TROY, N.Y. — Move over Mike Addesa. You’re no longer No. 1 among Rensselaer hockey coaches for most wins in a career.
Dan Fridgen went past Addesa on Saturday night, becoming the school’s all-time winningest coach when the Engineers beat Mercyhurst, 5-0, at Houston Field House.
Fridgen, in his 11th year as the Engineers’ head coach, has a career record 187-156-31. Addesa was 186-124-9 from 1979-89. The team celebrated Fridgen’s milestone with a cake in the locker room. Fridgen was eating a piece of cake when he met the media.
“It feels good to get it out of the way,” said Fridgen, who started at RPI in 1989 as an assistant coach under Buddy Powers. “How fitting we do it in a non-conference game, so now we can concentrate on league play coming up [next] weekend.
“There’s some satisfaction to it. I’ll probably enjoy it more when I’m even grayer than I am with less hair than I have right now.”
Fridgen also thought getting the win over Mercyhurst was fitting because it came with Lakers coach Rick Gotkin in the building. Gotkin was a former RPI assistant coach under Addesa from 1986-88 before he took over the Mercyhurst program.
“It’s awesome,” Gotkin said of Fridgen passing Addesa. “He’s a great guy. He’s a great coach. How can you not be happy for Dan Fridgen. Everybody likes Dan. He does a great job with his program.”
The Engineers were equally happy for their coach.
“It’s a huge accomplishment, especially with the other coaches that RPI’s had,” said goalie Andrew Martin, who made 16 saves to earn his first career RPI shutout. “For him to surpass them all in [over] 10 years is just amazing. Everyone wanted to go out and get him that win very bad.”
Chris Hussey snapped a scoreless tie 30 seconds into the second period. He picked up a loose puck at the Mercyhurst blue line. Oren Eizenman, who was on the right side of the blue line, barely stayed onside. That allowed Hussey to break in and fire a wrist shot past goalie Andy Franck’s glove.
“I think I caught the D-man flat-footed,” Hussey said. “I got the puck, went around him and the goalie dropped his shoulder a little bit. I just put [the puck] above it.”
That triggered a three-goal period. Kevin Croxton made it a two-goal lead with 5:08 left when he scored on a wraparound. Alexander Valentin scored his first goal of the season during an RPI two-man advantage with 3:24 to go.
Kirk MacDonald and Kevin Broad scored in the third period.
Martin, who had one shutout in his two years at Fairfield, credited his defense with making things easy for him.
“When you have defensemen who keep your shots down to 16, it’s more them,” Martin said. “It’s been three games that I’ve been in, and I think the most shots I got in one game is 18. [The shutout] is more for the defense.”
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.