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Lange Hopes to Be Back in Goal

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, December 29, 2007

TROY - Goalie Mathias Lange had just come off a 34-save effort, helping Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to a 4-2 ECAC Hockey win over Harvard on Dec. 4 at Houston Field House, when he arrived for a routine practice two days later.

The practice turned about to be anything but routine. A puck hit Lange on the left pinky of his catching hand.

"There was a sharp pain," Lange said. "I was hoping it was a bruise."

It turned out to be more than a bruise. A bone in the pinky was fractured.

Lange's pinky is feeling better now. Wednesday was the first day Lange was allowed to catch pucks in practice. He is hoping he will be able to play in one of the two games in this weekend's Lightning College Hockey Classic at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla.

The 17th-ranked Engineers (8-7-3) face fourth-ranked Colorado College (11-5) tonight at 8:05. The first game pits No. 6 Notre Dame against No. 9 Massachusetts.

"We'll see how it goes," Lange said. "Then we'll go from there. But I think I'll be ready."

Lange, who has a 4-2-2 record with a 1.96 goals-against average, had his glove on when the puck hit him. Unfortunately, it caught him in a part of the glove that had no padding.

"It was a fluke," RPI coach Seth Appert said. "It wasn't on a shot that went right into his glove. It was on a tip from below that came up straight underneath. It was almost behind his glove, where it's a little more exposed than it would be on the palm area."

Lange did dress for the two-game series against second-ranked Miami University two weeks ago. But Appert didn't use him when he pulled starter Jordan Alford in the third period of the 7-3 Game 1 loss, opting to go with third-stringer Will Neubert. And when Alford started again in Game 2, it caught everyone by surprise because Appert had been rotating starts, and it was Lange's turn to play.

Lange practiced while the pinky was healing. But no one was allowed to shoot high on him.

"We had him on the ice every day before [Christmas] break, just doing goalie work with crease movement and low shots, to keep his legs going," Appert said. "He didn't have an extended holiday break."

While any injury to a goalie would seem to be serious, Appert doesn't believe a fractured pinky on the catching hand is a big deal.

"In a game, you might have six, seven, eight shots at the glove," Appert said. "At practice, you might have a hundred. It's not anything to be concerned [about]. I would be much more concerned if it was a groin or a hamstring."

This will be the fourth straight game that the Engineers face a ranked opponent. In their last two games, against second-ranked Miami University, the Engineers were outscored, 9-0, in the third period and lost both games.

Even though RPI has been outscored, 25-6, in the third, Appert is more concerned about how the Engineers play in the first two periods.

"That's why we play those teams, to learn," Appert said.

"Miami is outscoring their opponents, 36-5, for a reason. When I said that they're ahead of us in terms of their program, that's not in terms of the shape we're in. We're in outstanding game shape."

NOTEBOOK

Game times Sunday are 5:05 p.m. for the consolation, and 8:05 p.m. for the championship ...

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that three CC players have been suspended. Junior forward Chad Rau, the Tigers' leading scorer with 10 goals and nine assists, received a one-game suspension for a violation of a team rule. Senior forward Derek Patrosso, who has four goals and three assists, and junior forward/defenseman Cody Lampl (1-2-3) were suspended by the school because of violation of the student conduct policy.