Thursday, February 16, 2006

Way to Go Croxton!

Croxton: Win now, reminsce later
By: Ed Weaver, The Record
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TROY - Kevin Croxton's college hockey career is nearing an end.The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute star right winger doesn't think about that much. Actually, he says he doesn't.

"I can't really think about that," Croxton said prior to Wednesday's practice. "These are huge games for us this weekend (at Princeton and Quinnipiac), just go out there and take each game as it comes. We need all the points we can get."So he blocks out the fact that only four regular-season games remain in his career?"Naw, I don't really think about it," he said. "Make it go as long as possible."Despite missing six games, Croxton has a good shot to lead the team in scoring for the third time in four years. He caught the favor of RPI fans early-on during his 15-goal freshman season, scoring a pair of third-period goals to give the Engineers a 2-1 victory over St. Lawrence in Game 10.That ignited an eight-game scoring streak in which Croxton totaled 13 points (6-7-13) and the slender Calgary native has been a Houston Field House favorite ever since.Croxton was hurt early in the second period of a scoreless game with Harvard on Jan. 7 and he was quite proud of the way they posted a 3-2 victory over the nationally-ranked Crimson while he was being treated.And with fellow captain and leading defenseman Brad Farynuk, veteran defenseman Alexander Valentin, Kevin Broad (fourth on the team in goals at the time and two other forwards also out, the Engineers downed rival Clarkson, 4-3 and actually won two straight, beating weak Brown on the road."Very proud," he said. "It was unbelievable. They really pulled together and played real well. It was nice to see."Even coming back (now) and watching how much the guys have improved and everyone's playing their best hockey."The injuries eventually caught up with the Engineers, though, and were unquestionably the main factor in a five-game winless (0-4-1) streak.Aided by Nathan Marsters' fine goaltending, the Engineers finished fifth in the 12-team ECAC Hockey League during Croxton's sophomore year, but finished 11th in each of the other two seasons and currently are in seventh place with a 7-7-4 record.He doesn't want to leave the program having never made the league playoff semifinals at Pepsi Arena."Major disappointment," he has said. "But we're still working toward it."Unless the Engineers win out and get some help from their own opponents (against sixth-place Union) and from St. Lawrence and Harvard foes, the Engineers will have to qualify for the semis on the road in the quarterfinal round."We're peaking at the right time," Croxton said. "We just have to string some wins together. You can't peak at the start of the year, you're not going to keep that up all year. Any season is filled with ups and downs. The team that really hits their stride at the end of the year will do well (in postseason)."We've kind of found our groove," he added, "and we know we can play with anybody."While the Engineers did struggle to score goals during the rash of injuries, junior right winger Andrew Lord, senior right winger Chris Hussey, the defensemen and freshmen forwards Mathieu Angers-Goulet and Kurt Colling have chipped in with scoring quite well.Croxton, though, and 'A' line center Oren Eizenman, may feel the burden of the scoring load as the postseason looms."No, it'll come," he said. "At the start of the year, everything we were shooting was going in. You can only hope that will come back but if not, we just have to keep taking care of our own end. That's all you can do."Croxton's injury cost him any Hobey Baker Award and All-American consideration he may have garnered and could cost him even a Second Team All-ECACHL berth.He hides his disappointment."What can you do," he asked. "You don't really worry about it. "I'm just glad to be back and I just want to go out there and do some damage in the playoffs." The injury may have cost Croxton a chance to reach the Top 20 on RPI's all-time scoring list. He has 55 goals and 81 assists for 136 points and currently is tied for 25th in assists and 31st in scoring.Six more points will tie him for 24 in scoring but he's 20 points away from the Top 20. Four more assists will put him in 20th place.Croxton was asked what Rensselaer fans should appreciate most about him."Ask the fans out there," he said."I just hope they know that I went as hard as I could each night for my four years here and gave as much as I could to the program," he said. "Hopefully, they enjoyed watching me."

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