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With Top Scorers Gone, RPI Eyes New Identity

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, October 1, 2002

TROY - The RPI hockey team knew it was losing captain Matt Murley and seven other players at the end of last season. But when junior Marc Cavosie decided to pass his senior year to sign a pro contract, the mountain became a bit steeper for the Engineers.

RPI officially began its post-"M & M Boys" era Monday. Sixteen returning lettermen from the team that rallied to finish tied for third in the ECAC last season were on the ice for practice. Their two locally born All-Americans also helped the team earn a third-place finish in the ECAC Tournament at Lake Placid.

Gone is nearly 40 percent of last year's scoring punch with Murley (24 goals), who will start the season with Wilkes-Barre of the AHL, and Cavosie (23 goals), a rookie with Houston of the AHL. The duo accounted for more than 30 percent of the team's 316 points in a 20-13-4 season.

"Matt and Marc - what can you say about those guys?" junior defenseman Scott Basiuk said. "They were unbelievable, and we're just going to have to play more as a team this year. Other guys are going to have to step up. You can't really fill those shoes, so everybody's got to pick up their game that much more."

Basiuk is one of only four experienced defensemen coming back, including new captain Danny Eberly, but the team will have game-tested veterans in the net with juniors Nathan Marsters and Kevin Kurk - the 1-2 goaltenders last season.

"We've got some great freshmen coming in," Basiuk said. "All the guys from last year are raring to go. We had some success last year, and that just makes us even hungrier to see what we can do this year. Everything's real positive."

But will RPI have to go through a rebuilding process or can the Engineers succeed without their two big guns of the past three seasons?

"You can ask that about Marc and Matt, you can ask that about (Brad) Tapper, you can ask that about Adam Oates and Joe Juneau," Fridgen said. "Players coming in and players that are here are who they are. I'm not looking to put any other name on them than the name they have now."

Fridgen said he is confident other players will step up to assume more responsibility, as they have in years past.

"I'm not looking for a Marc or a Matt," said Fridgen, who takes a 149-114-25 record into his ninth season at RPI. "It doesn't work that way. From a coaching perspective, what you recruit is what you have, and I'm certainly looking forward to that. This team will create its own identity and find success in its own way."

Returning to lead the offense is senior forward Carson Butterwick, who notched 13 goals and 26 points last season. He is joined by nine other experienced forwards who will try to help RPI gain home ice in the playoffs again.

"Home advantage is big," Basiuk said. "This league is tough. Every night, every game is tough. You can't take any team lightly at the top or if you're playing a bottom team. We were at the bottom last year. There were a lot of naysayers, but all the guys in there always believed we could do it."

Among the incoming freshmen are two local forwards, Greg Kemp of Loudonville and Matt Yurkewecz of Troy.

RPI will get an early test when it opens a week from Friday in the Icebreaker Tournament at the University of Wisconsin with Boston U. and Northern Michigan.