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RPI Can Move Up, But Has to Beat Green Monster

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 2, 2007

TROY - When Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute played host to Dartmouth and Harvard four weeks ago, the Engineers, in the words of first-year head coach Seth Appert, "hit rock bottom."

They were soundly beaten by both, 6-2 by the Big Green, 5-1 by the Crimson.

In their most immediate game after that weekend, Union handed the Engineers a 5-0 pasting but since then, RPI is 3-1-1.

The Engineers enter the weekend in eighth place in the ECAC Hockey League with a 4-6-4 record for 12 points. They are one point behind Dartmouth (5-6-3--13) and one point ahead of Harvard (5-9-1--11).

Two more victories this weekend could put the Engineers in fifth place. That, though, would be a major accomplishment.

The Engineers haven't won a regular-season game at Dartmouth since Nov. 13, 1998, going 0-8-1 there in the meantime and overall, Rensselaer has dropped seven straight games to the Big Green and are 2-13-2 over the past 17 meetings of the teams. Six times in the past 12 clashes, Dartmouth has scored six or more goals.

When asked if the Engineers can continue the momentum "generated by the sweep" of Yale and Brown, Appert said, "I'll answer that on Sunday."

"Let's see how we play this weekend."

"Our players are getting better at executing and staying disciplined positionally. The physical intensity has been there for the great majority of the year. Sometimes the smarts, discipline and execution haven't always been with it. But we're starting to see (those elements) on a more consistent basis."

When Dartmouth and Harvard visited Houston Field House early in January, that intensity wasn't there.

"Any competitive athlete would be embarrassed by the way we played," Appert said. "When you're a competitive Division I athlete and you're proud of the program you represent; the way we played that weekend, we were not proud."

While Appert says the coaching staff has really addressed the awful weekend per se, "that has to be in the back of (the players') minds."

Indeed.

"Any time a team comes in and outscores you 11-2, it's in the back of your mind (during practice)," assistant captain Kevin Broad said. "We're looking forward to going in there and getting two points back. It's going to be a tough weekend but we're trying to get that playoff mentality sooner than we have in the past."

It was suggested the Engineers will need some points specifically against Dartmouth and Harvard to earn full redemption from their poor play.

"I don't know if it's necessary," Appert said. "I think more importantly, we just that we need some points in every league (weekend)."