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RPI's Jonny on the Spot

Sophomore Jonathan Ornelas Makes Most of His Chance to Play on Eizenman-Croxton Line

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 17, 2005

TROY - It seems nothing thrills Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey fans more these days than seeing sophomore left winger Jonathan Ornelas pick up the puck ahead of the defense and streak into the offensive zone alone.

The Mississauga, Ont. native turned two of those situations into exciting, third-period goals last week, leading the Engineers to a 4-1 victory over Princeton. Ornelas, in 11 games, has nearly twice as many goals - eight - as the five he scored last season in 34 games.

He scored his fifth goal this season in Game 8.

Rensselaer head coach Dan Fridgen isn't at all surprised by Ornelas' productive start. He predicted as much.

"I think that's a key to anybody's (improved) game, is the confidence factor," Fridgen said. "He's playing with a lot of confidence. Last year, I think he was a little hesitant, a little tentative to bring that game forward. It's tough to make that adjustment. I think, this year, the difference is that he's made that adjustment mentally."

Ornelas says, "I don't even know" when asked what the biggest key to his increased scoring has been.

Be sure, playing on a line with playmakers such as center Oren Eizenman and right winger Kevin Croxton are the main reasons.

"Playing with Crox and Eizenman creates so much more room (for me), they're such smart players. We've been real well together ... we just want to keep it up."

How much is it confidence and how much Croxton and Eizenman?

"About 80 percent Oren and Kevin and 20 percent confidence right now," Ornelas said. "I worked a lot over the summer but like I said, working with those two guys has helped me a lot."

Both linemates give Ornelas most of the credit.

"He's been playing great this year," Eizenman says. "He's fast, he scores, he works hard. He does everything well. He's a helluva player."

Eizenman just shrugged when told of his own factor in Ornelas' success.

"He creates a lot of room out there," Eizenman said. "I think if he were to play with anyone, he'd be a big asset."

"He's playing unbelievable," Croxton said. "It's fun playing with him and trying to keep up with him."

For most of last season, when Eizenman was healthy, senior Nick Economakos played left wing with Croxton and him.

Ornelas admits that his first objective was to nail down the spot that Economakos' graduation opened.

"Definitely," he said. "Not just for personal reasons but team-wise, too," he said. "Last year when I played with (Eizenman) a few times, we seemed to click a lot. Basically, this year I came in and wanted to play with both those guys and it's worked out so far."

Both Croxton (11 assists) and Eizenman (10) have assisted on four of Ornelas' eight goals. Ornelas says he's worked in the off season not only to get stronger but on his game, too.

"All year, I just try to get on the ice as much as possible," he said, "just shoot on goalies as much as possible, work in my stick-handling, work on my shooting accuracy, strength. It's just a matter of how much you do it, how well you do it during the offseason that's going to (improve) your season."