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MacDonald Ready for 'Real' Debut Tonight

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, October 14, 2006

Senior forward Kirk MacDonald wasn't in the starting lineup for last Saturday's exhibition game against York University. And the 2,648 fans at Houston Field House didn't make much of MacDonald's return to the lineup after a one-year absence while recovering from testicular cancer.

Expect things to be much different tonight.

While RPI coach Seth Appert hasn't come out and said it, expect MacDonald to be in the starting lineup and to get a thunderous ovation from the near-capacity crowd that will watch the Engineers take on third-ranked Boston University at 7 p.m. in the season opener for both teams at the field house.

When asked if MacDonald will be starting, Appert, who will be making his head coaching debut, fired off a quick "no comment." But the smile on Appert's face told a different story.

The trials and tribulations of MacDonald's battle with cancer have been well documented. Diagnosed a month after the end of the 2004-05 season, MacDonald suffered through infections that kept him hospitalized for three months. Unable to eat solid foods, MacDonald lost over 70 pounds.

Now he is back, cancer-free and ready to play.

"It's going to be exciting," said MacDonald, who was the team's leading scorer in 2004-05 when he had 16 goals and 20 assists. "Last week was fun, but I was definitely a step slower than usual. I'm excited to play. I can't imagine what it's going be like. I've got some ideas. I hope it's going to be loud. I hear it's going to be packed."

The Engineers hope that emotional reception MacDonald receives will carry over into the game.

Coming off a third losing season in four years, RPI faces a BU squad that reached the NCAA tournament Northeast Region championship game. The Terriers are led by junior forward and Clifton Park native Peter MacArthur, who led the team in scoring with 14 goals and 25 assists. Also back is senior forward Kenny Roche, who was BU's top goal scorer with 17.

Senior John Curry is solid in goal. He had a 24-8-4 record last season with a 2.24 goals-against average and three shutouts.

"I hope the guys are fired up and ready to go," MacDonald said. "We've been working pretty hard now for almost eight weeks. It's pretty exciting, whether there is all the stuff on the side or not, the guys are anxious to get out and play a top-level team."

"The way we're practicing, we're waiting to be unleashed."

The game will also feature a battle of the new coach in Appert against the legendary Jack Parker, who begins his 34th season as BU's head coach. Parker has a 742-379-84 career record, two NCAA titles, six Hockey East championships, four ECACHL titles and 19 Beanpot championships.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for coach Parker," Appert said. "He's always been an ambassador of the game. He's always been willing to share his knowledge with younger coaches. He's always been good to me as I've developed and moved up the coaching ranks."


After posting two impressive wins at Ferris State last weekend, Union plays its Messa Rink opener tonight at 7 against Rochester Institute of Technology.

"We're excited to play in front of our own fans," Union coach Nate Leman said. "We're excited to play in our own rink. Last week was obviously a long road trip, but it was really good for us because we went out and played a good hockey team, and we had success."

The Dutchmen won in different ways. They got great goaltending from Justin Mrazek, who made 41 saves in last Friday's 2-0 win. In the next night's 6-5 victory, the Dutchmen scored three power-play goals during a five-minute major penalty.

But Leaman still sees room for improvement.

"We played pretty well as a team the first night," Leaman said. "The second night, we weren't very disciplined. We were very sloppy in our system. I think we were very lucky to win, especially against a good team like Ferris. I think we learned we need to get better."


Union beat RIT twice last season....

RPI downed BU, 3-2, in Boston last year....

Dutchmen freshman defenseman Mike Wakita is out two-to-four weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a miniscus problem in his knee....

The referee for the BU-RPI game will be Terry Koharski, the younger brother of NHL referee Don Koharski.


BOSTON - Erin Seman scored 2:12 into overtime Friday, giving Boston University a 3-2 non-conference victory over RPI.

Allysen Weidner scored twice for the Engineers (0-4), including the tying goal on the power play with 2:04 left in the third period.

Sarah Appleton game the Terriers (3-0) a 1-0 lead with a powerplay goal 1:41 into the game.

Weidner scored her first goal at 6:59 of the second, but BU regained the lead with three seconds left in the period on Melissa Anderson's goal.