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More Offense Would Help RPI's Cause

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 5, 2007

TROY - A month ago, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey fans just wanted the team to be competitive; give themselves a chance to win in the latter stages of games.

Hey, the coaches and players wanted the same thing.

The Engineers had delivered on that wish.

In seven games since they were run out of Houston Field House by Harvard, Dartmouth and Union by a combined 16-2, they've been in every game.

Their tough losses to Dartmouth, 5-2 (the Big Green got two late goals) and to Harvard, 3-1, including an empty-netter with 15 seconds remaining.

In both games, the Engineers were buzzing the opposing net for a potential game-tying goal with less than two minutes remaining.

They couldn't get either one but the biggest reason they came home without a point on the weekend was their inability to finish on quality scoring chances.

"Other teams are making plays right now and we're not," said assistant captain Kevin Broad. "We're being out-executed. Hopefully, that will come. We're close right now. The last seven games, we've played some good hockey."

"Yes," said first-year head coach Seth Appert, "we need to score more. We need to get some goals. The (opposition's) goal-scorers are finishing on their scoring chances and we're not."

Even with the losses, the Engineers are 3-3-1 since the decided low point of the season, which is a lot better than the 1-9-3 skein they put up over the previous 13 games.

"It was a physical, intense, playoff-type game," Appert said of Saturday's battle. "But we played very well. For good stretches of the weekend (both games), we felt we carried the play. Some breakdowns, defensively, and the inability to finish a little bit was the difference in the weekend."

Saturday's result could have been quite different but for a great save by Crimson goalie Kyle Richter on Jake Morissette's second-period one-timer, set up by a brilliant pass from Seth Klerer.

Morissette said he could have scored had he lifted the puck off the ice a little bit and the denial typified the weekend for the Engineers.

"Very frustrating weekend," Morissette said. "We played well but we didn't get the job done and that's always frustrating."

Back to 11: Eleventh place is a familiar one for Rensselaer. The Engineers finished 11th in the 12-team ECACHL in both 2003 and 2005 and spent some time there this season before victories at Yale and Brown last week vaulted them to eighth. (Union and RPI currently share 11th place but as of now, the Engineers have the tie-breaker over the Dutchmen on the 2nd criteria - points against the top four teams.)

Rensselaer, 8-13-7 overall, has 12 points with a 4-8-4 league record, while Union is 6-10-0 (13-13-2 overall).

The teams have a chance to move up, since both Yale (6-9-1) and Brown (5-8-3) are just one point ahead of them and those teams end the regular season at Union and RPI.

Princeton holds the all-important eighth spot, and the final home-ice berth in the preliminary round of the ECACHL playoffs, at 4-6-2 for 14 points.

MacDonald exasperated: From one extreme to the other for captain Kirk MacDonald.

He was held without a shot on goal at Harvard after putting six on the Dartmouth net on Friday night.

The big right winger, prior to Saturday, had 19 shots on goal in five games since his last goal.

He has seven goals on 70 shots in 25 games, not numbers that meet the standards he sets for himself.

"I'm getting shots all over," he said. "I just have to keep shooting. You have to put yourself in posi

tion to score and bear down and put it in the net. I mean, I'm getting great looks. I have to score. It's as simple as that, there's no way around it."

Kipp steps up: Sophomore defenseman Reed Kipp had been in Appert's doghouse, sitting out four of the previous five games before the Dartmouth game.

He scored the Engineers' first goal at Dartmouth and Appert said that on Nick Johnson's 2-on-1 goal with 1:24 left in the game, "Reed Kipp played the 2-on-1 perfectly, expertly."

"Unfortunately," Appert said, "Nick Johnson made a great shot on that play. He put it right under the crossbar and that's what great goal-scorers do."

"And like I said," Appert continued, "(opposing players) are finishing their opportunities and we aren't."

Lord plays hard: Junior forward Andrew Lord's scoring production hasn't increased this season, after he had scoring lines of 4-3-7 as a freshman and 7-6-13 last season but the Vancouver native has really stepped up his game in other areas in recent weeks.

"Andrew Lord is really starting to get excited and relish the tough, physical, edgy, penalty-killing role that he has," Appert said, "and is starting to become a really effective two-way player for us because of that."

All five of Lord's points (2-3-5) came in just two games and were huge, helping the Engineers ties against Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence.

Scoring changes: Several were made on RPI goals last week at Brown.

Kurt Colling picked up two assists, one on Jonathan Ornelas' second goal in the second period (the assist taken from Morissette) and on Matt Angers-Goulet's game-winner in the third period, in place of Ornelas.

Paul Kerins was also credited with an assist on that goal.