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RPI's Net Gains

The Engineers Need Jordan Alford to Play to His Potential

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, October 4, 2005

TROY - Jordan Alford doesn't feel like the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey season rests on his shoulders.

Some Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute fans say otherwise.

The lanky sophomore netminder had a disappointing freshman season. He couldn't seem to get comfortable early on and let in some soft goals. Defensive breakdowns in front of him compounded the problem and he soon lost the starting job to senior Andrew Martin.

Confidence became a problem, though Alford won't comment on that.

For the season, he won only five games (5-5-1) and stopped just 88.8 percent of the shots he faced.

"I would say it was just confidence," says RPI head coach Dan Fridgen. "Maybe it was a bigger step (into college hockey) than anticipated but it seemed like he could never get on a roll and I think that's very important for a goaltender, to get on that roll, get that confidence going and it carries you on through the transition. I don't think he was able to capture that."

The Red Deer, Alb. native says he doesn't look back on the last season.

"I don't," he said. "You move on and what's in the past is in the past. And you just have to keep things positive. I tried to help the team any time I could."

Alford says his mental preparation for this season was no different than in any other offseason and like the physical program that RPI trainer Chris Thompson gave the team.

"Chris gave us a workout and as a team we all committed to those workouts," he said. "We're going to be a lot stronger (physically) because of them."

Asked about his frame of mind, Alford said, "just go stop pucks. That's it."

Alford was one of the higher-rated goaltenders in junior hockey during his days in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

His crease coverage and limited rebounds earned him the No. 3 rating among North American college-bound goalies by the National Hockey League scouting bureau.

Fridgen says Alford's "biggest asset is that he's willing to learn. He understands it was a big step and he did a lot of work getting stronger over the summer. Now that he's back, he's really focused ... and another big asset is the fact that he's got good size but he has to utilize it. Sometimes he crouches a little bit and takes that size advantage away from himself."

It would stand to reason, if RPI is to climb the standings ladder and contend in the ECAC Hockey League, Alford will have to improve dramatically.

He doesn't feel any added pressure therein, beyond what the nature of ice hockey places on any goaltender each time he's on the ice.

"I'm just here to stop pucks," he said. "I'm just one small part of the team. We're all (part of) a core group and everybody's got to be running in sync. If we're going to win, it's going to take every single one of us."