Friday, December 13, 2013

Engineers face tougher test this weekend

   TROY -- Beating Princeton last week was no big accomplishment for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The 5-2 decision over the Tigers was a big victory for the Engineers, nonetheless.
It was one of those games where, if you lose, it could have been devastating.
The previous night, the Engineers let a two-goal lead slip away and had to settle for a 3-3 tie for the third time this season -- all at home. This one was against Quinnipiac, the No. 6 team (No. 5 then) in the country. It would have been a great feather in the Engineers' collective cap.
Didn't happen, though, and if the Engineers had fallen victim to a huge upset, as mentioned, it would have been a big-blot type of loss.
Princeton, a medicore team at full strength, was without its two top scorers, Andrew Calof and Tyler Maugeri and five other injured players. The Tigers were struggling and put just 10 forwards on the ice.
It's a game the Engineers had to win, and they did.
Against 20th-ranked Denver tonight and Saturday night, the test will be much more demanding.
The Pioneers are an outstanding defensive team, have one of the top goaltenders in the nation in Sam Brittain and their special times are upper echelon.
If the Engineers can get at least one victory this weekend, it will serve them well in power rankings and in the confidence area as well.
Monty steps into big shoes: Jim Montgomery was asked what it was like to take over for a legend.
He did so, last June, accepting the head hockey coaching job at the University of Denver, replacing the legendary George Gwozdecky.
In 19 years at Denver, Gwozdecky won 443 games and two national championships.
Much is expected of Montgomery; it would have been no matter who was hired.
"It's been good so far," said Montgomery, who'll lead his Denver Pioneers against RPI  tonight and Saturday night.
He gave Gwozdecky much of the credit for an easy transition.
"The transition was smooth, thankfully, because of the great work Gwoz had done. It's a great culture there and the infrastructure was already set up.
"It wasn't like when Seth (Appert) came here, the amazing job he's done with the rink (seeing to it that) new locker room and the (coaches) offices (were added).That was already in place at Denver (the palatial Magness Arena is one of college hockey's top venues). That's been great.
"Just the change in (style of ) how we want to play has been the difference," Montgomery said.
The Pioneers come in with an 8-6-2 overall record which could have been better had several star players left school early for pro hockey -- center Nick Shore (14 goals-20 assists-34 points), defenseman Scott Mayfield (4-13-17) and standout goaltender Juho Olkinuora (13-6-5, 2.35 goals- against average).
Montgomery, an RPI assistant under Appert for four seasons, will have many RPI fans wishing him well this weekend. The team -- not so much.
"Well, that's great," he said. "I enjoyed my four years here. Seth is a great friend, he's a wonderful person, he's a mentor, and he's done a terrific job here building an elite program. I'm looking forward to this weekend."
You can put the words "beating him" between "to" and "this."
The competitive Montgomery came here to win two games; reminiscing -- no matter how pleasant -- is a sidelight.
A steal?: Rensselaer picking up a commitment from Louie Nanne (Lou Nanne III) may not be a steal but it certainly is a nice pickup.
The grandson of former Minnesota North Starts standout Lou Nanne had planned to follow his grandfather and father Marty and become a Golden Gopher -- the University of Minnesota.
He de-commited to Minnesota and called RPI.
Nanne, an Edina, Minn. native, had played for Appert on the USA Under 18 team two years ago when Appert coached the team. Perhaps the fact that his former Edina High teammates, defenseman Parker Reno, is an RPI freshman, also influenced Nanne.
Nanne's not big -- 5-foot-10, 177 pounds and isn't considered a big goal scorer -- but he is a solid, all-around player. A left-handed stick, the 19-year old Nanne is speedy and goes have good stick skills but won't shy away from joining a crowd headed toward a loose puck in the corner.
He plays left wing and center equally well and since RPI graduates two centers -- Brock Higgs and Johnny Rogic -- Nanne can get some minutes next season.  
Committed recruit Carlos Fornaris is also a center.
With 12 returning forwards and four coming in next season -- Nanne, Fornaris, and left wingers Evan Tironese and Drew Melanson, and with seniors Higgs, Rogic and Matt Tinordi leaving, the Engineers will have 16 forwards next season.


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September 11, 2014 at 12:05 PM 

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