RPI Preview; Watson & Nolet Senior CLASS Finalists

RPI Engineers
0-0, ECAC 0-0

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Massachusetts Minutemen
0-0, Hockey East 0-0

Official RPI hockey website
RPI hockey fansite

Pull those triangles out of the closet, the season is upon us!

The RPI team that will take the ice tonight at the Mullins Center will look different than the one that got blasted by the Minutemen by a score of 6-0 last year.  Actually there will be a lot of familiar names for those who made the trip out to Houston Field House last season, but those players are now much more experienced than the young team UMass faced last year and will likely play much closer this time around.  Add in what Inside College Hockey is calling the 9th best recruiting class and the Engineers should be expected to do much better than their 2nd to last ECAC finish last year.

RPI returns seven of their top eight scorers from last year, led by junior Chase Polacek.  Sophomore Alex Angers-Goulet seems poised to have a breakout season after really getting hot as the season went along last year.  UMass will also have to be wary of Patrick Cullen who was second on the team in goals last year as a freshman.  Watch for freshman Jerry D’Amigo, a talented forward who played in the National Development Program and was considering a scholarship offer from UMass before heading to Rensselaer.

RPI returns even more experience on the blue line as their entire defensive corps is back from last year.  They’ll be led by a couple big, physical defensemen John Kennedy and Peter Merth.  Mathias Lange who gave up the six goals last year is gone and graduated.  RPI will likely start sophomore Allen York who took the job from Lange at the end of last season.  The Columbus Blue Jacket draft pick put a GAA of 3.02 in the 16 games he played.

RPI will look to carry over some momentum from the end of last season that saw them sweep Dartmouth in their own rink from the ECAC playoffs and nearly upset NCAA participant Cornell in the following round.  It’s been nearly a year but one would think they haven’t forgotten the beating the Minutemen put on them, both on the scoreboard and on the ice.  Things got pretty chippy at the end with some RPI players getting injured and Chris Davis getting a game misconduct.

For the Minutemen they’ll probably be hard-pressed to match the scoring output of last year’s game but if they can just match the consistency of effort, they should do fine.  Get used to me hoping/calling for consistency which has plagued the UMass teams in recent years.  I think it should be adopted as the team mantra.  Since it’s the first game of the season I don’t have anything specific to look for or address.  Although there are a few things I’m wondering about.  Such as, will the sophomores like TJ Syner and Matt Irwin look definitively better?  Can Wellman avoid a sophomore slump?  Can Will Ortiz stay cool and calm and put up 20+ points like his freshman year? Just what can a DIII rookie of the year do at this level?  Will the offense and forechecking be opened up more given the team’s speed? Who from the group of Mike Marcou, Mike Donnellan, Darren Rowe, and Kevin Kessler will be able to step up their game and fill the shoes of Topher Bevis and John Wessbecker?  Will UMass lack a physical presence now that Alex Berry and Scott Crowder are gone? How the heck do you pronounce Czepiel anyway?

In just a few hours maybe some of these questions will be answered.

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The game notes from the RPI side of things have been posted on their website.  They note that RPI and UMass first played hockey in 1911.  Mass Aggie won that first one 12-1.

The Daily Collegian has a preview of the game.

Toot liked what he saw from Mike Donnellan on Saturday according to the game preview from the Republican.  Mike Kessler?  Hmm….

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Matty V of the Hamp Gazette has his season preview while the Daily Collegian takes a look at the UMass coaching staff.

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Brett Watson and Martin Nolet have been named finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.  The award is in recognition for student athletes who excel in character, community, competition, and the classroom.  UMass is the only school with two players on the list of 20 finalists.  Congrats to them.

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Merrimack’s freshman forward phenom (I love alliteration) is having problems getting eligible.  Warrior Rink Rat says that he may be Mack’s top center.

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A book chronicling BU’s national championship run last season has been released.  I’m guessing it doesn’t mention the drunk Miami fan who tumbled down seven rows of people and landed on my neck at last year’s Frozen Four.  Ow.

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With the start of the season our 2009 recruits are no longer recruits.  Therefore I’ve moved the 2009 recruit page to the Archives page.  As of right now all our future recruits could potentially be on campus for 2010.  As I get more information about who is coming when I’ll split out the current recruit page to next year’s class and then a seperate page for the classes beyond.  For now they’re all in the same page.