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RPI's Eizenman Finally Up to Speed

Junior, Now Healthy, Has 14-game Scoring Streak

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, December 9, 2005

TROY - The infectious smile on Oren Eizenman's face is virtually irrepressible. Yet once his helmet and visor are in place and the scoreboard clock is running, the RPI forward is all business.

And right now he's one of the hottest players in the East, with a 14-game scoring streak (19 points) heading into the Engineers' final game before the holiday break Saturday against RIT.

His success as a junior comes as no surprise to coach Dan Fridgen, who had to go 11 games without the speedy center after a sinus infection and pneumonia.

"It kind of delayed his progress and development," Fridgen said of Eizenman, a 20-year-old dean's list student from Ontario. "I think you saw some of that once he got into the (International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships) tournament with Israel and how he played there. By the time he came back, he was just getting better. Who knows how much better he'd be this year had he not had the setback last year?"

Eizenman led Israel's Junior National Team to a 4-0-1 record in Belgrade and was named most outstanding forward with 10 goals and 14 points. He had six goals and 20 points in 27 games as a sophomore, but said he never was at full strength until the ECACHL playoffs and subsequent trip to Europe.

"The experience was great," said Eizenman, who played on a line with his two brothers that was almost as potent as the one at RPI with Kevin Croxton and Jonathan Ornelas, which has produced 28 of the Engineers' 50 goals. "I got to play for Jean Perron, who coached the 1986 Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup. I definitely learned a lot from him, but what it really did for me was give me a few more games because last year I was really sick a lot of the time. It was really a perfect scenario."

With top scorer Kirk MacDonald out of the lineup this season, Fridgen put together a line that has been one of the best in college hockey. Fridgen hasn't received much production from his other lines, but he can't complain about the one centered by Eizenman.

"I think the reason why they're effective right now is because of the chemistry between them," Fridgen said.

Fridgen said he's considered splitting them up to spread out the production. "I've thought about it, but I'm not so sure that if you separated one from the other ... It's not their fault that they have chemistry, and with that chemistry you're getting offensive production. We are looking for somebody else to step up."

Ice chips: A moment of silence was observed prior to last weekend's RPI-Sacred Heart game for the late Tony Thomas, a popular friend of the program who most recently worked as a ticket taker. ... After Saturday's games, both RPI and Union are on Christmas break for the next two weeks. ... Eizenman and Union goaltender Kris Mayotte were both named to this week's ECACHL honor roll. Mayotte shut out RIT and is 17th nationally in save percentage (.914) and 25th in goals-against average (2.52). ... Fridgen said he might give Jordan Alford a start in goal against RIT. He hasn't played in RPI's past nine games. "I'm leaning that way," he said.