Friday, November 2, 2012

Engineers need a victory

   TROY -- Make no mistake, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's hockey team needs a victory over Union this weekend. Tonight at home would be preferable but a triumph at Union on Saturday night would be almost as nice.
   No, it won't derail the Engineers' season if they lose both games this weekend. However, getting this Union monkey of their back -- six straight losses, one win over the past 11 meetings -- and showing they can beat a better team are of major importance.
   Most teams don't go through a season without a victory or two over better teams. Rensselaer needs one of those victories tonight or Saturday.
   Coming off a pair of games in which they blew a two-goal, third-period lead in each, getting back into the 'W' column soon is a top priority.
   If the Engineers play hard and fast, get to loose pucks, clear pucks from in front of the net and stay out of the penalty box, they can win.
   A must-win situation. Of course not. But they certainly need one.
   McGowan will return: A groin injury kept sophomore center Mark McGowan out of the lineup last weekend at Minnesota State. He will return tonight.
   McGowan wasn't given the fanfare that Jacob Laliberte and Matt Neal when last season's freshman class was announced. After a slow start, however, McGowan was arguably the Engineers' most improved player after the holidays. He finished with three goals and eight assists.
   He scored goal in this season's-opening, 3-1 victory over Ferris State but was hurt the following night.
   "I'm playing. I'm OK," he said prior to Thursday's practice.
   Rensselaer coach Seth Appert said that early last season, he told McGowan: "If you want me to play you, you've got to get in shape and show me (in practice) that you want to play and deserve to play.
   "Credit to Mark, he responded and he had a very good second half."
   McGowan had learned a lesson -- that you can't expect a spot in the lineup just by showing up at practice every day.
   "What I learned is that you've got to come to the rink with a great attitude every day and work hard to get better," he said. "It took me a while to really get into last year. Then I started doing the right things."
   And, he played in 33 of the Engineers' final 34 games and his consistency makes him one of the more important players on the roster.
   Further, he not only came to camp this season in shape but also with noticeable added muscle.
   "Over the summer I tried to continue (his progress of last season), trained hard, came down (to Troy) for a month (early), doing extra things on my own to get better."
   McGowan has played with captain C.J. Lee (who tied for the team lead in goals last season with 8) on his left wing and Zach Schroder (6 goals-6 assists-12 point) on the right.
   The line shows promise, though it could be broken up when senior center-right winger Marty O'Grady returns from injury later this month.
   "I think any line could be a top line on the team," McGowan said. "We have much better depth at forward."
   Join a chat: Hey, fans, we'll have a Live Chat at 4:30 today to discuss tonight's big game. Join in at And we'll tweet the best highlights of the game tonight at the same site.


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