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Engineers' Proven Scorers Seeking Offensive Support

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, December 8, 2004

TROY - In its first eight games, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey team scored 36 goals and rolled up a 5-2-1 record.

But since then, the Engineers have struggled to put the puck in the net. Over their last nine games, the Engineers have scored just 21 goals, and their record during that span has been 2-6-1.

Key goal scorers Kevin Croxton and Kirk MacDonald have been slumping. Croxton, who is second on the team in scoring with six goals and 14 assists, hasn't scored in five straight games. MacDonald, the team's top goal scorer with 10, hasn't lit the lamp in eight consecutive games.

But as the Engineers get ready for a non-league game against Providence of Hockey East tonight at 7 at Houston Field House, RPI coach Dan Fridgen is hoping that some of the other players start producing more.

"It's not a major concern [about Croxton and MacDonald ]," Fridgen said. "I think what needs to happen is that you can't rely on one or two guys. Yeah, it would be nice, and it would obviously make a difference. But we have to look to other guys to step up and provide some offense."

The Engineers (7-8-2) have had some glimpses of other players scoring, in addition to Croxton and MacDonald. In Friday's 3-3 tie at Brown, Jake Luthi, Oren Eizenman and Chris Hussey scored. In a 3-2 loss at Princeton Nov. 20, Keith MCWilliams tallied both goals.

"It hasn't happened as often as it should," Fridgen said.

The players are trying their best not to get frustrated, but it is difficult.

"Anytime you're not scoring goals, you're going to start looking around and trying to come up with different solutions to the problem," said forward Nick Economakos, RPI's leading scorer with five goals and 16 assists. "The bottom line is that it's just part of hockey. We came out of the gates scoring a lot of goals. Our power play was clicking really well. Right now, we're not scoring too many five-on-five goals, and our power play's not clicking. When you add those two elements together, you're not going to be scoring a lot of goals."

Even though the Engineers haven't been scoring consistently in the last nine games, Fridgen won't be experimenting with different line combinations against the Friars (5-8-2).

"I've pretty much got my lines set," Fridgen said. "With what I went with on the weekend, I'm pretty happy with that. I thought we did a good job defensively, limiting the opposition to some shots. The other thing, too, is if you get a key save here and there, that's going to be the difference."

Notebook

Although RPI leads the alltime series over Providence, 26-22-4, the Friars have won the last four meetings, and seven of the last eight. . . .

RPI is 0-6 in one-goal games this season. . . .

Providence has several players who have NHL bloodlines. Freshman left wing Vince Goulet is the son of NHL Hall of Famer Michel Goulet. Freshman defenseman Trevor Ludwig is the son of former Montreal, New York Islanders and Dallas defenseman Craig Ludwig. Sophomore left wing Bill McCreary's father and grandfather (both named Bill) and uncle Keith played in the NHL. His cousin is NHL referee Bill McCreary. Sophomore right wing Colin McDonald's father, Gerry, played for the Hartford Whalers. Freshman goalie Tyler Sims' father, Al, played and coached in the NHL. Sophomore center Chase Watson's father Jimmy and uncle Joe were defenseman with the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1970s.