Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Will Laliberte ever show; Will Tyler sit again?

TROY -- There is growing concern that comitted recruit Jacob Laliberté will change his mind and not ever attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
The Rockland, Ont. native was to have joined much-heralded Brandon Pirri and Jerry D'Amigo as part of this year's outstanding freshman class.
Both Laliberté and RPI head coach Seth Appert agreed, however, that the flashy, left-handed centerman would benefit from another year in junior hockey.
Laliberté has 38 goals, 31 assists in 33 games for Cornwall of the Central Junior Hockey League this season, second in the league in points per game but the flashy left-handed centerman, who had 91 points (43-48-91) in 59 CJHL games as a 17-year old, could have trouble adjusting to life at Rensselaer.
Laliberté is a strong student. There appears to be no problem as far as classrooms are concerned.
He’ll be 20 years old (mid-September) by the time the 2010-11 hockey season rolls around but he remains an immature, undisciplined 19-year old. The rigors, regiments and disciplines of college hockey may be too much for him, unless he makes some big changes.
Projected to center the team’s third-line next season, Laliberté, Appert can only sit and wonder if Laliberté will be a part of RPI’s future.
Appert, prevented from speaking about recruits by NCAA rules until they have signed, could only acknowledge that Laliberté may decide to come to RPI.
Chances are, Laliberte will be here in late summer but it's far from a certainty.
One thing is certain, though, f he joins RPI at some point, Laliberté will make the Engineers a better team.
Will Helfrich play or sit?: Tyler Helfrich may or may not be in the lineup Friday night when RPI hits the ice for an important game against Dartmouth, the Engineers’ first home game in six weeks.
For the second time in his career, the junior winger was benched by head coach Seth Appert for lackluster play, missing last week’s 3-1 loss at Union.
“He has to be better,” said Appert, displeased by Helfrich’s play two weeks ago at Quinnipiac and Princeton.
Helfrich led the Engineers in scoring as a freshman with 29 points (9-20-29).
He dropped 5-18-23, third on the team, while missing five games with a knee injury, last season.
He’s averaging nearly one point per game this season -- 14 points in 16 games -- but he has just four goals.
Though he’s been bothered by a pair of ankle injuries, Helfrich knows the team needs more from him.
“I think they expect me to be producing more,” Helfrich said. "Scoring is my job here, always has been. I want to be a go-to guy here and help the team win. I’m better at doing that when I’m using my mind and setting up plays.”
Trying to be more of an all-around player has taken away from Helfrich’s offensively productivity, he suggested.
“I think I’ve been focusing too much on finishing checks and going the other way and doing things that I don’t normally do and that takes away from (using) my mind, which is one of the biggest strength of my game.”
The Engineers need more production from Helfrich. He needs to step it up, find a way to continue to score while upgrading other areas of his game and earn his way back onto Chase Polacek's line.
Rensselaer is at its best when Helfrich is producing points and playing together with leading scorer Polacek.
"I know he can be better," Appert said.
D'Amigo to be honored: Friday night's game will be RPI's first home contest since D'Amigo and the rest of the USA World Junior Championship team brought home the gold medal.
Rensselaer will honor the Binghamton native after the first intermission.
Friday night will also be Youth Hockey Night and any youth league player who wears his game jersey will be admitted free.
That is in conjunction with Hockey Across America Week, which is next weekend when the Engineers are on the road at Brown and Yale.
Saturday (4 p.m.) against Harvard will be Elementary Kids Day at the Field House. Any elementary child accompanied by an adult will gain free admission to the game.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Helfrich sits

SCHENECTADY -- Junior winger Tyler Helfrich, a top-liner most of his Rensselaer Polytechnic career, was a healthy scratch for tonight's crucial game at Union.
Helfrich was ill during the week but was ready to go tonight and RPI head coach Seth Appert made it clear that Helfrich was a "healthy scratch.
"We need him to be better," said Appert, who was displeased with Helfrich's play last weekend at Quinnipiac and Princeton.
"And I know he can be better," Appert added.
Helfrich, who has four goals, 10 assists this season, was replaced at left wing on Paul Kerins' third line by sophomore Josh Rabbani (2-3-5).

Friday, January 15, 2010


TROY -- Rensselaer senior center Paul Kerins was asked if he'd ever had a defenseman on his right wing before, as this writer forgot that Garett Vassel began his RPI career as a defenseman and often skated on Kerins' line since moving to forward last season.
"No, I don't think I have, on my right side," Kerins said. "I had Garret Vassel on my left side but not on my right.
Kerins says Brutlag "is doing fine" in the two games he's moved up from the blue line.
"It was a good initial weekend for him. It was tough for him to come up but he's a smart enough hockey player, and good enough player that he put him in net and he'd do fine," Kerins said.
Union figures to focus on the top RPI lines centered by Chase Polacek (Patrick Cullen, Alex Angers-Goulet) and Brandon Pirri (Jerry D'Amigo, Marty O'Grady), so Kerins' line could be a key for the Engineers tomorrow night.
“Well, I think all four lines are a key to success,” Kerins said. “I’d like to be a mega-key for us but I think no matter what you do, who you put on those guys, they’re going to find ways to get involved in the play. I’m just going to try to do what I always do, try to contribute on the power play and 5-on-5.
"Hopefully, we’ll be able to take a little burden off their shoulders,” Kerins said of the Polacek and Pirri lines.”
Helfrich doesn't deny he'd love to return to leading scorer Polacek's 'A' line.
"Everyone wants to play with the top guys, right," he said with a slight smile.
However, Helfrich terms his current trio "a dynamic line.
"Playing with Kerins and Brugie is fun," he said. "Bryan works his butt off and opens up a lot of ice for us to use our vision. We just have to get the puck more often and control it down low. Hopefully, puck possession will get us a few more opportunities."
Shining knight Vassel: New Channel News 9 reporter Erin Connolly wanted to go out on the ice and take a shot Wednesday when the Engineers skated at Cohoes' Van Shiack pond.
She was wearing high heels, so two Engineers guided her out in front of one of the nets and Vassel lent her his stick and showed her the proper form to shoot.
Then, Vassel, originally from Oyster Bay, L.I. native, picked up the slender Connolly, from just a few miles away in Syosset, L.I., and gallantly skated her back to shore.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Nice victory

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute certainly wasn't spectacular on Friday night -- except in the penalty-killing department.
The Engineers killed 16 minutes, including four minutes of a major, and rode two short-handed goals by Jordan Watts and Marty O'Grady.
"We won because of penalty killing and Allen York," Rensselaer coach Seth Appert said in reference to sophomore goalie Allen York, who stopped 36 shots.
He stonewalled Quinnipiac star Brandon Wong on a third-period breakaway with the score still 3-1.
The victory evened the Engineers' ECAC Hockey record at 4-4-0 and moved them over the .500 mark overall at 11-10-1.
Defenseman Bryan Brutlag played right wing on Friday night and sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with one minute remaining.
Appert explained that he used Brutlag at forward “for
three reasons.
“First, (reserve defenseman) Christian Jensen has
been playing real good hockey and I wanted to get him
back in there,” Appert said. “Second, we need some
more puck possession and energy from our forwards.
One of the things Bryan is so special at is being aggres
sive and winning puck battles.
“Third,” Appert said, “(Brutlag) is most creative for
us below the circle and (playing wing) allows him to
be more relaxed while being creative down low.”
Rensselaer plays at Princeton at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

D'Amigo needs Friday off

TROY – Jerry D’Amigo needs some time off. The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute freshman will sit out Friday night's game at Quinnipiac and rest at his Binghamton home. He plans to return to the team for Sunday's game at Princeton.
Helping the USA win the IIHF World Junior Tournament gold medal has taken a lot our of the talented left winger.
"I'm tired," he told the media today while showing his gold medal to his RPI teammates.
"I going to get some time off," D'Amigo added. "I'm not going to play (tonight)but I'm going to be back on Sunday. It's been a long tournament. A lot of games in the past two weeks."
D'Amigo scored a tie-breaking goal and assited on another in the USA's 6-5 overtime victory over Canada in the gold medal game.
“I haven’t been sleeping (since),” D’Amigo told reporters before the RPI bus left for Quinnipiac and he left for his home in Binghamton for “some rest and mom’s (Gina) home cooking.
“I’m really tired, I’m sore, all those things you need to win a championship within your body all kind of fatigues you a little more,” he said.
The thrill of the gold medal still hasn’t begun to subside for D’Amigo.
“I’ve been up there (emotionally) since we won the tournament,” he said. “It’s a great feeling – I still can’t explain it (yet). I feel great.”
“They had 15,000 fans all rooting against us and the atmosphere there was unbelievable. Once we won, you look up at all the fans you’ve quieted down. It was great to do that.”
Rensselaer coach Seth Appert had said that he "has to get Jerry some time off," and since the Engineers have just one game next weekend -- although it's at rival Union -- he may get a couple days off from practice early in the week.
"I'd love to play (Friday," he said. "I wish I could. But again, it's the body. It's one of those things that you've got to rest and look forward to the next game."
D'Amigo vows to play Sunday at Princeton, a game televised nationally by ESPNU.
"RPI is my team right now and I've got to play for them," he said.
But Appert says, "if he calls me on Saturday and tells me he's still feeling (badly), I'm not going to tell him, 'well, you have to get down here and play anyway.'''
As D'Amigo and his mom left Houston Field House today, Gina D'Amigo asked Appert, 'what time does he have to be there on Sunday?"
"About 1 o'clock," Appert answered.
Appert had been kidding D'Amigo earlier.
"He scored six goals in seven games in the tournament," he said. "That's more than he's scored in 18 games for us."
In one nine-game stretch for the Engineers this season, D'Amigo had 4 goals, 8 assists.
He said playing in the WJC event and being so successful "gave me confidence. I know I can do it against world-class players and guys who were drafted in the first round and I'll just bring that back (to RPI).
"I just stuck to the basics. I played consistent throughout the whole tournament and I think that was my key," D'Amigo said. "I didn't have a terrible game and then an amazing game, I just stayed on an even keel and I think helped me be consistent throughout the whole tournament."