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Big Shoes to Fill at RPI

Engineers Must Find Replacements for All-Americans Cavosie and Murley

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, April 19, 2002

TROY - When a coach loses two impact players at the same time, he understandably has some concerns about his team's future. But just don't mention the word rebuilding to RPI hockey coach Dan Fridgen.

"That's not a word I even use," said the colorful Engineers coach, whose team made it to the semifinals of the ECAC Hockey Tournament this season. "You roll with it."

The key players he lost are All-America forwards Marc Cavosie and Matt Murley.

Fridgen knew that Murley, his senior co-captain, was leaving, but when Cavosie signed a pro contract with Minnesota off his ECAC Player of the Year season as a junior, it left the Engineers without their top two scorers for 2002-03.

Cavosie and eight seniors played their final collegiate game in Lake Placid when RPI won the ECAC consolation game against Clarkson to finish 20-13-4. When they open next season, they'll be minus 75 of the 120 goals scored this year - about 63 percent of their scoring.

"It's really something you have no control over," Fridgen said. "You just have to prepare as best you can, which we did with regard to recruiting another forward. We were prepared from a depth perspective."

Fridgen said the majority of his recruiting is completed with eight new players coming in next fall. He still has one more scholarship to fill. Among the incoming frosh are two local players who RPI fans can only hope might have success similar to that of Capital Region natives Cavosie and Murley.

Mark Yurkewecz, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound forward from Troy, helped Cushing Academy of Ashburnham, Mass., to a 59-5-3 record over the past two seasons in the New England Prep League.

Greg Kemp, a 5-10, 186-pounder, scored 89 points in 70 games two seasons back for the Capital District Selects. The Shaker High senior was hampered by an injury this year, but scored 28 points in 40 games.

Fridgen said he couldn't discuss any of the recruits until after he had completed the process, but seemed optimistic about the blend of returnees and newcomers for next season.

"Players are very far and few between that are capable of coming in and making an impact right off the bat," said Fridgen, who has had only one losing season in eight campaigns. "I don't look at it with regard to placing individuals. In some cases you have to add to the team with regard to the chemistry."

While the presence of Cavosie and Murley was powerful, chemistry helped the Engineers turn around this season and earn home ice for the playoffs.

"I think the thing about Marc and Matt is that they became very good team players," Fridgen said. "Just because you have one or two impact players - they're not going to carry a team. Not only did they make the team better, but the team made them better."

RPI's leading returning scorer is Carson Butterwick, who came on strong in the stretch run and finished with 13 goals and 13 assists. The Engineers also graduate defensemen Jim Vickers, Hamish Cunning and co-captain Steve Munn but return goaltenders Nathan Marsters and Kevin Kurk.

"We're looking at like, yeah, we're losing our scoring punch," Fridgen said. "But we've got to rely on others to step forward and pick up the slack. With the incoming freshmen, regardless of who's capable of doing what, it's important that they're made to feel very comfortable so that their contributions are vital to the overall success of the team, especially since it's such a large class."