Sunday, December 19, 2010

Short first period for Jerry

Jerry D'Amigo had three short shifts for the USA National Junior team in the first period against RPI. No hit delivered, none taken, though eh and Patrick Cullen did exchange shoves. Follow the game herein on Twitter.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Friendly contact ahead

TROY -- Jerry D'Amigo, as you all know, will return to Houston Field House this weekend with the USA National Junior team for a 4 p.m. exhibition game against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at 4 p.m. Sunday.
During his one season as an Engineer, the Binghamton native was one of the more popular players -- as well as one of the more productive ones.
I asked RPI head coach Seth Appert -- and I prefaced it by saying, "dumb question, but did you issue a no-check edict on Jerry?"
"No, why would I do that," Appert said, to which I replied, 'am I the only one who asked you that?'''
"No, you're not," he replied.
He offered up no others who asked that question and I sought none.
"Our guys love and respect Jerry, and Brandon (Pirri, who also turned pro after one outstanding season at Rensselaer)," Appert said. "But they'll treat Jerry as they would any other opponent. They won't just lay off him because he's a former teammate."
"How about a 'do not run Jerry into the boards" proclamation I asked, still joking.
"Why would we not hit him," Appert said. "Hockey's not a nice game but of course we'll hit him. Why not? There are no friends on the ice."
Indeed. Should be interesting, though, and maybe Jerry will feel a bit awkward; not to suggest for an instant that he won't play hard -- and well.
Time change: I'm sure that most of you who are planning to attend the Engineers' two non-league games at Alabama-Huntsville Dec. 30-31 realize that the Friday game, New Year's Eve, has been changed to from a night game to a 3:30 (central time, 4:30 eastern) start.
It makes for quite a quadrupleheader for RPI fans who'll make the trip.
First, at 11 a.m. Huntsville time, basketball rivals No. 16 Kentucky and No. 21 Louisville square off on TV, followed by the Sun Bowl between Notre Dame at Miami at 1 (CST).
Then the Engineers square off with the Chargers of UAH in Game 2 at 3:3o.
At 6:30, the Chick-fil-A Bowl between No. 19 South Carolina and No. 23 Florida State.
That leaves plenty of time for a festive New Year's Eve celebration at the team's hotel, the downtown Huntsville Holiday Inn, with the Engineers players and coaches.
Sounds like a good time.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

RPI seniors chose exhibition game

TROY—Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey coach Seth Appert gave his captains and other seniors a choice last summer.
Enjoy over two weeks off between games against Boston University and Alabama-Huntsville, or play an exhibition game against the USA National Junior team on Dec. 19.
“I gave the guys the choice and our seniors chose to play this game,” Appert said from an undisclosed (recruiting) site Wednesday night.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to play them (for a second time in three seasons),” Appert said of the USA National team. “But I didn’t want to force it on them. I thought it would be a great experience, they agreed and they’re excited to play the game.”
The game will be played at 4 p.m. Sunday as former Rensselaer star left winger Jerry D’Amigo returns to Houston Field House.
D’Amigo helped the USA Team win the gold medal at the World Junior Championships at Calgary last year and was invited to play again. This year’s tournament is in Buffalo, about three and one-half hours from D’Amigo’s Binghamton home.
The other option for the Engineers was to have 18 days off between the BU game – an impressive 4-1 victory for RPI – and the first of two games at Huntsville on Dec. 30.
“It would be tough to keep the attention in practice,” Appert said. “The guys would feel like, ‘what are we practicing for.’
“It would have been in the approach of the guys,” he said. “It could have been beneficial to us (to simply practice for three weeks) if the young men had bought into it. But a real game in between is usually better, even though it’s an exhibition game.
“And it’s a pretty cool exhibition game,” Appert continued. “This is one of the best teams in the world, if not the best, at that age group.”
Yale head coach Keith Allain will coach the USA team.
The USA team downed the Engineers 5-4 on Oct. 12, 2008 and Appert says the current team is “much better.
“Well, their two years older and stronger,” he said. “And they’ve weeded out the guys who didn’t continue to develop into elite players and they brought in better players to replace them. It’s a heckuva hockey team. Three-fourths of them will be National Hockey League players and many of them will be stars.”
Though Sunday’s clash is an exhibition game, Appert said it will be “a treat for our fans.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Polacek named INCH's top player

TROY -- Hey folks. Had to tend to some family matters over the past few days but I wanted to share some post-game comments from the Engineers' big 4-1 victory over Boston University on Saturday.
First, though, senior center Chase Polacek has been named Inside College Hockey's Player of the Week.
And junior Allen York was named Goaltender of the Week by ECAC Hockey.
Polacek scored one goal and assisted on two others in the big victory over then-7th-ranked BU.
Polacek, the reigning ECACH scoring champion, has seven points over RPI's past two games.
He leads the Engineers in scoring with 23 points (8-15-23) and assists and has at least one point in 13 of RPI's 16 games. He also has seven multi-point games.
York made several brilliant saves among his 28 in the victory over BU. The only shot that got by him came after a turnover 15 feet in front of him. He lowered his goals against average to 1.88 and his saves percentage to 93.0.
The victory over BU moved the Engineers to the No. 13 spot in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll.
Kennedy enjoying victories, but ...: ... he'd much rather be playing, of course.
This writer joked that the Engineers don't need him, winning five of the six games he's missed with a hand injury.
"Apparently not," he said. "We're rolling right now and we just want to keep going this way.
"It was awesome," Kennedy said of the nationally-televised triumph. "Seeing the guys playing for one another, playing for the crest on their chest. It was a big win for the team but also for the program and what we're trying to do."
Solid effort but not "special": Head coach Seth Appert didn't want to downplay the victory over Boston U. but he didn't want it to be exaggerated, either. He spoke of the Engineers' effort.
"Our effort was pretty good but I don't think it was special but that's a credit to BU," he said.
"I told our guys, 'when you play a really good team -- Yale, Union, BU -- no matter how good you play, no matter how hard you play, you can't control the game for 60 minutes. There are ebbs and flows and what you need to do is survive the valleys in your game, and the push-backs from your opponent. I thought at times tonight we were a little hyper when (BU) pushed back but we continued to play hard. I thought we turned the puck too much but we continued to play hard and continued to have good goaltending from Allen."
Blanked in five-on-five play: The Engineers produced three power-play goals and a shorthanded goal and thus, were blanked in 5-on-5 play. While Appert had proclaimed that the Engineers' special teams needed to improve. Together, the power play and penalty killing were as solid as they've been in any game this season.
"We believe in our team 5-on-5," Appert said. "We got outscored 1-0 (during) 5-on-5 play but there haven't been many games we've been outscored 5-on-5 this season (four). I'll stake our team against any team in the country 5-on-5.
"What was great to see was our special teams come through like that."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Big victory

TROY -- Seth Appert and his Rensselaer Engineers pulled off a huge non-conference victory on Saturday, visibly outplaying No. 7 Boston University in a 4-1 triumph, delighting a Houston Field House crowd of 3,309.
Joel Malchuk started the RPI attack with a laser-like slapshot, short-handed goal at 11:58 of the first period.
Tyler Helfrich, Chase Polacek and Bryan Brutlag added power-play goals as the Engineers' special teams were superior.
Rensselaer killed all five of BU's power plays.
Polacek assisted on the final goal and Nick Bailen had a pair of assists as the 15th-ranked Engineers improved to 9-4-3 overall.
More later.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lee looks good to play Saturday; Others not so much

It's three days until game time against Boston U but here's RPI's injury update:
So. W C.J. Lee, head, probable;
Sr. C Joel Malchuk, head, questionable;
So. RW Marty O'Grady, head, out;
Sr. D John Kennedy, hand, out.
Seth Appert did say that if this were playoff action on Saturday, not just a non-conference game, JFK would likley play.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kennedy, 3 forwards out

TROY -- Seth Appert has some holes to fill as he and his RPI Engineers resume ECAC Hockey play this weekend to Yale -- ranked No. 2 (tied with Boston U.) nationally, and to Brown, one of the league's surprise teams this season.
Captain John Kennedy will again be out, as the senior defenseman's hand injury will keep him sidelined for a fourth and fifth consecutive game.
Sophomore winger C.J. Lee, carried from the Houston Field House ice on a stretcher, will be just one of three forwards out of the lineup.
Steady senior center Joel Malchuk was also hurt in the UConn game and fiery sophomore right winger Marty O'Grady was injured in practice on Tuesday. They also have mild concussions.
"None of (the concussions) is severe," Appert said, adding that it's possible one or all of the three trio could play next Saturday against Boston U.
"But they won't be playing this weekend," he said.
With the way Brown has begun its season (2-1-1 in ECAC, 3-2-2 overall, including road ties with New Hampshire and BU after a victory at Cornell), this could be RPI's toughest weekend of the season.
Yale is the most talented team in the leauge and Brown, surprisingly, is just as physical as it was late last season and the Bears are scoring more goals and getting solid goaltending.
"We have to have guys who aren't normally in the lineup step up," Appert said.
That's an opportunity for freshmen Matt Tinordi and Greg Burgdoerfer.
The physical play of Justin Smith could earn him a spot in the Brown game.
Appert even said, that since there's only three healthy centers on the team and two are freshmen, little-used Kevin Beauregard could play.
Beauregard, in just his second career game last year, won a key faceoff to earn an assist on a key goal by Bryan Brutlag in last season's 5-3 victory at Boston U.
"We can win, if we play well," Appert said, "noting the Engineers beat BU and Michigan last year with Jerry D'Amigo and Mike Bergin out.
Bergin is a key player who could step up. The junior defenseman needs to add a little more offense to his fine all-around game.
Appert will who will play on Chase Polacek's top forward line and whether or not third-leading scorer Tyler Helfrich will be one of the two wingers.
Before Lee was injured last week, Appert had broken the (left-right) Lee-Polacek-Helfrich line because they "hadn't had an equal-strength goal in three games," Appert noted.
Patrick Cullen, a left winger, took over for Helfrich at right wing on Polacek's line against UConn on Friday, with Helfrich playing with center Brock Higgs and O'Grady.
On Saturday night, Appert broke up the speedy line of (l-r) Alex Angers-Goulet, Johnny Rogic and Scott Halpern.
That line could be back together and Polacek could center for Cullen and Bryan Brutlag, as he did on Saturday night.
He was asked what the fourth line would look like. Either Beauregard or freshman Matt Tinordi figures to center the unit, with a combination of Smith, Burgdoerfer and Tinordi at the wings.
Though Kennedy's physical presence and poised demeanor are always missed, the Engineers have proven they can win without him, winning all three games he's missed.
And none of the injured players is among RPI's top four scorers.
Lee (3 goals-4 assists-7 points) is tied for fifth in goals and he and O'Grady (2-5-7) are tied for fifth in points.
Appert isn't worried. He says the Engineers can win if they're "physical and play the right way."
He expects his seniors to lead the way.
"We still have six seniors who are healthy to play and there's a good chance that (senior) Kevin Beauregard will play this weekend," Appert said. "I've said all along we're going to win with our seniors and I believe we will."

Stubborn Seth

TROY -- Seth Appert was stubborn. That's not a trait of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's hockey coach. But Appert said he should have moved Bryan Brutlag from defense to forward after his freshman season, not last year, halfway through Brutlag's junior season.
"I was stubborn," Appert said. "I should have made that move sooner. He actually brought it up to me before that.
"But we brought Bryan in here to run our power play and play strong defense for us," Appert said. "So we waited. I guess the things that make him special probably work better at forward and it's his will to compete is as strong as anybody I've ever coached and he just has this incredible ticker to win puck battles and pursue pucks. That probably suits him best as an energy forward.
"Last year," Appert said, "I thought that one of our weaknesses was that I didn't think our forwards played hard. "We knew that moving Bryan up, he might struggle with some things but we knew he would play hard and he didn't struggle with anything."
"But I was too stubborn," he added. "We should have done it sooner."
Brutlag said, "I guess the idea first got put in the air after my sophomore year. I bring I some things (to forward) that some other guys can't."

"Holiday Tournament champs": The Engineers have been champions of their own Holiday Tournament for a few days now.
It's still a nice title, one none of the current players had ever worn before, and it still feels good.
"Yes, definitely," said senior winger Scott Halpern. "It's the first time (RPI) has won it in a long time and it's a great feeling. Any time you win a championship, doesn't matter what it is, guys get excited."
"Yeah, it still feels good," said senior winger Tyler Helfrich. "It's a new week, back to work. We've got Yale Friday night. It's going to be a big challenge and we're excited."
The championship "gives us some confidence in the knowledge that we can win championships," said senior defenseman Jeff Foss.
Revenge has to be on the mind of Engineers when Brown University is mentioned. The Bears beat the Engineers in overtime in Providence last season on some officiating calls that were, questionable.
Then the 11th-place Bears shocked sixth-place RPI in the preliminary round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs.
None of the players would admit to the revenge factor, however.
"Nah," Helfrich said. "I don't think it was number one on our list. But regardless, like I said, Yale's a very big game on Friday."
Linemate Chase Polacek was asked if he wished the Brown game were first on the weekend, for the revenge factor.
"No, we're playing the No. 2 team in the country (Yale is tied for No. 2 with Boston University) and I don't think you can get more excited for a game on a Friday than to play the No. 2 team in the country in their rink and have an opportunity to take down a very good team."
Yale, beaten 5-2 and 4-1 by the Engineers last season, will likely have revenge on its mind.
"I'm sure they will," Polacek said.
Hey, the Bulldogs probably blame the Engineers for the ouster from the playoffs in the quarterfinal round. Had RPI not been upset by Brown, the Bears couldn't have pulled off the incredible upset, beating regular-season champion Yale in straight games.
Appert was asked if resuming to league play -- with two very tough road games -- following the tournament title will be more beneficial than if the Engineers had, say, split the two games.
"Only if we practice well all week," he said. "Good or bad momentum will go only as far as you let it take you. Good momentum can propel you confidence-wise, and how you feel, an the energy in the (locker) room and on the practice (ice), as long as you continue to have good habits and prepare properly and do things the right way, which gives you the opportunity for success.
"Just like when you're struggling, good habits and hard work can help pull you out of it, as long as you allow yourself to be pulled out of it. Momentum is a funny thing and as quickly as you have it, you can give it away if you don't do things the right way."
Injury update: Rensselaer captain John F. Kennedy will again be sidelined with a hand injury this weekend at Yale and Brown, running his inactive skein to five games.
The Engineers, strangely, have won all three games without their most very valuable defenseman and leader but keeping the winning ways this weekend with JFK still sidelined, will be a extremely difficult task to be sure.
Both senior center Joel Malchuk and sophomore winger C.J. Lee, both suffering from mild concussions, are quite questionalbe.