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Teams Eager to Face-off in Tournament

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, October 28, 2006

ALBANY - It's a new event. It's a big arena. A nice trophy is presented to the winner. Two local rivals collide. A decent price ($30) for all four games.

The first Governor's Cup Presented by Citizen's Bank Tournament faces off today at Pepsi Arena with Quinnipiac battling Colgate (4 p.m.) and Union meeting Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (7:00, WRPI-FM, 91.5) in the all-ECAC Hockey League event.

The Quinnipiac-Colgate game brings together two of last season's ECACHL championship semifinalists.

The 10th-seeded Bobcats shocked the No. 2 Raiders, 3-0 in the opening game of the series before Colgate rallied to win the next two.

"We're excited about the tournament," said Colgate head coach Don Vaughan. "We've looked forward to it ever since we put it together and it should be an outstanding event."

Union coach Nate Leaman says that, "the tournament is good for the Capital District. We have very good fans, they love college hockey. It's important to showcase our league in a spot where we'll have our championship later in the year."

First-year Rensselaer coach Seth Appert echoed those words, saying the tournament, and tonight's Union-RPI matchup are a "great showcase for our two programs. Both programs have had a lot of positive publicity here in the first month, so we're excited about it. I think it'll be a great showcase for the fans in this region."

Union players take some confidence from the fact that they are 3-0-1 vs. RPI over the past two seasons.

"Yeah, we beat them and tied them last year," said Dutchmen junior center Torren Delforte. "That takes a little weight off our shoulders."

Goalie Justin Mrazek says, "we battled hard and got some wins," vs. RPI but that the Dutchmen must work even harder.

"That doesn't mean it's going to be easy," he said. "We've been hearing a lot about (Kirk) MacDonald's comeback (from cancer) and the way they've been rallying. They're playing really well right now and they're going to be a tough team to beat and we have to work even harder to prepare for them. They're playing emotional hockey, feeding off their captain (MacDonald) and (his) leadership and they're on top of their game."

Senior defenseman Sean Streich, Union's captain, says the Dutchmen enjoy the success they've earned but "this is a whole new year, they're a good team and it's going to be a battle."

"It'll be nice to see some of these teams, see their tendencies before the league starts," Streich added.

"If we get a third chance during the season to play RPI," Leaman said, "we'll take advantage of that because we know the game is going to be intense, we know it's going to be extremely hard-played and that's what develops your team throughout the year, those kind of games."

Quinnipiac right wingers Jamie Bates and Dave Marshall also like the idea of seeing Colgate again, and seeing some league foes before the games count in the ECACHL standings.

"We're looking forward to a chance for redemption against Colgate, knocking us out of the playoffs," Bates said. "It'll be tough, but we like the chance."

"Yeah, definitely good to see Colgate again before the (standings) points are counted," Marshall said. "And it'll be real good for our young guys to see what the league is like before the league season starts. And it's (the tourney) in a fun rink, so we're excited."

For RPI players, they'd like to beat Union, sure - and they'd like to win a tournament.

"Since I've been here, we've never won one of these small (four-team) tournaments, including the ones we host," said RPI senior defenseman Jake Luthi. "So, we're definitely wanting to take advantage of this opportunity."

How bad have tournaments been for the Engineers?

Since fifth-year senior MacDonald has been in the program, RPI has played in eight in-season tournaments, including four RPI Holiday Tournaments.

They have a trio of last-place finishes, have finished better than third in their own tourney only once (2004) and have a combined 4-9-1 record.

MacDonald is well aware.

"I want to skate off with a trophy," he said. "Of course, the league championship would be the best but the (Governor's Cup) would be a nice start."

"It's our first chance to win a championship," said senior winger Kevin Broad. "That's what we're after."