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Injured RPI Defenseman Starts Rehab process

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, October 24, 2008

The next couple of weeks will decide whether or not Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute freshman defenseman Mike Bergin will be back on the ice this season.

Bergin separated his right shoulder when he was hit from behind by Massachusetts' Alex Berry late in the third period of the Engineers' 6-0 loss to the Minutemen at Houston Field House Tuesday. Berry wasn't penalized on the play. The hit came moments after RPI defenseman Jeff Foss was hit from behind by Chris Davis, who received a five-minute major and a game misconduct.

RPI coach Seth Appert said Bergin will start rehabbing the shoulder. He will be fitted with a brace, and try to practice with it.

If both of those solutions don't work, then Bergin could be headed for season-ending surgery.

"It's not something that's going to happen overnight," Appert said. "You don't need to, nor will we make those decisions in the next couple of days. It's a sit­uation where you take your time with it and see how the rehabilitation process goes for him. If he needs to have surgery, having it today versus having it a couple of weeks from now might not be that much difference."

Bergin was one of RPI's top recruits. Inside College Hockey listed the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Bergin as the ninth-best freshman defenseman in the country. He was selected in the seventh round of June's NHL draft by the Dallas Stars.

"It's just tough to lose any player," Appert said. "It was tough losing [forward] Joel Malchuk last season. They all provide things for your program, and in your locker room. Sometimes, we can forget the fact that these are young men that are following the passion of their life, which is to get a great degree and play hockey at a school that they love.

"When one of those opportun­ities is taken away, that can affect them personally, from a mental perspective, and affect their social experience and their academic experience."

After viewing a tape of the hits on Bergin and Foss, Appert is glad things didn't get worse.

"There's no question that if this was pro or junior, there would have been a brawl," Appert said. "No doubt, there would have been a full-scale brawl, at that point, from the second time that happens. That's just part of the game. We've been guilty of it in the past, where we've hit guys from behind. It's something we're trying to eliminate from the game.

"Sometimes in college, guys get a little excited. There's obviously no fear of retribution coming against you sometimes because of the limited amount of fighting in the college game."

OTHER INJURIES

Bergin isn't the only RPI player battling an injury.

Forwards Malchuk and Kurt Colling are doubtful for the Governor's Cup this weekend. Colling hurt his leg in last Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss to Bentley, and didn't play against UMass.

Malchuk has a minor knee injury. Appert said Malchuk's knee injury isn't related to the season-ending one he suffered against Princeton Dec. 1.

On the Union front, Dutchmen coach Nate Leaman said defenseman Mike Wakita is questionable after suffering an undisclosed inj­ury in practice this week.

THREE ON TEAM

Union placed three players on the Mutual of Omaha Stampede all-tournament team.

Forward John Simpson had three goals, including a short-handed goal in last Saturday's 2-1 overtime loss to Nebraska-Omaha. The short-handed goal was the Dutchmen's first since T.J. Fox had one against Cornell on Feb. 9, 2007.

Goalie Corey Milan made 45 saves in the tournament, including 30 against UNO.

Defenseman Brock Matheson had an assist in the 6-5 overtime win over Quinnipiac in Friday's first round. He was a +1 for the tournament.

STREAK ENDS

Union's loss to UNO ended a 13-game unbeaten streak when it led after two periods. The Dutchmen had a 1-0 advantage going into the third.

The Dutchmen's last loss in a game when leading after two came against Harvard on Jan. 6, 2007, when the Crimson rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win, 3-2.

UNHAPPY ANNIVERSARY

Tuesday marked the three-year anniversary of the last time RPI won a game when trailing after two periods.

The Engineers are winless in 51 straight games (0-43-8) when down after two. The last time they won when losing after two periods was Oct. 21, 2005, when they came back to beat Boston University, 3-2.

DAY HONORED

Union senior netminder Lundy Day was named ECACH goalie of the week on Monday.

Day made a career-high 62 saves in last Friday's 1-1 tie with Wayne State. She had 44 saves in a 6-2 loss to the Warriors the next day.

Despite an 0-5-1 record and a 4.31 goals-against average, Day has a .905 save percentage.

Day and the Dutchwomen are at North Dakota tonight and Saturday. They open ECACH play next Friday at 3 p.m. against Yale, which will be part of a New York/Connecticut hockey double-header at Messa Rink. The men play their home opener against UConn at 7 p.m.

LOCAL UPDATE

Here's a look at how college hockey players from the Capital Region did over the past week.

u RPI junior defenseman Laura Gersten (Queensbury) had an assist in the Engineers' 4-1 loss to ninth-ranked Mercyhurst last Saturday.

u St. Lawrence junior forward Tara Akstull (Clifton Park) picked up an assist in the Saints' 3-2 loss at fourth-ranked New Hampshire last Saturday. The next day, Akstull scored both of St. Lawrence's goals in a 2-2 tie at Boston University. The goals came late in the third period as she rallied the Saints from a 2-0 deficit.

GAMES OF THE WEEKEND

Colorado College is the new No. 1 team in the latest USCHO.com/CBS College Sports hockey poll, and 19th-ranked Clarkson will get first crack at trying to knock off the Tigers.

The Golden Knights (1-1) will host the Tigers (4-0) for a two-game series this weekend at Cheel Arena. Tonight's game starts at 7, and Saturday's contest starts at 7:30.

Colorado College has a 9-0-1 record against Clarkson. The Tigers swept a two-game series last season from the Knights in Col­orado Springs, Colo., by scores of 5-2 and 6-1.