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Barr to Help Coaches

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, October 2, 2007

TROY - The home mortgage business hasn't been anything to write home about these days, what with the increase in foreclosures and a weak housing market, so Ben Barr decided to take a side job.

It won't pay anything, but the former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute forward hopes it will lead to future, paying employment.

Barr, who played for RPI from 2000-04, joined the Engineers' staff as a volunteer assistant coach during the summer.

"I'm still working for a mortgage company," the 25-year-old Barr said at RPI media day Monday at Houston Field House. "I've been coaching with Troy-Albany youth hockey the last few years. I enjoyed it, but, quite honestly, I would like to do it as a profession someday. There's no better people to learn it from than the people who are here. That's why I came back."

RPI coach Seth Appert is pleased to have Barr join his two assistants, Shawn Kurulak and Jim Montgomery.

"He's a very bright, young hockey mind," Appert said. "He's extremely passionate about RPI, and about his experience as a student-athlete here. He was captain of RPI [his senior year]. He was in the student-athlete role just a few short years ago.

"He'll be a great liaison for our players to the coaching staff, understanding what [captain] Jake Morissette and [alternate captains] Jon Ornelas and Andrew Lord, the upperclassmen and leaders on this team, are going to go through, and the pressures that are going to be placed upon them.

"He can help diffuse some of that pressure, and help them navigate the leadership challenges that they'll face this season."

Barr had 25 goals and 39 assists in 140 career games. In his junior year, he scored two short-handed goals in a 50-second span in the third period against Union that helped RPI to a 3-2 victory and a sweep of a 2003 ECAC tournament first-round series. After graduating in 2004, the Faribault, Minn., native stayed in the Capital Region.

He said he has always been interested in coaching. Barr helped former RPI coach Dan Fridgen during the latter half of the 2004-05 season.

"I had a great experience," Barr said. "It was a little weird, though, [because] it was with a lot of guys that I played with. I think it's going to be easier this time."

And if he enjoys it while volunteering this season, maybe a fulltime coaching position will open up. Then, Barr won't have to worry about mortgaging his future any more.

"Someday, I'd like to have a paying job, whether that's a year or two down the road," Barr said. "I know I have a lot to learn, though. You think, when you're a player, you always think to yourself, 'I can do that.' But there's so much that goes into it. These guys work so hard. Just to be around it for a whole year, [and] just to take it in will help."


Inside College Hockey.com released its rankings for the top 15 recruiting classes for this season, and the Engineers were rated 13th.

RPI, which has nine recruits this season, has two freshmen ranked in the top 20 by INCH. Bryan Brutlag is ranked 11th among the defensemen, while Tyler Helfrich is rated 15th among the forwards.

"It's something we're very proud of," Appert said. "I commend Shawn Kurulak and Jim Montgomery for the job they did this past season. We had a late start in that recruiting class, as well. When we got hired, probably 70 recruits were already committed across the country for this fall's class. They really did a phenomenal job, and they were out there looking for players and cultivating relationships to bring those type of players in.

"In the public's view, it stamps the approval that this is a very good class. It's a very talented class. Most importantly, it's a deep class. We're infusing a lot of skill, competitiveness and creativity into the lineup."

RPI has its first practice Saturday. The Engineers will play the Red-White game at 5 p.m., followed by the Skate with the Engineers at 7 p.m.