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Moving Forward

With Matt Murley and Marc Cavosie Faded Memories, Seniors Carson Butterwick and Nolan Graham Must Sc

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, October 9, 2002

TROY - Two seasons ago, Nolan Graham was centering one of the nation's hottest lines.

Carson Butterwick was on his right wing.

Even though they no longer have high-scoring All-American left winger Matt Murley with them, Butterwick and Graham are the top scorers on this year's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute team.

In fact, the two seniors are the only forwards on the team who had as many as 20 points last season.

Each knows he must produce this season for the team to be successful and have a shot at a home-ice playoffs series.

"Yeah, there's a responsibility on us," Graham said, "but I think it's dispersed among the whole team too. I mean you have 12 forwards on a team and all of us have to pick it up. And we've got to pick up our defense a little, too."

Butterwick, with 13 goals and 13 assists last season, is the leading goals producer and leading scorer among the returnees. He has 27 goals and 36 assists in his career.

"The way we played last year," said the Prince Albert, Sask., native, "was focused around Murley or Cavosie producing a goal or two each game. This year, we're going to look at five or six guys sharing that scoring."

"Yeah, I've thought about it a lot," added Butterwick. "I don't look at a specific number," lie said. "I'd like to be a point-per-game guy and if I can achieve that this year, I'd be happy."

And that would likely spell some success for the Engineers, too.

For 15 games early in the 2000-01 season, Graham's line totaled 73 points. Butterwick had eight goals and 16 assists for 24 points and Graham added 10 goals and 12 assists. (Murley was 14-13-27).

It was quite a ride. And the Engineers were winning.

"It was definitely fun to come to the rink," said Graham, a Nanaimo, B.C., native.

"Personally, I've always said how exciting it was to play with Murley because he was such a talent. He was probably the best player I've ever played with. It was so easy and so much fun to play. It was a great time, things were happening for us. It seemed no matter what we did, good things were going to happen for us and the team."

"I don't think about it too much," Butterwick said. "It was obviously a great experience. We were putting up some of the most points in the league and maybe the country. It was exciting ... you hope for that every day and you strive for that."

Then, Butterwick and Graham were injured in consecutive games and the team's chemistry suffered severely. After a 104-1 start, the Engineers won only four of their next 14 games.

Butterwick and Graham just hope for an injury-free season for each of them. They're not even certain yet if they'll be skating on the same line. Graham (7-14-21 last season, 20-34-54 career) is clearly the top center on the team, but doesn't consider himself the 'A' line center on the eve of the Engineers' season opener at the University of Wisconsin.

"We don't really have an 'A' line," he said. "I think we're going to have four lines that can play and rotate three or four lines right through and everyone is playing and contributing."

Nine-year RPI coach Dan Fridgen expects not only numerical leadership from his two seniors, but also the old-fashioned kind.

"They're two guys I think I'm going to have to look to (to) step up and contribute, not only on the ice, but in the (locker) room," Fridgen said.

"I like their work ethic in practice," he added. "They're both intense individuals. Carson is tough in front of the net and can go in the corner and get the puck. Nolan makes things happen with his quickness and elusiveness."

A hot streak like that of two years ago for their pair of western Canadians?

Who knows.