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Appert Debuts, MacDonald Returns in Exhibition

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, October 7, 2006

TROY - Normally, exhibition college hockey games against Canadian universities are just used as tune-ups for the regular season. They have little meaning - the stats don't count, and the final result doesn't go on the overall record. The biggest worry for coaches is that their players don't get hurt, or do something silly, like get into a fight.

But tonight's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute exhibition contest against York University at 7 at Houston Field House has a little more meaning.

For starters, new head coach Seth Appert makes his debut behind the RPI bench. The fans will get to see the new systems implemented by Appert, and what kind of style the team is going to play.

"We're expecting to win, that's first and foremost," said Appert, the former Denver University assistant coach who replaced Dan Fridgen as head coach in April. "A couple of things we're kind of focusing on is, one, our competitive intensity. We need to be a competitive team. We've got a good amount of talent, but not many teams in this country, and especially in this competitive league, have an opportunity to win if they don't compete at the highest level."

"We're also trying for them to be good, aggressive offensive players - to take some chances, to be assertive in terms of jumping from defense to offense."

The game also marks the return of senior forward Kirk MacDonald after missing last season while recovering from testicular cancer. It his first game against an opponent since March 5, 2005, when RPI played Brown in Game 2 of their ECACHL tournament first-round series.

"I'm excited just to get into a game situation again," said MacDonald, who was named team captain on Wednesday. "I was excited to play [last] Saturday [in the Red-White intrasquad game] and not practice. It's one step at a time."

"It'll just be another learning experience, and get out there and get the feet wet."

RPI opens the regular season next Saturday against fourthranked Boston University at the field house, so that game will be the official welcome-back game for MacDonald.

"But I'm still excited to play [tonight], for sure," MacDonald said.

After a week of practicing against each other, the team is ready to play a game, even if it doesn't count in the standings.

"We're excited to start playing somebody else other than ourselves," Appert said. "That's the nice challenge coming up here against York. Right now in practice, they've responded very well. They're working hard. Their starting to get the things that we want to be accomplished. We're making good strides. But, obviously, we'll find out a little bit more this weekend."

A new NCAA rule allows teams to dress 24 players for an exhibition game. Appert will have 21 skaters and three goalies for the contest.

"It's going to give us a good look at everybody on the roster," Appert said. "We're excited about that."