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Focused, Unselfish Captain Devoted to Team

By Amie Canfield, Sports Information Assistant

Game Program, October 23, 2005

"True leaders are not those who strive to be first, but those who are first to see the need, envision the plan and empower the team for action. By the strength of the leader the power of the team is unleashed." - anonymous

The heart of a leader is one whose interests focus on everyone around them and not on individual praise. One of the best examples of true unselfish leadership is senior men's ice hockey captain Kevin Croxton.

The Calgary, Alberta native came to Rensselaer after a successful career in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) as a member of the Camrose Kodiaks. In two seasons, he amassed 60 goals, 79 assists and 141 points in 121 games. His accolades at the junior level included being named to the AJHL All-Rookie Team. Kevin's decision to come to Troy was made easier by the fact that the coaches at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute regarded him as more than just a hockey player.

"They were always honest," explains Croxton referring to the RPI coaches. "A lot of recruiters and coaches will play games with you. They'll want to know what kind of numbers you put up in your last game or how much you weigh. Coach Fridgen was more interested in me and my life outside of hockey. They showed confidence in me."

As a freshman in the 2003-03 season Kevin continued his successful scoring ways. An ECAC All-Rookie Team selection, he became the first freshman to lead the team in goals and points since Craig Hamelin in 1991-92. He recorded 15 goals and 15 assists for 30 points. One of his top performances included two goals, one a power-play marker, and the game-winner with an assist in a 5-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth. Kevin established himself as a go-to kind of guy every shift he played. His success was not the most important thing on his mind; rather the opportunity for his teammates to do well played a larger role.

"I remember freshman year we played Vermont on our senior night. We beat them 4-2 and I remember Eric Cavosie '03 hadn't scored in like three years," remembers Croxton. "He was a senior and I set him up for the game-winning goal. He was so happy, it might not have been my best game, but it was his big night and that was important to me."

"He relates very well to his teammates," explains men's hockey Head Coach Dan Fridgen. "In situations where other teammates are involved he's very unselfish. The accolades that go along with big plays he shares with the other players."

The focus on success for his team and fellow players continued his sophomore season as Kevin notched 18 goals, 21 assists for 39 points, leading the team for the second straight year in scoring, including a team-high three game-winning goals. He ranked second in the ECAC in power-play goals (12) and power-play points with 21.

"My best moment with Kevin came in 2004 versus Yale," recalls linemate Oren Eizenman about RPI's 6-0 win over the Elis at Ingalls Rink in February. "They had beat us at home earlier in the year and we took that loss to heart. Last game of the season, scoreless first period, Croxton wound up assisting on my goal and I assisted on both of his goals."

"I gave him an awful bouncing pass at the blue line, he somehow managed at full speed to make a move around the defenseman, got the puck on his back-hand and shot the puck over the goalie's shoulder. It's what he does, turning nothing into something."

Kevin finished his sophomore campaign successful not only on the ice, notching two goals in the ECAC playoff game against Princeton and at season's end named to the All-ECAC Second Team, but in the classroom as well selected as an ECAC All-Academic. Versatile and willing to step-up for the good of the team, the lessons he has continued to learn at Rensselaer have changed the way he looks at life.

"Whether in the classroom or on the ice, college has taught me to always challenge myself," Croxton says. "RPI has given me the skills to handle life, to manage my time, be responsible for myself and the guys on the team. I'm better prepared not only education wise but in life for whatever may come at me."

In the 2004-05 season, Croxton started his junior year focused and ready to play. Name an USCHO.com Pre-Season All-American Honorable Mention, he recorded 20 points in his first 14 games with six goals and 14 assists. Kevin went on to score ten goals, 25 assists for 35 points, led the team in assists, ranked second in points and third on the team in goals scored. Playing in all 38 games last season, Croxton takes great pride in his continued ability to step onto the ice for his team everyday.

"You go to a lot of teams and there are a lot of cliques, some guys don't get along," Kevin explains, who last year was named an ECAC All-Academic for the second straight season. "In my years at Rensselaer this team has always had great chemistry. There's nobody else I'd rather hang out with. I know on other teams it's not like that so I feel very lucky to be a part of a team like this."

"Kevin has the best interest of the team in mind," says Fridgen. "He's a very intelligent young man and I think through his play, he's earned the respect of his teammates."

The ultimate sign of respect came from his teammates this season as they elected him, Brad Farynuk and Kirk MacDonald as the tri-captains. Through the first three games of this season, Croxton is already the team's leading scorer having notched two goals, three assists for five points, including a strong performance in the team's Nye Frontier Classic showdown with Michigan Tech in Anchorage, Alaska. After a tough loss in the previous game to the University of Alaska-Anchorage, Kevin lifted his team to a 4-3 victory, tallying a goal and two assists for three points. For his contributions he was named to the Nye Frontier Classic All-Tournament Team and the ECAC Weekly Honor Roll for the week ending October 16.

"It was one of his best games," says Fridgen on Croxton's performance versus Michigan Tech. "He showed a tremendous ability to play hard and generate offense, making good plays in a 60-minute span."

For Croxton, the achievements he's amassed in his time here at Rensselaer are not the most important thing. His hope is that when fans look back on his career they will not just see the stats, but truly see that he loved playing four years as an Engineer.

"I hope they'll say that I was a surprise. That they appreciate the effort and consistency that I've tried to achieve in my four years and that they had fun watching me play," he explains. "As an athlete that's all you can really ask for."

"I love watching hockey. There are certain players I like to watch. You just get excited watching them out on the ice, so I can only hope the fans reflect upon me in that respect."

His teammates know the kind of effort he puts in on a daily basis. The coaches understand the way he has elevated and changed his game. In his final season at RPI, Kevin Croxton hopes that this team - no matter what the season's outcome - will have taken care of the little things on a daily basis. Whether it's in practice, a game, the playoffs or maybe even in the Pepsi Arena come March.

"He's the guy. Our best player, our leader," explains Eizenman. "Last minute of the game you can count on him. If you need a goal he's there. His responsibilities are greater but he always finds a way. Kevin stays positive, encouraging and unselfish. When a guy is down, he'll step in and lift that guy up. He's a great leader on and off the ice."