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Appert Rolls Dice Again, Sticks with Frosh Goalie

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, March 13, 2009

TROY - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute coach Seth Appert went with his gut and gave freshman goalie Allen York the starts in last weekend's ECAC Hockey tournament first-round series with Dartmouth instead of senior Mathias Lange.

York rewarded Appert's faith in him by leading the 11th-seeded Engineers to an upset sweep of the sixth-seeded Big Green.

Now, York gets a chance to try and make it two in a row. York leads the Engineers (9-25-2) against second-seeded and 12th-ranked Cornell (18-7-4) in the best-of-three quarterfinals this weekend at Lynah Rink.

The series starts tonight at 7. Game 2 is at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Game 3, if necessary, will be played at 7 p.m. Sunday. It's RPI's first trip to the quarterfinals since losing to Dartmouth in 2004.

York played in just 11 games during the regular season, but he began sharing starts with Lange last month. His breakout performance came in RPI's 2-1 overtime loss to Union Feb. 7. He made 20 saves in the game, which included one on a penalty shot by Adam Presizniuk, and some key stops in the third per­iod to keep the scored tied at 1-1. It was just York's sixth start of the season, and first since Jan. 3 against Holy Cross.

York's play against Union wasn't what impressed Appert the most.

"What opened our eyes is how he played in practice three weeks leading up to that," Appert said. "It was just somewhere in early Jan­uary that it just seemed the light bulb went on."

And Appert took some of the blame for the struggles York had in adjusting to the college game.

"I probably messed him up in the first half of the season, and I knew that," Appert said. "Sometimes, you have to take a step back to take a couple forward. He's a 6-foot-4 athlete that is a great competitor, but didn't have a great understanding of how to play the position. To work on the things he's had to work on, he was probably thinking too much in the first half of the season. But he's closer to a finished product now because of that."

York, who was selected in the sixth round of the 2007 NHL draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets, split starts with Lange the rest of Feb­ruary. Against the Big Green, York made 58 saves.

"I was thinking too much, but that wasn't Seth's fault," said York, who has 4-8 record with a 3.10 goals-against average. "That was the way I took what he gave me. It's great for me now that the habits are starting to come, and stuff like that."

York spent the last two years playing for the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Camrose Kodiaks. Last season, York was 24-5-3 with a 2.24 GAA and three shutouts. The previous year, he was 23-4 with 2.17 GAA and three shutouts.

He didn't let sitting behind Lange for most of the season bother him.

"I was a backup at the start of juniors, too," York said. "All it is is staying focused and being ready when your name gets called."

The Engineers haven't fared well lately against the Big Red. Cornell swept the season series, 3-0, Jan. 17 at Houston Field House and, 4-1, Feb. 20 at Lynah. RPI has lost five straight to Cornell, and is 0-5-1 in the last six meetings. The Eng­ineers are 1-7-2 in their last 10 games at Lynah.

The teams have played 12 times in the postseason, and Cornell is 9-3. They last met in the 2003 quarterfinals, and the Big Red swept the series.

But history doesn't mean much to the Engineers. They are looking forward to pulling off another upset and reaching the semifinals for the first time since 2002. That year, they lost to the Big Red, 3-0, in Lake Placid, the final year the tournament was played there.

"Obviously, we had a good weekend last weekend," RPI sen­ior captain Matt Angers-Goulet said. "It felt good to finally win a playoff series. We're excited. It's a big challenge for us, and we're looking forward to it."