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Engineers Coach Puts Right Pieces on Ice

Fridgen's Substitutions Put Top Scorer in Good Spot

By Jon Paul Morosi

Albany Times Union, February 14, 2005

TROY - Technically, the assist belonged to Jake Luthi. But RPI coach Dan Fridgen had as much to do with Kirk MacDonald's game-winning goal as anyone on the ice Saturday night.

Fridgen turned in a masterful coaching performance late in Saturday's pulsating 3-2 defeat of Brown. First, he put MacDonald with a new set of wingers midway through the third period. Then, he maneuvered in and out of the TV timeouts just right, ensuring the last two shifts of regulation were skated by his top forward lines and defensive pairings.

Fridgen made the switch before a defensive-zone draw. By MacDonald's admission, Brown center Les Haggett had been "kicking my butt" on face-offs, and Fridgen wanted his best draw man (Oren Eizenman) on the ice. The just-this-once switch ended up lasting the rest of the night.

"I guess it worked," MacDonald said. "Great move by Coach."

MacDonald spent the remainder of the game flanked by speedy Jonathan Ornelas, the team's best freshman, and rugged Kevin Broad, known to create space with thunderous body checks. Eizenman centered wingers Kevin Croxton and Nick Economakos.

"We just stuck with it, and it worked out perfect," MacDonald said. "A good little switch. I like playing with Jonnie. He's so fast and creates space. I've never played with Broader, but you can't complain, playing with a guy like him."

Fridgen felt Eizenman and MacDonald were playing well, but wasn't happy with the lines' chemistry at even strength. The change suited him well.

"I liked what I saw," Fridgen said.

Then it was just a matter of making sure his best lines were on the ice at the end. So, with the seconds spinning toward overtime, Luthi's pass came to rest on the stick of none other than the Engineers' leading goal-scorer.

"You could just see, come heck or high water, it was going to end up in the net," Fridgen said. "He was determined."

MacDonald has four goals in his last six games, after going 16 with only an empty-netter.

Ice shavings: One other significant change involving RPI's forwards: MacDonald carved out a fascinating Fu Manchu/mutton chop combination from what was a full beard.

He shaves, he scores. Coincidence?

His teammates, buoyant after Saturday's win, didn't seem to think so.

"I'm going to hide his razor," said roommate Brad Farynuk.

Power, ex-coach out: Former RPI coach Mike Addesa was unable to attend Saturday's 20th anniversary celebration for the 1985 NCAA championship team.

His Wakefield, N.H., home was hit with a snowstorm late last week and did not regain power and heat until Saturday afternoon.

"This is close to the greatest disappointment I've ever had," Addesa, 60, said by telephone Saturday night. "I hope I'm still around to see the 30th anniversary."

New guy: Andrei Uryadov is the fourth member of RPI's incoming freshman class. A 6-foot-1, 203-pound forward, Uryadov came on his official visit Friday and committed over the weekend.

Uryadov is team captain at South Kent (Conn.) School. He came to South Kent from St. Petersburg, Russia, four years ago without knowing a word of English, a source said. He's fluent now.

The Engineers are also pursuing two defensemen from the Eastern Junior Hockey League: Jamie Fritsch a 6-foot-2, 190-pound left-shot and Barry Goers a 5-8, 165-pound right-shot.