Tuesday, September 26, 2006

RPI Gets Dissed

Here is the article from the TU. Now, as we progress through the season, I will be providing my comments and insights into the stories regarding RPI and not just reposting them here. In terms of this story, a first blush, it does seem that RPI got no respect in the preseason poll yet I think that RPI hasn't earned any recently. Currently, they are a team that barely gets home ice advantage in the first round of the ECAC playoffs and then is usually bounced out. Except for Mathias and Kirk, the potent CEO line is gone and who knows if there will be sufficient speed on the defense. That being said, I think that this coach Appert will get the lads eating lightning and crapping thunder. The goaltending has been the best since Neil Little and I think some of the new recruits can really pan out. We will see....

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

Brad Tapper

A highly recommend anyone who is an RPI hockey fan to read this article. It is really quite powerful.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Well- RPI is getting some national recognition- check out this great article

MacDonald battles back from cancer to lead RPI
By Ken SchottSpecial to

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

RPI Has New Assistant

From The Troy Record-

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.