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.


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