Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey fans are anxious, wondering if center Miloš Bubela will arrive on campus this coming September, or in 2013.
The talented 19-year old member of the Slovakian national team has RPI fans wanting.
Bubela won't turn 20 until six weeks before the 2012-13 season but he'll be able to step in to the RPI lineup nonetheless and will team with Riley Bourbonnais to improve the Engineers overall and especially at center.
They could allow coach Seth Appert to play both junior (to-be) Brock Higgs and sophomore Jacob Laliberte at left wing, if he chooses.
The question of when Bubela will join the Engineers comes down to one factor; will he clear the NCAA clearing house by this summer.
The chances, insiders say, are better than even.
Bubela is currently playing for former RPI assistant coach Jim Montgomery at Dubuque of the United States Hockey League.
He started a bit slowly but now has two goals, eight assists in 11 games.
With left winger Mike Zalewski and Bourbonnais, even without Bubela, the RPI offensive productivity should rise next season.
Winger Mark Miller will be a good addition to a checking line.
By the way, Zalewski turned 20 years old on Tuesday, and celebrated with an assist for his Vernon Vipers. He's been tearing up the British Columbia Hockey League with 31 goals, 31 assists in 50 games.
Harvard-Yale rating tops: Of the handful of college hockey games the new NBC Sports Net has televised (Dartmouth-RPI was one of them), the highest-rated was Harvard-Yale. The age-old rivals outdrew Michigan-Notre Dame.
So, Appert asks, "why can't our league (ECAC Hockey) get a national TV package?
The other major conferences, the WCHA, CCHA and Hockey East all have fairly attractive TV deals.
Appert wonders why the ECACH can't get a deal at least for live coverage of the league's playoffs semifinals and championship game.
It's a good question.
"Yeah, we're better": How much better of a team is RPI than back then, Appert was asked on Wednesday.
“We’re trying to find out every day,” he said. “We believe we’re better; I know we’re better. Since January 1, I think we’ve been a pretty good hockey team. We’re trying to work to become a real good hockey team.”
Appert said the Engineers were dominant as Dartmouth, even though their winning score was just 2-1. He told the players, though, “that can’t be the best game we’ve played all year. We can’t look back this spring, or summer and say, ‘our best game was on Feb. 11 vs. Dartmouth.”
Instead, what Appert and the team hopes they’ll be able to say weeks from now is, “that was a game that we were real good and then we took that game and we built on it and we kept getting better.”
At 5-10-3, the Engineers are tied for second place in the 12-team ECACH. They are 8-19-3 overall.
Just a little over one month ago, after a 5-1 loss at Union on Jan. 14, Rensselaer had a 1-8-1 league record and were 4-17-1 overall.
Appert was asked if he could have conceived back then that the Engineers would still have a shot at a top eight finish in the league, and thus, a home-ice berth in the preliminary round of the playoffs, have an outside shot at sixth place, and even a mathematical -- yet virtually impossible – shot at a top-four finish and the preliminary-round bye that goes with it.
“Probably not,” he said. “But we haven’t talked about it, and we’re not going to. We’ve taken the (ECACH) standings down (on Jan. 1) and our whole focus, what we tried to do during the holidays was get down to the issues at hand and take away the excuses from our guys because we were making too many of them; and really get focused in on what we can control and get more buy-in (from players) and more belief.
“We took the standings down,” Appert continued, “we said, ‘stop worrying about (them), stop looking at our record, stop looking at your stats, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and just start working every day to become a better player and help our team become a better team.’ And now that we’ve inched back into the conversation for those (key standings spots), we’re not going to throw all that away and say, ‘okay, let’s start talking about how important these two points are.’’’
Even though the Engineers are 4-2-2 over their past eight games, Appert says the Engineers are still “a process-focused team.”
“That stays right now,” he said. “We’re not going to talk about how important it is to win, we’re not going to talk about how many points we need to get home ice … I want to win on Friday night, but we’re not going to sit there and dwell on how important it is to the standings because (doing so) hasn’t led to success for this team.”
Proud Bulldog: Appert's alma mater, Ferris State, has climbed to the No. 1 spot in the USCHO poll for the first time in program history.
Appert didn't try to hide his exuberance.
"It's a great day to be a Bulldog; a great week to be a Bulldog," he said. "We're all incredibly proud."
Appert said he texted Ferris head coach Bob Daniels with congrats early in the week.
"It's an incredible accomplishment for that program from where they were and it's an incredible testament to those guys (Daniels and his staff) and what they've built there. It's a small, Division II school that in the late-80s almost dropped hockey and Bob Daniels comes in -- we were his first class -- and instilled belief and pride in that program. And to see what they've done over the past 10 years, 20 years really but especially the past 10. I couldn't be more pumped up."
Join in: We'll discuss RPI hockey via CoverItLive on the Troy Record website from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday.
Go to the Record website for details.


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