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Luthi Excited to Finally Play on 'Home Ice'

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, October 12, 2005

Everyone on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute men's hockey team is thrilled about the trip to the Nye Frontier Classic in Anchorage, Alaska.

"I'm really looking forward to that," RPI coach Dan Fridgen said. "I've never been out there, and I've always heard that it's a great spot. To be able to have that kind of an experience, not just as a coach, but for the rest of the team, is something that's going to be lasting with them."

But junior defenseman Jake Luthi is the most excited of all. That's because he gets to go home.

Luthi is from Palmer, Alaska, which is 40 miles from Anchorage. He will be on the Sullivan Arena ice Friday night when the Engineers face the host Seawolves in the first round.

Luthi attended many Seawolves ' games while growing up in Palmer. He will have plenty of support from his family and friends.

"Before I came to RPI on a recruiting trip, [Fridgen] had mentioned that something like that might have been in the works," Luthi said. "I know Ken [Ralph, RPI's athletic director and a Seawolves alumus] had something to do with it. Ever since it came on the schedule, I've been real excited and really looking forward to it. It's real nice for the family."

"You go there and you watch all the games growing up. You always dream of playing in there. But I had a great opportunity to come here, and I couldn't pass it up. It worked out well. Now, I'll be able to play on the home ice."

Adjusting to the four-hour time difference, plus the long travel day, could be issues for the team. The Engineers are leaving this morning for Anchorage, with a stopover in Chicago. The team had to put players on two planes because it couldn't get enough seats for everyone on one plane.

Luthi is used to the travel, so he can help his teammates adjust.

"Four hours is a bit going up there," said Luthi, who was RPI's most improved player last season with six goals and six assists. "It's awkward getting to sleep at a decent time, and waking up at a decent time. We're going up there [today], and we'll have two full days to hopefully adjust to it."

Fridgen doesn't think the travel will be a problem.

"That's stuff that's more mental than it is physical," Fridgen said. "If you think it's going to be tough, it's going to be tough. I don't think it is. We're going to have enough rest on the way out to adjust to the time out there, and we're going to have enough time on the way back to adjust to the time coming back East."

"I don't see it playing much of a factor whatsoever. I think that's an old wives' tale."

The Engineers will face Michigan Tech at 8 p.m. Eastern time Saturday. Michigan Tech faces Vermont on Friday, and the Catamounts play the Seawolves on Saturday.

SHAVING FOR CHARITY

Luthi will be going home without his hair.

Following Friday's exhibition game against Ottawa, Luthi and Chris Hussey were the first RPI players to have their heads shaved. It's part of a year-long fundraising effort to honor Engineers senior forward Kirk MacDonald, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in April.

While raising money for cancer research, the hair that the players lose will be donated to help make wigs for chemotherapy patients.

Two players will have their heads shaved after each home game.

TICKETS ON SALE

Tickets for the ECACHL championships and the NCAA tournament East Regional at Pepsi Arena in March are on sale now.

All-session prices for the ECACHL championships (four games), which will take place March 17-18, are $48 for adults, $36 for college students with ID and $24 for children 12 and under.

All-session prices for the NCAA tournament (three games), which will be played March 25-26, are $72 for adults, and $66 for children 12 and under.

Tickets are available at the Pepsi Arena box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, charge by phone at 476-1000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com

NUMBER NINE

Union tied a team record Saturday when it allowed nine goals in its loss to Air Force in the Ice-Breaker Invitational.

It is the sixth time in the Dutchmen's Division I history that they have done that, the last time coming Oct. 31, 2003, at New Hampshire.

The other times were against Merrimack Nov. 1, 1991, Union's first-ever Division I game and the only time a visiting team has scored nine goals against the Dutchmen at home; at RPI Dec. 11, 1992; at Clarkson Feb. 20, 1993; and at Colgate Feb. 19, 2000.

The Dutchmen allowed five goals in a period to Air Force, and to Colorado College in Friday's opener. That fell one short of the team record for goals given up in a period.

ECACHL TEAM OPENERS

Four other ECACHL teams opened their seasons over the weekend.

Colgate opened in fine fashion with a 6-2 win Friday over UMass-Lowell at Starr Rink.

Marc Fulton led the Raiders with two goals and two assists, and earned ECACHL player of the week. Kyle Wilson added two goals and an assist.

St. Lawrence split two overtime games at Wisconsin.

The Saints wasted a 2-0 lead Friday and lost, 3-2. But they overcame a 1-0 deficit Saturday and won, 2-1, on Kyle Rank's shorthanded goal 10 seconds into overtime.

"We've had a lot of moral victories, but we've been kind of missing some of the real ones," Saints coach Joe Marsh told USCHO.com. "I guess it would have been some moral victory taking two games to overtime. But psychologically, our team is at the point where we've been scratching and clawing for the past few years, and it's been very difficult for us to win games like this."

Clarkson split a pair of games at Niagara.

The Golden Knights lost, 6-3, Friday despite outshooting the Purple Eagles, 52-37. They came back the next day to post a 5-2 win. David Cayer led the way with a goal and two assists.

New ECACHL member Quinnipiac lost two games to Michigan, both by two goals. The Bobcats dropped a 3-1 decision Friday, and 5-3 setback Saturday.

SERIES RETURNS

The second Commissioners' Cup Series started over the weekend.

The series is designed to create some excitement to non-conference games. The ECACHL won the inaugural Commissioners' Cup last season.

The number of participants and games have been increased this season. Fifty-three schools will participate, and 33 games are being played.

RPI and Union will be involved in Cup games this weekend. The Dutchmen will play Sacred Heart (Atlantic Hockey) in their Messa Rink opener Friday. The Engineers ' game against Michigan Tech (WCHA) will be the part of the series.

Atlantic Hockey got off to a 2-0 start. Mercyhurst beat Michigan Tech, 5-2, Saturday, and Canisius downed Robert Morris (College Hockey America), 6-4, Sunday.

LOCAL UPDATE

Once again this season, we will keep track of college hockey players from the Capital Region who are playing outside the area and how they did during the week.

Here's a look at how some of the players did last week.

Boston University sophomore forward Peter MacArthur (Clifton Park) scored a goal in the Terriers' 4-0 exhibition victory over Toronto.

New Hampshire senior forward Andrew Leach (Altamont) had a goal in the Wildcats' 6-1 exhibition win Saturday over New Brunswick.

Maine junior forward Amy Quirion (South Glens Falls) scored a power-play goal in the Black Bears' 3-1 win Saturday over Robert Morris.

Maine junior goalie Rachel Gettings (Watervliet) played the third period of Saturday's and Sunday's games against Robert Morris, and faced just two shots. She stopped them both.