Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bailen never lacked belief

   I was chatting with Nick Bailen a couple months ago about if Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute could turn its season around after the holidays, much the same as the Engineers did the previous season.
   This was a couple days after RPI has posted a pair of one-goal victories over Colgate and Cornell in mid January. The Engineers had won only one of their previous six games and that came against woefully weak Sacred Heart.
   The two ECAC Hockey conference victories over Colgate and Cornell got the Engineers out of last place in the league but left them with a still unimposing 3-6-3 league record.
   Anyway, Bailen was mentioning a couple of the team's goals and was said "we're looking at how many points (will be) needed for home ice."
   Home-ice in that context usually means finishing among the top eight teams in the league so you'll be guaranteed of being at home for the preliminary round of the playoffs.
  "Twenty-four, twenty-five (standings) points, maybe 23," he said.
  I was confused. It took me a minute but I realized that with those high numbers, Bailen was talking about "home ice" in the quarterfinals, a bye for the prelim round.
  Union, as it happened, earned the fourth-place spot and final opening-round bye with 24 points (10-8-4 record).
   "Is he serious," I asked myself about Bailen. The Engineers, again, had just nine points with half the league season gone. Were the Engineers good enough to put together a streak that would bring their points total into the mid-20s, even low-20s?
   Obviously, they are that good. Oh, how they are!
   Bailen was dead-on right. The Engineers, sparked by the insertion of freshman goaltender Jason Kasdorf into the lineup, balanced scoring with the third and fourth forward lines making big contributions, much more maturity and disciplined and a monster, All-American type season from Bailen, ran that winning skein to 11 of 12 in league games. They finished in second place with a 12-7-3 record and will enjoy that coveted weak off.
   A victory over a lower-seeded team in a best-of-3 quarterfinal-round series at Houston Field House (March 15-17) will send the Engineers to Atlantic City for the ECACH Championship Weekend March 22-23).
   It's among the best finishes to a regular season in RPI history.
   "Yeah, I knew we were (capable of it)," Bailen said after Saturday night's 4-1 victory over St. Lawrence.
   Live-chat today: Want to talk about the Engineers' fine season, the past weekend, the upcoming playoffs, RPI hockey in general? Log-on to at 5 p.m. and put forth your thoughts.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home