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Fridgen Receives Longer Contract

Three-year Extension Takes RPI Coach Through '05-'06

By Matt Graves

Albany Times Union, January 17, 2003

TROY - Going up against his alma mater and then the Eastern College Athletic Conference's best team on back-to-back nights is a tough order for RPI hockey coach Dan Fridgen. But the psychological load was lightened considerably Thursday when he signed a three-year contract extension.

The new deal will keep Fridgen as the Engineers' coach through at least the 2005-06 season. This is his ninth season as the team's coach.

"It's been in the works for a little while," said Ken Ralph, RPI's athletic director. "We are thrilled to have Dan signed for the next three years."

Ralph would not disclose terms of the deal but said it will include "a healthy raise."

Fridgen is a 1982 graduate of Colgate University, which opposes RPI tonight. He is the school's third-leading career scorer with 114 goals and 192 points.

"It's good to know that the administration and the athletic director have the confidence in you to let you continue to do what you're doing," Fridgen said as he prepared for Colgate tonight and the nation's fourth-ranked team, Cornell, on Saturday. "Whether it's my last year of a contract or the first year of a 10-year contract, I approach my job the same way. This is a job I thoroughly enjoy, and I can't imagine being anywhere else."

Fridgen played two seasons of professional hockey, including 13 games in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers in 1982-1983. Fridgen, who became the 10th coach in RPI's 100-year history in 1994, has a 156-126-27 record with the Engineers. He has had four 20-victory seasons, and last year he took the team to the ECAC semifinals.

"We're really pleased with the way Dan's been working with the team both off the ice and on the ice," Ralph said, pointing to the team's recent academic achievements in which 15 of the 26 players made the dean's list. "It's the best showing the team's ever made academically, and what's been most impressive to me is how Dan works with the other coaches on the staff."

Before his appointment as head coach, Fridgen served as an assistant under Buddy Powers at RPI, coming from Union College as an assistant to the late Charlie Morrison, then Bruce Delventhal.

Fridgen won the ECAC tournament in his first season with the Engineers (1994-95), but they have not won the regular-season title during his tenure. Eleven of Fridgen's players have been selected in the NHL draft, and more than 20 have gone on to play pro hockey.

Both Matt Murley (Wilkes-Barre) and Marc Cavosie (Houston) from last year's team are playing in the AHL.

Three former players coached by Fridgen - Eric Healey, Chris Aldous and Danny Riva - are playing with the Manchester in the AHL, and Brian Pothier of Binghamton was recently named a starter for this year's AHL All-Star Classic.

Former goaltender Neil Little is a starter for Philadelphia's AHL affiliate. Brad Tapper, who played for Fridgen through the 2000 season, is on the roster of the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers.