The 2004-2005 season was one of nail-biting frustration for the fans of Houston Field House, who saw their Engineers lose 10 games by one goal and struggle mightily all season long en route to a 11th-place finish.
Coach Dan Fridgen is optimistic, though, that the tough losses last season will help in the growth and maturation of his team for the coming year.
“What I’m looking for is the experience of having as many one-goal losses as we did and for the players to really understand that there’s a fine line between whether you win the game and whether you lose the game,” Fridgen said.
“[I want my players] to take that experience and know how important the little things in the game are,” he continued. “[I want them] to try and turn those little things around so that now you’re winning by a goal as opposed to losing by a goal.”
Offensive improvement might come easier for Rensselaer than improvement behind the blue line, though, because of talented senior forwards Kirk MacDonald and Kevin Croxton.
MacDonald, who is recovering from cancer treatments, was the Engineers’ top scorer with 36 points on 16 goals and 20 assists. MacDonald was especially valuable on special teams and at crunch time; of his 16 goals, eight came on the man-advantage and four were game-winners.
Croxton, who has scored 30 or more points in each of his first three seasons in the league, will be counted on for senior leadership as much as his offensive touch, according to Fridgen.
“I think the one guy to step up and take a bigger role will probably have to be Kevin Croxton. He’s certainly capable of providing solid leadership to our younger players because of the experience he’s had.
“He’s experienced a winning season and he’s experienced a losing season,” Fridgen continued. “[I think] he understands the difference and can lead in that direction.