November 10, 2006
Words Can Be Deceiving

By Joe Gladziszewski

If the head coach is uttering the following quote, you can probably guess how things went for his team on that particular night.

ECAC Hockey League Notebook

Rensselaer's Jordan Alford is undefeated in three starts this year.

National TV Schedule

"They completely outplayed us and out-executed us. They were better prepared. As coaches, we'll take the blame for that."

The words were uttered by Rensselaer head coach Seth Appert in the aftermath of RPI's 4-3 overtime win against Princeton.




One thing that Appert has instilled in this year's Engineers is a belief and confidence in themselves and their teammates. They're finding ways to succeed even when things aren't going so well.

Two very telling statistics point out just how well RPI has done in adverse circumstances. At 3-1-3 on the year, they've lost just once in seven games. But the opposing team has scored the first goal in all seven of those contests. RPI is fighting back from deficits and earning points.

In that game against Princeton, RPI allowed the first goal but scored the next three. That lead then evaporated as the Tigers dominated play in the third period and tied the score in the final minute. But RPI rallied again, and won it in overtime.

"When they score a goal, like tonight they scored first, and we bounced back with three right away. They tie it up and we come back in overtime. The feeling on the bench is we know it's not over until it's over," junior forward Jonathan Ornelas said. "We'll always put something together and we've been showing it lately. Hopefully we can keep it up."

A similar story unraveled on Saturday at Houston Field House. The Engineers trailed twice but earned a 2-2 tie with Quinnipiac.

"Teams that believe in each other, and teams that believe in what we're trying to do find ways to win games when they don't play that well," Appert said.

Making plays at opportune times and excellent goaltending have helped RPI to a solid start. There is optimism and enthusiasm around the team, largely due to the fact that Appert has changed the team's style of play. He encourages them to move the puck into open space and create odd-man situations. It's OK if they try to be creative and turn it over, as long as they backcheck hard. So far, it has suited the players in the lineup.

"It's great," Ornelas said. "We're off to a real good start and the way that coach has us playing really fits into everybody's style of play and it shows. We're playing really well, the practices are going well and we have a real good feel around the rink right now."

A good deal of the success is due to the work of the goaltending tandem of Jordan Alford and Mathias Lange. Alford, a junior, is 2-0-1 with a 2.21 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage. The soft-spoken netminder summed things up very succinctly.

"We're all sticking together and all playing for each other," he said. "It's a real good atmosphere."


He shoots and scores! And he shoots and scores ...: Clarkson is leading the nation in scoring with nearly five goals per game. Junior forward Steve Zalewski leads the Golden Knights with eight goals and is getting lots of credit, but the key to Clarkson's potent offense is its talent throughout the lineup.

"It's a reflection on the players that we have and our depth," Clarkson coach George Roll said. "If you look at our overall scoring, obviously Stevie Zalewski is having a great year, but there's a lot of balance from top to bottom. Teams can't just concentrate on shutting down one line. We think we can get scoring from a lot of different places."

Clarkson has also improved its play away from Cheel Arena. The Golden Knights won just three games away from Potsdam last year, but already have three wins and a tie on the road this year.

"Our guys are a little bit older. We played in some tight games last year on the road and there were times when we played very well. I thought one of the best games we've played since I've been coaching here was against Miami, but we seemed to find ways to lose," Roll said. "It's the opposite this year. We haven't played great all the time, but we've come through with a big goal or Dave (Leggio) has made a big save. We're finding ways to win."

Great Weekend Getaway
120x60 - Brand Red

Harvard at Cornell (Fri.)
Dartmouth at Cornell (Sat.)

The fish will fly on Friday night in front of the nation's college-hockey-watching eyes on CSTV, despite measures being taken Cornell administrators and security to eliminate the tradition. The Big Red is the nation's only unbeaten and untied team, at 4-0-0 on the season, but hosts two very dangerous teams that dropped valuable league standings points at home last weekend.

While You're There: Ithaca's Commons is a cozy commerce area that features several bars and restaurants, but two particularly good dining options. Viva Taqueria has great Mexican food and Benchwarmers is a traditional sports bar.

Stick Salute

Here's an "Attaboy" for Harvard freshman goalie Kyle Richter, who earned his first career shutout on Tuesday night by blanking powerful Boston College. It should give Harvard momentum heading into this weekend's gams.

Bench Minor

I had the pleasure to attend RPI's Black Friday game against Princeton but was unsuccessful in my efforts to bring home one of the sweaters. My bid for Jake Luthi's #15 was less than my car payment, but more than my car insurance payment. Alas, it was not enough. I also dropped 10 tickets into the jersey raffle, but none of them were drawn there.


• There are only eight ECACHL games on the schedule this weekend as Clarkson and St. Lawrence host Princeton and Quinnipiac, while Cornell and Colgate entertain Harvard and Dartmouth.

• Maybe we can blame it on the Veteran's Day Holiday, but there are many uncommon starting times for games involving ECACHL teams this weekend. If you're heading out to the rinks, don't assume a 7 p.m. face off. Keep in mind that Saturday's Harvard-Colgate and Quinnipiac-St. Lawrence games begin at 4 p.m. and Friday's Harvard-Cornell game is an 8 p.m. start because CSTV is broadcasting the game from Lynah Rink. Saturday's Princeton-Clarkson game begins at 4:30 p.m. and Brown hosts Wayne State at 2 p.m. the same afternoon. Also, Sunday's RPI game against Merrimack is a 5 p.m. face-off. Earlier schedules had indicated that it was a 2 p.m. start.

• St. Lawrence's pair of wins at Dartmouth and Harvard last weekend marked the first time they've taken four points on that trip since 1984-85. Of course, Harvard and Dartmouth weren't travel partners from the 1991-92 campaign through the 2004-05 season, when Dartmouth was paired with Vermont and Harvard with Brown.

• Union ended a five-game winless streak with an overtime win against Princeton. Olivier Bouchard scored the game-winner. The Dutchmen have this weekend off.

• Clarkson isn't the only team to lead a national statistics category ... Yale is the most penalized team in the nation (38.2 PIMs per game), and Brown is second (35.7).

• St. Lawrence snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-0 victory at Wayne State on Saturday. The losses to Niagara, Providence, and Michigan State were all one-goal defeats or by a two-goal margin with an empty-net goal for the opponent.

• The performance has been better than the results for Princeton. Here's coach Guy Gadowsky's assessment after the first of a pair of back-to-back 4-3 overtime defeats: "Anytime you come back, and anytime you score a goal late to tie it up you have to be happy with that, but the bottom line is that we didn't finish it. If you look at the performance, I think the performance was a good one. They're a good team and this is a tough place to play, but they found a way to win and we didn't."

• Harvard hadn't lost back-to-back games since the first week of January in 2005, so a three-game losing streak was almost unthinkable. But it happened after St. Lawrence's win at Bright last Saturday. It was the first three-game losing streak for Harvard since Feb. 2002 (at Cornell, at Colgate, and Northeastern in the Beanpot) and the first 0-3 start since the 1951-52 season when Boston University, Boston College and RPI beat the Crimson.

• Prior to the Governor's Cup games in late October, Quinnipiac last played in the Pepsi Arena on Oct. 15-16, 1999. At the time they were playing in a league still known as the MAAC and were in a tournament with Rensselaer, Boston University, and Niagara. The Bobcats were in their second season of Division I hockey at that time. They obviously hope they won't have another seven-year gap between games at the downtown Albany facility.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report