The Perfect Mind
Confidence grows, expectations change, and
everyone is happier when things are going well. It’s
a nice feeling to have, and it’s one that’s
running rampant in the Houston Field House around the Rensselaer
Engineers hockey team.
After struggling for most of last season,
and losing its first two games this year, RPI finds itself
on a three-game winning streak. Those wins have already
had an effect on the team’s mindset. Junior center
Oren Eizenman said that positive thoughts are growing with
“Winning, if you expect to do it, you’ll
do it. Last year we kind of got into a funk where even if
we were winning, we were kind of expecting something (bad)
to happen. Now we’re just the opposite, so it’s
been really refreshing to get these first wins under our
belt,” Eizenman said. “It’s one of those
attitudes. If you go in expecting that the puck is going
to be taken away from you it usually will. Because everyone
is so optimistic and things have been going our way, everyone
is up-tempo and moving their feet. That’s what has
us on this roll. It’s a cycle where one thing helps
the other thing and everything is spiraling upward right
The nature of the victories can’t be
overlooked. The Engineers trailed 2-0 in wins over Michigan
Tech and Boston University. Going through some difficulty
and responding in a positive manner can only help a team
when it faces similar situations later in the season.
“It’s been very important. It’s
been highly publicized, especially in this area, our season
last year was not up to our usual standards. The first two
wins, the Michigan Tech game and BU, were come-from-behind
wins and it just does wonders to lift the spirit of a team,”
Senior Kevin Croxton is providing his usual
offensive punch, with seven points through five games. He
is playing on a line with Eizenman (2-3-5) and Jonathan
Ornelas (2-2-4). In goal, freshman Matthias Lange is looking
to prove that Thomas Vanek isn’t the only Austrian-born
player capable of making an impact in college hockey. Lange
has been the hot goaltender, and has been in net for all
three wins. The shutout of Army on Sunday was the first
of his career.
Now that RPI has found a winning attitude
and tasted a bit of success, the challenge is to hold on
“I think that’s real important,
especially with these guys,” coach Dan Fridgen said.
“We’ve been playing some real solid hockey,
even in the losses that we’ve had out at Alaska and
up at Lowell, it’s not like we were playing poor hockey.
You have a save here or there or a bounce here or there
that might be the difference in a game. You create your
own bounces as well.”
Right now, the Engineers are creating those
bounces with a positive outlook, and with growing confidence;
bounces and breaks could continue to go RPI’s way.
AND HEARD IN THE ECACHL
Cornell knows the importance –
The Big Red welcomes Michigan State to Lynah Rink this weekend
and even though these are the first two games of the season
for Cornell against a non-conference opponent, Cornell knows
that they could have an impact on their fortunes later on
this season. There was some grumbling to be heard last year
when the Big Red ended up playing NCAA Tournament games
at Mariucci Arena last year on an Olympic-sized ice surface
against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The difference between
Minnesota being a number-one seed for the tournament and
Cornell being a number-two seed was their record against
common opponent Michigan State. The Big Red lost and tied
against the Spartans, while Minnesota beat Michigan State
in the College Hockey Showcase. It is conceivable, but not
certain, that had the Big Red fared better in those October
games against the Spartans they would have been placed in
a different regional than Mariucci.
It’s a fact that has been discussed
by the Big Red as it prepares for this weekend’s games.
“We have mentioned it briefly, but we
don’t harp on it,” senior captain Matt Moulson
said. “We don’t have a lot of non-conference
games so we take these seriously, especially games against
ranked teams because of the NCAA Tournament selection criteria
about quality wins. We are going to come out and play and
we know that it might affect where we play down the line."
Harvard and Dartmouth fill voids –
The first ECACHL game of the season features Harvard and
Dartmouth. For more on this game, see the Great Weekend
Getaway. Looking back to last weekend, however, both teams
hosted McGill in exhibition contests and used the game to
get a look at some new faces that must step into the roles
left vacant by departed star players.
At Harvard, coach Ted Donato dressed a total
of 26 players and used the game (a 4-3 loss to McGill) as
an evaluation opportunity. He took a look at some of his
young players and experimented with combinations. Sophomore
Jon Pelle had two of the Harvard goals. John Daigneau and
Justin Tobe split the goaltending duties, and although Tobe
allowed all four goals in that game, Donato indicated that
both goaltenders will get starts in the early part of the
season until one of them emerges as the go-to guy. Both
are trying to replace Dov Grumet-Morris, an All-American
last season and among the best goaltenders to ever play
for Harvard’s storied program “It is a lot easier
when you’ve got a guy like Dov,” Donato said.
Dartmouth also played against McGill, and
came out of that with a 5-2 victory. In Hanover, the lineup
question marks surround replacing all-everything winger
Lee Stempniak. Hugh Jessiman also left the program to sign
a professional contract with the New York Rangers. First-line
center Mike Ouellette returns and it looks like wingers
Nick Johnson and Tanner Glass will join him to start the
season. Ouellette had three goals in the exhibition. Defenseman
Grant Lewis had two assists. Johnson was an ECACHL All-Rookie
Team member last year, and spent a lot of time on a line
with Ouellette and Stempniak. Sean Samuel will likely be
the starting goalie, taking over that title from Dan Yacey,
who was a senior last year.
Great Weekend Getaway
at Harvard (Sat.)
Two of the better programs in recent ECACHL
campaigns get things started by facing off on Saturday
night. Harvard looks to continue the run of success
without several important players. Dartmouth tries
to take the first step toward qualifying for the NCAA
Tournament, an accomplishment that they’ve failed
to achieve despite several close calls.
While You’re There: Big Green
and Crimson will compete against one another in a
variety of athletic endeavors so be sure to visit
Cambridge early and make it a full day. Of particular
note, a 12:30 football game in venerable Harvard Stadium.
INCH readers know that
we cherish the traditions of the game of hockey. That’s
why this week’s Stick Salute goes out to Rick
DiPietro (pictured below), former Boston
University Terrier and current goaltender for the
New York Islanders. In an age where goalie pads are
dressed up in a myriad of colors, DiPietro’s
brown pads, blocker, and catching glove remind me
of times gone by. When matched with the classic Islanders
logo, it almost looks as if Billy Smith is back between
the pipes in Nassau County, but DiPietro would need
a white Koho helmet and a few cross-checking minors
to complete the deal.
of the ECACHL schedule is often mentioned in this
part of the notebook, and it’ll get mentioned
again today. Due to the schedule limitations placed
on Ivy League programs, they don’t have the
benefit of the extensive preparation time that other
Division I programs enjoy. It also means that teams
jump right into important contests, such as is the
case with Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Congrats to RPI coach Dan
Fridgen. The win over Army on Sunday was the 200th
of his coaching career.
• Kyle Wilson lived up to the
accolades showered down on him and linemates Ryan
Smyth and Marc Fulton in last week’s notebook. Wilson
had his first career hat trick and added an assist in Colgate’s
6-1 win over Army. Ryan Smyth also had four points in the
game. All of those were assists.
• Another lineup note, this
one from the Cornell Big Red. When Shayne Hynes
signed a pro contract, it left a spot open on the top line
that has been filled by Ray Sawada for the time being. Also,
Hynes and Charlie Cook are gone from the top power-play
unit, and Ryan O’Byrne and Sasha Pokulok take their
spots along with Matt Moulson, Byron Bitz, and Topher Scott.
• Princeton and RPI used similar
methods to score four goals in games last weekend.
In Princeton’s exhibition win, and RPI’s win
over Army, the teams scored three power-play goals and one
• Union’s penalty killing
efforts have been ineffective. The Dutchmen are
killing off fewer than 70 percent of opposition power plays
through four games this season. In Union’s last game,
Connecticut was 3-for-7 on the power play.
• Yale continues its preparations
with another exhibition against a Canadian university. After
defeating Waterloo 3-1 last week, the Bulldogs welcome Concordia
• Quinnipiac’s Reid Cashman
continues his strong scoring pace with 11 points
through six games. Goaltenders Bud Fisher and Josh Siembida
have posted shutouts for the Bobcats thus far.
• Clarkson has named its two
assistant captains to join captain Chris Brekelmans
in leadership roles. Senior winger Jeff Genovy and sophomore
center Nick Dodge will wear the “A”s.
• Freshman forwards Sean Muncy
and Matt Vokes have made an early impact through
two scrimmages at Brown. Vokes scored three goals in those
• St. Lawrence will likely welcome
John Zeiler back to the lineup this weekend in
two road games at RIT, which is good news because defenseman
Drew Bagnall will be out for the next two months after having
surgery on his hand to repair tendons.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report.