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For Mac, Watching Easier Than Listening

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 14, 2005

TROY - For any injured or ill athlete, watching his team play without him is difficult.

For Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey star Kirk MacDonald, however, watching the Engineers compete without him for two league games during the weekend was easy; at least when compared to his listening to the first nine games over the internet radio broadcasts.

MacDonald has to sit out the 2005-06 season as he battles testicular cancer. Complications from his radiation therapy have led to a series of surgeries that have left him weak and 45 pounds lighter. The Victoria, B.C., native will play his senior year with an NCAA redshirt fifth-year exemption next season.

As this season neared, and MacDonald recouped from surgery, he expected that being away from the team would be tough for him to handle.

He had to follow the team, though, no matter how painful.

"I tried listening on the radio," he said. "But I'm not going to lie to you; it's pretty frustrating on the radio when you're used to being there, being out on the ice."

"I listened to the first couple games all the way through," he said, "but by the time it got to last weekend (at rival Clarkson and St. Lawrence), I was just tuning in to the third period. I just couldn't handle listening all the way through."

After watching from the bench area Friday night's 4-2 victory over Quinnipiac, MacDonald found himself much more at ease.

"A lot easier," he said. "At least I know what's going on out on the ice, rather than just hearing it on the radio. I can see it with my own eyes and react to it." MacDonald can begin working out with a normal regimen now but plans to take things slowly.

"I'll probably start Monday," he said. "I'll just start slow, light weights, whatever I can do. I can go for a run; not very far, not very fast but you've got to start somewhere. That's where I am right now, gradually building up the strength and building the body back up."

Recently MacDonald's been able to resume a normal diet and his appetite has always been more than healthy.

Should someone put a nice three-pound beef roast before him ...

"I don't know if I could eat it all," he said, "but I definitely would give it a good try."

Prior to Friday's game, MacDonald participated in a ceremonial faceoff with former RPI All-American and NHL star Joe Juneau. It was a thrill.

"Pretty cool," MacDonald said. "It was about 10 minutes before warmups and (Sports Information Director Kevin) Beattie said, 'why don't you go out and do the puck drop with Juneau,' I'm like, 'I don't know.'"

"Everybody says, 'well, go for it,' I said, 'OK.' It was like a spur of the moment type of thing. But it was real cool to be out there and (Juneau) was a real good guy about it."

MacDonald, who'll resume classes during the second semester in January, would like to travel with the team to Colgate and Cornell this coming weekend.

"I hope so," he said. "If they want to take me, I'll go, that's for sure. I'm just here to be part of the team."

Being around the lockerroom with the team this weekend, MacDonald says, has made him "feel normal again."

"The last month at home ... all my friends are off at school or playing hockey somewhere else," he said. "It's just my parents and me at home and if you see anybody that much over the course of time, you start to get on each other's nerves. The last week, it became (obvious it was) time for me to leave and I think they wanted me to leave pretty bad too, just to get back to normal. This is where I'm supposed to be and it feels really good to get back."