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Engineers Hope for a Role Reversal at Home

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, February 22, 2008

TROY - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey players believe they owe their fans; owe them a victory - or two - this weekend.

The Engineers have won one of nine ECAC Hockey home games (1-5-3) this season entering this weekend's final home appearances against St. Lawrence and Clarkson. They believe their fans deserve nothing less than two victories.

It certainly won't be easy. Rensselaer has won just one of its past 16 games (1-14-1) and has had major problems scoring goals most of the season, especially at home.

The Engineers are in a three-way tie for 10th place in the 12-team ECACH with a 4-11-3 record and are 9-19-4 overall, the most losses of any league member.

Ninth-place St. Lawrence is 5-11-2, 10-16-4, league-leading Clarkson, ranked No. 12 nationally, is 12-4-2, 17-10-3.

Among the Engineers' four league victories was a 6-3 triumph at St. Lawrence on Jan. 26, but only a few RPI faithful were in Canton for that one. The Engineers want to give the home folks something to savor, something to salvage from this terribly disappointing season.

Since a 4-0 victory over Bentley seemed to show such promise, RPI has posted a meager a 2-8-4 record at Houston Field House and the players will by trying to ease the pain of that figure this weekend.

"Absolutely," said team captain Jake Morissette. "We love our fans. They supported us no matter what for the whole season. We'd love to get a win for them this weekend."

Assistant captain Andrew Lord says the Engineers "have some of the best fans in the league, if not the country. We definitely think about them and their support and we're going to give our all for them this weekend."

Junior winger Andrei Uryadov praised RPI fans, saying, "it's great that they keep coming and keep supporting us, win or lose, and we're very grateful. We need that support and we really want to win for them, make them happy, make them proud."

"Yeah, we do owe them," said freshman center Chase Polacek. "They come and support us every game, even if things aren't going well."

Rensselaer coach Seth Appert says his team needs to play for pride for Engineers fans, sure, but for themselves, too.

"We have unbelievable fans," Appert said, "but the pride should be for the guy sitting next to you, the guy sitting across from you. A little bit for our fans, yes, and for our school, the university we represent, the alums who've come through here … but most importantly of all, is the pride they have in themselves and in playing for the guys sitting next to you."

"Take pride you have in yourself," Appert continued, "pride in that jersey you put on, in your family name on the back of it and pride also in how much you care about your teammates."

"We need to exhibit that a little bit better than we have been recently."

Even if the Engineers sweep all four of their remaining games - they conclude their season at Brown and Yale next weekend – they will only earn a homeice advantage in the preliminary round of the ECACH playoffs only if streaking Colgate loses all four of its games. In addition to having a better record

away from home (6-11-0), Appert says the team isn't concerned about where the playoffs begin and need to address the less-than-stellar play of late.

"We're not even concerned about it," Appert said. "We haven't talked about it … we know we're not going to get it."

"We need to start playing better hockey and we need to have guys in that (locker)room stop looking around to other people to get answers and start answering questions themselves."

The Saints have three defenseman – including standout Shawn Fensel –questionable for this weekend. Fensel (3-10-13) was injured last week at Yale. Jared Ross was already out with a concussion, Derek Keller with an undisclosed ailment.

Saturday will be Senior Night for RPI when Lord, Morissette, forwards Jonathan Ornelas, Dan Peace and Tyler Eaves and goaltenders Jordan Alford and Will Neubert make their last Houston Field House appearances.