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Sophomore One of Few Engineer Bright Spots

Economakos Play Has Improved, While RPI Continues to Struggle

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 21, 2003

Troy - Nick Economakos is no longer just 'that sophomore left winger with the long name.'

Economakos has made a name for himself in recent weeks, earning himself a regular spot in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute lineup.

And Engineer fans have taken notice of the Lockport, Ill. native - and they like what they see.

Economakos has moved from 12th to fifth on the Engineers' scoring list, and not coincidentally, RPI has increased its goals-per-game output during that time.

"He's playing very well," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said of Economakos. "And he's earned everything he's been getting; regular shifts, power-play time, penalty-killing. And he's doing well in each area."

He's also been RPI's hottest scorer over the last seven weeks.

Through 19 games, Economakos had two goals and no assist.

In 13 games since, he's charted six goals and six assists, one of the Engineers' top scoring streaks of the season.

He has 14 points (8-6-14) and is tied for second place with Ben Barr in goals, behind Kevin Croxton's 13.

"He's certainly one of the bright spots this year," Fridgen said of Economakos.

Last season, Economakos registered an assist in his first collegiate game, then had three points (including his only goal of the season) in consecutive November games. He wasn't able to nail down a regular spot in the lineup, however, and was limited to 12 games, one goal, three assists.

"Being in and out of the lineup is something that no player really wants to go through," Economakos said. "But I think it makes you realize what it means to be out there on that ice and wearing the RPI jersey out there. And I just want to be a part of it, each night, more so than anything."

"This year, I'm getting a chance to play every night and it's just about not taking it for granted and giving it your full 100 percent every night."

Is Economakos considerably a better hockey player than he was two months ago?

"I really don't think it's that," he said. "I think it's just a matter of staying after practice, working a little harder every day and just finally getting some chances - chances I think I've earned - and taking advantage of them."

Fridgen agrees wholeheartedly.

"He works real hard in practice, that's where it all starts," he said. "He's not complaining, he wants to get better."

Fridgen said his assistant coaches think Economakos would be a "steady player (with) real good speed and worked real hard. As of late, he's been developing his touch around the net he's getting results."

And as mentioned, lately the lefty with the quick release had been putting the puck in the net.

"That always helps out any occasion," Economakos said. "It's good, everybody likes to get some points here and there. But I just like helping my team out."

And he doesn't accept much of the credit, giving most of it to his linemates Barr and Carson Butterwick (and before, Croxton).

"Yeah, they've really made things easy for me," he said.

And Economakos' confidence has been on the rise, too.

"That goes without saying when you start putting a couple pucks in the net and your line's working well together, it's going to increase your confidence level."

Barr is a lifetime right winger and although 'centers, centers, centers' may be RPI's recruiting slogan this year, Fridgen has indicated he make keep Barr at the center ice position. That would suit Economakos just fine.

"Benny and me have been working pretty good all season," he said. "We've been together for a while now and we've had a couple different (right wingers) but when you have a good chemistry out there, you really feel like you have a chance to score every shift."

Next year, Economakos, along with Croxton, may be called upon to be a big goal-scorer for the Engineers who will try to improve on this season's record (9-20-3 to date).

"Yeah, I'm excited," he said. "But we have four games left and the playoffs coming up for our senior class and this is kind of their last hurrah."

"So next season, I'm not even thinking about right now," he added, "wanting to help this guys finish off on a high note."