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.”


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