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RPI's MacDonald Gets Chance to Work with Pros

By Phil Janack

Schenectady Daily Gazette, March 18, 2007

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute didn't make it to the Times Union Center for the ECAC men's hockey tournament over the weekend, but Engineers senior captain Kirk MacDonald did.

The 23-year-old forward actually spent much of last week skating with the Albany River Rats, on the invitation of coach-GM Tom Rowe.

MacDonald first participated in Albany's morning skate prior to its March 14 home game with Bridgeport, and took part in his first full practice the next day.

The Rats host East Division rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this afternoon at 5.

RPI's season, and MacDonald's college career, ended with a firstround sweep at Colgate March 2-3.

"It's a great experience to be here," MacDonald said. "I'd love to be playing here this weekend, and I know the guys back at school would be, too, but they're working hard right now to get here next year."

"It's a good chance for me to get a leg up on guys instead of sitting home getting fat. It's a great way to stay in shape. It's only a 10-minute drive from home, so I might as well get ready for who knows what."

MacDonald has not signed with Albany, which has been plagued by injury, particularly up front, its parent team, the Carolina Hurricanes, or their developmental partner, the Colorado Avalanche.

After sharing prospects with Calgary and Colorado the past four years, Carolina will stock the entire Rats' roster next season, and is always on the lookout for capable free agents.

"It's a good opportunity for us to get a look at some of these kids, and get a better feel for them," Rowe said.

Represented by agent Matt Cater, MacDonald said Carolina is one of a handful of NHL teams that have shown some interest. Cater wants MacDonald to sign with an NHL team, rather than an AHL deal or amateur tryout, before playing pro.

"I'd like to put him in a game, but I understand Matt's position," Rowe said. "I've got no problem with that. I don't anticipate doing anything anytime soon, but I like what I see."

"He comes as advertised as a person. He's a really good kid, from what I've seen so far. What I really like about him is he's got really good hands. We've watched him on defensive zone coverage, the positioning of his stick and quickness to the puck, things like that. I thought, positionally in the d-zone, he did a real nice job."

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound MacDonald had a team-high 12 goals and was tied for the scoring lead with 27 points in 33 games after missing all of last season battling testicular cancer. He was 47-56-103 in 137 career games for RPI.

MacDonald is a finalist for the NCAA Hockey Humanitarian Award and the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, and was selected to participate in the 2007 NCAA Frozen Four Skills Challenge April 6 in St. Louis.

"I'm sort of in limbo right now," MacDonald said. "It could happen tomorrow, or next week or this summer. Instead of sitting around waiting, I'm trying to get prepared. I may be playing with these guys by the end of the season, who knows?"

"There's interest from some NHL teams, but they're not ready to commit yet, and I understand that. It's still so early in the process. [College] teams just finished their season last week, and we were the first team to finish."

"There are a lot of teams out there with a lot of good players that are still playing. I didn't have the best year, so we'll wait and see. I'm sure something will work out for the best."

MARK THE DATE

Albany's team celebrity bartending event, postponed from Feb. 14 due to weather, has been rescheduled for Monday night from 6 to 9 p.m. at Jillian's on North Pearl Street.

Among the players expected to attend are Mike Angelidis, Keith Aucoin, Jesse Boulerice, Johnny Boychuk, Brett Carson, Dan Da-Silva, Scott Kelman, Mitch Love, Cody McLeod, Justiin Peters, Jakub Petruzalek and Tyler Weiman.

Player tips and donations from the event will benefit the American Heart Association.

FACE TIME

Peoria winger Peter Ferraro will appear starting next month on a national television commercial for Verizon Wireless.

Ferraro was invited to audition for the spot while he was still playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He was selected after being loaned to Peoria March 1.

Prior to leaving on a Rivermen road trip, Ferraro flew back to South Mountain Arena in West Orange, N.J., the Devils' training camp and practice facility. where the commercial was taped.

According to the Journal-Star, Ferraro wore hockey gear for the taping, which lasted 10 hours on the ice. Ferraro is said to have a prominent role.

TWICE AS NICE

The Ferraro twins met for the fifth time as pros on March 9, when Chris' San Antonio Rampage beat Peoria, 7-5, in Texas.

Peter Ferraro scored the game's first goal, but Chris Ferraro tied a franchise single-game record with five points (1-4).

Chris Ferraro is now 1-8-9 in games against his brother, who is 3-1-4. They hadn't faced each other since Feb. 11, 2001.

Their first meeting ever came in Albany on Dec. 2, 2000, when the the Rats (Chris) edged Providence (Peter), 2-1.

STATUS QUO

Springfield president-GM Bruce Landon met with the team's booster club prior to the Falcons' March 10 game against Providence.

Landon told the group that there was no truth to the rumor that the Edmonton Oilers would take over as parent team from Tampa Bay next season after the Lightning leave for Norfolk, which is losing Chicago to Rockford, Ill.

"We have two more years left on our deal with Tampa Bay," Landon told the Rebublican. "I told the fans that I feel their pain."

Landon also said that the franchise has not been sold, and will return to Springfield next season.

EX-FILES

Brad Bombardir is working as a video technician for the Minnesota Wild. A defenseman, Bombardir won a Calder Cup in 1995 and a Stanley Cup in 2000. He signed with Springfield in 2005-06, but suffered a career-ending knee injury in the season opener.

Overlooked for AHL rookie of the year in 2005, Zach Parise led New Jersey with 27 goals, and ranked fourth with 52 points in 70 games.

Sidelined for two months with a broken foot suffered on recall to New Jersey, defenseman Alex Brooks returned to action March 10 for Lowell. He had one assist and was minus-1 in nine AHL games, and was 0-1-1 and minus-1 in 19 NHL games.

Iowa defenseman Matt DeMarchi scored his first goal of the season March 3 in a 5-1 loss to San Antonio. DeMarchi's only other point in 22 games was an assist Jan. 27 against Chicago.

Acquired at the NHL trade deadline, Aaron Voros had one assist and nine penalty minutes in his first three games for the Houston Aeros.

Peter Tsimikalis ranked fourth on Kitchener (OHL) with 35 assists, 54 points and a plus-20 rating in 35 games. A Colorado prospect, Tsimikalis returned to juniors Dec. 7 after going 1-2-3 and minus-9 in 19 games for Albany.

Steve Brule was 19-26-45 in 57 games for Austria's Graz EC, good for third in team scoring.

Defenseman Krisjanis Redlihs had five goals and 11 points in 44 games split between Fribourg-Gotteron in Switzerland and Russia's Khabarovsk Amur.

Frederic Henry, the last goalie to lead Albany to the Calder Cup playoffs, was 10-10 with a 4.51 goalsagainst average and a .900 save percentage in 25 games for Thetford Mines in the Quebec-based LNAH, his third season with the Prolab.

QUOTEBOOK

"I can't imagine the city isn't going to move heaven and earth to keep the Amerks."

Binghamton managing partner Tom Mitchell, to the Democrat & Chronicle, on reports Rochester won't play next year unless it gets more money from the city.

AROUND THE BOARDS

Colonie native Craig Darby, who has spent this season in Germany, will remain overseas and play for Austria's HC Tirol Innsbruck in 2007-08. Darby is 17-34-51 in 52 games for Augsburger. ...

Ex-RPI sniper Eric Healey was the only Springfield Falcon to play in each of the first 66 games, and led the team with 24 goals, 35 assists and 59 points. ...

Bridgeport's Eric Boguniecki went 4-5-9 in three games to be named player of the week. Albany's Keith Aucoin (2-4-6, plus-4, 4 games) was bypassed again. ...

Binghamton ended its franchise-record 10-game losing streak with a 7-4 win at Toronto last week. Rookie Andrew Ebbett led the effort with two goals and an assist.