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Reason to Believe

First-year Coach Seth Appert Has Instilled a New-found Confidence in the RPI Men's Hockey Team

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, October 5, 2006

TROY - The 2006-07 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey team doesn't lack enthusiasm - or confidence.

For a team that won only eight of 22 league games last season, got swept out of the playoffs at home by a 10th-seeded team making its ascension into the league, the Engineers sound like a title contender.

Seth Appert is the main reason.

The first-year head coach has the players believing, if they subscribe to the system, they can finish much higher than the ninth place that both the league's coaches and media predict for them.

Some of the Engineers say they've noticed a rise in the level of the team's collective confidence.

"For sure," said senior center Oren Eizenman. "It's a different feeling than we've had in the past, which is nice. Everyone's been working hard. Obviously, with a new coach coming in, you want to impress. First impressions are big and you only get one chance. He's an amazing, upbeat guy and there's much more excitement."

"Confidence, maybe," says assistant captain Kevin Broad. "It's a change. There's a buzz. A buzz going around this year that we haven't had recently. We've got to take advantage of the buzz and the momentum and the confidence."

"We've always been confident," said junior right winger Andrew Lord. "I think right now we feel the chemistry is really there so maybe that does bring a little more confidence. It seems the freshmen do have confidence right off the bat because we'll have four or five (or six) of them playing each game."

"We're a lot more prepared right now (than in previous postseasons)," Lord added. "We're in great shape and we're real excited."

Senior defenseman Jake Luthi also says "the guys are really excited about the season. They feel real good. We worked real hard in the offseason, coach (Appert) has us enthused and now we're just putting it all together and hopefully we can get a good start."

Appert's main focus in preseason has been "competitive intensity."

"We need to be a competitive team," he said. "We've got a good amount of talent but not many teams in this country, especially in this competitive league (ECAC Hockey League) have an opportunity to win (a game) if they don't compete at (their) highest level. So, we're trying to raise our competitive intensity."

"We're also trying to get them to be good, aggressive offensive players," Appert continued. "To take some chances, to be assertive in terms of jumping from defense to offense. We're trying to hammer that home in practice."

Obviously, the biggest difficulty will be overcoming the fact that the team has five freshman defensemen, a sophomore goalie and a junior goaltender who hasn't enjoyed much success in limited playing time.

Appert believes one way to do that is with a wide-open, offense-oriented style of play. "Occasionally, you have to take defensive chances to make offensive plays," said Appert, who says, "I see the game from an offensive point of view."

"We won't shrug our defensive responsibilities," he said, "but we want to give the guys the offensive freedom that all players want to have."

Appert, a goaltender at Ferris State, explained how he came by his offensive philosophy.

"I'm an old, frustrated skilled forward," he said. "My older brother threw me into the net, so I was a goalie."