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RPI's Croxton Flourishing after Prolonged Slump

Senior Leads Team in Scoring a Year after 22-game Dry Spell

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, October 21, 2005

TROY - For a lengthy portion of last season, the back of the net was a lost horizon for talented RPI forward Kevin Croxton, who suffered through an inexplicable goal-scoring drought that lasted 22 games.

Fortunately for RPI, that's no more than a blurry memory so far this season.

The 6-foot-3 senior co-captain has scored goals in six of RPI's seven games since that trip through the goal-scoring abyss ended last Feb. 25. Add a pair of goals in a season-opening exhibition win over Ottawa, and Croxton has eight goals over an eight-game span. Only Alaska Anchorage was able to stop him last weekend, in the first game of the Nye Frontier Classic.

What's hardest to explain about the offensive drought and subsequent renaissance is that Croxton couldn't score while outstanding linemate Kirk MacDonald was in the lineup last year, but has taken charge in the absence of MacDonald, who is out for the season while recovering from testicular cancer.

"Anytime you come into the league as a new player and establish yourself offensively, you're going to generate attention, which (Croxton) did," said coach Dan Fridgen, who enters this weekend two wins shy of 200 for his career after beating Michigan Tech last weekend. "Other teams would key on him and look to shut him down."

Croxton acknowledged being miffed and frustrated, having never gone through a spell like that in any season at any level. He was named to the ECAC all-rookie team three years ago, when, with 31 points, he became the first freshman to lead RPI in scoring since Craig Hamelin in 1991-92. He followed with 39 points (18 goals) as a sophomore.

Fridgen said it can be discouraging when you're a marked man in the ECACHL.

"I really see that as a challenge to overcome the special attention you're getting," he said. "Maybe you have to turn it up a couple of notches to find that open space or maybe move a bit more to get open. There's a number of things a player has to evaluate and make some adjustments."

Croxton has regained his confidence and is leading the Engineers with five points (three goals) in RPI's first three official games.

"I'm just trying to pitch in where I can, and take care of our own end first," said Croxton, who now has 109 career points (45 goals). "Last year, it seemed like I'd shoot and one way or another it wouldn't go in the net."

Schiff leads nation: RPI women's goaltender Rosina Schiff was named Division I Women's Hockey Defensive Player of the Week by U.S. College Hockey Online.

Schiff, a senior, allowed just three goals to lead the Engineers to a 1-0-1 record last weekend against Colgate, although RPI was outshot 72-30. RPI won 3-2 at Colgate for the team's first Division I road victory. Her 0.97 goals-against average ranks first in the nation.

Bouchard erupts: Union forward Olivier Bouchard had a career weekend with four goals and three assists in a win and tie for the Dutchmen.

For his efforts, Bouchard was named the ECACHL Player of the Week. Union has this week off.