RPI Pep Band (and Friends) Alumni Newsletter
Volume 4, Issue 2








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Hello everyone, and welcome to the April edition of the RPI Pep Band Alumni (and Friends) newsletter! This quarter has seen even more changes and growth in the organization as we welcome men's hockey correspondant Tom Reale to the staff. Expect for lots of news from both the Men's and Women's teams, as well as the newest pep band officers, and planning for Reunion Weekend. Wow, that's a lot to cover, so let's get started.

Melt The Ice - Men's Hockey Season of Chaos Comes to an End

The 2005-06 season was truly a turning point for the RPI men’s hockey program in almost every sense of the word. The rollercoaster year for the Engineers produced some very high highs and some rather low lows, and ended with a change at the top that is likely to have some degree of effect on the path that the team takes in the future.

First, the highlights of the season:

  • First trip to Alaska in the history of the program
  • 13 goals in a game (against Ottawa, in an exhibition) for the first time since 1987
  • Shutouts against Army (Oct. 23) and Cornell (Feb. 24)
  • Big victories over strong Hockey East teams BU (Oct. 21) and Providence (Nov. 26)
  • Season series victories over Brown (sweep), Quinnipiac (3 points), Princeton (3 points), Cornell (3 points), and Clarkson (3 points).
  • Only ECACHL team to win the season series against highly-ranked Cornell.
  • Team unbeaten streak against Clarkson reaches six straight games, a school record (last loss Feb. 1, 2003)
  • Third straight victory on Black Friday (4-2 over Quinnipiac) and Big Red Freakout! unbeaten streak reaches 16 (4-2 over Brown, last loss in 1990 to SLU)
  • Joe Juneau honored at Black Friday with his “9” hung at Houston Field House

And, the lowlights:

  • Injuries depleted the team during the important stretch run
  • Kirk MacDonald lost at the beginning of the season (testicular cancer) and Alexander Valentin lost at midseason (knee injury).
  • Swept on the year by St. Lawrence and Dartmouth
  • Only one point from Union in the home-and-home series in February, second straight season series loss to the Dutchmen (0-3-1 in last two seasons)
  • Two losses to Holy Cross and one to Sacred Heart, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th losses against Atlantic Hockey teams in RPI history (0-3-0 against AHA on the year)
  • Gave up 4 or more goals on 14 different occasions, won only 2 of those games
  • 2nd straight losing season, first consecutive losing season since 1988-89 (which was the team’s 3rd straight)
  • Six ties most in school history
  • Losses to weak teams in Alaska-Anchorage (Oct. 14) and Merrimack (Oct. 29)
  • Swept at home against first year ECACHL team Quinnipiac in the first round of the playoffs, first time losing a home playoff series since 1998 (Cornell), first time swept at home in the post-season since 1986 (Clarkson)
  • Senior class (Class of 2006) first to never take part in the ECAC Championships since Class of 1983, first to fail to win the RPI Invitational since Class of 1982
  • Team goes 0-for-4 in tournaments on the year, including ECACHL postseason tournament, seniors graduate with a tournament record of 0-for-12, reaching only two championship games, losing both (last tournament win at RPI Tournament, 2001)


Ultimately, the negatives weighed heavily, and head coach Dan Fridgen resigned at the end of the season. Here’s a quick capper on Fridgen’s career at RPI.

  • 17 years behind the Engineer bench, the last 12 as head coach
  • Most wins (211, 2nd is Mike Addesa at 186), most losses (193, Addesa at 124), and most ties (38, Buddy Powers at 13) among Engineer head coaches – oddly enough, most games coached too (442, Addesa at 319)
  • Second-most seasons coached behind the legendary Ned Harkness’ 14.
  • .520 winning percentage is next to last among post-war coaches, beating out only Garry Kearns (.414 over five years)
  • Five 20-win seasons (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004)
  • Three 20-loss seasons (1996, 2003, 2005)
  • Guided the team to the 1995 ECAC Championship, the 2000 ECAC Championship game, and the 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002 ECAC Final Four tournaments in Lake Placid
  • Coached the team in one NCAA tournament game, a 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Madison, Wisconsin in 1995
  • Three RPI Tournament titles (1996, 1998, 2001)
  • Brought on Brian Pothier, Brad Tapper, and Matt Murley, who would all go on to gain NHL experience
  • 6 Engineers drafted by NHL teams during his tenure (Pete Gardiner, Matt Murley, Andrew McPherson, Marc Cavosie, Danny Eberly, and Francois Senez), but none since 2001
  • Joel Laing and Marc Cavosie were both nominated for the Hobey Baker Award during his tenure.

The list of potential candidates to replace Fridgen are long, but among the most often mentioned names are Stan Moore, former Union and Colgate head coach, who won Coach of the Year at both schools and is currently an assistant at Providence, and alums Joe Juneau (Olympic silver medalist and NHL veteran) and Graeme Townshend (NHL veteran, former junior coach and current NHL scout). Also mentioned quite often is former Clarkson coach Mark Morris, who took the Knights to 9 NCAA Tournaments in 11 years and is the winningest head coach in the school’s history.

Among the notable names who have already bowed out of the race are women’s coach John Burke, former RPI goalie and long-time NHL coach Kevin Constantine, and Middlebury head coach Bill Beaney.


Women Exceed Expectations in First Year at D1

The women had a successful inaugural season in Division I, going 18-6-2 overall and 2-1 in exhibition games as an independent. Highlights of the season included starting the season on an 11 game unbeaten streak (9-0-1 and an exhibition win over McGill), going 1-0-1 against Colgate, and going 4-2-1 against ECACHL teams (Colgate, Union, Clarkson, and Quinnipiac).

Leading the way for RPI on offense were freshman Nicole McDonald (17 goals, eight assists) and junior Sarah Daniel (14 goals, 11 assists). In fact eight players recorded 10 or more points, with seven of them underclassmen (including five freshmen). On defense the Engineers were led by senior Rosina Schiff (9-4-1, 1.96 goals against average, .916 save percentage in 14 games), and freshmen Ashley Mayr (5-2-1, 1.99 gaa, .913 save % in eight games) and Emily Ford (4-0-0, 1.24 gaa, .921 save % in 6 games).

Schiff was named MVP and received the Bill Cahill Memorial Award at the annual awards banquet last week. Junior Ciara Libaridian was named Most Improved Player and classmate Sarah Daniel received the Scholar-Athlete Award.

Next season the Engineers join the ECACHL, one of the toughest, if not the toughest women's conferences in the nation.


Freakout 2006 Recap

How can one recap this year's Freakout? This year's event was amazing in so many way. Near record turnout of our membership, lots of first time alumni appearances, an awesome lasagna dinner followed by an even better (and longer) after party, and real-time photo updates thanks to the new photo gallery! And best of all, we won!

This year's event was just amazing, and I know I had a great time catching up with all of you who were able to attend. We also got a nice mix of current students at the party and didn't scare them off too badly. Special thanks go to Amber, Brendan, and Sarah for their efforts in helping with all the details to make this year a success.

Thank yous also go out to everyone who's posted their photos from this year to the photo gallery! Contributions have come in from Andrea D, James L, Mark G, Joe P, and Joseph G. If you haven't already done so, be sure to pop over and take a look. Plus, if you register, you can leave comments, send e-cards, upload your own photos, and use the message boards!

And rest assured we're going to try to outdo ourselves next year, as RPI will face Cornell in Freakout 2007.


Reunion Weekend 2006!

Reunion Weekend takes place from June 8th through the 11th and is targeted at those classes ending ina 1 or 6. Of course our events aways include all pep band alumni. This year we've decided to change things up a little and move away from the Pub and Games night to provide some different activities. The weekend will officially start off on Thursday with a host of events sponsored by the alumni house (A complete schedule of which can be found here. Though much of our weekend is in the planning stages, expect a special evening on Thursday or Friday as one of our members will look to debut a draft version of a new arrangement writen for the band. Be sure to bring your horn and watch for details. Also expect some sort of informal gathering Friday night for a chance to just hang out.

Saturday will be the start of our official activities. And don't worry, you'll still get your chance to visit the Clubhouse Pub - just in a way you've probably never done before: for lunch! Though subject to change, we hope to start the luncheon right around noon after the class parade. After that, be sure to take advantage of the Institute's events and be well rested as we get ready for Pep Band Alumni Street Hockey! This is a skates optional game and will start sometime after the class dinners (roughly 9:00pm) in the OS14 lot.

Then on Sunday after the official send-off, join us for a trip up the Northway for some carnival and roller coaster action at Great Escape. We'll be meeting up in the OS14 lot at approximately 9:00am (weather permitting) for a day of thrills and spills.

Sounds like a fun weekend all around! We hope to see a lot of you there, so please be sure and RSVP before June 1st.


Life Updates

With our second quarter including the rapidly approaching end of the academic year, usually our only schoolastic congratulations go out to the seniors on the list. However, in this quarter two of our more esteemed alums also have schoolastic reasons to celebrate, and both of them are named Mike! To start, Mike Brown '96 defended in February to receive his PhD from RPI. Many of the local alums were on hand to celebrate and raise a glass at the bar formerly known as Troy Pub.

The other Mike is Mike Steele. Steele's had a very busy semester and earned his doctorate from University of Pittsburgh in Mathematics Education. In addition, Dr. Steele has accepted a faculty position at Michigan State University. Mike will be starting there this fall.

News of the non-academic variety comes from Jason Shapiro '01. Jason and his wife Ann welcomed their second child, a son named Alexander, on March 14th.

And finally, the "home office" of RPI Pep Band Alumni (and Friends) will be moving to a more permanent home next month. Chris and Terry close on their first house at the end of April and are looking forward to finally having room to have people over. Perhaps a summer pep band party will be part of the 2007 events?

As always, if you have something you'd like to share, be it a new job or a new kid, please let us know at newsletter@rpipepbandalumni.org.


From The Managers

Hockey season has come to an end once more, and with that comes yet another year’s elections! Before getting into story time though, I suppose I should introduce us. I’m Gary Russinko, going into my junior year and 3rd year with the band, and my partner in crime is Chris Behrens, set to begin his senior year and 4th with the band.

Now, as far as elections were concerned…despite fierce competition (as in, running unopposed) Chris and I managed somehow to get ourselves into the hot seat for the upcoming year. We had an actual race for conductor, but at the last possible minute one of the two candidates announced he’d rather just be an assistant, so Dan Schwarting will be hand-waver extraordinaire for the next season.

Things are winding down for most of the band, with Accepted Students Day being the only real event left for the semester, but we’re already working on several events for over the summer and being quickly thrust into the world of budgeting and purchasing (with the RMA’s revelation that we have money set aside for percussion equipment that needs to be spent by the end of the year).

As has been done in years past, we’re working to put together a group to play at a few of the Student Orientation sessions in July ­ things are looking promising as we already have 7 positive responses from band members within the first day.

New for this year is a plan to run a 2-hour program during Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond on the Saturday prior to the start of classes. FYE has introduced “variable programming blocks” for clubs to use for their own programs. We’re hoping to use it as an opportunity to get new potential members acquainted with the band in a less crowded, slower-paced, and not-so-intimidating manner than the traditional first rehearsal. The paperwork’s just been submitted and we’ll surely be creating and evolving a solid plan as the summer draws on.

Now, I’ve probably written more in this one column than my predecessors wrote over the course of an entire year, so it’s probably a good time to quit running my mouth. As a standing order, if any of you have questions, comments, or suggestions, email us at pepband@rpi.edu.

Until next time,
-Gary and Chris
The Managers


Final Notes

So, to recap:

  • Next event is Reunion Weekend 2006. Looking forward to seeing everyone there, but especially looking to see the class years that end in 1s and 6s. Make sure you RSVP by June 1st!
  • Congratulations to this year's seniors! Also, congratulations to Gary, Chris, and Dan on their elections as manager and conductor!
  • A reminder that if your e-mail address will be changing, be sure to update your Yahoo profile!
  • Be sure to take a look at the Message Boards and brand new Photo Gallery! Both can be accessed using the same account. To sign up, check out the instructions in the files section of the Yahoo Group.
  • Speaking of photos, we have no photos from the 2000 and 1999 Freakouts! If you have any, please post them to the Photo Gallery.
  • Welcome Men's Hockey Correspondant Tom Reale '04 to the RPI Pep Band Alumni (and Friends) staff. Any mens hockey related comments or suggestions can be sent to mens_hockey@rpipepbandalumni.org.
  • Please send any other ideas/comments/suggesstions/whatever to Chris and Terry at pepband@rpipepbandalumni.org.
Next issue: Music Alumni Weekend or PBAN4? Also watch for football previews, more new features, and the Reunion Weekend Recap.