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Appert Will Mix and Match in Opener

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, October 9, 2007

TROY - Among the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey community, not a whole lot is known about the Bentley College, the opponent for tonight's season-opening contest at Houston Field House.

The Falcons, as they're known, finished eighth in the 10-team Atlantic Hockey conference last season with an 11-17-1 record. They were 12-22-1 overall.

Their most skilled player and leading scorer is junior left winger Jeff Gumear.

One thing that RPI fans can relate to - and from the 'anybody-can-beat-anybody' category, is the fact that the Falcons posted a 4-3 victory at Princeton in late October.

Six weeks later, the Engineers absorbed a 6-2 pounding at Princeton's Hobey Baker Rink.

Last season, the Engineers lost their only matchup with Atlantic Hockey, a 5-4 loss to Sacred Heart at Houston Field House (the Falcons dropped two 3-1 decisions at Sacred Heart).

Appert is still attempting to match up forward lines and will use tonight's contest for that purpose.

For example, he's not certain if captain Jake Morissette, a natural right winger who played center last season, will be lined up.

"We prefer him to play (right) wing," Appert said. "We're not sure if he's going to be able to, but we do prefer him to. He's a better wing than he is a center and he uses his quickness on the forecheck as a wing moreso than at center and then being a little smaller in size (5-foot-9, 182), he won't wear down as much on the wing."

Three natural centers will head up a line - junior Mathieu Angers-Goulet, sophomore Paul Kerins and Joel Malchuk, one of RPI's contribute-right-away freshmen.

"Kerins is a natural center," Appert said of the Weston, Ont. native who had seven goals and 12 assists last season, mostly at left wing. "Last year, he wasn't ready physically, he was weak. He had a real good summer, he put a lot of time in and we're very pleased with the kind of shape he came back in. That's going to allow him to play his natural position and be effective at it."

"I think Mathieu and Paul should be our top two line centers at the start of the season," Appert said. "Joel Malchuk is definitely a center and I think Andrew (Lord) definitely can play center. And at times we may need (left winger) Seth Klerer or Jake to play center as well."