Saturday, February 26, 2011 say the least

TROY -- A first-round bye; a 20-win regular season; a chance to enter the playoffs on a positive note. All of those items slipped from Rensselaer's hands, not only in Saturday night's lackluster 2-2 tie with Quinnipiac but also in Friday night's 4-3 loss to Princeton. If the Engineers had held the Tigers to a tie and banged in an overtime goal Saturday night, they'd have finished in third place, instead of being seeded fifth.
The Engineers played fairly well in the game but the sense of urgency, desperation -- they HAD to win to get that coveted bye -- seemed to be lacking.
"It was an outstanding hockey game. I have no problems with the way we played," RPI coach Seth Appert said.
Appert wanted to pull goalie Allen York for an extra attacker earlier than the 23-second mark that he did.
"We couldn't," he said. "I wanted to. What I would have liked to have had was an offensive zone faceoff with under a minute and a half to go (in overtime). Becuase there's no better time to pull your goalie than on a faceoff (at the other end). It allows you organization but ... because of the flow of overtime we couldn't get him out until about 30 seconds to go."
It's difficult but RPI fans to separate the horribly disappointing end to the season from the fairly successful season overall.
Four of their final six games were at home and the Engineers didn't win one of them (0-3-1) -- not one.
When I went over to the Field House when the team arrived back its 5-2 victory at Princeton on Feb. 5, I saw a confident, loose, focused hockey team. They Engineers were alone in third place with a 10-5-1 record, would be ranked in the Top 10 nationally and, as mentioned, would be at home for four of their final six games.
I was quite confident the Engineers would win at least four of those games. If someone had suggested to me they would go 1-4-1, I wouldn't have considered it, let alone believed it.
The dismal loss to Colgate in overtime, the OT loss to Cornell when the Engineers played quite well, could have gotten the team down psychologically, though they would deny that.
Chase Polacek has been playing hurt, played ill this weekend and secondary scorers have stepped up lately. The Engineers just came up one goal short, both Friday and today.
"We did a lot of good things throughout this year," Appert said. "We were 19 and 10 (with five ties). We put ourselves in great position. We didn't get the top four which we wanted but now you put it behind you and get ready for a playoff series."

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RPI vs. Quinnipiac hockey

Can Engineers bounce back -- again?

TROY -- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute had been ahead of Princeton in the ECAC Hockey standings for virtually the entire season.
The Engineers, with their backup goalie Bryce Merriam, had handily beaten the Tigers, 5-2, in their own building just three weeks ago.
Friday night at Houston Field House, though, Princeton clearly looked like the better team. And the Tigers' 4-3 victory sent the Engineers into sixth place in ECACH, being transplaced by the Tigers.
Three freshmen scored goals for the Engineers, and that's certainly optimistic for the future, but let's face it, right now, without Chase Polacek, RPI is a mediocre team.
Polacek, who's been ill over the past couple days, tried valiantly to go Friday night but wasn't effective and was held without a point for the third straight game.
He was on the ice for three of Princeton's goals and just looked too tired while penalty killing late in the second period, when the Tigers converted on a 24-second power play after 1:36 of 4-on-4 play.
Senior defensemen John Kennedy and Jeff Foss were each on the ice for two Tigers tallies and coach Seth Appert proclaimed that his seniors weren't good enough in the game.
"We can't have some of our seniors being so 'at home' for all four of their goals. You know, our seniors need to play like leaders this time of year and again ..."
Appert has claimed all season that the Engineers will "win with our seniors" and "we'll go as far as our seniors take us.
Well, the past three Friday nights, the Engineers have lost with their seniors, including games to two teams that are well behind them in the standings -- despite their current losing skein -- Colgate and St. Lawrence.
When the Engineers returned home on after beating Princeton on Feb. 5, they seemed like a confident team running smoothy on all cylinders.
That certainly hasn't been the case lately; the 1-4-0 record, the poor play around the net, the sputtering of the team's power play.
Polacek is not 100 percent. He won't be tonight against Quinnipiac -- a game which the Engineers should flat out win anyway -- and who knows if he will be when the postseason begins, whenever that is?
The other seniors and some underclassmen have to step up in the meantime.
Rensselaer needs a week off and can get with a victory tonight and help from Yale (beating Cornell) and Union (beating Princeton).
If all three decisions go as outlined, RPI will finish in fourth place, with a 12-9-1 record for 25 points.
Win and pray.
Shake your head, scratch your head: In league play, RPI is 2-6-1 on Friday nights since winning its first league game of the season on Fri., Nov. 5 at Dartmouth. The Engineers will take a 7-2-0 league record in Saturdays games into tonight's clash with Quinnipiac.
The team needs to figure out what is behind such a stark difference between their first game of a weekend and their second.
A loss is a loss is a loss: The defeat hurt the Engineers badly. They could have gone ahead of Cornell -- which lost at Brown -- had they won.
"It hurts more because it's this time of year," Appert said. "But at the end of the day, it's no different than the loss (at) Harvard the first weekend of the ECAC season."
Tinordi plays well, scores: Freshman left winger Matt Tinordi had a good game and scored his first collegiate goal.
He outfought two Princeton backcheckers for a puck in front of the net, kept his balance while being checked as he shot the puck and slipped on under Princeton goalie Sean Bonar.
"Bruty was forechecking in the corner and he made a heads up play, kind of spun and put it right on my tape. I pushed it in 5-hole.
"It's nice, relief, because I feel like I've been battling all year, so it's nice to get one but ..."
...Right, a win would have been better.
Tinordi has played well in his recent outings.
First-chance goals hurting: Appert said Andrew Calof's shorthanded, breakaway goal marked the "fourth straight game in which we've given up a goal on basically the first scoring chance of the game, and it's not (the fault of) our goaltending.
"Yeah, we come right back and tie it but we're playing catch-up," Appert said, "but you're giving your opponent momentum early in a game, and belief, and life and offensive confidence and that's not a good thing this time of year.
"We can't give our opponents the opportunity to take the lead on us so early in the game so many nights in a row."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Playoff-type hockey this weekend

TROY – Most late-season college hockey games are intense, as teams jockey for position in the standings and try to get themselves as best prepared for the postseason as they possibly can.
With just two points separating the third-through sixth-place teams in the ECAC Hockey standings however, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s two games with Princeton and Quinnipiac will bring a playoff atmosphere to Houston Field House tonight and Saturday night.
Dartmouth and Cornell both have 11-7-2 (24 points) ECACH records and share third place.
Rensselaer is fifth at 11-8-1 (23 points), while Princeton is fifth (10-8-2, 22) and those two teams clash at HFH tonight at 7.
As is well-chronicled, the top four finishers receive a bye into the league’s playoff quarterfinals.
It’s not impossible to earn a spot in the ECACH semifinals – even win a championship – from a low-seeded position. Hey, Brown did it last year, taking out sixth-seeded RPI 51 weeks ago and upending top-seeded Yale in the quarterfinals before runner-up Cornell halted the Bears in the semifinals, 3-0.
However, getting a preliminary-round bye affords a team a much “clearer path to the semifinals,” Rensselaer coach Seth Appert often says.
So, the old Field House should be rocking tonight and hopefully Saturday night against seventh-place Quinnipiac (6-9-5, 13-13-5).
“Definitely playoff atmosphere,” said captain John Kennedy. “The only thing missing is not playing (the same foe) the next night but we’re definitely going to come out intense. Both teams are fighting for that top four spot (Princeton would have to beat RPI and Union and get more help that RPI needs). It’s going to be an absolute battle.”
“Definitely,” defenseman Jeff Foss said. “It’s our (seniors’) last crack at it. It’ll be tense.”
“It pretty much is (a playoff situation),” senior winger Tyler Helfrich said. “The last few games have been playoff mentality. We know that.”
“Yeah, I think at the end of the year, it’s usually a playoff atmosphere,” said senior center and scoring leader Chase Polacek. “Games are always close, lot of teams winning by one goal or in overtime. We have to try to play this as a playoff series this weekend and try to get two wins and win the ‘series.’
Appert says he hopes Engineers fans “create a real playoff atmosphere.”
Players must be responsible: Appert, who loudly chastised and challenged the Engineers the morning after their 5-3 loss at St. Lawrence last Friday night, has said often since Saturday night’s 5-1 triumph at Clarkson, “every team has a personality and our is that we play better angry.”
He was asked at midweek what he did/will do to make the Engineers angry again.
“Yell at them a lot,” he said with a smile. “I haven’t been too jovial with them this week. But they have to take it upon themselves, too.
“(We’re) better when we’re angry and edgy,” he said. “But no matter what I do as (head) coach or we do as a staff, from Thursday at 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Friday, they have to be responsible for themselves. And they have to be responsible. That’s when our seniors have to do a better job of dictating the mood in our pre-game meeting, our pre-game meal and in the locker room prior to the game on Friday night. I take responsibility for it but they have to take accountability for it.”
Real head-scratcher: During the time Princeton has won its past three games at Houston Field House by scores of 4-0, 4-1, 7-0, RPI has won four straight games at Princeton’s Hobey Baker Rink, outscoring the Tigers 18-7.
Why? How?
“I have no idea,” Appert said. “Hopefully, we’ll put an end to that (tonight) but I don’t know. “I’m sure Guy (Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky) feels the same way but I have no idea why.”

RPI Fans Chat24

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lee is probable ... and questionable.

TROY -- RPI fans are wondering if C.J. Lee will be playing this weekend, since he was thought to be a healthy scratch for Saturday's victory at Clarkson.
Lee has an even plus/minus rating during the St. Lawrence game one night earlier, his own extra-attacker goal being the plus, but he made a big mistake on Greg Carey's first goal.
His seat in the stands on Saturday could have been a comination of his less than stellar play on Friday and his injured shoulder.
Both he and Seth Appert say he's fine but he practiced with a no-contact orange shirt on the past two days and has had the shoulder wrapped. He is expected to be "fit" to play on Friday night against Princeton but Appert has yet to decide to play him.
"He's fine ... I don't know if he'll play," Appert said of Lee.
He did like the work of Johnny Rogic's line at Clarkson, with Tyler Helfrich dropping to that line from Chase Polacek's top line. Matt Tinordi was at left wing and Appert said Rogic's unit "was the best line on the ice," as all three forwards combined for Rogic's go-ahead goal.
Second-line center Brock Higgs moved to left wing on Polacek's line, replacing Lee and Bryan Brutlag took Helfrich's spot on the right.
Marty O'Grady centered the second line with Alex Angers-Goulet at LW, Josh Rabbani on the right. The other line, arguably the third or fourth, from left-to-right was Patrick Cullen, Joel Malchuk, Greg Burgoerfer, the latter of whom deflected in a blast by Malchuk.
It should be added Appert mixed lines often during the game which he often does.
While Helfrich retains his spot on the top power-play unit, Appert quite possibly will leave him on Rogic's line. He's yet to make that decision.
After all, Polacek's line was blanked at Clarkson, while each of the other lines scored at least once.
With the importance of the games with Princeton and Quinnipiac, Appert's decisions as to who plays with whom, and how much mixing-and-matching his does, will be difficult.

Bergin almost (almost) certain to play

TROY -- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute junior defenseman Mike Bergin says he'll play on Friday night against Princeton.
Head coach Seth Appert says "I feel good about (Bergin playing). I don't know if I'd say it's 100 percent but it's pretty darn near. I expect Mike back; we need Mike back."
Appert then spoke as if Bergin will be in the lineup.
"These are very important games (Princeton and Quinnipiac) and it'll be nice for (Bergin) to get a couple of games in prior to the playoffs."
Bergin, who has two goals and 14 assists this season, has missed the past six games with a leg lacertation suffered against Yale on Jan. 29.
"He's a critical element of our 'D' corps and I anticipate him being back and we're excited about that."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

POTSDAM -- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute returned to normalcy on Saturday night. Allen York was Allen York, the Engineers got some outstanding goals from secondary scorers and ended a three-game losing streak with a 5-1 victory over Clarkson.
The triumph improved RPI's ECAC Hockey record to 11-8-1 and shot them into fifth place in the league. Sixth-place Princeton can regain the fifth slot by beating Yale on Sunday.
The Engineers are still two points behind the fourth-place spot and the preliminary-round bye in the playoffs that goes with. The Big Red are tied for third with Dartmouth.
York stopped 21 shots, defenseman Guy Leboeuf scored his first collegiate goal (an empty-netter) and the Engineers scored four times in the third period to win decisively.
"I just thought we earned a win," RPI coach Seth Appert said. "You have to ean wins this time of year; nothing is given to you. It's hard to win in February and March."
Johnny Rogic scored the tie-breaking goal for RPI midway through the second period and Marty O'Grady, Greg Burgdoerfer and Alex Angers-Goulet also tallied goals.

CANTON -- Just 12 days ago, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was flying high.
The Engineers had just whipped Princeton, 5-2, on its own ice, with backup goalie Bryce Merriam starring in the big triumph, and they were sitting in third place in ECAC Hockey.
That seems so long ago, because RPI hasn't won since.
Allen York returned from missing three games with a concussion on Friday night. He wasn't sharp and neither were the Engineers' play around them -- until it was too late in a 5-3 loss to St. Lawrence.
The gave the Engineers a loss to each of the bottom three teams in the league -- St. Lawrence, Colgate and Harvard. They've also lost to eighth-place Clarkson, which they better avenge tonight or their hopes for a berth in the ECACH semifinals is going to have to be earned on the road.
Losing to the bottom team of your league -- each of them -- makes in difficult to finish among the top four teams in a 12-team league and thus get a bye in the playoff quarterfinals. Winning a regular-season title with a combined 5-4-1 record (at this point) against the bottom six teams in the league is nearly impossible. That mark, 5-4-1, is nearly as good as the 6-4-0 record the Engineers have against the five teams ahead of them in the standings.
The problem on Friday night -- other than what's mentioned above.
"We didn't come to play," said defenseman Jeff Foss, who scored one of the three RPI goals.
"That's not what we needed," ECACH scoring leader Chase Polacek said of RPI's effort. "They (SLU) played hard tonight, a lot harder than we did at the start. They wanted it more."
Rensselaer coach Seth Appert was pleased with his team's effort from a physical standpoint but their focus early-on could have been better.
"When you play St. Lawrence, it's a chaotic game, a helter-skelter game, it's a tough game for men only," he said. "I thought their (SLU's) first two shifts, we didn't really get a line change and we turned a lot of pucks over ... and they made us pay. Yorkie's bailed us out of a lot of situations like that, tonight he didn't.
"The physical play was there on both sides," Appert said. "They took advantage of a couple power plays and we didn't."
Asked if York was rusty, Appert said, "I don't know; I have no idea."
He then stated that York will be in net tonight at Clarkson, even though Merriam replaced him after St. Lawrence's final goal, with 14:10 remaining.
One of the goals York allowed was a routine shot that bounced off his glove and into the net. The one that chased him, about one minute after RPI had pulled with 4-2 on Foss's goal, was a sharp angle, from the goal line, about 15 feet away,that somehow got behind him.
The suddenly sputtering RPI power play is of more concern to Appert.
"Our power play, and our big guys, have got to step up," he said.
After scoring three goals to win the Princeton game, the Rensselaer power play has been sporadic and worse, on an extended two-man advantage in each game, it's been a big failure.
Appert gave some credit to St. Lawrence's penalty killers, answering, "both" when asked if it were a case of the ineffectiveness of the RPI power play or effective penalty-killing by the Saints.
"We had some openings that we didn't take advantage of," Appert said.
Who knows if the Engineers will get a 5-on-3 of over one minutes tonight but should they, Appert challenged the top power-play unit.
"That's their job, that's what they're out there to do," he said. "Certain guys are out there to penalty-kill, to block shots, to play defense or be defensive defensemen. But that's the third game in a row that our 5-on-3 power play has let us down and they need to deliver in those situations."
Rabbani, Lee score: With all the scoring firepower Rensselaer will lose to graduation -- Polacek, Tyler Helfrich, Bryan Brutlag, Josh Rabbani and C.J. Lee, who'll be junior next year, will each need to increase his scoring output next season.
Rabbani scored his sixth of the season Friday night with a nice spin move in front and Lee tallied the final goal, his fifth, an extra-attacker goal with 4:21 remaining.
"We pulled the goaltender for an extra guy, so coach sent me out there," Lee said. "It was just a shot on net and everyone went to the net. I found the puck and just shot it in."
Bergin still out: It had been hoped that junior defenseman Mike Bergin would return Friday night but he missed his fifth game since suffering a laceration to his calf against Yale on Jan. 29.
"I didn't start skating until Thursday and I didn't feel ready," Bergin said.
Appert said he doubted Bergin would play tonight but with a full week of practice, will certainly be back for the regular-season's final weekend against Princeton and Quinnipiac at Houston Field House.
Win and you're in -- with a little help: Since Cornell suffered an upset loss to Harvard Friday night, If the Engineers can right the ship and win their remaining three games, they'll climb to fourth place -- if Cornell loses to Dartmouth tonight or at Yale or Brown next weekend.
The Engineers (10-8-1)are two point behind the 10-7-2 Big Red but Cornell has the tie-breaker over RPI, having won both meetings of the teams. Princeton is also 10-7-2 but the Engineers can surpass the Tigers (by tie-breaker at least) by beating them, as well as winning their other two contests.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

York good to go; Bergin 50-50

TROY -- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey coach Seth Appert stopped short this morning of saying that Allen York will definitely be in goal on Friday night at St. Lawrence but did declare the junior goaltender was fit, would make the North Country trip to SLU and Clarkson and that "we expect him to play..."
York suffered a concussion two weeks ago at Quinnipiac and missed three games, two of which the Engineers lost, though, as has been well-chronicled, the fault for those defeats did not lay at the feet of backup goalie Bryce Merriam.
York has practiced at full throttle both Tuesday and today.
"He's had no symptoms since last Monday," Appert said today. "So, it's been a week and a half since he's had any symptoms, so he's full go and we expect him to play Friday night.
Appert said the chances junior defenseman Mike Bergin (calf laceration)plays on Friday are "50-50. I would have said less than that at the beginning of the week. Yesterday, he was still looking pretty ginger on it. He was getting around pretty good (today) when he was out there for about 40 minutes before practice and then for then when he was out there for the first three drills of practice; he was getting around pretty good. So, I feel better that he has a chance to play this weekend and and I also feel better that if not this weekend, that he should be ready to go next weekend.
The Engineers, one point behind Cornell for fourth place and the final bye in the preliminary round of the ECAC Hockey playoffs, finish the season at home against Princeton and Quinnipiac next week.
If they sweep all four games and Cornell suffers one loss -- the Big Red must still face third-place Dartmouth on Saturday and second-place Yale next week -- they'll nail down that No. 4 spot in the ECACH standings.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

York practices, Bergin skates

Allen York proclaimed himself ready to play after Tuesday's practice. So have Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute doctors.
The junior goalie has missed the past three games with a mild concussion but hopes to be in the lineup on Friday night when the Engineers play at St. Lawrence.
Meanwhile, Mike Bergin skated prior to Tuesday's practice and says he'd like to play this coming weekend.
The junior defenseman suffered a gash over his right calf several games ago and while the wound has healed, his status remains day-to-day.
Bergin will practice with the team Wednesday morning.
The Engineers suffered a pair of overtime losses to Colgate and Cornell over the weekend and thus dropped from third place to fifth in the ECAC Hockey standings.
They're one point behind Cornell and one point ahead of Princeton in the battle for the fourth and final bye in next month's league playoffs.
"It felt good to be back," York said. "It was a Tuesday practice, so it wasn't a overly (loaded with) shooting."
He also said he wasn't rusty.
"No, because I skated twice (before)today," he said. "And I wasn't out that long."
Will he play on Friday night at St. Lawrence, York was asked.
"Coaches decision," he said, (but doctors say) I'm eligible."
Bergin is RPI's best two-way defenseman and the Engineers' attack is simply more potent when he's in the lineup taking regular shifts.
"I skated for about 25 minutes before practice," Bergin said on Tuesday. "It was the first time in a couple weeks, so I was pretty tight and pretty weak. So, I just gotta take it day-by-day and keep getting stronger."
Bergin said the wound, caused by an opponent's skate, is totally healed, said he'll likely follow the same schedule today as he did Tuesday.
"Just (skate) before and keep trying to strengthen it and go from there."
The chances he'll play on Friday night?
"Game-time decision I'd say," he replied.
Good practice, no problem: One might think that after a pair of home-ice, overtime losses -- one of which RPI should have won, the other the Engineers could have won -- might make it difficult for the first practice of the week to be a good one (RPI players had Sunday off, as usual, and had only weightlifting sessions on Monday.
"No, it's pretty easy," head coach Seth Appert said. "I think it's tough sometimes to get one after great wins. It's not tough to have energy after big wins, it's tough sometimes to have focus and purpose. You can feel a little too good about yourself at times.
"As I said before, these games (OT losses to Colgate and Cornell) weren't dramatically different than the 28 we played prior to them. We just made some mistakes in some key areas and gave our opponents opportunities to beat us instead of taking advantage of the mistakes they made in order to beat them.
"Other than that," Appert said, "and the power play (failures), 90 percent of those games was pretty similar to a lot of what we've done. And actually, I'd say the Cornell game was one of our better games in the second half of the season -- a lot better than we played in some of the games we had big wins in.
"At the end of the day, it's about winning and losing," Appert said, "but it's also about having a process of what we need to look like to be a good hockey team and Saturday was what we need to be a good hockey team as we head into the toughest part of the year."
Four victories -- SLU, Clarkson, Princeton and Quinnipiac -- and a Cornell loss (the Big Red have Dartmouth at home, Brown and Yale on the road) and the Engineers will have fourth place and host the Big Red in the ECACH quarterfinals -- assuming Cornell gets by last-place Colgate or Harvard in the preliminary round.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

RPI needs another bounce-back

TROY -- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has answered challenges to its resolve and resiliancy all season.
The Engineers must do so again today. A loss to Cornell will make the Engineers' quest to finish among the top four in the ECAC Hockey standings, and thus, earn a first-round playoffs bye, a extremely tough task.
It's tough to understand why they lost Friday night's game to Colgate but without a victory today against Cornell, RPI will fall out of the top four in the ECAC Hockey standings.
Coach Seth Appert felt the Engineers played with fire. From here, that five was evident only from about four-five minutes into the game until late in the first period and for a brief time midway through the third. Unfortunately, that fire produced only one goal and later, two blatant errors by defensemen led to both Colgate goals.
Really -- while not discounting how improbable it is for Union to hold Cornell to nine shots on goal -- for the entire game -- the fact that RPI could manage only 19 shots against a Colgate strongly suggests that the fire and desire within the Engineers was sporadic.
Respecting you opponent is one thing and the ECACH has the best top-to-bottom depth of all four conferences; not jumping on a team that had been struggling in every facet is something else.
We've said before, when a team with one league win at this late point in the season comes to your building, you must win the game. The other contenders have beaten that team, or you must assume will when they play that team.
Not jumping on Colgate after Joel Malchuk's goal gave RPI a 1-0 lead 11 minutes into the game is almost as unforgivable as it is difficult to understand.
Again, Appert felt his team played fairly well.
"I said before, I thought we were (metaphorically) playing with fire," he said, " maybe we won some games that we hadn't earned; maybe we were sloppy and some how or another, those catch up to you. Maybe they catch up to you on a night when you play hard and defend well but you're not able to score on the power play. That was tonight."
Senior Tyler Helfrich said Colgate’s unimposing record and poor defensive stats didn’t have the defeat any more difficult to swallow.
“No, not really,” he said. “They’re a better team than their record shows. For some reason, they play us well. A couple of bounces, it could have gone the other way but like I said, (Colgate) deserved to win.”
Again, respecting your opponent(s) is great and RPI players are quite respectful.
Look at it this way, though: Union's three ECACH losses are to second-place Yale (first-place most of the year), third-place Dartmouth and fourth-place RPI.
In addition to losing to Yale and Union, RPI, among its sixth league defeats, has dropped home-ice games to last-place Colgate and eight-place Clarkson and has lost to 11th-place Harvard. In those latter three defeats, the Engineers totaled three goals, though Colgate, Clarkson and Harvard the most goals in the league.
Now, as they've done all season, the Engineers must bounce back on Saturday from a disappointing Friday result.
Though the Engineers won 4-1 on a Friday night early in the season -- and lost at Harvard the next night, they are 6-6-2 i Friday games, 11-1-2 on Saturday.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Send Kearns thoughts; Follow game online here

Two reminders fans:
Those of you who would still like to have your thoughts and memories of former RPI star and coach Garry Kearns published in Sunday's editions of The Record and online, please send them to
No access to a radio tonight, go to the above Record website and to this blog and clic to Colgate vs. RPI 2/11 for all the hightlights.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

RPI Hockey Fans Chat 2/10

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

York, Bergin quite doubtful to play this weekend

TROY -- Rensselaer coach Seth Appert said after Wednesday's practice that junior goalie Allen York continues to make excellent progress following the concussion he suffered at Quinnipiac on Friday night.
That doesn't mean that York will play this weekend against Colgate and Cornell.
Instead, when the Engineers hit the road for the final time in the regular season -- to St. Lawrence and Clarkson Feb. 18-19, it's hoped that York will be back.
"He's doing good," Appert said of York after practice. "He's symptom-free. He's been symptom-free for two days now, so he's headed in the right direction.
"I do not anticipate him playing this weekend," Appert said.
Will York dress as a backup to Bryce Merriam?
"I don't know. We'll see," Appert said. "It's possible. There are certain protocol we have to go through with our doctors and the NCAA and those are all good things.
"More important than him dressing or playing is that he's moving in the right direction," Appert said. "He's been symptom-free now for two days. He hasn't had any headaches, he hasn't had any dizziness or any uncomfortable feeling. So, that's a good sign.
Appert addressed Mike Bergin's slow-healing laceration on his calf.
"Thirty to forty percent," he said when asked the chances that the junior defenseman will play this week.
Bergin is fourth on the team in assists with 14.
Reporters noticed trainer Chris Thompson wrapping layer after layer of clear tape around the ribs/back of leading scorer Chase Polacek.
"He's fine. Chase is 100 percent," Appert said. "This time of year, everybody has bumps and bruises. Almost everybody is getting ice and things like that but Chase is 100 percent."
The Engineers are holding down third place in ECAC Hockey with a 10-5-1 record for 21 points. Cornell and Dartmouth are both one point back at 9-5-2. The 8th-ranked Engineers (18-6-4 overall) hold the tie-breaker over Dartmouth but definitely need to beat Cornell on Saturday, regardless of how either team does on Friday night -- the Big Red at second-place, No. 9 Union (12-3-1, 20-7-3), the Engineers against last-place Colgate (1-13-2, 4-22-2).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

York out this weekend

TROY -- Rensselaer goaltender Allen York's concussion is a mild one; not mild enough to allow him to play this weekend, however.
The slender junior will again be sidelined when the Engineers battle Colgate Friday night at 7 and Cornell Saturday afternoon at 3:30.
Sophomore backup Bryce Merriam, fresh off a big victory over Princeton last weekend, will man the pipes as the Engineers, 9-5-1 in the ECAC Hockey play, attempt to hang on to third place and put some distance between them and Cornell and Dartmouth, both 9-5-2.
The top four teams in the ECACH's final standings receive a bye into the playoff quarterterfinals.
York hung out in the RPI locker room and the trainer's Chris Thompson's room while the rest of the Engineers practiced today.
"I have to take it easy be symptom-free before I can have a week to slowly get back into things," York said. "Today, I've been good (no symptons) so far. Hopefully, that will continue and next Tuesday I can be back to normal practice and all that stuff."
On the other hand, it's quite possible that York may not be ready for next weekend's trip to St. Lawrence and Clarkson.
York doesn't like being on the sidelines but ...
"This is my sixth concussion now, so I have to be careful with them."
And, so will RPI doctors.
Merriam, 2-1-1, stopped 39 of 41 shots in the victory at Princeton. The Bethel Park, Pa. native has a 3.20 goals against average -- only 149:48 minutes -- had has stopped 91.2 percent of the shots he's faced.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

York has concussion

TROY -- Concussions have run rampant through the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute locker room this hockey season.
Junior goaltender Allen York is the latest Engineer to suffer one, joining C.J. Lee, Joel Malchuck, Marty O'Grady and Bryan Brutlag.
Reports on Friday night listed York's injury as "lower-body" and a most conflicting (but a bit more accurate "upper-body."
York told me Sunday it's a concussion and he would see the doctor on Monday and "go from there."
He holds out hope that the concussion is mild enough that he can play this weekend against Colgate and Cornell.
When injuries occur on the road and no local media is present, it can be difficult to get accurate reports.
As each season goes on, coaches and school administrators become more and more uneasy with even acknowledging injuries, much less commenting on them, though when a starting goaltender leaves a game, that's pretty much an acknowledgment.
C.J. Lee got his arm caught in another player's armpit in practice and twisted his shoulder. He told me on Wednesday he would play. Seth seemed to think so, too.
He expects to play this weekend, too, as does defenseman Mike Bergin (calf laceration).
Merriam shines: When the Engineers arrived from Princeton about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Merriam, who stopped 38 of 40 shots at Princeton, was asked it felt to be a hero.
“I’m not a hero, that was my job,” said the sophomore from Bethel Park, Pa. said. “Yorkie (starting goalie Allen York) went down and I had to pick up the slack for him. It’s my job to come in a take over for him.”
Having played the final 23 minutes at Quinnipiac prepared Merriam for his first ECACH start of the season and he says he wasn’t nervous.
“Friday night helped,” he said. “I think (those 23 minutes) helped with Saturday, eased the nerves because it wasn’t the first game I played in a long time (Friday night was).”
When Princeton scored twice within the first 7:33 of the third period — Derrick Pallis pulling the Tigers within 3-2 – Merriam wasn’t overly stressed.
“A little bit,” he said, “but we took a timeout and calmed it down a little bit. Then the (RPI) team really took over. Everything went well after that.”
Rensselaer captain John Kennedy was asked if it's common for a mature, veteran team like RPI, to rally around its backup goalie.
"You could say that," Kennedy said, "but I give all the credit to Bryce. He's been working very hard. He's behind Allen (on the depth chart) but at the same time, he's put in a lot of effort. It was his time to step up to the plate and he hit a home run."
Tough Tigers: Appert said that one of the most satisfying aspects of Saturday's victory -- in a game that would extend third place to the winner -- was that Princeton played well, too.
"They were very good," Appert said. "They are so aggressive offensively and put so many shots on your net. So, you wind up having a lot of puck battles at your net front. Our guys did a real good job of tying up sticks and clearing pucks."
When RPI lost 5-1 at Cornell last month, the Big Red scored several goals in such situations in front of the net.
That will have to be alleviated when the Big Red come to Houston Field House for a most important rematch at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Another reminder: Older RPI fans, send us your best memories of Garry Kearns, who, after starring at Rensselaer in the mid-50s, coached the Engineers in the mid- and late-60s, saving the Division I status of the program, many believe.
Kearns will be added to Rensselaer's Ring of Honor during Saturday's game, which will be televised nationally by NHL Network, picking up Time Warner Cable's feed.
Send your thoughts to a link to this space at

Thursday, February 3, 2011

RPI Fans Chat 2/3

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TROY -- Mike Bergin's deep calf lacertation is more serious than first thought and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute junior defenseman will not play this weekend.
"The muscle had to heal," Bergin said on Tuesday, who hopes to play next weekend when the Engineers return home against Colgate and Cornell.
Bergin was in the trainer's room on Tuesday when goalie Allen York, who was given a day off, picked up Bergin's crutches.
You can imagaine what your friendly beat writer was thinking when he saw that, before I realized the crutches were Bergin's. Scary!
York was given the day off, he said, "because I tweaked my neck a little the other day. I'm fine."
"If there had been a game tonight," coach Seth Appert said, "he (York) would have played."
York, Polacek double-up: Both York and leading scorer Chase Polacek racked up their second straight ECAC Hockey weekly awards, Polacek as Player of the Week, York as Goaltender of the Week.
Each talked about his repeat.
“I guess it’s special,” Polacek said, “but I don’t like to think too much about (individual awards). It’s more important see the two weekend sweeps. They’ve really helped us out in the (ECACH) standings and given the team confidence in the locker room and I’m happy to have been part of that.”
Polacek, the reigning ECAC Hockey scoring champ, is lead
ing the league again with 39 points to date (16-23-39).

Over the past 12 games, Polacek has 23 points on nine goals and 14 assists, including four assists in the Engineers’ 6-2 triumph at Brown which ignited them on a 10-2-0 skein.
The Edina, Minn., native was asked if he can keep up the torrid pace.
“I’m just going to keep playing the way I have been,”
said Polacek, who has seven game- winning goals this season. “Keep playing my game
every night, trying to be consistent and playing hard and I think good things, and numbers will just come from that hard work.”
Polacek leads the country in game-winning goals and is fifth nationally in points per game (1.50).York’s saves percentage for the weekend was 97.4 percent.
The junior from Wetaskiwin, Alb., has all 10 of RPI’s wins during the current streak and he’s 16-6-3 overall with a 1.86 goal against average and a 93.2 saves percentage. He has started all but one of the Engineers’
26 games. As usual, he shares any accolades he receives.
“It’s nice,” York said of his repeat. “It shows how good our D-corps (defensemen),” has been.“And Chase is playing like
chase, so it’s great.”
The Engineers were shorthanded for much of the second period of both the Brown and Yale games and York was called upon to make some outstanding saves.
"My job, when we have the D-zone breakdown, is to come up big and stop the puck,” York said.
Rensselaer head coach Seth Appert said the back-to-back awards to both his stars “were deserved. “They both were very good. Chase can be even better.
“He played OK last week and he
produced (points) but he can be