Tuesday, December 15, 2009

RPI Proves Me Deliciously Wrong

RPI, BIG win over BU last weekend. Tremendous! Way to break the non-conference slide!

A 5-3 come from behind win with RPI winning the third period (outscoring BU 3-0 despite being outshot 11-10) is a thing of beauty and something to build on as RPI heads into its Winter break before starting up again before NYE.

AAG, Tyler and Polacek all got points on the night and RPI got Merriman a win.

RPI continues with tough non-conference opponents after the break playing Michigan and probably MTU in the finale. Best of luck to the boys and happy holidays until we resume again!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Non-=Conference Fun

Oh SA, coach of the RPI Skating Engineers. Your coiffed hair, not a strand out of place. You and your hair have inspired, befuddled and third period(ed) your way around RPI fans now for several years. The team has looked good, bad, mediocre and possibly uplifting?

But one thing it has always looked to opposing non-conference teams is "easy pickings".

This year, in non-conference games (not including Union), RPI is 3-4-1 and has been outscored 23-20. Not bad right? Let's look back further. In 08-09 they were a stunning 1-10 against NC opponents (not including Union) and outscored 45 to 15! 07-08 was not much better. 3-6-1 (not counting Union/Colgate non-conference) being outscored 24 to 21.

Clearly, RPI has to get better in the ECAC first before addressing how good it is compared to the rest of the county but these statistics do not point to a good trend.

All of this is my way of saying that I expect the trend to continue tonight against BU. They have owned RPI in the past, are in a major hockey conference and I expect badness. Still, that is why they play the games.

4-1 BU over RPI.

As always, USCHO's prediction:

Rensselaer @ Boston University
Neither team is showing much these days. BU is coming off a dismal loss to archrival BC, but hey, so is RPI against Union. Honestly, I think that if the Engineers can show the same kind of jump that they did on Wednesday on the road Friday, they will take the Terriers quite by surprise. Optimistically, 4-3 RPI.

Monday, December 07, 2009


Well that weekend kinda brought us down to Earth eh? So, is RPI a middle of the pack ECAC team? One might think so. 7-4 loss on aggregate to the C schools does not inspire one with confidence.

Also, York's GAA must have taken a real nose dive this weekend. Against Colgate, 2 goals on 16 shots in the first, 1 goal on 6 shots in the second and 2 goals on 6 shots in the third. This team seems to be more talented then the ones fielded over the last few years but they do not have the offense yet to overcome bad goaltending performances. I remain happy over the direction of the team this year but results like this last weekend's certainly give you pause.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Well it was great to get back to Upstate and to Troy to see the lads donning the Cherry and White to play. I have to say, I was impressed by the team speed and the passing. They could certainly skate circles around Bentley. Also a big positive was Tyler back into the lineup. He was a noticeable addition with his crisp passing.

I was less than impressed at the Union outing. Down 3-0, the lads rallied back hard in the third period but what happened in period 2? You are down by 3 and you manage 9 shots (1 for a goal)? Maybe it was due to the back to back nature of the games but Union is RPI's (in my mind) hated enemy, how do you not get up for that game?

The positive is that they did score 4 goals in a losing effort. Too many times over the last few years were we treated to a scoring deficit win or lose. At least when they lose, they go all in scoring wise.

Much turkey was eaten, much RPI was watched, who could ask for a better weekend?

Friday, November 27, 2009

In town, Ready To Rumble

Ahh the holidays. They bring you back to the place you grew up. You know the streets even if you don't know their names any more.

Soon my car will start winding its way up the hills of Troy in the familiar back alley ways to get to the Houston Field House so I can see RPI take on Bentley tonight. I will be rooting for the boys hard.

And I am looking forward to the traditions. The Seive chant. The Clarkson still sucks chant. The band. The holiday Tourney. Will they bring back the mugs this year? I certainly hope so. I think the last one I have is from 95 and its looking a little decrepit!

In any event, I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and go RPI (BTW- I predict a sweep this weekend, a weak, weak field).

Friday, November 20, 2009


Someone around here, who will not be named, forgot to mention the Niagara game. D'oh.

Well I guess, what can be said about losing to a previously winless team in a completely (as described by the people there) terrible fashion?

Hopefully SA will get the guys back into line and they have a long time to think about things as their next contests will be on the 27th and 28th for the Holiday Tourney (which I will be attending).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Split?

What exactly happened this weekend in the North Country? Friday night went much like RPI's recent contests. AAG had a big night. York, great save percentage. RPI, a let up in the third (outshot by 9) but still managed a goal.

And then....

Blamo against SLU? I didn't listen to the game but just check out the box score:

21 shots against in the second period? 2 goals allowed on 11 shots in the third? Did the team just suddenly run out of gas? I mean, its entirely possible. These are college kids after all. We can't expect the same conditioning out of them as the pros but clearly they hit the wall. And once again, no response in the third period. RPI registered 4 shots (14 in total). Was SLU's defense that good?

Its not all bad though, a split is a split is a split. Currently RPI is tied for third in the league. Quite a good start all things considered. Still, we here at RPI Hockey. Blogspot,. Com will be monitoring this third period situation all season.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Weekend

Bad week at work, not a lot of time to think about RPI wonderfulness that is for sure. RPI swings to the North Country this weekend and since last weekend they swept when I predicted split, this weekend I will also predict split. Why? Sorry to say but I haven't had enough time to analyze the games. Below are USCHO's takes. Have a great weekend (and Clarkson still sucks!)!

Rensselaer @ Clarkson
Clarkson: 3-0-0 at home, 0-6-0 on the road. RPI: 5-1-0 at home, 1-1-1 away. Here's a shocking moment of prescience: Knights on home ice, 3-1.

Rensselaer @ St. Lawrence
The Saints seemed to suffer a classic let-down loss to Quinnipiac last Saturday after whooping Princeton on the road. I don't think it's been long enough for SLU to forget that there are two games in a weekend. 3-2 Saints.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Turning Of The Tide

Could it be? Could this Program be FINALLY on the upswing? Call me crazy but I believe so. Let's go to the tale of the tape shall we?

RPI outscored Brown and Yale 8-3 over the weekend. Polacek was a monster. York continues his stellar GAA. They scored 2 goals on 5 shots in Friday's third period. More importantly, they SCORED in the third period.

In the last 2 games, RPI has scored 3 goals in the third period. 3. This might not seem like a big number but in the previous 4 games they only scored 2! I have ridden SA for awhile about 3 period let downs and I still harbor suspicions. STILL, if they can keep this up, color me intrigued about this season.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Oh Ivy, We Sing of Thee

RPI playing some ECAC foes? Whodathunkit? I mean usually we start playing ECAC folks in January so I guess this is a step up.

This is my favorite part of the schedule though due to Black Friday. Man I love this promotion/auction thing. I don't have a Black Friday jersey of my own (much to my disappointment) but every once in awhile I hope to see one on the Ebays.

The jerseys are so sharp, so distinctive, I love seeing the fans wear them. When is RPI going to go Black for a third alternate jersey and start selling these puppies (any version) in the bookstore??? Inquiring minds with wallets need to know!

The games? What games, I am talking about jerseys here. I think RPI will probably split the weekend and split most ECAC play. Don't get me wrong, I think this team is MUCH improved but I just don't see them doing better than .500 in the league at the moment. Prove me wrong Ripppee, prove me wrong!

As always, USCHO's takes:

Yale @ Rensselaer
4-2 Yale, despite RPI's Black Friday festivities.

Brown @ Rensselaer
5-3 RPI, as the Engineers make up for a Friday disappointment.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Split

Well, it wasn't a sweep that this blog predicted but still, RPI beat Union! Suck it Dutchmen! You lost to the British and you lost to the lads of RPI. Bwaaahahahaha. I mean, good game all the way around.

The 2-1 loss to Army was a little disappointing especially since 1) RPI was outscored 2-0 in the third period, 2) RPI was outshot 14-5 in the third period and 3) WHAT THE HELL is going on in the third period? I like this team, I really do, this third period stuff just bothers me is all...

Still, onward!

Friday, October 30, 2009


Its that time of the year kiddies. Time to break out the slutty stockings for the girls and the proton packs for the boys and get your Halloween on. This is my favorite time of year and the only thing that gets me more excited is when RPI plays Union.

I hate Union. Hate, hate, hate. They are the Mets, Jets, Nets of Capital region hockey. The fact that they have had a slightly better program over the last five years has been nothing short of infuriating.

This is the year though. I really, truly believe RPI has turned a corner and will turn over a new leaf/page this weekend by whupping up on Union as well as Army. Its crazy to think that I am picking RPI to sweep a weekend 2 weeks in a row but these are the heady go-go Aughts that we are living in. Of course, USCHO disagrees with me but I think Pumpkinhead will be visiting them soon enough!

USCHO's picks:

Rensselaer @ Union (non-conf)
Union, as mentioned in the column, has played strong third periods so far this season. RPI, on the other hand, has had a recent history of collapsing under pressure after 40 minutes of play. The Engineers will have to prove me wrong before I start picking them with any consistency. 5-2 Dutch.

Army @ Rensselaer
Will RPI suffer a let-down in this post-Union trap game? Unlikely ... but always a possibility. That said, the 'Tute is 3-0-0 at home. Make it 4-0-0: 4-3 RPI.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Win Some, Lose Some

Well, RPI did something that was expected of them and won the weekend! However, the bad news for RPI supporters (and this blog especially) is apparently the knee/leg injury suffered by Tyler. This blog has been a huge supporter of Tyler and he was really coming through this year (being the leading point producer and all). I have not heard what the latest is on his injury but I am wishing him a swift recovery!

I was up in Albany this weekend and managed to catch the second game. Wow is RPI fast and pressing in the offensive zone! I couldn't believe I was watching the same RPI program play. Of course, it was a lower tier opponent only playing their second game of the season in a back to back situation but still, man did RPI look good! I think its safe to say that RPI finally has the horses to compete with Seth's offensive scheme. And boy does the Second Round Draft Pick (SRDP from now on) look great. He gets open for a lot of shots.

The only area of concern remains the third period. RPI played a terrible third period in its Friday night game and SA said as much in his post game comments. I don't know what the heck happens in the third period at these games. Its definitely a function of SA's coaching style so the best we can hope for is that RPI plays and gets the lead in the first 2 and holds on for dear life in the third.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Cake Walk Non-Conference?

Well this weekend, RPI goes up against the "mighty" programs of Sacred Heart and AIU. I didn't even realize these teams had hockey programs, much less ones that could do damage.

RPI should be overlooking NO ONE at any point on their schedule but if you were to say to me, "Me would you be disappointed if RPI didn't come away with 4 points this weekend?" I would have to say YES. Between AIU and SH, they have a combined record of 0-0-0 (that's right NO games so far) and RPI is getting warmed up. This should be a cake walk. RPI 2-1 over SH, 4-2 over AIU.

Sacred Heart at Rensselaer
This really should be a walk-over for RPI, but that's what many people thought about the Quinnipiac–Bentley game last week. I'll take the 'Tute in this one, but not by a landslide: 3-2.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Well, Ok Then

RPI, not so great when they travel outside the friendly confines of the East Coast. The Denver trip, the Florida trip, and now we can chalk up another one in Alaska.

The lads put up a good fight but fell 3-0 in the first game before salvaging a tie in the second game. York was predictably great in both games. RPI put up 24 and 25 shots respectively in the contests but in both third periods only managed 4 shots and 2 shots.

So, despite not having flown to Alaska to see the games (which I would have loved, if I had hit the lottery), can I ask, what the heck happened in the third periods? Have we not seen similar let downs in the ultimate period by Appert's teams before? What goes on between the second and third periods to allow this to happen? Now, I am willing to give a pass since they flew all the way to Alaska for the tired legs but considering what has come before, this bears close attention going forward.

I am looking forward to another week of RPI hockey and readers of ALL genders!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Weekend Is Here!

Let's crank it up for some RPI games.

The lads are chilling in Anchorage Alaska for this weekend and will be going up against Alaskan teams who are happy not to be flying 2,000 miles just to be playing someone. If RPI doesn't mind the jet lag (and after that disastrous Colorado trip, it might be an issue) and York plays well, I think they should take both games. However, the realist in me thinks they have enough legs to win the first one and tank in the second one.

USCHO seems to be picking my brain on this and has argued the same way. Thoughts?

Rensselaer vs. Alaska-Anchorage
(Brice Alaska Gold Rush; Fairbanks, Alaska)
If the Engineers can adequately adjust to the time difference, I think they can put away the almost-home team. 3-1 RPI.

Rensselaer @ Alaska
(Brice Alaska Gold Rush; Fairbanks, Alaska)
This time, it's the actual home team making the most of an immense home-ice (not to mention home-state, home-time zone, and home-latitude) advantage. 4-1 Alaska.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ok, Ok, I have been slow

Whoops, RPI goes INTO UNH and gets a win and now I am blogging about it 5 days later? Yeesh BlackCap, what the hell is going on?

Its been a weird couple of months but I swear I am back into the swing of all things Cherry and White.

In USCHO's preseason preview, they indicated this season will hinge on "Goaltending will be a question mark to start, but things seem to be on the upswing in Troy following a disastrous ’08-09 campaign."

And certainly Rippee's York is making it happen. I mean 37 saves on 38 shots?!? Awesome start to the season. And can I just add that my favorite RPI player of the last few season, Tyler Helfrich had 2 assists? Can RPI keep this up? Well, if I can actually get some pre-game previews going again, I will answer that question tomorrie!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Now the Season Can Commence

Well, that was a little rough last night against Mass eh? Glad to see by boy Tyler get into the scoring mix early with a goal and an assist. Also, good job by the boys putting up 30 shots "for". Still, York, what is up with that save percentage my good sir? 5 goals on 26 shots?

Still, I can't get too down on the lads, its early in the season and this is Hockey East opponents after all. I am really reserving judgment until after the Alaska games.

So, I am not going to grind my teeth about tomorrow's game against UNH. I think RPI keeps it close but ultimately falls. Either way, I am glad hockey is back!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Welcome Back!

Wow, has it really been since March since I posted? Lazy, lazy man that I am, sorry!

However, the season is now beginning. Puck drop in two days! And I am back on the RPI bandwagon.

Is this a make or break year for one particular coach? I say yes. This RPI team you will see before you is Seth's team, his recruits, his playing style. There were flashes shown of RPI's potential last season. The goaltending kept them in games their defense was actively trying to lose. York is back and now is the time to see why he was a draft pick and prized recruit. Can everything come together for a run to at least the final four of the ECAC?

The polls say no (what do they know?). USCHO has RPI 8th in the coaches, 10th in the media. Based on past performance, I can't say they are wrong initially. I think this team will be better, I think they will be faster and better scorers.

The first game occurs against UPEI. They are Canadian, can probably play hockey pretty well and will offer a good test to see how RPI is doing on O, D and in net. I really have no idea how PEI will fare but I can't wait to find out what RPI does.

Let's get it on!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Good, Bad, Ugly

Ok, so the season is over. One of the worst win loss records in memory and yet an almost magical playoff run that basically made the season a "draw" in my mind. I could go over the season in huge recaps but I am a lazy, lazy man. Instead, I will give you the good, bad and ugly of the season as a recap.

The Ugly:

Shots on Goal. RPI played 34 regular season games. Guess how many times they out shot their opponent? 8, 8 times! In fact, RPI was out shot 1047 to 858 (RPI). RPI averaged 25 shots a game sure but their defense gave up 30 or more shots in a game 17 times! In fact, opponents averaged 30 shots per game. Clearly the defense needs to step up big time to rectify this ugly statistic from the season.

The Bad:

Next to last in lots of categories. The ECAC is a 12 team league. RPI was 11th in PPG, power play percentage, goals against and GAA. 10th in goals, assists, goals per game and empty net goals against. As anemic as the defense was, the offense was worse.

The Good:

Finally, here we are at the good. What can be taken away from this season that puts a smile to your face? Allen York. As a freshman (drafted in 2007) York posted a save percentage above .900. He also recorded the only shutout of the season. Oh, and did I mention he was a freshman? Couple that with the top 4 scorers being either freshmen or sophomores and the future looks bright indeed for the cherry and white. Polacek 14th in the league in scoring. Not so great in individual categories but I think they have the young guns to change that in the next few years.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Backs To The Wall, The Boys Fought Hard

Wow, what a weekend!!!!

Despite being outshot 32-14 (15-6 in the third period alone), RPI managed to win the first game against Cornell 1-0! With York in net. Cullen scoring the game winner. Of course, the next night, Rippeee got blown out which set up the pivotal game 3 in Ithaca NY.

Down 4-1 going into the third period, RPI almost came all the way back, scoring 2 goals in the final frame and actually outshooting the Big Red for the entire game. Alas, it was not enough and RPI is thinking about finals and Frear Park at this date on Monday.

Still, what fight the lads showed. What heart. What confidence in the young guns by SA! Really, can the season start next week with the new recruits already? People over at USCHO are already chomping at the bit for next season.

A full recap of the season and a look ahead will be upcoming in a few days but I think I will just end with this for right now:

Here's to old RPI, her fame may never die.
Here's to old Rensselaer, she stands today without a peer.
Here's to those olden days,
Here's to those golden days,
Here's to the friends we made at dear old RPI.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Color Coded

Here we go. RPI beat the Big Green and now are matched up against the Big Red. The last game Cornell played was waaaaay back in February 28th (an OT winner over Brown). Could RPI be meeting a slumping Red much like they met a slumping Green? Well, after a stellar January, Cornell went 4-4 in February and 5-6-1 since January 23rd.

Sure that rink in Ithaca (its GORgeous!) is loud and uninviting. But now RPI must be feeling like its playing with house money. Starting a bunch of freshmen, seeing them score, led by a Frosh goaltender AND a sweep??? I think they are playing loose and won't be indimidated by Cornell or their fans. To keep the lucky streak going, I will pick Cornell this weekend to win in 3 but obviously, I am hoping for a different result.

USCHO's exhaustive roundup.

No. 11 Rensselaer @ No. 2 Cornell

The basics: Cornell swept the series, 3-0 and 4-1. Freshman defenseman Mike Bergin is out for the year, and hasn’t played since early December. Senior forward Kurt Colling was out last weekend, but is probable to play this weekend. Sophomore forward Joe Devin hasn’t played in the Big Red’s last three games, and Evan Barlow and Joe Scali didn’t skate in the season finale at Brown. Forward Tyler Roeszler hasn’t laced up since early February, but none of these are confirmed injuries: head coach Mike Schafer was unavailable for comment, so the absences are of unknown significance.

Rensselaer is perhaps two wins away from total absolution. Following a horrific regular season, the Engineers finally clicked in a meaningful and tangible way by edging Dartmouth out of the tournament by 3-2 (ot) and 3-1 scores. It was RPI’s first six-goal weekend since the North Country split eight weeks back, and also marked the fewest goals allowed in a weekend since the second week in January (also three). The much-maligned power play failed to show up again, but the penalty kill held the Big Green to one-for-seven and Allen York stopped 58 shots in his first taste of NCAA postseason.

Cornell flew right through mid-January, by playing Cornell hockey and winning Cornell wins. The offense was good for three or four goals a game, Ben Scrivens and the bruising defense rarely surrendered more than one or two, and life was good in Ithaca. But since Yale tipped the Big Red 4-3 at Lynah on January 23, things have seemed a little out-of-whack for the Red. The team is 5-6-1 down the stretch and was pressed into four overtime games (in which it went 2-1-1). The defense allowed two four-goal games and a fiver in its last six, but the scoring has prevented the situation from escalating into a full-on meltdown. The power play has been a big reassurance for Schafer and the Big Red, clicking along at nearly 22 percent in league play. The PK is also solid, functioning at a roughly 88 percent kill rate.

Following a few weeks of consistent efforts and dramatically improved quality of play, RPI suddenly dropped a couple of eminently winnable games. Just as coach Seth Appert began to worry about how much more his team could take, the Engineers pulled together through exceptional leadership and resilient pride.

“We really lost our belief in the month of February,” began Rensselaer head coach Seth Appert. The coach praised captain Matt Angers-Goulet for successfully buoying the troops during tough times though. “I think a lot of teams going through some of the struggles we went through would have very little spirit or life left in them this week,” he said after complimenting A-G’s hard work.

Last weekend, RPI finally saw some dividends from its months of hard work … and this was no chump change, either.

“We played very good playoff-style hockey: blocking shots, finishing checks, taking care of the puck, knocking up a lot of odd-man rushes — things of that nature — and staying out of the penalty box,” praised the coach, who counted 55 blocked shots in two games against Dartmouth, “and that’s a good recipe for success,” he said.

The sweep wasn’t a product of finally being on the right side of what had been an endless string of unlucky bounces, Appert proclaimed. Bounces, he said, aren’t really in his vocabulary.

“I’m not a big believer in bounces. I just don’t believe in ‘em,” he stated. “I think that you get what you earn, and our lack of success in the season wasn’t because of bad bounces, and our success this weekend wasn’t because of good bounces. It was because of hard work. You earn everything you get, nobody gives you anything. I’m a firm believer in that in hockey, and also in life.”

“We played with a little more determination and collective will than we did throughout the season,” he assessed. Now that his charges know what it feels like to earn a win, Appert believes they can avoid making the little-yet-critical errors that accumulate into losses. “When you lose a lot of close games, sometimes those little things can be the difference.”

“I think we played a similar style (to how we’d been playing), but I just think we did everything a little bit better and perhaps with a little bit more urgency and passion than we have in the regular season.”

As for Cornell, the Engineers have learned one thing for certain from their two defeats at the hands of the Big Red: don’t fall behind.

“They’re a tough team to play from behind against. That’s their comfort level, and they’re good at it, they’re good defensively. They just don’t give you a lot of opportunities to play from behind,” the coach stressed, further mentioning how Cornell had built early and ultimately insurmountable leads against RPI during the regular season.

For the ‘Tute to triumph, not only will it have to play with poise, determination and confidence, but with a bit of a chip on its shoulder as well.

“We’re going to be aggressive because that’s who we are; that’s when we play our best,” said Appert. “We’re going to be physical, we’re gonna go after them, and we’re going to play the style that we have to play when we’ve had success this season, and that we played with at Dartmouth last weekend.”

It’s crucial to keep the Red off the scoreboard early, the coach believes, as the Red defense can be positively punishing when allowed to dictate the play. The visitors will have to play tight defense, but also pay the price in the offensive zone by getting into Scrivens’ part of the ice.

“I think we’re willing and ready, and have the understanding of that’s where you need to get at this time of the year no matter who you’re playing, and probably even moreso against Cornell.”

Do the upstart Engineers have another upset in ‘em? Puckman Nation is eagerly waiting to distribute some custom-made “Get Out of a Bad Season Free” cards if they do.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Well Slap Me With A Pickle!

Whodathunkit? I mean seriously? In a posting last week, I did point out that Darmouth was slumping and their team was getting blown out but really??? A sweep for the Cherry and White? And led by freshman, including York??????

Well, RPI may or may not do it against Cornell this next weekend but I am savoring the win this week. And, next year is suddenly looking brighter with all the young guys stepping up. Perhaps we are seeing the inklings of RPI's fabeled turnaround at last?

More on this weekend's matchups in a bit but for right now. Go Red, Go White!

Friday, March 06, 2009


To say I am not "up" for this first round ECAC series with the Big Green is an understatement. I just find myself almost not caring at all. Of course, I will be listening to WRPI, Troy, 91.5 both nights (I don't see RPI extending the series) hoping beyond hope for some Appert inspired turnaround and then going on USCHO's forum to hear the same complaints about the team (lack of offensive punch, defense like pylons, Appert saying the same shit over and over) and then what will this season have accomplished?

I will delve into that more in the offseason but first, Dartmouth, at Dartmouth. RPI gets sweeped in my book. USCHO does a nice breakdown of the series which I have reprinted below:

No. 11 Rensselaer @ No. 6 Dartmouth

The basics: Dartmouth swept the season series with two 5-2 wins. The Engineers are expected to be healthy, with the exception of the long-term injury to frosh defenseman Mike Bergin. Second-year forward Andrew Owsiak (8-9-17) and junior forward Josh Gillam (2-4-6) are probables for Dartmouth, but third-year striker Rob Smith has been out all year.

Rensselaer and head coach Seth Appert are still awaiting the high-energy, up-tempo offensive game that the coach prefers to orchestrate; this year’s team just doesn’t have the dynamic talent to make that vision a reality. The ‘Tute has topped three goals just four times all year, and enters the postseason having scored only five times in its last five games. Appert deigned his defense “one of the better — if not the best — D-corps in the league, with a top goalie tandem” before the season began, but the woes in the offensive end have led to team-wide pressing, which has in turn led to defensive lapses. Despite a depressing record, the Trojan six has turned it up in recent weeks with better energy and a more deliberate and physical game. Belittle the offense all you like; it won’t spare you any bruises.

Dartmouth would easily rate as this season’s most surprising team, if it weren’t for that Blue Man Group from New Haven. The pack jumped out to a 5-2 start and an 8-4 record by New Year’s, but like many young teams began to struggle as the season’s minutes accumulated. The Big Green went 3-3-3 in January, then stumbled to a 3-5-0 result in February. The Green are offensively loaded, with 11 players boasting double-digit points overall and 17 goal-scorers, but one of their most noteworthy members has got to be rookie netminder Jody O’Neill. The freshman has started 28 games already, has made the most saves in the league (698 against the ECAC), and ranks fifth in the conference with a .928 league save percentage. It may not be the most veteran bunch, but sometimes overestimating the unknown can prove more motivating than properly assessing a known quantity.

As always, RPI head coach Seth Appert is a quality source for solid quotes. He doesn’t beat around the bush, he sees the game in a creative but comprehensible way, and as much as anything else, he’s extremely high-energy.

“There’s three areas where they’ve been very good,” he said of Dartmouth, diving right in. “One is in goal, and obviously Jody O’Neill’s had an outstanding freshman year, so we need to try to get to him. He’s given up quite a few more goals in the last month than he probably did in any previous time in his freshman year, so we’re going to need to continue to get on him, get to the net, get traffic on him, and make the game difficult on a young goaltender.”

The rough patch Appert referenced was O’Neill’s dirty-dozen weekend in the North Country two weeks back. In a busy 27 hours, the goalie ushered five Clarkson goals twineward, then another seven for St. Lawrence the following night in his — and many of his teammates’ — first-ever trip to the northernmost reaches of ECAC Hockey.

“I think the (other) two other areas that they’re very dangerous and a very talented team is in transition and then also on their power play,” Appert continued in an efficient, effervescent clip. “In transition they’re a very good rush team, they create a lot of offense on the rush, they activate their defensemen on the rush, and they’re a very, very talented and dangerous team if you’re going to give them three-on-twos, and four-on-threes, and two-on-ones, et cetera. We need to make sure we stop their transition game by taking care of the puck and being in good defensive position against them.

“And then obviously on the power play … our special teams have not been good this year. We need them to be this weekend, but we also want this series to be a five-on-five series. We want to be physical, we want to be aggressive — that’s when we play our best, when we’re aggressive and we’re physical — but at the same time we want this to be a five-on-five series. That plays to our advantage, to our strengths, if the power plays for both teams are five or under (per game).”

The Engineers allowed 29 of their 75 total league goals against on the penalty kill. Their 79.6 percent PK figure was worst in the league, and only two teams averaged more penalty minutes per game than the ‘Tute.

In goal, Appert has a critical decision to make. Senior Mathias Lange has had flashes of brilliance and even dependability this year, but has fallen on hard times in the second half. First-year challenger Allen York has provided some quality minutes since Lange began to falter, and both have demonstrated postseason know-how before.

“I’m not sure (who to start), I’m torn on that still. Mathias Lange obviously is a senior and he’s got a lot of experience for us, and he played well in the playoffs last season at Yale, and I think he had his best game of the second half against St. Lawrence on Saturday night. But at the same time, Allen York, a freshman, has played very good down the stretch for us, and has had extensive runs deep in the playoffs. He’s won two Alberta championships in a row, two Doyle Cups in a row, and taken his team to the Canadian Royal Bank Championships (all with the Camrose Kodiaks) two years in a row. He’s not only played well down the stretch this year, but he’s also had a lot of postseason success in his career. So I think we have two good options, and it’s possible that both could go this weekend.”

Overall, Appert just hopes that his charges have their heads on straight and their eyes set dead-ahead.

“It doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past, we can’t change that, no one was happy with the regular season that we had. But that has no bearing and no effect on our performance Friday night unless we let it. So we’ve put that away, we’ve learned some hard lessons, and now we’ve got to get re-energized and excited about playing playoff hockey because these are the opportunities that you dream about as a young kid.”

On the Dartmouth side, head coach Bob Gaudet has been around too long to dare overlook an underdog like Rensselaer.

“They’re a really good team. They’re a team that’s good in goal, it’s a well-coached team that’s very skilled,” he began. “They do a lot of creative things offensively: they get a lot of people involved in the rush, they get a lot of people involved in the offensive zone, defensemen coming down and interchanging with forwards. They’re a very creative team, and they’re a team that’s actually quite physical too. They’re a team that finishes a lot of checks.”

Looking at his own roster, Gaudet can’t be blamed for feeling proud of his boys’ results thus far.

“The interesting thing about our team is that we were picked 11th, and some picked us 12th (in the preseason polls), and our kids are a pretty humble group. They’re pretty confident in what they can do, but we feel that we have to be at our best. We have to have our A-game to be successful, and it doesn’t matter who we play against.”

Even Gaudet is surprised at the prolific youth of his club.

“We have a very young team. For the last few weeks, basically, we’ve been playing four or five combination juniors and seniors on our team, so the rest of our team has been freshmen and sophomores. So there’s a lot of times — a surprising amount of times, and it’s not by design — that I watch video (and notice) that there’s six freshmen on the ice for us: two defensemen, a goalie and three forwards. And any combination of units that we have is really young.

“With that, we have guys (for whom) it’s a brand new experience. And so when we go into the playoffs, we have a bunch of guys that have never been in college playoffs. So these guys are going to be working their hardest to be at their best, because that’s what they know they have to do.”

A former goaltender himself, Gaudet knows his way around a crease … and how tough it really is to weather the strains of a full season’s work, both physically and mentally. That’s why he’s so impressed with O’Neill, for whom the coach seems to have a genuine admiration.

“Jody is an unbelievable strong kid. Fundamentally, he’s got great technical attributes. But what I like most about him is his mental toughness and his ability to battle, and that’s something that you really can’t teach. He’s a guy that can let in a goal that he thinks he should have, and come back and make huge saves. He’s been really consistent.

“In my 20-whatever it’s been, 25, 26 years, he is the best young goaltender that I’ve ever coached in terms of what he brings to the table. He has pretty good size … he plays big too, he’s upright quite a bit, and he has good technical abilities, but he’s unbelievably tough mentally. He’s been without question our biggest factor in our games.”

Like all his players, the coach and his staff have watched for tell-tale signs of fatigue as the goalie’s first collegiate season wore on. Weight loss, diminished performance in practice, games, or the weight room, or any number of other indications can tell you that a player needs a rest, but apparently O’Neill is as good to go as ever.

“We’ve tried to keep our goalie sessions short and to the point. The physical fatigue works toward mental fatigue. He’s actually surprisingly fresh, which is encouraging for me.”

Time to see if the rest of the Big Green can play as fresh as they did in the fall.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Limping To The Finish

You could see the team being deflated after the Florida tourney last year. They got blown out by nationally ranked teams and then played the second half of the ECAC schedule like they just wanted the year over with.

This year, there was a slight bump in the middle of the season where the team found its scoring touch, the defense did NOT act like pylons and Lange was not platooned that it looked like RPI might actually make a run. The home and home series against Union took care of all of that.

Now this team is just on cruise control and looking forward to finals (if any college student actually looks FORWARD to finals). This last weekend included a 4-2 loss to Clarkson (out shot 11-4 in the first period, 4-0 after 2, Tyler being the only bright spot in the third) and a 2-0 shutout on Senior Night (Lange, predictably in net, 0-6 on the powerplay, allowing 2, count em TWO powerplay goals).

So what is coming up for RPI this weekend? A first round matchup with Dartmouth. If I was a betting man, I would put it all on the Big Green. Seriously, what campus does not have a mascot for its teams? Although, I might give the big D a pass for having a de facto mascot like this:

Let us take a quick look at Dartmouth shall we? 14-12-3 overall, 8-5-2 at home. Games against RPI, 5-2 win and, surprise, surprise, a 5-2 win! Well that doesn't bode well does it? Especially with RPI's stellar 3-10-1 away record. The only positives is that Dartmouth has lost 3 of their last 4 games by a COMBINED score of 8 to 17. They are reeling but methinks will get healthy against and overmatched and, more importantly, unmotivated RPI squad.

More thoughts later in the week but clearly they aren't going to get any more positive!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Appert Is At Least Realisitic

Play the frosh goalie. Get the young kids out there. Sure RPI lost both games last weekend but you are starting to see the future is now for RPI hockey.

“Allen [York] was outstanding tonight,” said Rensselaer coach Seth Appert (per USCHO).

I really don't have much to say on the current state of affairs in Troy but will certainly be rooting for RPI to beat Clarkson on Friday. Of course, with the "everyone gets a ride on the village bicycle" playoff attitude of the ECAC, I will certainly be all over all playoff action coming up in 2 weeks (which in all likelihood will end Rippee's season). Until the end, I hope they at least split between Lange and York to keep seasoning the sauce for a very important season next year.

Friday, February 20, 2009

And Now Comes The Part Of The Season If I Can Muster Up Any Interest

Last weekend was a bit of a back breaker for me, I must admit. 2 weeks left in the regular season and the lads are going for another C&C series this weekend. With 'Gate on the "upswing" (,16682/ThisWeekinECACHockeyFeb192009.html) and Cornell in second place, I suffer no illusions about what awaits RPI this weekend.

So, the question is, how can I remain interested in RPI hockey when the season is so clearly circling the drain? I think for me, its all about the play of the young kids. Considering the highly ranked recruiting class and the over performing underclassman, the future is the key. Soooo, play all the freshman you can, play York all the time, may as well season them as much as possible because really, for me, next year is make or break for Appert.

As go the youth next year, so goes he.

Predicition: RPI loses both this weekend.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Well That Sucked

Back to back losses against Union. Damn Appert, suckering me in like he always does. Sure next year's freshmen coupled with the youngsters aging a year might put RPI in national prominence a year or 2 from now but what about THIS YEAR?

Appert is also extremely infuriating in his press conferences. He always says the same thing (from USCHO): “There’s no tangible changes [to be made] ,” he said. “I think we’re playing pretty good hockey." ARRRGHHHH

This year my friends, well it looks like no home ice advantage and an early exit from the ECAC playoffs. I don't mean to be negative but couple this with a busy week at work (thus no posts) means I am in no mood to coddle this team for the remainder of the year.

The only thing that can pick up my spirits this year is that the Big Red Freakout is this weekend. I loved going to that game with my dad and the plastic horns. Color me blase for this year's incarnation.

Brown @ Rensselaer
With all due respect to the tradition, talent, and tenacity of Brown Hockey ... this just isn't their year. 4-1 Engineers.

Yale @ Rensselaer
Bulldogs wrest another road win (they're 8-1-0 on the road already this year), maintaining the status of top dog in the fight in the ECAC. 4-2 Yale.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Home And Home

I hate Union. The reasons are many but basically it stems from growing up an RPI fan and being entranced by their then current success (I grew up in the 80s) and their long history of success and the number of NHLers that came through their doors. Usually geographic rivalries are the most intense. Look at Michigan/Michigan State, USC/UCLA, Alabama/Auburn. No matter how good or bad either side of that equation is in a particular year, they always get up for the rivalry game.

Union is the closest D1 school to RPI and was always seen by me as a young upstart trying to get the respected hockey crown from RPI. Of course, it didn't help matters that over the last years of the Fridgen reign, Union was out recruiting and out performing RPI on the ice. The rivarly now had teeth that Union was competitive and in fact beating RPI at RPI's own game. Add the creation of the Governor's Cup where the main draw was the 2 teams squaring off in addition to their regular season games and for me, the rivalry has increased.

Do the players get a sense of this? Heck, do even RPI fans have a sense of this? There was a thread this week on USCHO about how many RPI fans still view Clarkson as the main toe to toe rival (of course the 1 minute chant still remains).

Still, I am going with the importance of these 2 games, not just for the rivalry factor but because this is a huge weekend for the ECAC standings. RPI needs both of these games to keep marching towards home ice advantage during at least some of the playoffs.

I say that they sweep the home and home this weekend. Let's get it on!

USCHO's picks:

Union @ Rensselaer
In a matchup of average offenses and bad defenses, I'm going to play the odds and pick the home Engineers. The teams look very closely matched right now; 3-2 RPI.

Rensselaer @ Union
Home teams win in the travel-partner tango, 4-1 Dutchmen.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Oh You Third Period

How I hate you. How you ruin many a RPI game.

Why, RPI has taken many a lead or a tied game into the 3rd period before getting blown out. Is it conditioning of the body that needs to be stepped for THE SECOND CONSECUTIVE SEASON? Is it the conditioning of the mind?

Whatever the reason, it is clear RPI does not bring it in the third (consistently). Three goals were given up in the third period against the Big Green (who also managed to sweep the season series against the cherry and white). Man if this isn't a CONSTANT during the Appert time period, I don't know what is.

The only thing I can look forward to is the home and home this weekend against RPI's true rival, Union. Saw what you want to about Clarkson and the 1 minute chant but I have always considered Union as the whippersnapper upstart to RPI's long, storied tradition of a program. The fact that they have been getting the better of the lads over the last few years has not been lost on me and I am asking, no begging for a sweep!

Friday, January 30, 2009


The only game on the sched is tonight at the Big Green. They have a surprisingly similar record home and away 5-3-1. 7-4-1 overall in the ECAC. 4th in the ECAC. All of these stats have "loss" written all over them but I think RPI is getting on a roll now. Its their only game for the next week and I think Appert will have the troops frothing at the mouth for this one.

Of course, as I said in the last column and sort of hinted at in previous columns, as goes the offense, so goes RPI. This is a team that cannot win a 2-1 game. Lange is good but his D in front of him is not. RPI really needs to score 4-5 goals to have a chance of winning the game and not imploding in the 3rd period. Will the youngin's step up? Will they go all out for 60 minutes? I think the answer is yes.

USCHO projects them losing 4-3 but I think if RPI can get 3 they have a good shot at a win.

Monday, January 26, 2009

.500 Here We Come!

Well RPI has righted the ship. Of course, in this sense, "righted" means the cherry and white are playing .500 hockey instead of getting blown out every weekend.

Expectations were mixed for me going into this season. Clearly there was talent on this team looking at it pre-Christmas break in 2007 and they promptly fell off the face of the map in all of 2008.

And yet,

Here they are at the start of 2009 they are 3-4-1. Not hugely impressive but much much better then their 1-6-0 November. We have to come to grips with the fact that .500 is about as good as RPI gets this year. Still, there are positive signs that this program is going in the right direction.

Exhibit 1 is clearly the 7-6 OT win over SLU, coming back from 5-3 in the third to take a 6-5 win. Polacek had 2 goals, the AG brothers had a great night and Tyler chipped in with an assist. All of these guys just mentioned are young. Very young. So you can possibly see good results next season from this core of scoring players (when is the last time you heard that in relation to RPI?, probably not since the CEO line).

The Clarkson game was another OT affair but sadly RPI was on the losing end of this one. Tyler got a goal and an assist and kudos to Appert for starting Lange 2 games in a row again. I really think consistency in net is as important as anything else and you can't get that with a constant rotation (no matter how much upside York has).

Next weekend just one game at Dartmouth. Let's see if we can't get it to 4 wins in January.

Friday, January 23, 2009

North Country Preview

Ahh Upstate New York. The general term for folks living there and used by anyone in Manhattan referring to the area North of Westchester. We Upstaters know the differences though. Western New York, The Southern Tier, Central New York, Capital District and then the North Country (or Adirondacks or whatever else you would like to term it).

This weekend, the boys from the Capital District travel north to the North Country to play SLU and Clarkson (1 minute to go and they STILL suck!). Both teams are below RPI in the current ECAC standings ( and with Union 1 point ahead of RPI, RPI could really make a movement in the standings with 2 wins this weekend. When isn't that the case but still, some separation would be nice.

I think the team can do it. Appert has them playing at least at a competitive ECAC level so I full expect 2 wins this weekend. With Lange being trusted to start back to back games last weekend, I fully expect Appert to do the same this weekend. Of course, if the team plays really well on Friday night, maybe look for York against the weaker Clarkson on Saturday.

This could be the weekend RPI starts to chart a different story in the ECAC this season and I expect them to come through. You?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Hit

Ok, I have now seen the hit and the resulting lack of a mid-ice handshake by Cornell players.

For those who have not seen it, please check it out here:

To me, this is clearly a check in continuation of a play. The reason why this caused so much controversy is due to the Cornell player going awkwardly into the boards, not the check itself. Of course, the check was more of a push but when I looked at it, I didn't see necessarily anything outside the bounds of when I grew up playing hockey (or now in rec league). Should he have gone in with the body rather than the hands? Probably but its the end result of the play not the play itself that always seems to be the focus.

Of course the ECAC has overreacted:

There seems to be some debate on whether its a 2 or 3 game suspension. Unless I hear different, it seems doubtful that Burg will be back in action this weekend. With 4 points in 23 games, Berg is not an offensive juggernaut but he is one of our woeful D and leads the team in PIM with 72 (the next highest only has 46). Whether the PIM went up because of all the penalties assessed, well there might be some merit but RPI's D which has been soft is losing their guy with edge.

This season I have read more listserv and message board postings about the quality of the ECAC refs. I have not had a chance to see many RPI games due to my location so I ask you, is really that bad? Was this an overreaction by the refs and then the league?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another Promising Weekend

Well, 1-1 verus the C schools was pretty respectable. They certainly brought it against Colgate and well Cornell is ranked 5th in the country, what do you expect?

I have no comment on the end of game shennanigoats as I did not see the game and I only know from what I have read on the email chains. All I can say is that things happen in hockey, it can be a chippy sport. However the game ended, you should do the handshake. These kids (despite several being drafted) aren't pros yet. Let's make sure a sense of sportsmanship remains!

Once again, AG did some scoring and I was glad to see my boy Tyler back into the score sheet with 2 assists in the Gate game. Lange got it done again and only let in power play goals. RPI was once again 1-7 on the powerplay. They were also 0-5 on the power play against Cornell on Sat night.

For whatever reason, Appert has saved this season from complete failure. The question remains, can he get them back into the upper tier orbits of the ECAC? Can RPI actually have home games for the ECAC playoffs? Can this team, as young as it is, position itself for a hell of a run at the end of this year and next season? Only time will tell.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Finally a Winning Weekend!

1-0-1 is what the weekend scoreboard will say but really, it means much more to the RPI program. Too often this season and the second half of last season was 0-2-0 or 0-1-1. Hardly a way to climb up the standings in the ECAC and reestablish the RPI program which has been downtrodden for far too long (not a small task for Appert, admittedly).

RPI once again started out both games on fire. This time, they came away with a tie and win! They outshot the Q 9-7 in the first, and despite the letdown in the third (when have we heard that before), RPI managed to skate away with a tie. The next night in Jersey (my home hood), they put the hurt on Princeton 5-1. Once again, strong first outshooting their opponent 11-8.

One really has to talk about the play of Alex AG. This guy has been simply on fire over the last 6 games. Is this finally the indication that Appert can recruit for RPI successfully? Huge fan of Tyler (as people who read this blog know) but Alex AG has come out of nowhere in the first 10 games to really set the world on fire with scoring not just assists (which seems to be TH's provence).

Next weekend is the big test to see if RPI can come full circle this season and get back on the winning side. Colgate and Cornell await (thankfully in the confines of HFH) and we can see if the young guns can actually make it happen 2 weekends in a row.

Monday, January 05, 2009

New Year, New Results?

Sorry I have been away but with almost 2 full weeks off and lots of states/people to visit, there is precious little time to blog about the cherry and white.

Last weekend saw RPI get their lunch handed to them at the Denver Cup with a 6-2 loss to BU and a slightly closer 4-3 loss to Holy Cross. RPI did manage to outshoot HC 13-4 in the opening frame which has not happened often this season.

The HC game was also notable in that Appert pulled a "Paul Maurice circa 2007" and pulled York with 2+ minutes to go in the third period. For those who don't remember, when Toronto was trying like hell for the last playoff spot, Paul would pull the goalie about 5 minutes to go in the game. It worked in a few games but ultimately a lot of empty netters resulted.

Has Appert gotten desperate? What are we to make out of these 2 games? As one commentator of this blog noted, it is good to play top level talent and see where you are at. If that is the case, then RPI is certainly not in the same league as BU and kinda close to HC. I think they should challege themselves via scheduling (although I think it directly led to last year's midseason meltdown) but clearly the results are that RPI is a mid to lower level ECAC team.

Can we expect similar results in the second half of the season? Let's take a look at RPI's upcoming sched...

Fri. 1/9/2009 @ Quinnipiac
7:00 ET
Sat. 1/10/2009 @ Princeton
4:00 ET
Fri. 1/16/2009 Colgate
7:00 ET
Sat. 1/17/2009 Cornell
7:00 ET

They lost 5-1 to the Q and 4-1 to Princeton in previous matchups. They will play the 2 C's again later in the season so we don't know how well they will do then. Clearly, if there is going to be any second half turnaround, RPI needs to score more than 1 goal and probably win a few of these games. I think the C's will be a lost cause if RPI can't step it up against the Gotham area teams. It was good to see Angers-Goulet turn it on as it is an affirmation of Appert's recruiting skills. He basically WAS the scoring out there in Denver and if the underclassmen can start turning it on, RPI might have something to build on for next year. Time will tell.