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Kerins Breaks Away from the Pack - When It Counts

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, December 15, 2006

TROY - Paul Kerins may not be successful on breakaways during practice, but he does have two breakaway goals in games this year.

Good thing for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute that he does, too. Without his goal against Union, there'd be no Governor's Cup tournament championship for the Engineers.

Without that goal and Kerins' breakaway goal last week at Quinnipiac, the Engineers' overall record of 4-5-6 would likely be 4-7-4 instead.

"Paul Kerins has struggled tremendously with breakaways in practice," RPI coach Seth Appert said. "We kid him about, for him to score on a breakaway in a game, he needs to be about (more than) a minute into his shift, have three backcheckers on him (that's a breakaway?) or be below the goal line and have to bank it in off the back of the goalie."

"But no, that was a great move," Appert said of Kerins' breakaway that beat Quinnipiac goalie Bud Fisher and helped the Engineers rally from a 4-1 third-period deficit to the deadlock.

After that goal, Kerins told reporters, "a million things go through your mind when you have a breakaway like that."

Perhaps that could be the problem in practice, when, without the game pressure and when natural hockey instincts, adrenalin is flowing heavy, and when basic skills automatically kick in to a higher degree, Kerins may think too much during the breakaway.

"That could be," said Kerins, a Weston, Ont. native. "I think in practice, you do think even more because you're trying to have some fun with the teammates and at the same time you're trying to throw something new in there that you don't usually do."

"Guys usually tell me that I have the goalie beat after my first move (in practice)," he said, "but then it's another 16, 17 moves after that which screw me up and I skate myself right into the corner."

"It's just more of a head thing (in practice), where in a game it's more bang-bang, you don't have time to sit there in the middle and think about what you're going to do," he said.

"Well, I think in practice, when he's fresh," Appert said, "he tries to beat the goalie three times instead of just trying to just beat him once. In games, with game pressure and backcheckers after him, he's executed extremely well."

One of Kerins' other two goals, an extra-attacker tip-in late in the Ohio State game, elevated the Engineers to a 5-5 tie.

Does he have a penchant for big goals?

"No, definitely not," he said. "I'd like to say they're all big goals, but no. I've gotten some good breaks this year, especially that first one (against Union). That was a nice way to get the first one and it was nice to help us go on to a championship, at least to go on to a Shootout to give us a championship."

Kerins, a freshman center-left winger, describes himself as "not the fastest guy out there. My strengths are my shot, how quickly I get it off. It's not the hardest shot but my ability to get it off quickly helps me a lot out there. My ability to control the puck is another strength.

I think my work ethic is a strength," he added. "I'd like to think I come out here and give all I've got every day. Everybody has their off days but I think that I limit those to as little as I can and I think (work ethic) helps me get around some of my weaknesses."

Those weaknesses, besides a lack of speed?

"For my size, I could be stronger and that's something I've been working on quite a bit," Kerins said. "My escapability helps me a lot but it can only get you so far once you get pinned up against the boards. That's something I really need to work on."

"He's a very talented young man," Appert said of Kerins. "He has a good mindset for the game of hockey, in all different areas. He's an intelligent offensive player, creative, and he understands time and space for himself ... and his teammates."

"He wants to be a hockey player in the worst way," Appert said. "He lives and breathes it. He's passionate about the game."

What Kerins likes most about hockey is "those tight games in the third period. I love overtime. I love the tension. Those are the games you live for. And it looks like we're going to have a lot of those games this year."

Indeed. The Engineers have already had seven overtime games (1-0-6) and four other games decided by one goal.

"It's awesome to be a part of," he said. "Those close games just give you such a rush."

Kerins has eight points (4-4-8) in 14 games this season and may be expected to be a 30-point scorer next year.

"I'd like to think I could do that," he said. "It's just a matter of how hard I'm willing to work. I think I've taken some steps in the right direction but by no means am I a finished product. But that (thought) excites me; I'm excited to get better and excited to help the team for another three and one-half years."

"With continued development in his offensive game, and continued strength-gaining," Appert said, "we expect Paul Kerins to be an elite player in this league."