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Ornelas, Engineers Off to a Good Start

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, October 11, 2007

TROY - Jonathan Ornelas vowed last week that there would be no repeat of his 28-game goal-less skein that plagued his sophomore and junior seasons at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

It took just 6:17 into the season for the senior left winger to keep that vow, as he scored the team's first goal in Tuesday night's 4-0, season-opening victory over Bentley.

Seeing his shot knife through the legs of Bentley goalie Jason Kearney brought some to Ornelas, as well as satisfaction.

"It was great," he said after the game, "especially after that slump last year."

The goal slump didn't keep Ornelas awake at night last season but he did catch himself dwelling on it during some waking hours.

"I'd like to forget about it," he said. "It was a very tough time in my college career. I tried not to let it affect me but it became difficult. I tried to ignore it but it was hard to when people are expecting you to score and you can't."

"It was definitely troublesome and it definitely started affecting other parts of my game."

What was the main difference - or reason for that difference - between Ornelas' 22-point (13-9-22) sophomore season and last year's 7-9-16 production?

"I have no idea," he said. "I wish I did know. I think it had a lot to do with the pressure I put on myself; new coaching staff came in and I thought I had to do a lot of things I wasn't supposed to or didn't need to do, to impress them and before I knew it, I was trying to do too much and I wasn't effective."

Of course, playing with highly-skilled winger Kevin Croxton and center Oren Eizenman, especially on the power play, helped Ornelas' production.

"We just clicked, right away," Ornelas said of the trio that carried the Engineers early in the 2005-06 season.

"This year," he continued, "I'm just going to try to do what I did freshman and sophomore years which were pretty good years for me."

"It's not going to happen again," he said of the long skein of frustration.

Rensselaer backers look to Ornelas' 13-goal total during the 2005-06 and the fact that now returning play on this season's roster had as many as 10 goals last year and look to Ornelas to be the offensive leader this season. That probably means more pressure for him.

"No," he stated flatly. "I think that was my biggest problem last year, putting too much pressure on myself. This year I'm just going in knowing we're going to have a good team, some good balance, playing good hockey and things will fall into place."

Rensselaer coach Seth Appert says that "having coached Jon for a year, seeing what makes him effective and when he's not effective, I think I have a better understanding of his game and he has a better understanding of his game."

"His offense comes through his hard work," Appert says. "When he's moving his feet and he's finishing checks and being a physically competitive player, his offensive chances come from that. When he tries to be just a skill player, that's when he can go into long periods of ineffectiveness."

"So, he's very focused and we've been getting him focused on doing the things that allow him to be successful in all areas of his game, which then will to offense."

Appert says it was obvious that Ornelas began pressing a handful of games into the season.

"Yes, the first half of the season, he pressed," Appert said. "What happens is, you start looking to score instead of just playing your game and doing things right, having attention to detail, playing hard. When you do things right, a lot of times you're in position to make offensive plays and when you start just looking to score, being concerned with scoring only, more often than not you're not in position to take advantage of (the) other team's mistakes."

"Jon did a good job of making that adjustment in the second half of the (season). Almost all his points came in the second half of the year. We expect him to be more consistent with his production this year."

It's been five years since an RPI player has scored as many as 20 goals. Can Ornelas reach that number?

"I'm hoping to get more," he said. "It's definitely one of my goals, to get 20. As you said, people are looking for me to score."