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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