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Going the Distance

Stronger, More Durable Cavosie Key Player in Rensselaer's Stretch Run to Postseason

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, March 8, 2002

TROY - Rensselaer forward Marc Cavosie doesn't regret playing for the United States in the World Junior Hockey Championships in Russia during the 2000 Christmas holidays.

"That was a great experience," said Cavosie, who had eight goals and eight assists in the first 11 games of his sophomore season before departing for Russia. "That was a dream I always had, to play for my country, especially now that the Olympics have NHL players."

However, when Cavosie returned from Russia, he wasn't the same player. Sure, he had four goals and an assist in his first two games back, but over the final 15 games, Cavosie managed just one goal and seven assists. He had only one assist in the ECAC first-round playoff series against Dartmouth, and the Engineers were swept in two games.

Cavosie, who had 12 goals and 18 assists his freshman season, vowed to not have another second-half fade in 2001-02, and he has made good on that promise.

The junior from Cohoes brings a 17-game point-scoring streak into this weekend's first-round ECAC playoff series between fifth-seeded RPI (16-12-4) and sixth-seeded Princeton (11-16-2) at Houston Field House. Game 1 in the best-of-three series is tonight at 7, followed by Game 2 at 7 p.m. Saturday and, if necessary, Game 3 at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Cavosie has scored 12 goals and 15 assists during his streak. That propelled him to a 21-goal, 25-assist regular season, tops among all ECAC players. His 46 points rank him ninth in the country. He also led the way in scoring during ECAC play with 13 goals and 17 assists.

The key for Cavosie has been an offseason conditioning program. He added 20 pounds to his 6-foot frame. With help from a personal trainer, Cavosie worked especially hard on building leg strength so that it would be more difficult for opponents to push him around.

"Playing in a tournament like that in Russia really did take its toll," Cavosie said. "Coming back, I wasn't the same as I was when I left. Over the summer, we concentrated more on gaining muscle and maintaining it throughout the season. You work out every day, and you do a little something here and there just to maintain what you worked on and gained over the summer.

"My legs got a lot stronger. I really concentrated getting on a solid base. That way, it would be hard for them to knock me off the puck and push me away."

Even when the opposition has been able to knock Cavosie off his feet, he has still managed to score. He scored goals while on his knees against New Hampshire on Oct. 20, and against Dartmouth on Jan. 26.

"It almost appears that he's enjoying himself more," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "I think that has to do with the fact that, as a team, we're more a team than we were last year. Everybody's been able to contribute. From his perspective, it's made it more enjoyable for him to come to the rink.

"He worked very, very hard during the offseason. He was very committed to getting better during the offseason, and very committed to getting stronger. That has also paid dividends for him."

Cavosie's biggest outing during his 17-game streak came in the Big Red Freakout against Clarkson on Feb. 9.

Trailing, 3-0, after two periods, Cavosie scored RPI's first goal at 7:17 of the third. He assisted on Jim Henkel's goal with 4:18 left, then tied the score with 58.8 seconds left in regulation, sending the game into overtime.

Cavosie picked up an assist on Carson Butterwick's overtime game-winner, giving RPI a dramatic 4-3 win.

"Last year, . . . he didn't really get that break that everybody else got," Henkel said. "He got worn down a little bit. He put a lot of time and effort this summer into his conditioning to make sure he got a pretty good start. He kept up with his conditioning throughout the year, and it has paid off."

Facing a strong Cavosie won't be easy for Princeton.

"It looks like he's a stronger player physically," Princeton coach Len Quesnelle said. "Just in terms of protecting the puck, he's stronger over the puck than he was last year. That's noticeable to me."

Cavosie was selected by the Minnesota Wild in the fourth round of the 2000 NHL draft. In last week's issue of Sports Illustrated, NHL insider Pierre Maguire speculated that the Wild may offer Cavosie a contract after the season.

But right now, his main concern is leading the Engineers past Princeton and on to Lake Placid for next week's final five.

"I talked to them before the season," Cavosie said. "They told me to have a good year, concentrate on what you do and we'll worry about things after the season's over. I just want to go out there and put my best foot forward, and show them what I can do as a hockey player. I want to make the decision hard for them.

"This year, I'm concentrating on playing team hockey, and not so much individually. I think it worked out for me. The better the team does, the better the individuals look."

Notebook

The teams split their two regular-season meetings. Princeton took 4-2 victory at Houston on Dec. 8. RPI won at Hobey Baker Rink, 5-3, Feb. 15. . . .

The Engineers have dominated the Tigers in postseason play, winning all five meetings. The most significant victory came in the 1995 ECAC tournament final, when the Engineers skated to a 5-1 win and an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. RPI's other triumphs over Princeton came in the 1985 ECAC quarterfinals (a two-game sweep) and consolation games in 1997 and 1999.