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.

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