Monday, December 5, 2011

Will he (play), or won't he

LAKE PLACID --Freshman centerman Matt Neal practiced with his Rensselaer Polytechnic Institure teammates all week.
No, he did not dress for today's Festivu Faceoff game against Union at the Lake Placid Olympic Center but just the fact that it was considered -- that Neal was upgraded from 'out' to doubtful caused some excitement among RPI hockey fans.
Neal tested his sore right ankle hard repeatedly.
Head coach Seth Appert, noting the non-conference status of today's game, decided not to chance agrravating the injury.
The Engineers do not play again until Jan. 28 against UMass-Lowell in the UConn Tournament, so why not give the tender ankle another 18 days, at least?
Appert could choose to use Neal sparingly at UConn, or save him for the Dartmouth game on Jan. 6, the resumption of ECAC Hockey play.
In any event, it's almost certain now that Neal, who was scoreless in four games before incurring the injury, will rejoin the team at some point.
Appert had acknowledged that he and his staff may have had to consider seeking medical red-shirt status for Neal.
That decision? To play freshman center Matt Neal or seek a medical redshirt for him.
Now it appears that decision won't have to be addressed. The Engineers, who enter play today with a 3-12-0 overall record, are a better team with a healthy Neal in the lineup.
The same can be said for freshman right winger Ryan Haggerty, RPI's second leading scorer with three goals, three assists.
He's also sidelined today.
Haggerty still has a flu-like symtoms which kept him out of last week's losses at Princeton and Quinnipiac. He didn't skate all week but could play nonetheless, but in his weakended state, the possibility of incurring an injury would be increased.
So, the Engineers, who prior to last week averaged just 1.0 goals per game, continue without to of their more skilled forwards.
The good news, of course, is that the Engineers put in five goals in their two games last weekend.
The forward lines for RPI today, left-to-right, are: C.J. Lee-Marty O'Grady-Zach Schroeder; Brock Higgs-Jacob Laliberte-Patrick Cullen; Alex Angers-Goulet-Johnny Rogic-Joel Malchuck; Matt Tinordi-Mark McGowan-Josh Rabbani.
Higgs, still looking for his first goal (0-6-6) of the season, says the team's forwards "are playing with more confidence" now.
Sophomore defenseman Pat Koudys gets a day off and fellow soph Guy Lebeouf returns to the lineup with D-men Mike Bergin, Nick Bailen, Bo Dolan and Curtis Leonard.
Bryce Merriam is in goal.
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