by Bob Przybylo || AHL On The Beat Archive
You’re never going to mistake Oklahoma City Barons defenseman Taylor Fedun as one of the great enforcers in the league.
That’s not his role. Through 10 games this season, Fedun only had four penalty minutes. And at 6-foot and 190 pounds, he doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of his opponents.
The mental game is another story. With an engineering degree from Princeton University – Fedun is no slouch there.
He originally applied to the Princeton arts program when he had a friend suggest he go into engineering.
“The classes I enjoyed the most growing up were always the math ones and physics-related,” Fedun said. “It seemed like a natural fit when I thought about it more.”
As with any major, there was a big senior project. For most areas of study, it usually requires a senior thesis of some sort and a lot of writing. But for engineers it was a little different. Fedun was able to do an independent work project to cap off his college career with a couple of friends.
However, what was he going to do? Fedun didn’t have the answer there but somebody else did and the decision was made to create a hovercraft.
“It’s funny because the guy who thought of it didn’t actually end up working with us,” Fedun said. “We liked the idea so we stuck with it.”
Stuck with it is a good way to phrase it. Fedun and the rest of the group didn’t strike gold the first time. Or the second. Or the third. He said they kept plugging away, and it wasn’t until the 12th model that everything clicked the way they wanted it.
After designing a bunch of small prototypes that were less than two feet wide and long, the actual hovercraft ended up being 4 ft. by 2 ½ ft.
The base was wood with foam interior and what Fedun liked so much was they made the inside clear plastic so you could see what was going on.
“We thought it would be cool for everybody to see what was up and how it all worked,” Fedun said. “The dream is for it to be ridden around like an ATV-type of thing.”
So where is Fedun’s hovercraft now? It’s still at Princeton, he said. The thinking is to keep it there in case future engineering students want to work on it. Nobody in the 2012 class decided to enhance it, but Fedun is hopeful another set of engineering students will want to give it a shot.
The 24-year-old has played every game this season for the Barons after missing all of last season with a broken right femur suffered during an Edmonton Oilers preseason game.
“It didn’t break as much as it exploded,” Fedun said. “The top third of the bone was in a bunch of different fragments.”
Fedun was in rehab for nearly a year but hasn’t missed a beat this season. He said he had some nerves on opening night, but he has been fine. It has been back to business.
Fedun has a pretty good backup option if hockey doesn’t pan out. He can always go back to engineering because he has the passion for it. But for now, there is no place he’d rather be than on the ice.
“It was a long road back, but I’m healthy and still love the game,” Fedun said. “The support from the Edmonton organization was huge during last year. Now I want to go out and show everybody what I can do.”