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RPI Breaks Out, Busts Up Holy Cross

By Jon Paul Morosi

Albany Times Union, February 6, 2005

TROY - He didn't say so. He didn't have to, really. The cheers at Houston Field House screamed redemption - sweet, public, and total - for Nick Economakos.

In his return from a two-game suspension, the affable co-captain notched his first collegiate hat trick in RPI's feel-good, 8-4 victory over Holy Cross before a jubilant 2,663 on Saturday night.

"A lot of things made public shed a little bad light on the team, so more than anything it was just great to win," Economakos said, referring to his suspension, and that of two other of-age seniors, for alcohol consumption on a team road trip. "We're back on track."

Economakos scored twice in a four-goal second - more goals than the Engineers scored in 20 games this season - and again in the third for his first hat trick since junior hockey with the Danville (Ill.) Wings. It was RPI's first since Matt Murley's troika at Union in January 2002.

"Thank God I get to play with Kirk MacDonald and Kevin Croxton," he said of his linemates, both of whom had three points.

His most timely goal was exactly that. In the second, he took a pass from defenseman Keith MCWilliams and zipped it under the arm of goaltender Ben Conway - an instant before the horn sounded to end the period.

It put RPI ahead, 5-2, and stood as the game-winner.

"His hard work, his goal-scoring ability, it all clicked for him tonight," said teammate Oren Eizenman, who scored his first goal since Dec. 3. "He showed great leadership. I can't say enough good things about him."

Economakos extended his personal goal-scoring streak to three games, after scoring in both games prior to the suspension.

"I expected him to pick up where he left off," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "He did."

On this night, everybody in white was picking up where everybody else left off. It didn't stop until rookie Jonathan Ornelas shook loose a turnover at his blue line and scored with 24 seconds left for his first three-point game.

MacDonald, Cody Wojdyla, and Jake Luthi also scored for the Engineers, who enjoyed their highest-scoring game since a 9-2 win over Massachusetts in November 2000 - the season before the current seniors were freshmen.

Note: Defenseman Alexander Valentin left the ice clutching his left shoulder after taking a hit from behind at 4:08 of the first period and did not return.