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RPI's Hussey Cashing in on His Oportunities

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, October 19, 2004

TROY - Pop quiz: Who is the leading goal scorer for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey team through three games?

Kevin Croxton? Nope, he only has one goal.

Kirk MacDonald? Close, but his two goals are second on the team.

You might go through several other names before coming up with Chris Hussey. The forward came into his junior year with just one goal in 29 career games.

But the surprise goal leader is indeed Hussey. He notched his third goal of the season, an empty-netter, to close out the Engineers' 4-1 victory over Connecticut on Saturday at Houston Field House.

Hussey has easily been RPI's most improved player this season. But he can't pinpoint one reason as to why he has gotten off to a quick start this season.

"It might just be ice time," said Hussey, who will travel with the rest of the Engineers to Boston to take on Northeastern tonight at 7. "It might be a year older, a year wiser. I'm not really sure. Since the first game, everything has been clicking."

RPI coach Dan Fridgen knows what the difference is in Hussey this season.

"I think he's having fun," Fridgen said. "He's working real hard in practice. He did the little things over the summer. He's earned everything he's got. He's been our best forward over the past three games."

Hussey played another strong game against the Huskies. He was strong on the penalty kill, especially during the second period, when he knocked down a clearing attempt by UConn goalie Brad Smith and created a scoring chance for RPI.

"Hussey works real hard," MacDonald said. "He worked real hard this summer. You could see early on in the captains ' practices, he was playing really well. He looked great out there. He just needed that chance to prove himself, and he got that in Omaha."

Hussey scored RPI's first goal in the Engineers' 5-3 loss to Merrimack in Nebraska-Omaha's Mutual of Omaha Stampede. He repeated that the next night in a 3-3 tie with UConn in the consolation game.

Hussey scored his first collegiate goal Feb. 1, 2003, against Clarkson. He had two assists last season, but only played in nine games. He hurt his shoulder sliding into the boards during a practice at the start of the year.

"The injury kind of set me back a little bit," Hussey said. "Then it was a struggle to get into the lineup. But you just work past it, and do what you can." Short turnaround

There wasn't much time for RPI to get ready for tonight's matchup against Northeastern. The team was off Sunday, and practiced Monday before heading to Boston.

The Huskies (1-2), who started last season 0-9-2, opened this year with a 4-2 upset victory over top-ranked Michigan in the first round of the Lefty McFadden Invitational Oct. 9.

"They're playing real well," said Fridgen, who is two wins away from tying Mike Addesa for the most wins in RPI history at 186.

"They've already knocked off a Big Ten school in Michigan, so we're certainly going to have our work cut out for us."