Monday, December 18, 2006
RPI Downs Mass.-Lowell
Compiled by USCHO Staff
TROY, N.Y. — Paul Kerins and Matt Angers-Goulet both had a goal and an assist to lead Rensselaer to a 2-1 win over Mass.-Lowell at the Houston Field House.
The Engineers broke out on top at 4:43 of the first period when Kerins deflected a low Reed Kipp shot past Lowell goaltender Vinny Monaco. Kipp, who took a slapshot from between the circles at the blueline, collected a pass from the left point from Angers-Goulet, who earned the secondary assist.
Angers-Goulet doubled RPI’s lead when he scored on a wristshot from the left faceoff circle on a two-on-one at 10:12 of the first frame. Kerins, who scored his fifth goal of the season earlier in the period, made the head-man pass to Angers-Goulet, who also tallied his fifth goal. Kipp, a defenseman, earned his second assist of the game on the play.
The River Hawks pulled to within one goal when sophomore forward Nick Monroe scored on a backhander under the cross bar from the bottom of the right faceoff circle at 9:49 of the third period. Mark Roebothan earned the primary assist and Cleve Kinley the secondary. For Monroe, the goal was his first of the season.
Mathias Lange earned the win in goal by making 22 saves, including 10 in the third period. Monaco finished with 23 saves.
Rensselaer (5-5-6), which snapped a seven-game winless streak (0-4-3), is next in action on December 29 against the University of Vermont in the Sheraton/TD Banknorth Catamount Cup at 7pm. Mass.-Lowell (3-10-4), which is now winless in nine games (0-8-1), plays Brown on December 29 in the Wells Fargo Denver Cup beginning at 6:30pm.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
This is their chance this weekend and USCHO has all the previews. Here they are for your reading enjoyment:
Rensselaer @ Quinnipiac: QU hasn't lost at home this season. The Bobcats have never lost a league game at the venerable NIP, soon to be abandoned for a sparkly new pad. No such thing as an easy win, a sure win, or even a probable win in the ECACHL, but I'm taking the 'Cats to NIP the visitors, 5-3.
Rensselaer @ Princeton: Will both teams be up, down, or will one team have a momentum edge? The way I've picked so far, it'll be the Tigers with that edge, and I'll award them with my home-win pick. 2-1.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Then on Saturday they let the Gate back in the game after a 2 goal deficit.
Too many penalites- too many leads blown.
Obviously Appert has them playing well at the beginning at the game but what about the middle and the end? There are too many people with experience on this team to let this happen!
Friday, December 01, 2006
I am not saying these are MUST wins but I think the program has a chance for success THIS year with the talent they have and who doesn't want to see RPI do well?
First up is Cornell and here is USCHO's predicitions:
Rensselaer @ Cornell: Cornell's in good shape, and at home, I think the Big Red can overcome some haphazard play in their own zone. I'll take Cornell, in another close one. (They're all close ones.) 3-2.
And then after is Colgate- here is USCHO's take:
Rensselaer @ Colgate: Erm... tie? Low-scoring game, in any event, as the two-headed monster tending the 'Tute's net faces off against the defending ECACHL goalie of the year. I'll take the road team, if only on precedent. RPI, 2-1.
I am not sure how much I agree with Appert's description of the offense but certainly that defense needs shoring up:
Offense gelling for Appert
While the results have lacked consistency for the Engineers, the play and productivity on offense has been a steep incline as far as coach Seth Appert is concerned.
Despite two losses and a tie in the last three games, the first-year leader at RPI says, "Actually, we're probably playing better offensively. We're starting to grasp how we want to play."
A bright spot has been the play of sophomore Andrei Uryadov.
"He's playing extremely well. He has as high as skill set as anyone on the team-maybe higher. He's got great hands ... and creativity, and a really great shot.
"I mean, he can really really zip it," emphasized Appert.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound native of St. Petersburg, Russia, earned a spot on the first line with seniors Oren Eizenman and Kirk MacDonald.
Appert also likes what he sees between some of his players.
"We're starting to develop combinations, five-on-five and on the power play, that are playing well," he said.
One such duo is Jake Morissette and Seth Klerer, who have combined for 18 total points on the season. Another is Matt Angers-Goulet and Paul Kerins.
"[They have] really provided some quality offense, even when it doesn't show up on the scoresheet," praised Appert.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
CSTV.com Moderator: Hello, and welcome to the second of today's "Tuesday @ the Rink" chats, presented by CSTV.com and USCHO. We're joined now by RPI head coach Seth Appert.
Seth Appert: Thank you for having me on, and I appreciate all of our fans at RPI and college hockey fans for writing in.
Fred (VT): Coming into the season I was excited, but still expected a traditional "rebuilding season". The strong start made me believe that this team really could make waves in the ECACHL. I want to know what is your higher priority, winning or teaching the skills and systems that will define this team for years to com? Thanks!
Seth Appert: Great question. We believe we can do both. Winning is important, but more important is the process of learning how to win and developing the consistency with our habits and skills to be successful this season and for years to come.
Scottie J: Being 9 games into the Campagin what parts of the Game plan does the Engineers need to continue to develop As the Schedule progress toward League play?
Seth Appert: We are pleased with our offensive development to this point in the season, but we still need to become a better transition team. We want to play an up tempo style and to be effective within that style we need to improve our defensive gaps and backchecking habits to quickly convert them into offensive opportunities.
AJ (Troy, NY): Seth, You've had quite a bit of time in the area now, so what do you think of the Capital District and the RPI faithful?
Seth Appert: I am really enjoying my time in this area. It is a beautiful area of the country and we appreciate the warm reception we have received from the RPI community and the Capital District.
Pete NYC: Seth: The team is off to a great start and the fanbase is more than enthused. Can you speak about the atmosphere of the Field House vs. what you had at Denver.
Seth Appert: The atmosphere in the Field House is one of the best I have seen in all of college hockey. Denver has an outstanding new facility and a very good fan base but our crowd can really energize our team with their intensity and noise.
Ed (Troy, NY): Last week's first home loss against Sacred Heart was a bit disappointing. How do you feel our prospects are coming into the tournament this coming weekend? How is the team's confidence holding up just coming out of the loss?
Seth Appert: The loss was a disappointment. Sacred Heart is a very good team and we played 53 minutes of very good hockey but we need to continue to develop our understanding of how quickly games can turn if we lose our intensity or focus. This weekend will provide a very difficult challenge. Niagara is the top team in its conference right now and has a good shot at being an NCAA tournament team this year. They have a very good PP and one of the top offensive lines in the country.
Jonathan from Toronto: Hey Coach Appert Firstly, I want to commend you on a great job so far this season. I am a big juniour hockey fan from Toronto, and have watched both Seth Klerer and Oren Eizenman. What have you thought of their play together, and what would you like to see out of both of them as the season progresses?
Seth Appert: Thank you. Seth and Oren have both played well to this point in the season. They are not on the same line currently but do play on the PP together. We expected this type of play out of Oren but Seth has been a very pleasant surprise to this point in the season. They are both intelligent offensive players who make their teammates better. We expect them to continue to be some of the best players on our team and in our league.
Aaron (Troy): In the past, RPI seemed to play to the level of its competition. The ECAC has definetly evened out this year, so there are no free wins, how are you preparing the players to go out and play hard and win the games you know you should win?
Seth Appert: I don't know if there are any games we know we should win. College hockey is very competitive with our league being a good example of that. We prepare our players not based upon winning but based on preparation and daily habits to give ourselves the best opportunity to have success night in and out.
Troy, NY: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions Coach Appert. It is my understanding that it was your decision to ban the Puckman mascot from RPI hockey games. If this is true, please explain your reasoning behind this decision. Also, if you are not the individual who made this decision, who made the decision and why was it made?
Seth Appert: Puckman is not banned from our games and I did not make any decisions on that topic. Puckman's costume was damaged at the end of last year and a new one is on order but has been delayed. Puckman will probably not be used as prominently on the ice or jerseys but we will still wear the shoulder patch and the Puckman Mascot will be back very soon.
Ed (Troy, NY): There has been quite a debate on campus about whether or not the Red Army (student club) is helping or hurting RPI hockey by standing during games. Do you have any thoughts on this issue?
Seth Appert: First off, we appreciate the support and enthusiasm of the Red Army and all of our fans. The Red Army has been very helpful, not only at games, but also at helping promote our games across our campus. I do believe that they either have reached or are trying to reach some type of compromise on the standing at the games. We enjoy the support of our great fans and hope that you can all find some middle ground to continue to cheer your team on while not arguing with each other.
Walter (Troy,NY): Great start,forget the record were in every game.I recently read were you are going to do a lot of recruiting from the U-18 development team and USHL league,will we see those players filtering in next year('07-"08) or is that class still from the old regime.Keep up the great work!!!!!
Seth Appert: Thank you. Our staff, and especially assistant coaches Shawn Kurulak and Jim Montgomery are hard at work assembling a first rate recruiting class. We are looking in the USHL, U-18 as well as many other junior and prep school leagues throughout the US and Canada to find the best student athletes to fit our program at RPI. We think that our fans will be excited about the type of product that we put on the ice at the Houston Field House.
Garrison, St. Louis: Coach Appert, you have a knack for recruiting talented kids who are under the radar and getting them to their potential. When recruiting, do you consider personality types as much as you do talent, and how much do you try and envision how a recruit might fit in with some existing line or player (that may be missing something)?
Seth Appert: We do consider and look hard at personality types when recruiting. We want talented student athletes but also the right type of young men that will fit in our family atmosphere at RPI. The better we know them the easier it is to coach them and motivate them once on campus. We will envision how a player will fit in with our team style and philosophy of how we play. We do not look as much into how they may fit with players that are already in our program.
Edmond J., from Bloomington, Indiana: Coach I wanted to know what you look for when recruiting a goalie? Glenn Fisher couldn't have been a blue chip, could he? And yet look at him now.
Seth Appert: When I was at Denver, we were able to make some good early calls on Berkhoel, Fisher and Mannino. Steve Miller, the recruiting coordinator at Denver, had a lot to do with that. When looking at goalies the first thing that grabs my attention is athletic ability. You need to be athletic within the position you play. The second thing is presence in net. I want our goalie to be a calming influence on his team through his confidence and his play. The last thing is competitiveness. You need to be a very strong internal competitor to be a great goalie. I am very happy to see how well Glenn Fisher is playing right now at Denver.
Frank (NJ): I'm sure you're asked about it a lot, but you've got two great goalies on the team. What is your plan, keep the rotation, ride the hot netminder, solid #1? Go Red!
Seth Appert: We will constantly evaluate our goaltending position like we do with all of our positions on the team. We are not set on the rotation but it has worked pretty well to this point. We believe that Jordan and Mathias are two of the top goalies in the ECAC if not the country and we feel good with either going out and winning games.
Tom (Schenectady): Kirk McDonald appears to be back at full strength after his battle with cancer. Is Kirk satisfied with his on ice performance at this point of the season?
Seth Appert: It is a great story and we are thrilled to have Kirk healthy and back where he belongs, on the ice at the Field House. Kirk is the type of young man that isn't easily satisfied with his performance. He is demanding of himself and works hard at his game. He has played well but I think you can see in the last few games that his mind is clicking closer to the way he wants it to. We all need to remember that he had not played a game in 1 1/2 years. That is a long time mentally as well as physically.
Craig (Albany): Seth - Would getting RPI into the NCAAs go above and beyond your expectations for your first year? Because we're excited that it might happen!
Seth Appert: We are not really concerning ourselves with expectations or where we may be in March. We are trying to focus on the details of our game and the daily habits needed to give ourselves an opportunity for success. All we are concerning ourselves with right now is getting a little better each day and preparing to play Niagara on Friday night.
Seth Appert: We are not really concerning ourselves with expectations or where we may be in March. We are trying to focus on the details of our game and the daily habits needed to give ourselves an opportunity for success. All we are concerning ourselves with right now is getting a little better each day and preparing to play Niagara on Friday night.
Seth Appert: We are not really concerning ourselves with expectations or where we may be in March. We are trying to focus on the details of our game and the daily habits needed to give ourselves an opportunity for success. All we are concerning ourselves with right now is getting a little better each day and preparing to play Niagara on Friday night.
CSTV.com Moderator: That is all the time we have with Coach Appert this afternoon.
Seth Appert: Thank you to all the college hockey fans for the great questions and remember to bring non-perishable items again this weekend as we continue our effort to help the Unity House of Troy.
CSTV.com Moderator: That'll do it for this week's "Tuesday @ the Rink" chats. Be sure to check back for info on next week, when we'll have Colorado College coach Scott Owens and a second guest to be announced. Also, for you RPI fans who won't be at the Rensselaer/Bank of America Holiday Tournament this weekend, keep an eye on the Rink Rat blog at http://slog.cstv.com/rinkrat, as I'll be blogging live from Friday's games. Have a good one!
Friday, November 17, 2006
Just be careful not to have a letdown with those SH boys!
Sacred Heart @ RensselaerMe: Sacred Heart is not to be taken lightly, but RPI has done an excellent job of taking care of business when the inbox is full. So to speak. 4-2 Engineers. Quarter: Huh. Sacred Heart. Silly coin.
I got my question answered in the mailbag so enjoy!
From Pete Flanigan: I have to wonder why Appert is not going with Lange full time. The goaltender racked up the awards and kept RPI in games last season and now he has more experience. From what I saw of Alford in Albany, he did not impress. Do you think Appert is making a mistake?
Granted, this email is a week or two outdated, but it was certainly a concern among many Rensselaer fans earlier this year.
At the get-go, Appert stated that, given his limited firsthand knowledge of the qualities of his individual players, every spot was up for grabs, including — and especially — in the blue semi-arc. Alford has played surprisingly well, with wins at Denver, home against Princeton and Merrimack, and a tie with Union. Lange took the hard-luck loss at DU, the season-opening tie with Boston University, and took a win from Colgate and a tie from Quinnipiac.
RPI has only played eight games so far, and only two in league. It's still awfully premature to pick a number-one goalie from the information so far, and I for one give Appert a lot of credit for ignoring convention and giving Alford his well-earned shot.
Friday, November 10, 2006
But first- an important update about Puckman!
Never fear; Puckman's still here!
There have been rumblings out of Troy lately about the noticeable absence of Puckman, the loveably simple mascot of the Engineers' hockey program.
The long-time object of affection by the general college hockey community, and not just RPI fans, has become dissociated from the program a bit of late. He... it?... doesn't appear on the front of the team's sweaters anymore, relegated instead to a role as shoulder-patch, nor does Puckman any longer adorn Houston Field House's center ice.
Is this the death of Puckman? Inquiring minds want to know.
Sports Information Director Kevin Beattie had the answers.
While phasing out the delightfully anthropomorphic character in certain areas, like the jerseys, the :flesh-and-blood" (maybe foam rubber and felt?) mascot is still alive and well, according to Beattie.
"We'll still use it as a mascot, just not as a logo," he said. "Puckman's not going away, we're just using him less prominently."
Beattie referenced a hockey promotion in which Puckman figurines were handed out to those in attendance.
"I still see those things, in car and dorm windows, all over campus," he said. "I love it."
Many in the ECACHL community will recall past RPI mascots The Swarm, which immediately preceded Puckman, and the Redhawk, an unpopular early '90s alternative, who now represents the rest of Rensselaer athletics.
If the hardhat-wearing, hockey-glove wearing, stick-wielding disc can survive even internal competition for his job, I think it's safe to say that Puckman will be around for a long time to come.
And now for USCHO's predictions for the upcoming games:
Merrimack @ RensselaerRPI may not have made any statements last weekend, but it did take three points at home. The Engineers are still on a streak, in my eyes. Merrimack is not — and has never been — an ominous streak-killer. (Though the unexpected ones are always the best.) The Trojan icers can't overlook the Warriors, or my prediction is shot ... 4-1 Engineers.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I have one of those replica championship banners in my apartment and I am itching for a third year to be placed on it. I don't think it will happen this year. I do think in 2 years (once Appert's recruits come in and the rest of Fridgen's players know his system) RPI will be able to compete for the big prize.
The reason they aren't going to do it this year is this perchance to blow leads. They are 3-1-3 and last number really gets to me. Some people have indicated that they should take more shots and I agree but I think they should stay out of the penalty box. Being on the PK for what seems to be 1/2 the game gives the other team a real chance to get back into it.
Either way RPI is rolling for the first time in a long time- GO RIPEEEE
Friday, November 03, 2006
Here are USCHO's predictions for Ripee this weekend. I fully expect them to win both games. My analysis on Monday!
Princeton @ RensselaerHey, who am I to ditch a streaking team that I've already endorsed as a big-time threat? 4-2 Engineers in front of the disturbingly-fascinating Red Army & Co.
Quinnipiac @ RensselaerIt's not that I'm predicting Q'pac to lose, so much as I'm tapping into Appert-mania in foreseeing another RPI home win. It'll be a doozy, especially if my previous prognostications prove correct. 3-2 'Tute.
Here is USCHO's take on the goaltender situation. Personally I think the edge HAS to go to Lange. the guy was absolutely the backbone of that team last year and now he has more experience. I WAS NOT impressed by Alford in Albany but I am not the coach so what do I know?
Coaches' favorite problem
There will probably be a few goaltending tandems in the league while the season is young, at Princeton, St. Lawrence, Union or Harvard. But the matchup in the Rensselaer crease might just have the legs to go all year. Jordan Alford and Mathias Lange have split time so far this season, and coach Seth Appert is in no hurry to pick one over the other.
"They're both very good goalies in their own rights," said the boss, who also said he is unsure about who will start this weekend's games.
Lange tied top-five Boston University in the season opener at Houston Field House, was in net for a 5-1 loss at Denver, and held Colgate to one goal against on 21 shots in the Governor's Cup championship game.
Alford beat Denver with a remarkable 38-save performance and defeated Union in a 3-3 (4-3?) shootout victory in the Gov's Cup opener.
Monday, October 30, 2006
SO MANY PENALITIES: Wow, are the refs calling it like the NHL game or what? The problem is that many of the penalities were ticky tack and not really hooks and interference penalities. This was not just in the RPI games either, it was evident in the Dartmouth/Vermont game which I caught on TV last night.
SPEED KILLS: My favorite NHL team is the Sabres and they kill teams with their speed. RPI might not have a lot f set plays for breaking out of the zone or setting up in the opponent's zone but man can they fly. I understand now why they could hang with teams like Denver and BU, they have some serious speed coming down the wings.
CAPITAIN KIRK: They can't get him off the puck. He look like Jaomir Jagr out there with the puck on his stick. Clearly the most important cog in the RPI machinery.
PP- WHERE ARE YOU?: I know the season is young, RPI has a new coach and new palyers but that PP looked terrible. The passing as bad and everyone was bunching up where the puck was. Yeesh- someone needs to work on the tape to tape passing skills.
2-1-2 overall- not bad- its too abd the NCAA doesn't recognize the shootout but still that Union game was a classic. The USCHO guy picked RPI as the darkhorse team to win the ECAC this year and I have to say, after seeing the team in person, they have a real shot. Best of luck in the coming weeks!
Monday, October 23, 2006
I think its safe to say that Kirk is really leading this team on and off the ice.
But I have to ask, what is with all of the penalities? Is it that RPI is getting outplayed and is resulting in clutching and grabbing? Also, RPI is a young team but sooner or later they have to learn how to close out a game. They lead in the BU game and kept it close for 2 periods in the second DU game but then let up several goals in the third period.
Overall, I have to say I am very impressed by RPI's 1-1-1 start. If they play this well against nationally ranked competition, they will fare very well in the ECAC's.
I will be at the Governor's Cup this weekend and hope to see all of you Red and White supporters out!
Here is a recap of the 2-1 game. http://www.uscho.com/recaps/20062007/m/10/20/rpi-du.php
Here is a recap of the 5-1 loss. http://www.uscho.com/recaps/20062007/m/10/21/rpi-du.php
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Glad to see McDonald have a great game. Hopefully, the Rippees will take away from this game how to win now that they are putting themselves in the position TO win.
TROY, N.Y. — In his introductory press conference in April, new Rensselaer coach Seth Appert promised that the Engineers would play an up-tempo style.
Appert delivered on that promise Saturday against third-ranked Boston University in the season opener for both teams. The Engineers skated hard, were creative offensively and had some excellent scoring chances.
The unfortunate part for RPI is that it didn't translate into a victory. The Terriers rallied from a 3-1 first-period deficit to earn a 4-4 tie before a frenzied sellout crowd of 5,152 at Houston Field House.
"We played how we wanted to play," said Appert, who replaced Dan Fridgen. "We were aggressive, we were up-tempo, we attacked, defensemen were active in the play, we took calculated risks and we made some mistakes, but that happens. I thought, in terms of how we want to be a team [and] how we want to be about, I thought we did a great job and, more importantly, a belief that they have in each other, especially after being scored on right away."
The Terriers took the lead 55 seconds into the game when Brandon Yip beat goalie Mathias Lange. But Tyler Eaves got that one back for RPI 20 seconds later.
Just over a minute after that, Jake Morissette picked up the puck after it went off the skate of Kirk MacDonald, who was making his return after battling testicular cancer last year, and fired it past goalie John Curry. MacDonald got another assist when Jake Luthi scored a power-play goal late in the period.
"It was the longest pregame I ever had today," MacDonald said. "I've been up since the break of dawn, just sitting around thinking about. It's good to get it over with. It was a lot of fun. It was a great atmosphere."
It wasn't so good for BU coach Jack Parker, who saw his team outshot, 15-4, in the first period, and get called for six penalties for 23 minutes, including a major and game misconduct to defenseman Brian Strait for hitting from behind.
"We were embarrassed with what they did to us in the first period," Parker said. "We were outshot, ... and kept the puck in our end. They were all over us."
Chris Higgins started the comeback, scoring a power-play goal with 7:28 left in the second period. Steve Smolinsky tied it 4:38 into the third.
The Engineers regained the advantage on Oren Eizenman's power-play goal with 7:32 remaining in the period. But Higgins tied it 1:18 later.
RPI almost won it late in the third on some nice passing between Eaves, Jonathan Ornelas and Kevin Broad on a three-on-two rush. Ornelas, who had three assists in the game, sent a pass from the right side of the net to Eaves on the left. Only Curry's pad prevented Eaves from scoring his second goal of the game.
"I thought that was great," Appert said. "The creativity, the confidence and the willingness to try to make a great play, not just the safe play and take the outside lane shot, we were extremely pleased with that."
Monday, October 09, 2006
The Rensselaer Engineers will go into the new season with a new coach and a new attitude. Dan Fridgen's contract was not renewed after last season and new bench boss Seth Appert hopes to bring his style to a team that has not advanced very far in the last few years.
What is there for the Engineers? What has Appert seen?
"We believe we will be very competitive with every team on our schedule," said Appert. "With our solid mix of speed and size we expect to play an up-tempo but physical style."
The up-tempo style is one that Engineer fans have become used to seeing, so many welcome the words coming from Appert. The Engineers have some tools to do just that as Oren Eizenman (16-22-38) returns along with Jonathan Ornelas (13-9-22).
But the biggest boost may be the return of Kirk MacDonald.
After the end of the 2004-05 season, MacDonald learned he had testicular cancer and spent last season getting back in form while fighting it. Now that he has won that battle, he's back for his senior season and ready to lead the Engineers as the team's captain.
"There is no finer example of a class act that Kirk," said Appert. "He's worked real hard to get to this point and he's ready to go. There is no doubt that he is ready, and ready to lead this team."
MacDonald brings 16 goals and 20 assists from two seasons ago back to his team, which can only benefit as the Engineers try to put together an offensive attack.
Kevin Broad missed the last 14 games last season due to injuries and will be welcomed back into the fold as well.
After his battle with cancer, captain Kirk MacDonald returns to bolster RPI's attack (photo: Dave Harmon Photography).
"Kevin is also highly regarded," Appert said. "His passion and commitment to this program and his teammates are evident in everything he does. He always conducts himself in a manner that puts the team first."
Andrew Lord, Kurt Colling, Matt Angers-Goulet and Jake Morrissette will also be asked to up their totals from last season. Jordan Cyr and Paul Kerins will be asked to contribute almost immediately as well.
In the nets, the Engineers return a pair of players who could each be a starting goaltender. Last season, Mathias Lange wrestled the job from Jordan Alford, but both are goaltenders who have stood the test in game competition and will both be a strong foundation.
And they'll need to be, as the Engineers are a little thin on defense. Reed Kipp, Ryan Swanson and Jake Luthi are the only Engineers returning on the blueline, leaving youth and inexperience in at least three spots.
Erik Burgdoerfer, Christian Jensen, Jason Fortino, Peter Merth and Garrett Vassel (who also plays forward) will compete with the other three to get into the lineup.
The Engineers have a lot of work to do, so their progress will likely depend on how fast the defense comes together. The youngsters will get their first big test early, as the Engineers open with Boston University, Denver, Union and either Colgate or Quinnipiac in the nonconference portion of their slate, before the ECACHL games begin.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Polls don't faze coaches
Union, RPI picked to be near bottom of ECACHL
By MATT GRAVES, Special to the Times Union First published: Tuesday, September 26, 2006
ALBANY -- RPI's new hockey coach wasn't surprised to encounter skepticism about his first season from the media and his fellow coaches in the ECAC Hockey League. Union coach Nate Leaman already has learned how to spin that kind of assessment.
"In my three years, we've been ranked low, and we've finished higher than the polls predicted," Leaman said Monday after his Dutchmen were picked eighth of 12 teams in both polls, released at the league's annual media day. "Obviously we use that as motivation. With the young group that we have, it's also good not to put too much pressure on them."
RPI coach Seth Appert, one of league's two new coaches -- Yale's Keith Allain is the other -- saw his team picked ninth despite a fifth-place finish in the regular season last season and 17 returning lettermen.
"Realistically, it doesn't mean anything to us," said Appert, who replaced Dan Fridgen -- RPI's all-time leader in wins -- after last season's first-round playoff defeat. "The first day we met we talked about some of the things they had dreamt about over the summer. I let the seniors speak, but after that we closed off any talk about where we want to be in March or April."
Colgate, which tied Dartmouth for last year's regular-season title (both 14-6-2), was the choice in both polls to repeat the feat this season. The Raiders had the most points in the coaches' preseason poll, but Clarkson had more first-place votes (5-3). Harvard, the 2006 playoff champion, was picked second.
Colgate made it to the ECAC Final Four each of the past two seasons but hasn't won the postseason tournament since 1990.
"We're certainly pleased," Colgate coach Don Vaughan said of the poll support. "It's been a while. We like our team, but it's ECAC hockey. You can't take anything for granted in this league."
Colgate placed goaltender Mark Dekanich and forward Tyler Burton on both of the preseason All-ECACHL teams. Defensemen Reid Cashman (Quinnipiac) and forwards David Jones (Dartmouth) and Nick Dodge (Clarkson) also were consensus picks.
Neither Union nor RPI was represented on the preseason all-league teams. But the Engineers have goaltender Mathias Lange back after being selected to last year's All-Rookie team.
Union returns 16 lettermen from a team that finished tied for sixth. But the Dutchmen lost goaltender Kris Mayotte, now with the Albany River Rats.
RPI also gets back 2004-05 leading scorer Kirk MacDonald, who sat out last year while recovering from testicular cancer. Appert said MacDonald should be "near 100 percent" by the time the season unofficially begins a week from Saturday with an exhibition against York at Houston Field House.
In the meantime, Appert has been busy getting acquainted with his players.
Appert said his most pressing challenge is "just trying to get them to believe and buy into all the things we want them to do. We're trying to create that culture and atmosphere, to start building trust among our staff and the players, among the players for each other.
"That is probably the biggest challenge, and right now our players are passing that challenge with flying colors."
Allain, a former Yale goaltender with NHL and Olympic coaching experience, replaces his college coach, Tim Taylor. Appert, a graduate of Ferris State and former assistant at Denver, will be the league's youngest coach at 32.
Matt Graves, a local freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to the Times Union.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
MacDonald battles back from cancer to lead RPI
By Ken SchottSpecial to ESPN.com
TROY, N.Y. -- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute senior forward Kirk MacDonald surveyed the media members who had come out to see him work out with some teammates on the Houston Field House ice surface late in the afternoon of Aug. 28.
Kirk MacDonald starred on the ice for RPI.
He had to think there were more important stories to cover in the Capital District of New York state than his 15-minute workout with junior forwards Tyler Eaves and Jake Morissette, and freshman forward Paul Kerins led by assistant coach Shawn Kurulak. After all, the horse racing season at Saratoga dominates the media coverage during the six weeks the track is open, and it was the final week of the season.
Then again, MacDonald also realized one significant thing -- being able to talk to the media beat being where he was one year ago. "It's a big jump from where I was last year to today," the 22-year-old MacDonald said. "[Assistant] coach [Jim] Montgomery asked me about the surgery I had, and I looked at my watch and it was one year ago today. It's kind of a coincidence. It's been a long haul, that's for sure."
Last year at this time, MacDonald was lying in a hospital bed in Vancouver, British Columbia. Just a few months earlier, the Victoria, B.C., native stunned college hockey fans when he announced that he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. He began experiencing pain in his back in January of the 2004-05 season. He thought treatment would solve the problem.
MacDonald continued to play through the pain. He scored RPI's most important goal of the season during the team's annual Big Red Freakout game Feb. 12, which was televised nationally. With 8.3 seconds left in regulation, MacDonald fired a shot from the right-wing circle past Brown goalie Adam D'Alba, giving the Engineers a 3-2 victory and sending the sellout crowd into a frenzy.
However, the pain persisted. By the time RPI played Brown in the first round of the ECACHL tournament in March, MacDonald could barely bend to tie his skates.
"By the end of the season, I couldn't even sleep at night the pain was so bad," said MacDonald, who led the team in scoring that year with 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points, all career highs. "Honestly, I don't know how I played the last weekend against Brown."
On April 12, six days after announcing his diagnosis, MacDonald had surgery at Albany Medical Center Hospital to remove the infected testicle. MacDonald underwent four rounds of chemotherapy, the first of which made him very sick, but the last three were a little better. However, he was warned that there would probably be a mass left over in his abdomen.
The chemotherapy didn't get rid of that. So on Aug. 2, MacDonald underwent nine hours of surgery in Vancouver to remove the mass.
Complications followed that surgery. He got an infection in his incision. A month after the surgery, his incision ripped open, forcing another surgery to repair it. He then had a bowel obstruction in his small intestine, and had surgery Sept. 24 to repair that.
All told, MacDonald had four surgeries. He didn't leave the hospital until Oct. 6.
"My body didn't exactly respond to the surgery," MacDonald said.
MacDonald, who weighed 210 pounds prior to surgery, lost 73 pounds.
"Pretty much what could have gone wrong from the surgery went wrong. Before I went in for that surgery, the doctor said, 'Look, it's going to be a real tough surgery. These things could go wrong. If the surgery is successful, and everything comes out as hoped, you should be back playing hockey by Christmas time.' That was the plan.
"One day, something's going wrong. I can't eat, I'm throwing up, I get an infection, I get a fever. You name it, it happened."
A month after leaving the hospital, MacDonald returned to RPI the same weekend the school was honoring former Engineers great Joe Juneau. At first, MacDonald was reluctant to go.
RPI Sports Information
Kirk MacDonald is working hard to return to his team.
It proved to be great medicine for MacDonald.
"I was a little nervous," MacDonald said. "My parents kind of pushed me to go. They said, 'You have to get out of here.' I thought maybe I wasn't ready to go back. It's definitely the best thing I ever did. If I stayed at home, I would have stuck myself on the sofa all day and never got better. I would have been further behind than I am now. That really got me going."
Before RPI's Nov. 11 game against Quinnipiac, Juneau was scheduled to drop the ceremonial first puck. Juneau asked MacDonald to join him. The fans at Houston Field House gave MacDonald a rousing ovation.
MacDonald's teammates did their part to help those afflicted with cancer. After every home game, a couple of players had their heads shaved. The hair went to help make wigs for cancer patients. Donations raised $10,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
MacDonald, who has 76 career points on 35 goals and 41 assists, worked out on his own during the second half of the season. He admits it was frustrating not being able to practice with the team, and he was all smiles during his first skills and development workout with teammates in August.
"He's such a big part of this team and program," Morissette said. "He brings so much. It's real exciting to see him out there again."
MacDonald will be playing under a new coaching staff, led by head coach Seth Appert. The former Denver University assistant coach replaced Dan Fridgen in April. Although Appert has been on the job for only five months, he knows the kind of player he has in MacDonald.
"Regardless of whether we're just joining the staff, or have been with him the whole time through, it's a special story," Appert said. "It should be told, and you can understand why it's being told. To not only overcome what he's had to overcome, but to do it with the amount of dignity and class that he has, and to come back raring and excited to go shows a lot about his character and his makeup."
Now MacDonald is counting down the days until the season opener on Oct. 14, when the Engineers host Boston University (RPI plays an exhibition game the week before against York University, a Canadian college). It will be an emotional night for the fans and players, but especially for the cancer-free MacDonald.
"I'm really excited to get back here, and be back and just get it going," he said. "It's been a long ways to get back to this point."
Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
TROY - As was first reported in The Record on June 17, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute men's head hockey coach Seth Appert has added Army assistant coach Shawn Kurulak to round out his first head-coaching staff.Rensselaer Director of Athletics Ken Ralph made Kurulak's appointment official with an announcement Tuesday morning.Kurulak, a former all-star defenseman, played under Appert, a longtime University of Denver assistant, at the perennial WCHA power."There is a lot of history and tradition at RPI and I look forward to being part of something special in Troy," Kurulak said. "Seth is a great coach and I am very excited and honored that he asked me to be part of the staff."Appert says he's equally excited. "We are very excited to have Shawn on our team," Appert said. "He is a proven winner who consistently makes teams better. His intensity and competitiveness will be tremendous assets in the locker room, on the ice and as he is directing our recruiting efforts."Kurulak (pronounced KER-lack) comes to Rensselaer after spending the past two seasons as an assistant at West Point, working with recruiting, player development - especially with defensemen - and coordinating video instruction. He was an integral reason head coach Brian Riley was named the Atlantic Hockey Coach of the Year in 2005-06. The Rensselaer roster will have at least four freshmen defensemen next season. Only three blueliners return from the team that finished 14-17-6.Former National Hockey Leaguer and American Hockey League star Jim Montgomery, a volunteer assistant at the University of Notre Dame, was named Appert's first assistant last month. Kurulak led Fargo-Moorhead of the North American Hockey League to a 33-21 record and a second-place finish in the West Division in 2003-04, the team's first season in the Junior 'A' hockey league. As the head coach, he was chiefly responsible for establishing the team's infrastructure for team operations and recruiting and developing players. The Calgary native also served for two seasons as an assistant at Bemidji State University, where he was the team's recruiting coordinator. He also developed and implemented game strategies as well as assisted with video analysis and strength and conditioning. Kurulak also spent one season as a volunteer assistant at his alma mater, when Appert was still an assistant. Kurulak also served an internship with the Colorado Avalanche as their assistant video coach. A four-year letter winner for the U. of Denver Pioneers, Kurulak wore the alternate captain's 'A' for three seasons. In 131 career games, he had 41 points (7 goals, 34 assists) and 268 penalty minutes. He also represented the WCHA on an all-star team that traveled to Switzerland for an international tournament in 1998.Kurulak graduated from Denver in 1999 with a BSBA in Finance/Marketing.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
2006-07 Men's Hockey Season Outlook
A new era of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) men’s hockey begins this fall as the Engineers welcome three new coaches and seven freshmen as well as a team leader back from his medical redshirt. The trio behind the bench will also have 17 letterwinners with which to work, including two of the top scorers and the starting goaltender from the 2005-06 season. Seth Appert takes over as the head coach, joined by assistant coaches Shawn Kurulak and Jim Montgomery. They will have the opportunity to mentor 12 returning forwards, three defensemen and all three goalies who are back. Of the newcomers, three are forwards and four play defense. “From what the staff has seen and heard from the players, we believe we will be very competitive with every team on our schedule,” said Appert, who comes to Troy after nine years as an assistant coach at the University of Denver. “With our solid mix of speed and size we expect to play an up-tempo but physical style.”
THE FORWARDS Of the three positions on the ice, the Engineers’ most experienced is at forward, where four seniors, five juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen will line up. Kirk MacDonald (Victoria, BC/Victoria Salsa), who had 16 goals and 20 assists for a team-high 36 points in 37 games two seasons ago, returns after battling testicular cancer. A rugged forward and fierce competitor, he tallied eight power play goals and four game-winners – both of which ranked among the leaders nationally – during his junior campaign. Among those back from last year’s team, which posted a 14-17-6 overall record and an 8-8-6 ECAC Hockey League mark, is Oren Eizenman (Toronto, ON/Wexford Raiders). A senior center, he was second on the team with 38 points, including a team-best 16 goals, in 37 games. A fine skater with good vision and solid face-off skills, he dished out 22 assists, which was second on the team. Twelve of those helpers – and seven of his goals – came in 22 league games. Classmate Kevin Broad (Humboldt, SK/Chilliwack Chiefs) is a fearless competitor who provides a spark with his hard hitting, timely scoring and leadership. He finished with seven goals and one assist in 23 games, missing 14 games due to injury. Fellow senior Tommy Green (Martensville, SK/Melfort Mustangs) looks to take advantage of the new staff’s offensive style and finish his career with a flourish. Junior Jonathan Ornelas (Mississauga, ON/Milton IceHawks), who has outstanding speed with a finishers’ touch, was third on the team with 22 points (13 goals, 9 assists) as a sophomore. Seven of his 13 goals came on the power play, tying Eizenman for tops on the team. Classmate Andrew Lord (West Vancouver, BC/Vernon Vipers) used his solid frame (6-3, 200) to make things difficult for the opposition, tallying seven goals and six assists in the process. Each of the other junior forwards, Jake Morissette (Fruitvale, BC/Williams Lake Timberwolves), Dan Peace (Ann Arbor, MI/Toledo Ice Diggers) and Tyler Eaves (Queensbury, NY/Shattuck St. Mary’s), skate well and are very effective two-way players. They, too, look to flourish in RPI’s fast-paced attack. Sophomores Kurt Colling (Ripley, ON/Vernon Vipers) and Matt Angers-Goulet (St. Augustin, PQ/Notre Dame Hounds) are both coming off strong freshmen years and look to establish themselves as dominant two-way players. Colling earned 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) while Angers-Goulet had ten points (5 goals, 5 assists) in limited ice time in 28 and 34 games, respectively. Seth Klerer (Thornhill, ON/North York Rangers) and Andrei Uryadov (St. Petersburg, Russia/South Kent), another pair of sophomores, expect to use their skating abilities to become solid point producers at the collegiate level. RPI’s incoming forwards are Jordan Cyr (Winnipeg, MB/Brockville Braves), a left wing, Paul Kerins (Weston, ON/North York Rangers), a center, and Garett Vassel (Northampton, NY/New York Apple Core). Cyr tallied 53 points (22 goals, 31 assists) in 45 games while Kerins had 59 points (29 goals, 30 assists) in the same number of contests. Vassel led the Apple Core in scoring, notching 47 points (15 goals, 32 assists) in 44 games. He also has the ability to play defense for Rensselaer.
THE DEFENSEMEN The Engineers return three defensemen, including two seniors and a sophomore. Jake Luthi (Palmer, AK/Sioux Falls Stampede), a senior, is the top blueliner returning, having tallied 11 points in 37 games. A smooth skater with a hard shot, he scored three goals – two on the power play – with eight assists while also picking up 50 penalty minutes. Fellow senior Ryan Swanson (Woodbury, MN/Soo Indians), who is 6-3, 210 pounds, gained valuable experience as a junior, seeing time in 35 games. The team’s Most Improved Player had a goal and seven assists after notching one helper in his first two seasons. One of the most respective competitors on the team, Swanson brings out the best in his teammates in practices and games. Sophomore Reed Kipp (Victoria, BC/Vernon Vipers) showed offensive promise as he tallied two goals and six assists in 26 games during his rookie campaign. Rensselaer’s incoming blueliners bring size, toughness and offensive abilities. Erik Burgdoerfer (East Setauket, NY/New York Apple Core), who is 6-2, 210 pounds, had six goals and ten assists with 60 penalty minutes in 45 games a year ago while Jason Fortino (Stoney Creek, ON/Milton IceHawks), who is 6-0, 205 pounds, had 21 points (6 goals, 15 assists) and 102 penalty minutes in 39 games. Christian Jensen (Watchung, NJ/Chicago Steel) is a solid 6-3, 210 pounder who had a goal and eight assists with 22 penalty minutes in 42 USHL games last season, including 24 with Chicago. He is a draft pick of the San Jose Sharks, having been selected in the ninth round (289 overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. The biggest blueliner to join the Engineers is Peter Merth (New Westminster, BC/Burnaby Express), who is 6-3, 225 pounds. He finished his final junior season with 22 points (5 goals, 17 assists) and 102 penalty minutes in 60 games, winning the Canadian National Junior Championship, where he was named the top defenseman. THE
GOALTENDERS The Engineers should be strong in goal as they return all three netminders, including senior Will Neubert (Painted Post, NY/Capital District Selects), junior Jordan Alford (Red Deer, AB/Canmore Eagles) and sophomore Mathias Lange (Klagenfurt, Austria/New York Apple Core). Lange, the team’s workhorse, played in 35 games, including 34 starts, with a 13-15-6 record as a freshman. He posted a 2.70 goals against average and a .901 save percentage while playing in over 2041 minutes. A backstop who consistently keeps his composure, he was a unanimous selection to the ECACHL’s All-Rookie Team as well as one of RPI’s Most Valuable Players. Alford has a career record of 6-7-1 with a 3.36 goals against average while Neubert has yet to see any game action.
THE COACHES Appert, the 12th head men’s hockey coach in Rensselaer’s storied history, brings an offensive-minded transition style from Denver, where he helped the Pioneers average over 23 wins per year and capture two National Championships. Among the many nationally-ranked recruiting classes he helped attract were the 2006 Hobey Baker Award winner, eight All-Americans, a WCHA Player of the Year, 22 All-WCHA picks, three WCHA Defensive Players of the Year, two WCHA Student-Athletes of the Year and 22 NHL draft picks. Appert also played a big role in the development of Denver’s goaltenders. A former netminder at Ferris State, he individually coached one All-American, two All-WCHA honorees, two WCHA Playoff Most Valuable Players and two Frozen Four Most Outstanding Players. Three of his goalies were draft picks of the NHL, including one Hobey Baker Award finalist, and two of those netminders played in the NHL last season. Montgomery, a two-time All-American and former pro standout, spent the past year as a volunteer assistant coach at Notre Dame, where he oversaw the video coordinator’s responsibilities, the team statistical program and face-off and scoring skills development. Prior to coaching, he played professionally for 12 seasons, including stints in the NHL with St. Louis, Montreal, Philadelphia, San Jose and Dallas. As a collegiate player at Maine from 1989-93, Montgomery tallied 103 goals and 198 assists for 301 points in 170 career games. He led the team to a 138-25-8 record with two Hockey East Championships and captained the 1993 National Championship team. The Montreal, Que., native ranks fourth in NCAA history in points and assists. Kurulak spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at Army, where he was responsible for recruiting, player development, especially with the defensemen, and coordinating video instruction while helping direct the Black Knights to their most successful season at the Division I level. He has also been the head coach of Fargo-Moorhead of the NAHL, which he led to a 33-21-0 record in its expansion year, and an assistant at Bemidji St. for two seasons, recruiting the classes that have led the Beavers to the NCAA Tournament the past two years. A native of Calgary, Alb., Kurulak graduated from Denver in 1999 and spent one season as a volunteer assistant at his alma mater, where he was a four-year letterwinner on the blueline for the Pioneers. He wore the alternate captain’s "A" for three seasons and was a three-time WCHA All-Academic selection.
THE SCHEDULE The Engineers, who open their 105th season on October 7, play 35 games, including 18 home games at the Houston Field House in Troy. Rensselaer’s season opener is an exhibition game against York University of Ontario at the Field House. The Engineers host perennial national power Boston University one week later before going to Denver for a two-game set on October 20-21. RPI returns to the Capital District for a pair of games at the Pepsi Arena in Albany on October 28-29, beginning with a matchup with area-rival Union on October 28. The Engineers face either Colgate or Quinnipiac the next day. Those two games are non-league affairs. Rensselaer kicks off its ECAC Hockey League schedule – and its longest home stand of the season – on November 3 when Princeton visits the Field House for the 4th Annual Black Friday. Quinnipiac, the Tigers’ travel partner, is in Troy the next night. The Engineers play just one game in each of the next two weekends, against Merrimack on November 12 and Sacred Heart on November 17. The home stand concludes with the 56th Annual Rensselaer/Bank of America Holiday Tournament, the oldest college hockey holiday tournament in the nation, on November 24-25. This year’s field features Colgate, Niagara and Ohio State with the Engineers opening against Niagara. RPI is on the road for four league games over the next two weekends, including a trip to Central New York, before returning to the Field House to close out the fall semester with a non-league game against UMass Lowell on December 16. Following a 13-day layoff, Rensselaer travels to Burlington to participate in the University of Vermont’s Tournament on December 29-30. The month of January begins with three straight home league games as Harvard (Jan. 5), Dartmouth (Jan. 6) and Union (Jan. 12) visit the Field House. The game against the Dutchmen is the start of a home-and-home series as the Engineers travel to Schenectady the next night. Following the games with Union, RPI hosts Clarkson on January 19 and St. Lawrence on January 20. The game with the Saints, which will be preceded by the Annual Alumni Game, is the 30th Annual Big Red Freakout! RPI will attempt to extend its Freakout! unbeaten streak to 17 games (12-0-4). Rensselaer returns to the road for its next four games, including trips to Yale (Jan. 26) and Harvard (Feb. 3), before welcoming Colgate and Cornell on February 9-10. The Engineers visit St. Lawrence and Clarkson on February 16-17 before finishing the regular season with home games against Brown and Yale on February 23-24.
SCHEDULE NOTES The Engineers’ Annual Red/White Game is September 30, followed by the Annual Skate with the Engineers … Rensselaer plays 13 non-league games, including seven at home … The Engineers’ start date of October 7 matches the earliest the team has ever opened. RPI hosted Ottawa last season on the same date … Rensselaer has never faced York … The game against Boston University is on Homecoming Weekend … RPI faces Denver for the first time since January 3, 1982, a 4-3 loss in Troy … The Engineers are 3-0-0 all-time on Black Friday … They are 18-7-4 all-time in the Big Red Freakout! … The last Freakout! loss came at the hands of St. Lawrence on January 27, 1990 … The Big Red Freakout! has been held in January on four occasions, most recently on January 31, 1998 … RPI is 1-3-0 in January Freakouts! … Three of the teams on RPI’s schedule played in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. They are Boston University, Cornell and Harvard … Based on the known opponents, the Engineers play one game against a Canadian school, four versus Hockey East foes, two games against a WCHA opponent, one each from College Hockey America and Atlantic Hockey and 24 against ECACHL teams … Rensselaer plays 15 games on Fridays, 18 on Saturdays and two on Sundays … The Engineers play six games in October and November, seven in December and eight in January and February … The ECACHL Playoffs run from March 2 to March 17, beginning with the best-of-three first round matchups March 2-4. The league semi-finals and finals are March 16-17 at Pepsi Arena … The NCAA Tournament runs from March 23 to April 7. The 2007 Frozen Four is at the Savvis Center in St. Louis.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Friday, April 21, 2006
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Croxton flies with Falcons as AHL rookie
RPI star gets assist in Springfield debut
By DAN FARRAND, Special to the Times Union First published: Thursday, April 6, 2006
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Kevin Croxton was waiting. His anticipation grew, his body tensed, but the moment passed in silence.
"That was the weirdest part," Croxton said after making his pro debut with the American Hockey League's Springfield Falcons last Friday against the Hartford Wolf Pack at Mass Mutual Center. "Not the uniform or the number, but during the anthem, and not hearing the 'Red' from the crowd was strange."
That was Croxton's wake-up call. That and taking a hard check that left him sprawled out on the ice from Wolf Pack defenseman Dale Purinton on his first AHL shift in the Falcons' 9-3 loss.
"It hurt," the Calgary, Alberta, native said. "There's more selective hitting at this level. Guys don't hit as much, but when they do it hurts."
Croxton said that early in the game, he was just trying to stay out of his own way, but he found his groove when he notched his first career point with an assist on Dan Cavanaugh's goal in the second period.
Croxton created the scoring opportunity by breaking out of his own zone, taking a pass from teammate Zbynek Hrdel at the center face-off circle, drawing both defenders as he crossed the blue line, and dropping a pass to a trailing Cavanaugh who beat Wolf Pack goaltender Robert Gherson on a shot that deflected off a Hartford defenseman.
Croxton, who led RPI with 15 goals and 25 assists in 31 games this season, called it a "garbage assist."
Claude Loiselle, assistant general manager of Springfield's parent club, the Tampa Bay Lightning, didn't see it that way.
"Just from that little play there, you could see his talent," said Loiselle, who signed Croxton to an amateur tryout contract on March 24. "He saw we had control of the puck; he broke to open ice and got the puck on his backhand."
Loiselle -- a former Adirondack Red Wing -- said Croxton's intelligence, hands, speed, and play-making ability piqued Tampa Bay's interest.
Loiselle was thrilled to see Croxton get on the board early.
"It's terrific, especially at this level," Loiselle said. "The next step is the National Hockey League; you're playing with a lot of good players out there, so getting a quick point can aide a player's confidence."
While Croxton appears to be taking to the professional game on the ice, he is suffering a tougher adjustment off it.
"It can get pretty boring," Croxton said. "Practices only go for about 30 to 45 minutes, an hour at the most, because we have so many games. It can be tough to really get your legs into it."
Croxton's former RPI teammates Kirk MacDonald, Brad Farynuk, Jonathan Ornelas, Jake Morissette and Mathias Lange made the trip to Springfield for last Friday's game.
Croxton's 149 games for the Engineers were the most in school history. His 86 assists leave him ranked 19th and his 143 career points place him 24th on the school's all-time list. His 15 goals and 15 assists in the 2002-03 season made him the first freshman to lead the Engineers in scoring since Joe Juneau in 1987-88.
The senior, despite leaving early, will also still graduate in May, having completed the core requirements for his management degree before this semester.
Croxton will remain with the Falcons until their season ends April 15 against the Portland Pirates. He will then become a free agent and be reevaluated by the Lightning organization.
Loiselle said Croxton could be one of about 30 players invited to the Lightning's rookie development and conditioning camp in Tampa sometime in mid-July. Meanwhile, Croxton is living his dream.
"It's unbelievable to play professional hockey," Croxton said. "Hopefully I can keep it going as long as possible."
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Below is what is known of RPI's schedule for the 2006-07 season.
October 13 or 14
vs. Union at Pepsi Arena
2:00 or 5:00
vs. Colgate/Quinnipiac at Pepsi Arena
PRINCETON - Black Friday
NIAGARA - Holiday Tournament
4:00 or 7:00
COLGATE/OHIO STATE - Holiday Tournament
vs. St. Cloud State in Burlington, VT
vs. Union/UVM in Burlington, VT
CORNELL - Big Red Freakout!
The ECAC schedule will also include home and road games against Union, probably on January 12 and 13.
The non-conference schedule will also include a home game against UMass-Lowell and a road game at Army, as well as a twelfth game not named yet.
The first-round matchups in the Holiday Tournament and UVM's tournament are not definite.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Athletic director says he has 40-50 inquiries so far
By TIM WILKIN, Staff writer Click byline for more stories by writer. First published: Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Of the 59 schools that play Division I college hockey in the United States, only two of them have coaching vacancies.
One of them is at RPI. Athletic director Ken Ralph doesn't know how long the vacancy will remain but vows to keep looking until the best possible coach is found.
"We want a teacher and a motivator and someone with an unquenchable thirst to win hockey games," Ralph said Tuesday. "We want someone who will push himself and the students to the highest level of achievement. We want to be very clear we want to win hockey games at RPI."
Dan Fridgen, RPI's coach the past 12 years, resigned last week. He was in the final year of a three-year contract that was set to expire June 30. The other Division I coaching job opened up Tuesday, when Yale announced coach Tim Taylor would be reassigned within the university after 28 years with the program.
Since then, Ralph said, a search committee of 10 people has been formed. He also said the school has received between 40 and 50 inquiries about the job.
Ralph declined to name any of those who made inquiries but did say the committee will take as much time as it needs.
"They will evaluate all the applications and, after interviews, they will make a recommendation to me," Ralph said.
The final recommendation, he said, will be his. Then he will go to RPI President Shirley Jackson for the final decision.
"On this one, we just have to be sure," Ralph said. "This is an important hire for us. If we have to interview 10 people, we'll interview 10 people. Right now we have had 15 or 16 hard applications already in, and we'll probably have another 10 before the end of the day (Tuesday)."
He said he has made calls to people he thought would be interested.
Ralph said the only person who has said he is not interested is former RPI goalie Kevin Constantine (1977-80), now coach of the Everett (Wash.) Silvertips of the Western Hockey League.
Constantine had stints in the National Hockey League coaching with the San Jose Sharks (1993-96), Pittsburgh Penguins (1997-2000) and New Jersey Devils (2001-02).
Providence assistant coach Stan Moore, a former ECAC coach of the year at Union (1997) and Colgate (2004), is expected to be a candidate. He did not return a call left at his office.
Ralph said he doesn't expect the interview process to start until after the Frozen Four, college hockey's championship tournament April 6-8 in Milwaukee. Ralph said whether he attends the championship would depend on how much progess has been made in the search.
He also said he is not opposed to hiring a former RPI player and said he has had contact with former Engineers star Joe Juneau. But he said that conversation was about people Juneau thought would be possible candidates for the position and not about Juneau himself.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Friday, March 24, 2006
AD eyes five weeks to find a replacement
By PETE IORIZZO, Staff writer Click byline for more stories by writer. First published: Wednesday, March 22, 2006
TROY -- RPI athletic director Ken Ralph said a few things about his next men's hockey coach. Among them: He will be a motivator. He will be energetic. And, most notably, he will be hired soon.
But Ralph did not offer any names.
"There is no predetermined list, where we can say, 'These five guys are really the short list,' " Ralph said. "This really kind of just snowballed in the last few days. We have not gotten to the point where we have a short list already."
Ralph said he's still assembling a search committee to find a replacement for Dan Fridgen, who resigned Tuesday. Ralph said he hopes the committee can begin meeting early next week. He expects to select Fridgen's replacement within five weeks.
The only candidates Ralph noted by name were assistant coaches Frank Bretti and Jeff Matthews. Both joined the RPI staff in 2004. Bretti previously served as the head coach at Iona. Though Matthews has no previous Division I head-coaching experience, he graduated from RPI in 1995.
"I'm certainly going to be willing to talk to them," Ralph said.
Bretti seemed uncomfortable discussing his candidacy, saying, "We'll have to see that in the coming days. Right now I'd feel more comfortable looking back at Dan's career and thanking him for everything he's done for the program."
Matthews was not available for comment.
RPI is the only Division I job currently open, so Ralph expects to draw plenty of applicants. Among the most intriguing possibilities is Providence assistant coach Stan Moore, who is a two-time ECACHL coach of the year. Moore won the award as a rookie coach at Union in 1997 and again in 2004, when as a one-year interim coach with Colgate he won 22 games.
Moore did not address his potential candidacy Tuesday, saying only he was "shocked" by Fridgen's resignation.
Union's current coach, Nate Leaman, is another possibility, though his interest in the job is unknown. When reached by phone Tuesday, Leaman said only, "I'm very happy at Union," and declined further comment.
Other possible candidates include Graeme Townshend, a scout with the San Jose Sharks and former RPI captain, and Bill Beaney, the coach at Middlebury College.
If RPI really wanted to recapture the Capital Region's attention, it could reach out to two of its most famous alumni, former NHL stars Adam Oates and Joe Juneau.
The idea isn't so far-fetched. Two years ago, Harvard hired Ted Donato, an alum and former NHL player without coaching experience. He won 21 games his first season and led the Crimson to the ECACHL Tournament championship last weekend at Pepsi Arena. The Crimson will be back in town this weekend for the East Regional.
The only candidate Ralph dismissed was RPI women's coach John Burke, a former assistant with the men's squad.
"I would never want to end up in a situation where I say, 'The best coach is on our women's team, so I'm taking him away from the women,' " Ralph said. "That's not going to be the case."
Free-lance writer Dan Farrand contributed to this report.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
We spoke to Rensselaer athletic director Ken Ralph on Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours after coach Dan Fridgen announced his resignation.
CHN: Obviously, there's probably a truth out there that goes deeper than Dan Fridgen just resigned. What was the chain of events here?
Ralph: We had a program evaluation going on. A tremendous number of people on our campus were involved and other administrative areas on campus. We wanted to take a long look at what we were doing in hockey. Are we providing the right levels of support? Are we playing to win? We wanted to make sure we were putting the best product on the ice that we can. If we're going to spend this much money on a program — it's fully funded, it's fully staffed.
CHN: Is it clear that the president cares if you win or not?
Ralph: She (Dr. Shirley Jackson) cares deeply whether we win or lose. And it's important to her that we move in that direction. ... (Fridgen) was in the final year of his contract and he was concerned about not being renewed. He did the very professional thing and decided to step down. He told the team this morning. ... He's incredibly professional and fantastic to work with.
CHN: Is it fair to say he saw the handwriting on the wall?
Ralph: That's probably fair to say. ... He's always represented the school well. He wanted to tell the team personally, and I think that's important. And he's earned the right to do that.
CHN: Obviously, these things are tough, because they're not always personal. You have nothing against your coach. Not that too many people will sympathize with you, but these are tough decisions to make.
Ralph: These kind of days are part of the job. The main thing is making sure we're working with the students involved, and looking at taking hockey to the highest level, and get a coach they're excited about, and trying to win a championship.
CHN: To what extent is that still possible? You have a deep fan base who goes back a long time and remembers some glory years, such as the '80s. But — and this is an issue for everyone in the ECAC, St. Lawrence, Clarkson, and so on — the schools like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan are just getting bigger and bigger. So can you win on that level again?
Ralph: We'll have to find some ways to do some things in the program that are a little different — do things more efficient than the big programs. But Rensselaer as a school is really gorwing. It has much more name recognition from a non-hockey perspective. We need to leverage some of the momentum the school has earned back into the hockey program. I do think we can bring someone in who can win. We can make changes that will take us back to the top. We'll be realistic, of course. We first have to concentrate on our own conference. And if we're competitive in conference, we'll be competitive nationally. Even this year, Dan led this team to wins over BU, Cornell, Harvard — those are (NCAA) Tournament teams — and took Miami (Ohio) deep into overtime. We can get it done. We got to make sure we do it consistently.
CHN: Of course, the inevitable question is, who will be the next coach? I'm sure you'll get plenty of good applicants.
Ralph: We want to make sure we're putting a well thought out list together. We want to make sure we go through a search expeditiously. We don't want it hanging out there.
CHN: Do you think you'll just see who applies, or will you actively pursue someone?
Ralph: I do think there will be excellent candidates, but we'll wait until we put a search committee together before deciding who to pursue. But it's correct to assume there may be some people we solicit an application from.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Compiled by USCHO Staff
TROY, N.Y. — After 12 years at the helm of the Rensselaer Engineers, Dan Fridgen has resigned as the head coach. In his 12 years he had compiled a record of 211-193-38, the most wins of any head coach in Rensselaer history.
Before taking over in 1994 for Buddy Powers, Fridgen was an assistant coach for the Engineers.
"Rensselaer has offered me a tremendous opportunity over the past 17 years," Fridgen said. "My family and I are very thankful for all the experiences we have shared with some tremendous people in the program, on the campus and in the community. I wish the team nothing but success."
"Dan Fridgen has served Rensselaer admirably over the past 17 years, including 12 as the head coach, and his efforts are greatly appreciated," said RPI AD Ken Ralph. "As we enter this period of transition, there is great excitement about the new opportunities ahead for our student athletes and dedicated fans."
"I applaud Dan for his hard work and dedication to the Institute and for the compassion and commitment he has exhibited to his players. We wish him all the best," said Rensselaer President Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson. "Rensselaer has a great hockey tradition, and we will now take the necessary steps to begin a new chapter in our program's history."
"We are very proud of the outstanding student-athletes Dan has recruited and introduced to the Rensselaer community," said Dr. Eddie Ade Knowles, vice president of student life. "Building on Rensselaer's strong tradition of scholar athletes, we will continue to field a team that is solid on the ice and in the classroom."
In those 12 season he compiled eight winning seasons, including five 20-win campaigns, and his teams finished in the top three in the league standings three times. The Engineers won the ECAC Championship in his first year as the head coach in 1995.
The last four years have been difficult for Fridgen as his team’s finished 11th, 5th, 11th and 6th. This past season the Engineers battled through injuries to finish in a tie for 6th place in the ECACHL, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to Quinnipiac in two games.
A search for his replacement will begin immediately.
The 2006-07 Engineers return 18 players from this year's team, including two of the top three scorers and their starting goaltender. In addition, Kirk MacDonald, the team's top scorer in 2004-05 who was a medical red-shirt in this season, is also expected to return.