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."


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