POTSDAM -- Seth Appert says his Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey team won't have any psycholical problem getting emotionally ready and staying positive for tonight's decisive ECAC Hockey playoff game at Clarkson.
Some RPI fans aren't as optimistic about that thought.
The Engineers, convincing winners of Game 1, surrendered three one-goal leads on Saturday night and lost 4-3 in triple overtime.
Clarkson now has the momentum, the Engineers have a bunch of 'what-ifs' to ponder all day long after losing a game they should have won.
"We'll be fine," said Appert, who's more worried about his players' mental toughness tonight, rather than the psychological affects of the gruelling, galling defeat.
With the three extra sessions Saturday night, he said, in effect "you're playing your fourth game in three days.
"We just have to have outstanding mental execution (tonight)," he said. "Our guys are in great shape physically, so they're going to be ready to go in that regard. (But) your body is a little worn, so that's where your mind has to be stronger. You have to be stronger with your habits, you have to be stronger with your discipline you have to be stronger with how we execute because lack of execution in a (series-deciding) game is probably the downfall of a team. So, we have to be strong mentally."
Winger Matt Tinordi, becoming a team leader though just a sophomore because his tough, physical play, believes the Engineers are in a good position.
"I thought the team really stayed together," Tinordi said. "Guys were positive on the bench even with two guys short, (Zach) Schroeder (injured) and Lee (game misconduct). Guys kept together, kept loud, kept the energy level up and kept focused. It just didn't go our way.
"I like where we are," Tinordi continued. "We've done a good job being physical on them for two games, getting to the front of the net, making it hard on their goalie and their defensemen. (We'll) just get some rest and we should be able to keep wearing them down."
Schroeder, who looked as though he may have suffered a severe shoulder injury when he was run into the boards by Clarkson's Patrick Marsh with 24 seconds remaining in regulation time, was said to be just quite sore during the day and stringly considered playing tonight. Then the shoulder stiffened.
"I could have played ... but I didn't want to risk it," he said about 30 minutes before game time. I can't even lift it above my shoulder."
Should Rensselaer prevail tonight, Schroeder hopes to play in next weekend's quarterfinals. And he predicted senior winger Alex Angers-Goulet, a healthy scratch in Games 1 and 2, would have a strong game in his place.
Schroeder's 12 points (6-6-12) is tied for seventh on the RPI scoring sheet.
Angers-Goulet has just four point (1-3-4) in 29 games. Lee penalty didn't warrant major:
The absence of junior winger C.J. Lee that Tinordi also referenced was due to a major boarding penalty at 3:02 of the third period should have been ruled a minor. Lee took the Clarkson player into the boards with just one arm and had pretty much slowed to a stop at that point.
Since the hit made a lot of noise and occured right in front of the Clarkson student section and the Clarkson player lay prone on the ice, referees Chris Ciamaga and Joe Testa ruled the hit -- the one-armed shove to the player's side, not back -- a 5-minute infraction.
Clarkson's Alex Boak scored to tie the game at 2-2 3:22 into the penalty. Rensselaer would have killed a minor penalty -- which should have been the ruling -- and kept the lead. And Lee, a warrior, a tenacious penalty killer and RPI's goals leader with eight, thus missed the final 70 minutes, 48 seconds of the game.
Marsh's run on Schroeder was a no-brainer major, even if Marsh's stick hadn't been in Schroeder's skates as the players reached the boards. Schroeder was in pain -- but didn't remain down on the ice. He bounced up and skated away.
Appert didn't comment on the what the severity of Lee's penalty should have been but he certainly did on Schroeder.
"I thought he showed great toughness, great character," Appert said of his speedy freshman winger. "Not only to get to that puck first and take that hit to draw a penalty, but (after going) head first into the boards, (to) not stay on the ice trying to draw a further penalty, to not lay there looking and the refs, hoping they'll call it a 5 (-minute infraction), but to be a man, to get up and sprint back to your teammates on the bench shows what kind of toughness that young man has." Scoring changes:
The pressbox said Saturday night, no way Patrick Cullen's first goal, giving RPI a 2-1 lead at 6:47 of the second period, was unassisted, as it was scored. Tinordi had won a puck battle in the right corner, then Cullen, near the goal line, fired a shot that hit the arm of Clarkson goalie Paul Karpowich and went into the net.
Assists were added to both Tinordi and Brock Higgs later.
On Cullen's second goal, on which his long rebound of a Bo Dolan shot glanced a Clarkson defender and past Kaporwich for a 3-2 lead at 11:00 of the third period, a secondary assist was added to Schroeder.
Assists have added or changed on seven of RPI's eight goals in the series. No change on any of Clarkson's five.
Pay as much attention to your opponents rushes as you do your own, eh? Sixth longest:
Saturday's game was the sixth-longest in NCAA Division I history at 113:48. Rensselaer's previous longest game was also a 3-overtime setback, in Game 1 of the 2008 preliminary-round series at Yale, when Bulldogs freshman Broc Little scored at 105:40 to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 victory.
Yale won Game two the next night, also 3-2, in one overtime, on Sean Backman's goal at 5:40.