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Senior Keeping Slump in Check

If Butterwick Can't Find Net, He's Happy to Find Opponents to Hit

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, December 13, 2002

TROY - Carson Butterwick goes out and plays hard every game.

Oh, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's senior right winger has had his share of 'going-through-the-motion' moments, but generally, he's busted his rear each night out for the Engineers.

And each night, win or lose, he leaves the ice with that same, tired '1' in the goals column.

Butterwick says he's tried everything he knows to put the puck in the net. That's what the Engineers expect - and need from him. He knows that.

As one of three senior forwards on the team - and having scored 13 goals last year - the Prince Albert, Sask., native knows if RPI is to move up from eighth in the ECAC standings, he's going to have to find the net much more often.

He's let his frustration show at times - and it's affected his play - but only briefly.

Lately, though, the 6-foot, 212-pound Butterwick has begun trying to help the Engineers with some heavy body-checking.

"When an opportunity comes up for me to put a guy down, I'll do it," Butterwick said after last week's game with Union in which he flattened the Dutchmen's Marc Neron and Jordan Webb early on.

"I'm still trying to keep my feet moving and hopefully create some offense from that," he said. "I don't know what more I can do to get some goals, but I'm just trying to look back to (my) freshman year. I got plenty of ice time and I just played the body."

And he did so fairly effectively, too, for a somewhat shy freshman.

"If I'm not going to be able to help the team on the scoreboard, I'm going to try to help by trying to get the guys on the bench up with a big hit here and there, or whatever I can do. Try to be a leader."

Butterwick's only goal came in game eight and helped the Engineers avenge a 3-0 defeat with a 3-1 victory at nationally ranked St. Cloud State.

Head coach Dan Fridgen and the Engineers hoped that Butterwick was out of his slump. He wasn't.

He nearly scored what would have been game-tying goals at both Brown and Harvard on consecutive nighs - Harvard goalie Dov Grumet-Morris got about two fingers of his glove on Butterwick's slapper - but he can't buy one.

"It's discouraging," he admitted. "The puck's just going away from the net for me right now. But I'll keep trying."

FRIDGEN TALKS TOUGH : Last season, it seemed rare when Fridgen would say flatly that he expected more of his veteran team. He challenged them after a dismal loss at St. Lawrence, but generally, could have been more demanding of them.

He sounded a new tone after Tuesday night's 4-1 loss to Boston University.

He let it be known he expects more consistency from them - in virtually all areas - during the second half of the season.

"We're not a young team anymore," he said. "We've played enough games that we have enough experience that ... we gotta quit making those mistakes."

"Hopefully, when they come back (mistakes will decrease)," he said. "I think this (17-day) break will be good for us. I think some guys need it. Other guys just need to continue what they're doing. Some guys certainly are stepping up and getting the job done. We just need more consistency."

DITTO : Rensselaer assistant captain Scott Basiuk watched a lot of hockey during the first half of the season. Not that he wanted to ; he missed 10 games with a hand injury.

The junior defenseman says the 7-9-1 Engineers are capable of much more than he's seen.

"Ups-and-downs," Basiuk said in assessing the first half of the season. "It's been a little bit of mountain-climbing. We've got to get consistent. We play a real good game against Union, then we play one good period (against BU). It's letdowns like that ... I think it's a matter of guys bearing down. The older guys, including myself, have to lead the way and stay at an even keel."

Basiuk also thinks the layoff will do the Engineers some good.

"After you've been home a few days, you start to miss (hockey)," he said. "Once everybody gets back and realizes this is where they want to be, I think we'll be all right."

EAT, DRINK AND SCORE GOALS : With six goals and five assists in eight games, RPI's leading scorer Kevin Croxton (6-9-15) was asked if he'd rather not see semester break come right now when he's hot.

"I never really thought about it until you mentioned it," Croxton said. "But it'll be nice to go home and relax a little bit, try to stay in shape and not eat too much turkey."

Croxton, a Calgary native, could down a whole 30-pounder himself and not have to worry about staying in shape. He's 6-foot-3, 175.