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RPI Recruiting Efforts Going Forward

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, June 16, 2008

TROY - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey coach Seth Appert and his staff have completed their recruiting efforts for the 2008-09 season.

Josh Rabbani, a forward from the Berkshire School and the St. Louis Bandits of the United States (Junior) Hockey League, was recently added to the incoming freshman class.

He joins center-left winger Alex Angers-Goulet, a brother of RPI senior center-left winger Matt Angers-Goulet, left wingers Christian Morissette (no relation to graduated 2007-08 captain Jake Morissette) and Patrick Cullen, right wingers Jordan Watts and Justin Smith, goaltender Allen York and defenseman Mike Bergin.

Also joining the squad is sophomore defenseman Mark Zarbo, who sat out last season as a transfer from Bentley College.

Rabbani brings the number of forwards on the Engineers' roster to 17, or 18 if junior defenseman Garett Vassel moves to forward, which he did for a handful of games last season.

That would mean two full lines of alternates, so the battles for ice time among many of them will be intense. "It's not an ideal number," Appert admitted, "but if some of them aren't getting the job done, we've got some other good options. The beauty of it is that the ones who should play, will play and (for) the others, competition can be very beneficial."

"Ice time can be the biggest motivator," Appert added.

Not a speed skater by any means, Rabbani, 5-foot-11, 202, has been compared with former RPI winger Kevin Broad but with a quicker release.

Appert was asked if the late addition of Rabbani was a long range-oriented move and suggested that the Woodland Hills, Calif. native could crack the lineup this upcoming season.

"I don't think we would add another kid at this point if he wasn't able to come in and contribute right away," Appert said. "We don't like to bring in any player to fail, and to add a player this late ... you're not going to do that just to add No. 16 (at forward), or 17 of 18 on the board, you're going to do that because that young man can potentially fill a void in your lineup."

"That void may be hockey intelligence, skill level, physical competitiveness or a combination thereof," Appert continued. "That's why we continue to recruit (late)."

Forwards Tyler Helfrich and Chase Polacek developed into RPI's best offensive players as their freshman seasons developed last year, and frosh defenseman Bryan Brutlag is also a front-end player.

Engineers fans are excited by that reality, combined with the fact that several immediate impact players are contained within the incoming group of freshmen.

York is expected to develop into a topflight netminder, perhaps even an All-American candidate.

Bergin will be RPI's top-skating defenseman as soon as he arrives and is an offensive defenseman who can also be more physical than his size (6-2, 188) may suggest.

The speedy Morissette is an excellent skater, with great lateral ability to go with his quickness, and has high-end offensive skills.

Cullen has proven his ability to produce goals and assists throughout his junior career.

Appert could not assess each player personally (under NCAA regulations).

"I can only speak in generalities," he said, "but we feel we have a better-balanced group this season. Last season, we didn't have a 30-point scorer, let alone 40. Now, we likely won't have a 40-point scorer this year but what we need to have is seven or eight guys at 20-30 points, or a couple with 35. That's how we'll be a good offensive team this year. And we have the potential to have that this year. And obviously, we need Chase and Tyler to take that step forward, too."

Morissette, Cullen and Bergin will almost certainly give a stiff shot in the arm to the Rensselaer power play, which was the poorest in the nation last season at 7.1 percent (12-of-170).

"There will be freshmen on the power play (both units), for sure," Appert said. He also said, "if our power play was 17 percent last year, we'd probably been a .500 team, because we were a pretty good 5-on-5 team and pretty good on the penalty kill (85.9 percent)."

Among is sophomore center Joel Malchuk, who was sidelined by a foot injury after six games and thus, will be red-shirted.