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RPI Ecstatic With Bailen's Decision

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, October 7, 2011

TROY - Most Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey fans didn't realize what an outstanding pickup it was for the program when Bowling Green defenseman Nick Bailen decided to transfer to RPI in 2009. They didn't realize, when Bailen was sitting out the 2009-10 season, as per NCAA regulations, what the Engineers had coming.

They found out last year when the Fredonia native led the Engineers in assists. The junior defenseman is the leading scorer among RPI's returning players with 36 points (8 goals-28 assists-36 points).

When budget issues developed within the Bowling Green program and rumors were widely-circulated that the program would be eliminated by the school (it has thus far survived and recently moved into the WCHA from the defunct CCHA), Bailen sought his release and began school shopping.

He gives RPI winger Patrick Cullen credit for helping to bring him to Troy.

"With the possibility that Bowling Green would be closing the program ... I got my release and kind of went through the recruiting process again, talked to some ex-teammates (in junior hockey) about the institutions they went to and their involvement with their coaches and what they liked."

"Luckily," Bailen continued, "I had Pat Cullen who was my teammate (Indiana Ice) in juniors here. I called him, he talked to coach (Seth) Appert and it just happened from there. I went on my visit (to RPI) and decided it was my best fit."

Bailen also visited Boston College and St. Lawrence.

"I didn't want to go on all (maximum) five visits," he said. "I just narrowed it down to three opportunities, three places I was interested in. Those were the three that made the cut and RPI was the best investment for me and I liked it the best, so that's why I'm here today."

A reporter suggested to Appert that the addition of Bailen was "a pretty good pickup."

"A very good pickup," Appert said with a broad smile.

"He's a great presence and we rely on him a lot," RPI co-captain Joel Malchuk said of Bailen. "Watching him compete, blocking shots or making hits ... he's great on the power play and has great poise on the puck. He's definitely a go-to guy and we depend on him for that."

Appert has occasionally liked to use five forwards on the power play but most of the time this season, Bailen will be out there running the first unit. He has a blistering shot from the point.

Bailen misses his former teammates and the Bowling Green-Toledo areas.

"Yeah, I miss the guys there, they were great teammates," he said. "I try to keep in touch with some of those guys but it's hard, I've been on so many teams, so many guys to keep in touch with them all. But I always try to check up on them and see how they're, how they're playing."

"And it's (Toledo) a great area. I liked the school a lot, but I love RPI and I'm an Engineer now."

Bailen takes pride in the 2010-11 season but expects more from both himself and the team during the upcoming season.

"It was a good season for the team and for myself," he said. "We had a lot of good (now gone) players last year, Chase (Polacek), Tyler (Helfrich) and Yorkie (goalie Allen York). We fell a little short of where we wanted to as a team."

"We had a great start, a mediocre finish and we didn't do as well as we wanted to, including myself. I think we just kind of let one another down and toward the end, we didn't play very well. You can mention the reasons why but in the end we just didn't come out and do the things we needed to, the Engineer way and that's what we're looking to change this year."

Bailen says RPI fans have been good to him - and all the Engineers.

"They love every single guy who plays here, and why we choose to come here, and wear the crest on our chests. We're just one big program and the fans treat us with great respect and they love every single one of us."

Bailen isn't a senior, nor is he a captain but Appert and the team will look to him for added leadership.

"Yeah, but I think our full of (past) captains," he said. "They may not have the 'C' or the 'A' on their chest, coach Appert, (assistant) coach (Bryan) Vines and coach (Nolan) Graham all go out and get guys who ... I think almost every guy on our team has worn a 'C' in juniors. When you have a locker room like that ... every guy on our team is a good leader and has a little niche of leadership skills."

Bailen doesn't have any personal goals for the season.

"No, more for the team ... to be more successful (RPI was 20-13-5 last year)." he said. "My only goal for myself is to just go out and compete harder than I did last year and not get lackadaisical on the ice, expecting good things to happen; just go out and earn everything that happens to me. I want to earn everything that I get."