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Appert Era Begins Tonight with an Exhibition

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, October 7, 2006

TROY - A team with a new coaching staff and a handful of rookie defensemen certainly would welcome an exhibition game before jumping into its season against a nationally-ranked team such as Boston University.

Such is the case for first-year Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute coach Seth Appert and the Engineers, though they certainly hope tonight's exhibition game against York (Ont.) University at Houston Field House is considerably more competitive than last year's game against Ottawa University.

Eleven different Engineers scored goals, including three different freshman forwards (two by Andrei Uryadov) and RPI romped to a 13-3 triumph.

Ottawa had a tough time getting back on defense and once there, Gee Gees (yeah, that's their nickname) defensemen and back-checkers couldn't handle RPI stick-handlers.

It's expected that York will give the Engineers a tougher battle.

"Last year, I think those (Ottawa) guys were pretty tired," said Engineers junior right winger Andrew Lord. "They had a real long bus trip the day of the game. Don't want to make excuses for them but they were tired."

"I hear a lot of good things about York," Lord said, "so I think it'll be a good test."

It's tough to know says Rensselaer assistant captain Kevin Broad, because, "you don't know what to expect. But I know they played in a competitive tournament against NHL prospects. I expect a battle. A lot of those guys are older guys who played major junior (hockey), so I expect a good battle."

"We're excited to start playing somebody else other than ourselves," Appert said.

Appert says he plans to look at virtually every player tonight, since a new NCAA rule states that for exhibition games, NCAA teams may dress 21 skaters and three goaltenders.

Appert will likely play seven defensemen and 14 of the team's 15 forwards in the 7 p.m. contest.

"That's going to give us a look at almost everybody on the roster, so we're excited about that," Appert said.

Appert says he'll use tonight's game to set forward lines for next week's season opener.

"We've taken a look at different lines every day," he said. "Right now, we're looking at different combinations."

"What we're trying to find, as a staff," Appert continued, "is who has synergy with each other. Even twosomes. It doesn't necessarily need to be a (full) line of three but if you can find a twosome that has a great amount of synergy and you can put a piece of the puzzle with them, on their line, usually that works pretty well."

The big question RPI fans want to know is, will 'A' line center Oren Eizenman, who led the team in scoring last season (16 goals-22 assists-38 points) and big right winger and captain Kirk MacDonald (16-20-36 two seasons ago), back after battling cancer last year, be on the same line.

And, if so, who will their left winger be?

Appert only smiles at those questions but did say months ago there was no guarantee that the two stars would be together, or that high-scoring junior left winger Jonathan Ornelas (13-9-22) would be with either of them.

"Those Canadian schools, (my) being from Canada, have a lot of pride up there," said Broad, a Humboldt, Sask. native, "and they want to beat us bad. It means a lot to their programs to come down here and (beat) an American school."