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The Return of Mac

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, August 29, 2006

TROY - Returning to the Houston Field House ice, in uniform, with teammates out there with him, was just "another step" to Kirk MacDonald.

After all, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute star was on the ice with big leaguers a couple weeks ago at the San Jose Sharks' development camp.

To the media, though, having the big right winger back was a big deal.

Virtually every publication and TV station was on hand. They were there for him as a testicular cancer survivor, not as the team's leading scorer, as he was when he last played in the 2004-05 season.

"It's practice, you have to do your work and get on with it," he said. "It's nice (you're) here ... but I'm just doing my job and working as hard as I can to get ready."

MacDonald has bigger milestones forthcoming on his comeback.

"It's not my first go round with a formal skate," he said. "I was out this summer quite a bit and had some good practices."

"It's great to be back with the team, obviously," he said in a don't-misunderstand tone. "I'm excited about that part but practice-wise, I'm back in the groove and ready to go, so it's not that exciting for me."

A reporter asked if, when MacDonald was going through the rigors of chemo, or lying in the OR recovery room in pain, if putting on that RPI jersey and being back in practice was the furthest thing from his mind.

"No, that was the first thing on my mind," he said. "I thought it was going to be last year but it's going to be (this) October 14th against BU (Boston University) and I've been thinking about it all summer. That's what keeps you motivated. It's been a long haul, over 18 months now."

"I can't wait," he said. "It keeps me going every day and makes it tough to sleep at night."

Under NCAA regulations, on the day classes begin, Division I hockey players can skate for 15 minutes, four at a time, with assistant coaches on the ice.

MacDonald skated with fellow senior right winger Jake Morissette, junior winger Tyler Eaves and freshman center Paul Kerins.

"I don't look upon this (Monday's session) as a monumentous occasion," MacDonald reiterated. "I'm not going to lie. I'm looking forward to that first game. I've got that circled in the calendar."

MacDonald had played at as high as 212 pounds during his sophomore and junior seasons but after his bout with testicular cancer, chemotherapy and four surgeries, he decided to stay around 195.

"And I feel a lot quicker," he said. "I always was pretty fast once I got going but now I feel like I have a better first step. I'm better off the hop, one-on-one against a guy on a standstill, going to the corner."

"My strength is ... I can't put it in perspective but it's a whole lot more than it was at 210," he said. "So, there's no sense being 210 if you're carrying 15 extra pounds around."

MacDonald had 31 goals and 39 assists in 76 games during his sophomore and junior seasons. He vows to score at such a rate again.

"I'm not worried about whether I'm going to be the goal scorer I was, it's a question of how good I'm going to be. I'm not worried about getting back to that level, I know I'm already past that level. I'm just going to see what I can do."