediction-Colgate 4, Rensselaer 2.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Monday, February 20, 2006
Box Score / League Standings
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Four different players scored goals and freshman netminder Mathias Lange (Klagenfurt, Austria/New York Apple Core) stopped 28 shots to help Rensselaer skate to a 4-4 tie with Quinnipiac at Ingalls Rink. With the draw, RPI is now 13-14-6 overall and 7-7-6 in the ECACHL. The Engineers remain in seventh place in the standings but assure themselves a home series in the first round of the league playoffs the first weekend of March. The homestanding Bobcats are now 16-15-1 and 7-12-1.
Rensselaer, which has set a school record for most ties in a season, saw Oren Eizenman (Toronto, ON/Wexford Raiders), Matt Angers-Goulet (St. Augustin, PQ/Notre Dame), Andrew Lord (West Vancouver, BC/Vernon Vipers) and Jake Luthi (Palmer, AK/Sioux Falls Stampede) tally while Brad Farynuk (Enderby, BC/Vernon Vipers) chipped in with two assists.
Quinnipiac got two goals and two assists from Jamie Bates and 19 saves from Bud Fisher.
Rensselaer closes out the regular season next weekend when Cornell and Colgate visit the Houston Field House.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Rensselaer at Quinnipiac: Rensselaer has a lot to play for, as it is still conceivable — albeit distantly — for the Engineers to gain a first-round bye. More likely, though, a win here will solidify their claim to home ice in the first round.Prediction-Rensselaer 3, Quinnipiac 2 (OT).
Last weekend was an important weekend, especially with the ECAC Hockey League standings where they are," said Rensselaer head coach Dan Fridgen. "It squeezed the teams in the middle
"It was important to stay ahead of Clarkson, we're trying to catch-up to Union, and we put some distance between us and Yale," he continued. "This weekend is even more important than last weekend."
For Fridgen's team, the most important development from last weekend may not have been the four point home sweep or the win in the Big Red Freakout! For the team's possible postseason success, the return to the lineup of senior defenseman and captain Brad Farynuk may have been more important since the Engineers had been either skating only five defensemen per game or else utilizing talented forward Kevin Croxton as a blue-liner.
"I was very happy with the defense this weekend," Fridgen said. "The return of Brad took the load off of the other guys, and they did a very good job against Yale, who has some very talented forwards who can do good things with the puck."
Thursday, February 16, 2006
By: Ed Weaver, The Record
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TROY - Kevin Croxton's college hockey career is nearing an end.The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute star right winger doesn't think about that much. Actually, he says he doesn't.
"I can't really think about that," Croxton said prior to Wednesday's practice. "These are huge games for us this weekend (at Princeton and Quinnipiac), just go out there and take each game as it comes. We need all the points we can get."So he blocks out the fact that only four regular-season games remain in his career?"Naw, I don't really think about it," he said. "Make it go as long as possible."Despite missing six games, Croxton has a good shot to lead the team in scoring for the third time in four years. He caught the favor of RPI fans early-on during his 15-goal freshman season, scoring a pair of third-period goals to give the Engineers a 2-1 victory over St. Lawrence in Game 10.That ignited an eight-game scoring streak in which Croxton totaled 13 points (6-7-13) and the slender Calgary native has been a Houston Field House favorite ever since.Croxton was hurt early in the second period of a scoreless game with Harvard on Jan. 7 and he was quite proud of the way they posted a 3-2 victory over the nationally-ranked Crimson while he was being treated.And with fellow captain and leading defenseman Brad Farynuk, veteran defenseman Alexander Valentin, Kevin Broad (fourth on the team in goals at the time and two other forwards also out, the Engineers downed rival Clarkson, 4-3 and actually won two straight, beating weak Brown on the road."Very proud," he said. "It was unbelievable. They really pulled together and played real well. It was nice to see."Even coming back (now) and watching how much the guys have improved and everyone's playing their best hockey."The injuries eventually caught up with the Engineers, though, and were unquestionably the main factor in a five-game winless (0-4-1) streak.Aided by Nathan Marsters' fine goaltending, the Engineers finished fifth in the 12-team ECAC Hockey League during Croxton's sophomore year, but finished 11th in each of the other two seasons and currently are in seventh place with a 7-7-4 record.He doesn't want to leave the program having never made the league playoff semifinals at Pepsi Arena."Major disappointment," he has said. "But we're still working toward it."Unless the Engineers win out and get some help from their own opponents (against sixth-place Union) and from St. Lawrence and Harvard foes, the Engineers will have to qualify for the semis on the road in the quarterfinal round."We're peaking at the right time," Croxton said. "We just have to string some wins together. You can't peak at the start of the year, you're not going to keep that up all year. Any season is filled with ups and downs. The team that really hits their stride at the end of the year will do well (in postseason)."We've kind of found our groove," he added, "and we know we can play with anybody."While the Engineers did struggle to score goals during the rash of injuries, junior right winger Andrew Lord, senior right winger Chris Hussey, the defensemen and freshmen forwards Mathieu Angers-Goulet and Kurt Colling have chipped in with scoring quite well.Croxton, though, and 'A' line center Oren Eizenman, may feel the burden of the scoring load as the postseason looms."No, it'll come," he said. "At the start of the year, everything we were shooting was going in. You can only hope that will come back but if not, we just have to keep taking care of our own end. That's all you can do."Croxton's injury cost him any Hobey Baker Award and All-American consideration he may have garnered and could cost him even a Second Team All-ECACHL berth.He hides his disappointment."What can you do," he asked. "You don't really worry about it. "I'm just glad to be back and I just want to go out there and do some damage in the playoffs." The injury may have cost Croxton a chance to reach the Top 20 on RPI's all-time scoring list. He has 55 goals and 81 assists for 136 points and currently is tied for 25th in assists and 31st in scoring.Six more points will tie him for 24 in scoring but he's 20 points away from the Top 20. Four more assists will put him in 20th place.Croxton was asked what Rensselaer fans should appreciate most about him."Ask the fans out there," he said."I just hope they know that I went as hard as I could each night for my four years here and gave as much as I could to the program," he said. "Hopefully, they enjoyed watching me."
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
TROY, N.Y. – Coming off a weekend in which he had two goals and an assist, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) student-athlete Matt Angers-Goulet has been named the ECAC Hockey League Rookie of the Week. Also recognized by the league are Mathias Lange and Andrew Lord, both of whom were chosen to the Weekly Honor Roll. In addition to his three points, Angers-Goulet (pronounced ahn-GERS-goo-LAY), a freshman forward, registered six shots and a plus-1 rating as the Engineers swept league foes Yale and Brown. The St. Augustin, Que., native had both goals, each on the power play, with three shots and an even rating as RPI upended the Bulldogs, 2-1, on Friday. The next night he recorded an assist on the game-winning goal, three shots and a plus-1 in a 4-2 win over Brown. In 28 games this season, Angers-Goulet has four goals and five assists for nine points. Two of his goals have come on the power play, one was shorthanded and two have been game-winners. He also has been whistled for six penalties for 12 minutes. Prior to attending Rensselaer, Angers-Goulet played for the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. He was the team’s Rookie of the Year and an All-Rookie Team selection last season after registering 46 points, including 21 goals and 25 assists in 59 games. Lange, a freshman goaltender, stopped 49 of the 52 shots he faced for a save percentage of .942 with a goals against average of 1.50 last weekend. Of the three goals he allowed, one was a power play marker and another came with an extra attacker on the ice. A native of Klagenfurt, Austria, Lange stopped 28 saves on 29 shots, including three in the first period, 15 in the second and ten in the third, against Yale. The next night he had 21 saves, including five in the first period, six in the second and ten in the third against Brown. One of the goals he allowed was on a 4-on-3 power play and the other came with the Bears having an extra skater. A sophomore forward, Lord was tabbed for the Weekly Honor Roll after scoring a goal with two assists, a plus-2 rating and three shots. The West Vancouver, B.C., native earned the primary assist on the game’s first goal against Yale and he had the game-winning goal, an assist on an empty-net goal, three shots and a plus-2 versus Brown. RPI returns to action with a pair of league road games this weekend. The Engineers play at Princeton on Friday and against Quinnipiac in New Haven on Saturday. Both games are at 7pm and can be heard live on WRPI, 91.5 FM, and www.wrpi.org.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Hockey family is a cut above
First published: Saturday, February 11, 2006
TROY -- When a recruit makes an official college visit, he may be promised things, playing time, his favored position, and this:
This team is like family.
That's what he's invariably told and wants to believe.
They can't all be like family, though, so when Kirk MacDonald visited RPI from his home in Victoria, B.C., three time zones and 3,000 miles away, and a prospective hockey teammate told him, "Hey man, this is a family-type atmosphere," Kirk wondered, Is this just them trying to get me to come here, the usual spiel: Our place is better than their place?
But he came, and they were kindred, almost from the moment MacDonald met incoming teammates at freshman orientation.
"I was dumped before noon hour the first day," MacDonald's father, Wayne, would say.
"You get there," Kirk says, "and you've immediately got 25 best friends."
It is a blessing to have family on which to rely at times of crisis.
It is a gift to be supported by friends, teammates and coaches too. That's why a pair of Engineers' heads have been shaved after every home game, to raise money for cancer research (fans must donate at least $100 for clippers to buzz), to raise awareness, to raise attendance, and most important, to support Kirk as he sits out the season recovering from testicular cancer, which is in remission.
Friday night was defenseman Keith MCWilliams' and sports information director Kevin Beattie's turn.
Tonight, at the Big Red Freakout, Kirk's gelled black locks will be shorn.
"When something like this happens you find out how great a place is, and how great people can be," Kirk says.
He feels well now, but to get to feel-good he had to feel awful first, and the chemotherapy wasn't the worst of it. It was the two months in a Vancouver, B.C., hospital recovering from a torn incision, infection and intestinal adhesions, Kirk's weight dropping from 205 to 132 pounds, his 6-foot-2 body attached to an IV that felt like shackles when he walked.
"It was almost like I was in jail," he says.
Was he depressed?
Of course he was depressed.
He was confined to a hospital room -- for how long, he didn't know -- when he should've been at the house he shared with his friends and teammates, every weekday at 1 p.m. watching The Cosby Show on TBS with Kevin Croxton.
So when a teammate would call from a party at 3 a.m. EST just to say whatever he was trying to say, Kirk would be reminded in good times and bad, he wasn't forgotten. Some days the phone would ring so often he'd have to unplug it, and yet he felt connected.
Just as when coach Dan Fridgen opened his home for Kirk to live in for three weeks after he underwent surgery to remove the malignant tumor last April -- and Fridgen's wife, Kary, tried to tempt Kirk with food he might eat and not vomit -- Kirk was cared for as if family.
Or when Kirk was feverish and needed antibiotics that could've waited until morning -- but RPI medical director Les Lawrence filled the prescription and delivered it from Saratoga Springs, where he lives, that night.
Or when Kirk flew into Albany International Airport to return to campus Nov. 10, his body emaciated but his spirit soaring, teammates offered a greeting befitting someone who'd scored a life-winning goal.
And when a fan presented Kirk with a sign at a game that read "GO MAC ATTACK" and told him he'd like it back when he returns to play next season, Kirk realized how far the family extends, a promise fulfilled.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
By: Ed Weaver, The Record
TROY - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute can't lose on Big Red Freakout! Night.Well, at least the Engineers haven't done so in 16 years now after Saturday night's 4-2 victory over Brown.
Kevin Croxton scored his first goal since his hat trick on Dec. 10 and Ryan Swanson and Andrew Lord each had one goal and one assist as the capacity crowd of 5,317 at Houston Field House watched the Engineers improve to 12-0-4 on Freakout! Night since 1990.The victory gave the Engineers a modest three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1), kept them in seventh place in the 12-team ECAC Hockey League and marked the first time since Nov. 11-12 that they posted a 2-0 weekend."Long time coming," Oren Eizenman said of the weekend sweep (RPI beat Yale, 2-1 on Friday night). Croxton used the same words to describe his power-play goal that opened the scoring Saturday night at 9:58 of the first period, on which he stick-handled his way through the Brown defense across the slot until he was able to fire a shot past Bears goalie Mark Sibbald."Very long time," he said. "It was long way back (from his ankle injury)."Oren gave it down to me (off the boards)," Croxton said. "I just dragged it inside, kept walking in, walking in and finally got an open lane to shoot. (Kurt) Colling did a great play, (he) tied up the 'D' man so I could get that far with the puck."As for keeping the Freakout! streak going, Croxton said, "I mentioned that to Yurk (senior winger Mark Yurkewecz. I gave him a big hug and said, '4-and-0 on the Freakout!" "It feels good, really good," said Yurkewecz, a Troy native. "You see the guys (several classes) before you do it and you hope you can contribute to that streak. It's sad that it's over (for us)."Swanson, a couple steps from the blue line at the right point, took a pass from Chris Hussey in the mid slot and broke a 1-1 tie with blast at 14:30 of the first period, for the first goal of his 43-game RPI career."That ends the longest scoring drought I've ever had in my life," the junior defenseman said. "It was a fun one to get, especially tonight."Swanson displayed a sense of humor saying, "I actually got two tonight. I don't know if you caught that first one (by Brown's Jeff Prough that tied the score 1-1) went in right off my stick."The bad news is, the Engineers (13-14-4 overall) have no remaining game with the 3-17-6 Bears, who are struggling through a horrible season. They are 2-12-4 in league play and haven't beaten a team from the four major conferences since November. If an RPI fan wanted to be strictly critical, though, he could point out some other less than optimistic news, he could point out that after the Engineers dominated the first period on Saturday night, they went for a stroll on ice for much of the rest of the game. Their third-period shots on goal total of three included Colling's empty-net goal and for the game, they had just 20 shots.The Engineers gave up a through-the-neutral-zone 3-on-1 with seven minutes remaining in the second period and had defenseman Scott Romfo not deflected a pass between the circles, who knows how the remainder of the game may have unfolded? "I thought the (Brown) guy made a dumb play," Romfo said. "I was just backing up. (It was) a legitimate 3-on-1 and he tried to make the most difficult pass he could right away. On a 3-on-1 (as the one defender), you just try stay in the middle and take away whatever passing lane you can. He passed it and I just stuck out my stick."The Engineers got a break on Lord's goal midway through the second period. Sibbald had Lord's wrist shot from the top of the slot but didn't close his glove and literally dropped it into the net."I shot it through their 'D' man," Lord said, "so I was hoping the screen would distract their goalie a bit and I think it did. He bobbled it a bit."Hopefully it was a hard shot," Lord said. Colling's goal with 42 seconds remaining, on a feed from Lord, came 18 seconds after Brown's Matt Vokes deflected one in on a 6-on-5 with 1:00 remaining.