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Dutchmen, Engineers get Down to Business

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, November 3, 2006

When the first weekend of November comes around, it brings a lot of smiles to the coaches and players at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Union College.

After spending the month of October playing non-conference games, it's time for the real season - the ECACHL campaign. The games mean more as the teams battle for playoff positioning and possibly a regular-season championship.

The Dutchmen and Engineers open ECACHL play at home tonight at 7. Union (2-2-2) hosts Quinnipiac (3-2-1) at Messa Rink, while RPI (2-1-2) takes on Princeton (0-1-1) at Houston Field House.

"All of our non-conference games have helped prepare us to get to this point," Union coach Nate Leaman said. "I know our guys are looking forward to it, especially where we've played one out of six games at home."

Union and RPI are excited to league play going for different reasons.

For the Dutchmen, it's a chance erase the sting of last weekend's last-place finish in the inaugural Governor's Cup. Union would especially like to forget Sunday's 8-5 drubbing by Quinnipiac. The Dutchmen gave the Bobcats 12 power plays, and Quinnipiac converted on four of them.

"We're just going to have to be a heck of a lot more mentally sharp," Leaman said. "I don't think we were very sharp mentally in that game. made a lot of key mistakes, and] we were taking poor penal-. They have a very good power, and they lit us up. We're going have to make sure we're smarter with the puck, as well as [being] much more disciplined."

Dutchmen defenseman and team captain Sean Streich likes the fact that the team gets to face Quinnipiac just five days later.

"We didn't come out and play the way we wanted to play," Streich said. "Coming [into tonight], we've been working hard in practice. The key is to stick to the system that coach lays out for us. As long as we play as a team, we'll be fine."

The Engineers have every reason to be celebrating heading into this weekend.

They are coming off their Governor's Cup championship, their first tournament title since winning their own holiday tourney in 2001. RPI beat Colgate, 2-1, in Sunday's final on a goal that was scored in dramatic fashion. Junior forward Dan Peace, playing in his first game of the season, poked in a rebound of a Tyler Eaves shot as he was sliding by the Colgate net with 48.9 seconds left in regulation to give RPI the victory.

"They're feeling good about themselves," RPI coach Seth Appert said. "They gained some confidence and belief in what they're doing together. At the same time, we can't be satisfied."

The Engineers have been a pleasant surprise in the early going. They are creating more chances offensively, which is something Appert stressed when he was hired back in April, and they have a solid 1-2 punch in goal with Jordan Alford and Mathias Lange.

"All games are important, but league [games] are more important," Appert said. "These are our only home league games until January, so it's important to take care of your business at home and hopefully, [that will] put us in a good position moving forward in league play."

Although RPI leads the all-time series against Princeton at 58-24-9, the Engineers are just 1-2-1 in the last four meetings.

"In this league, there isn't a bad team," RPI senior forward Oren Eizenman said. "That's the bottom line. Everyone comes out and plays hard. Princeton's got a lot of talent on their team. It's one of those things where you don't come out ready to play, they can beat you on any given night."

NOTEBOOK

Union senior forward Scott Brady has left the team for personal reasons, according to Leaman. Brady played in two games this season, and had 15 penalty minutes. He played in 63 career games, and had eight goals and six assists. ...

Tonight is RPI's fourth annual Black Friday jersey game. The Engineers wear special, one-time only black jerseys. During the fi rst and second periods, fans have an opportunity to take part in an auction and/or a raffle to obtain the jerseys after the game. RPI is 3-0 on Black Friday. ...

The Union women play a twogame series at Sacred Heart, starting tonight at 7. The RPI women host Robert Morris in a two-game series beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday.