TROY, N.Y. — Dan Fridgen received balloons, flowers and a kiss from his wife Kari. Mathias Lange got to keep the puck.
Fridgen earned his 200th win as coach of Rensselaer, and the freshman goalie Lange recorded his first career shutout Sunday as the Engineers cruised to a 4-0 non-league victory over Army in their Houston Field House opener.
It is the third straight win for RPI (3-2).
Fridgen, who is in his 12th season as RPI’s coach, has a 200-178-32 record. He is the school’s all-time leader in wins. What does it mean to him?
“Take a look at the gray hair, that’s how it feels,” Fridgen laughingly said.
But in all seriousness, Fridgen said winning 200 games has more to do with the people who have come through the program than just him.
“I feel very, very fortunate to have had a lot of good players, a lot of good teams and some excellent assistant coaches as well,” said Fridgen, who won the 1995 ECACHL tournament title in his first season as coach. “It’s just not one person. It’s a team victory, No. 200.”
Lange, making his third straight start, stopped 14 shots for the shutout. He understands how special the puck will be.
“I was going to give it back to him, but he says he has another one,” said Lange, who lowered his goals-against average to 2.51. “It’s always nice to have somebody get to a milestone. It was one for him, and one for me as well.”
Fridgen didn’t mind giving Lange the puck.
“As I told him, as a coach, you look back and it was good,” Fridgen said. “But you certainly remember your playing days, and that means a lot. I’m sure he’s going to look back on it and realize it was a dual meaning as far as that puck is concerned.”
RPI opened the scoring with its third shorthanded goal of the season, equaling last year’s output, midway through the first period. Kevin Broad stole an Army pass and gave it to Matt Angers-Goulet. Angers-Goulet took a couple of strides in the high slot, then fired a wrist shot past goalie Brad Roberts.
The Engineers’ power play, which came into the game with just two goals in 15 attempts, got going in the second.
Just under a minute into the period, Oren Eizenman put in the rebound a Brad Farynuk blast past Roberts. At 7:48, Broad tipped in a Keith McWilliams’ right-point shot with a second left on Seth Beamer’s obstruction-hooking call. With 1:56 left in the period, Seth Klerer scored the third power-play goal.
RPI finished 3-for-9 on the power play.
“[Army] played it real well,” said Kevin Croxton, who assisted on Eizenman’s goal. “They packed it in well, and were blocking shots. It was tough to get anything going the first couple [of attempts]. We made some adjustments, and got some pucks to the net.”
The Engineers continue their homestand Friday against Northeastern, and Saturday against Merrimack. … Army (0-4) opens Atlantic Hockey play Friday at Holy Cross. … RPI goalie Jordan Alford and forward Tommy Green had their heads shaved after the game as part of RPI’s season-long charity drive to help raise funds for cancer research and hair donation to make wigs for cancer patients.
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.