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Croxton Confident Drought Will End Soon

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, November 6, 2003

TROY - Hey, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey fans; don't worry about Kevin Croxton.

His goal-scoring drought will end soon.

And don't feel sorry for him, either.

Croxton, RPI's leading goal-scorer (15) - and leading scorer (30 points) last season as a freshman, has not put one in the net yet during the Engineers' first five games.

Some fans are wondering if the slender Calgary native is having trouble; or pressing; or has seen his confidence drop.

Perhaps those fans are just a bit impatient.

With six assists, Croxton again leads the Engineers in scoring and is the only one averaging one point per game at 1.2.

At plus-2, he's one of a few forwards on the team who has a positive plus-minus rating.

Veteran left winger Ryan Shields has only one goal and is a minus-4. Talented freshman and 'A' line center Owen Eizenman is a minus-5.

And Croxton is making things happen.

It was his shot that bounced off the skate of Conrad Barnes and into the net, completing the Engineers' three-goal, third-period rally that lifted them to a 5-4 victory over Merrimack.

He ignited the three-goal, third-period rally that produced a 4-4 tie with UConn. He worked the puck free from the corner, starting the play that led to Eizenman's goal that brought RPI to within 4-2.

He used his long reach to haul in a clearing attempt and fed Brad Farynuk for a goal in the victory over Army.

While Croxton is getting itchy to put one over the goal line, he's not pressing.

"No, not really," he said. "I'm just trying to keep going hard, to do the right things and not get away from my game. I didn't score until however many games last year (the 10th - his first and second goals gave RPI a 2-1 victory over St. Lawrence). I just hope to get a dirty one here sometime and get on a roll."

Croxton and the Engineers open ECAC play this weekend at Clarkson and St. Lawrence.

It's not at all unusual in Division I, especially in the defense-oriented ECAC, for sophomore forwards to see their goals total drop off from their freshman year. All-American Matt Murley fell from 17 to nine.

"Yeah, I was kind of expecting that," Croxton said, "just because guys know who you are and play you a little tighter."

Rensselaer coach Dan Fridgen says Croxton has yet to show the level at which he played last season.

"I don't know if he's been playing the same as last year," Fridgen said. "Kevin can be one of those guys who lays low, yet when you look at the score sheet at the end of the game he's gotten himself an assist or two."

"So, I think right now, he hasn't had a game he's been outstanding in and I guess you could say we're waiting for him to break out."

Fridgen quickly added that Croxton certainly hasn't fallen off to any great degree, but the ninth-year RPI coach has taken the 6-foot-3, 192-pounder off the Engineers' power play.

That hurt Croxton said, and it dinged his confidence.

"Ah, I could be playing with more (confidence)," he said. "It's wavering. It's tough when you see that (Goals-0) and not playing on the power play. That kind of hurt a little bit. But I can't let that bother me. I can't control that, how coach plays me."

Croxton says he doesn't need sympathy.

"As long as we keep winning games, I could care less if I have zero goals or 50 goals," he said. "I just want to keep winning."