Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Appert deserves Coach of Year honor

 TROY – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey coach Seth Appert has been named a finalist for ECAC Hockey Tim Taylor Award as the league’s Coach of the Year.
 He certainly deserves the award. After a 0-5-1 start to league play, Appert guided the Engineers to a second-place finish with a 12-7-3 record. They were 17-12-5 overall.
 Rand Pencknold, who led Quinnipiac to a runaway regular season championship with a 17-2-3 mark and a No. 1 national ranking (and 24-5-5 overall record) is another finalist, as is Yale coach Keith Allain.
Parochial or not, the vote here is Appert.
A blogger also mentioned as a possible candidate to replace legendary Boston University coach Jack Parker, who recently announced that this season, his 40th at BU, will be his last.
Although BU will almost certainly College Hockey News blogger mentioned that Appert “would be an interesting interview” for BU.
“I know nothing about it, I didn’t hear about it,” he said after today’s practice.
As for the position, Appert said, “not interested.”
The blogger also mentioned that former Union head coach Nate Leaman (now at Providence College) and current Dutchmen coach Rick Bennett might be considered, as well as longtime Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold.
Both Boston newspapers, the Globe and the Herald – as well as CHN -- reported that the leading quartet of candidates for the heavy task to replace Parker are David Quinn, former BU star and an assistant coach with the National Hockey League’s Colorado Avalanche; Former BU player Mike Bavis, who’s spent the past 15 years on Parker’s staff; Mike Sullivan, another former BU star, currently an assistant with the NHL’s New York Rangers; Shawn McEachern, another former Terriers standout, NHL player and assistant coach at but Northeastern and UMass-Lowell.
Boston U. is one of those schools which heavily prefers alumni when filling coaching vacancies.
Parker is six victories short of 900 entering this weekend’s Hockey East playoff series against Merrimack.
Schroeder gets fifth year: Rensselaer sophomore Zach Schroeder had his application for a red-shirt eligibility addition approved by the NCAA.
Schroeder played in only nine games this season – just six healthy – before incurring a serious, recurring wrist injury. He had one goal, one assist.
“It came through,” Schroeder said. “I expected it (would), coach (Appert) told me it was probably a sure thing but we weren’t really sure, so it was nice to hear. I was glad to be back (with) a fifth year.”
Schroeder has been practicing with the Engineers for the past week wearing a no-contact orange shirt.
“It’s great, even though it’s not in games,” he said. “It feels good to shoot around, stick-handle and stuff. It feels like I’m back on the team.”
Schroeder says he’s just as excited as the active players for the Engineers to begin the ECAC Hockey playoffs with their quarterfinal-round series against visiting Brown this weekend.
“Oh, definitely,” he said. “It’s the first time we’ve gotten a top-four seed (and a first-round bye), so I’m real excited for the guys. Hopefully I can get ‘em going and they’ll have a good run.”
Slumping ‘A’ line: The Engineers’ top forward line has been in a slump lately, with just one goal over the past four games – and that was scored by a defenseman.
 The unit’s previous four goals all came on the power play.
 When a reporter summoned center Jacob Laliberté, left winger C.J. Lee and right winger Ryan Haggerty together, Lee said, only half jokingly, “why because we’re awful?”
Despite the fact that the unit has just one equal-strength goal in the past seven games, RPI has been winning.
The line was put together for a non-league game against Union at the Times Union center, which the Engineers lost, 3-2, but they’ve won nine of 10 since.
 Other lines, centered by freshman Mark Miller, junior Brock Higgs and sophomore Mark McGowan, have all stepped up.
 That relieved some pressure from Laliberté’s group.
 “We’re not scoring but we’re winning,” Lee said. “It’s good to know other lines are rolling.
 “It’s a good thing about our team that any guy can put the puck in the net,” Laliberté said, “and the offense is well-balanced.”
Haggerty had a stretch of 18 points (9 goals-9 assists-18) in 18 games but has just one assist in four games since.
 “It’s been a little frustrating for C.J., Jacob and me,” Haggerty said. “Obviously we’re not producing but the other guys are and we’re winning. That’s what’s most important.”
Now that the playoffs are here – the second-seeded Engineers host seventh-seeded Brown in a best-of-three quarterfinal series this weekend, RPI backers will be expecting Laliberté’s line to return to its scoring duties, equal-strength as well as power play. (Matt Neal replaces Lee at left wing on the first power-play unit, Lee plays on the second unit).
“We just have to be on our game,” Laliberté said. “Last game, we had a lot of chances and if we keeping working, (goals) will come for sure.”
“We’re not going to put any added pressure on ourselves, but yeah, we would love to score some goals and contribute offensively,” Lee said.
“Obviously, we need to start putting some pucks in the net,” Haggerty added. “But we’re winning right now, from all four lines and I’m pretty sure everybody trusts everyone to put the back of the net from defense to offense. We just need to keep going, keep pushing, get pucks deep and play our game.”
Senior defenseman Nick Bailen leads the Engineers in scoring with a line of 12-19-31.
Neal, who usually plays on McGowan’s third line at equal strength, is second, 8-19-27, followed by Laliberté (9-17-26) and Haggerty (12-13-25).


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