Thursday, November 30, 2006

Appert Chat Wrap

Sorry for not blogging recently but the RPI losses and tie (after being up!!!) have me a little bummed. to lighten my spirits, I decided to put the Coach's chat wrap from CSTV on here (with a question from yours truly). Enjoy! Moderator: Hello, and welcome to the second of today's "Tuesday @ the Rink" chats, presented by 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. 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. 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, as I'll be blogging live from Friday's games. Have a good one!

Friday, November 17, 2006

RPI Hockey Back In Action

Ok- here we go- another weekend of RPI hockey. Who isn't excited that they are building up a great program and are nationally ranked????

Just be careful not to have a letdown with those SH boys!

USCHO's predictions:

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

Who's Ready For RPI Hockey???

The weekend is here. RPI gears up for an important contest.

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

Thoughts and Rankings

Well, first off congrats to RPI hockey for moving up in both the INCH and USCHO polls. This is the first time RPI has been ranked in forever. This will only help Appert recruit (as if he needed help) and finally brings back a measure of respectibility to the program that has been sorely lacking.

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

Enter The Blackout

Tonight is the great new tradition game the Blackout! Someone bid on a jersey for me :)!

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.