Yanovitch ready to pull the trigger for Union

Brian Yanovitch considers himself more of a passer than a goal scorer. But the Union freshman forwar

Brian Yanovitch considers himself more of a passer than a goal scorer. But the Union freshman forward showed last Saturday that he does have a scoring touch.

As the Dutchmen begin their regular season today at 5:05 p.m. when they face ECAC Hockey rival Quinnipiac in the first round of the Mutual of Omaha Stampede at Nebraska-Omaha, Yanovitch will be asked to shoot the puck more.

He did that in Union’s 5-4 loss to the U.S. National Under-18 team, tallying two goals. Yanovitch scored 1:37 into the game to give the Dutchmen a 1-0 lead. His second goal late in the second period tied the score at 4-4.

“Brian is making the adjustment to the [college] level,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “He passed a lot more in junior hockey than he shot the puck. But he always had the pot­ential to be a good goal scorer and a shooter. It’s a great sign for a rookie to get off to a start like that because, obviously, we want all three of our rookie forwards [Randy Hanagan and Kelly Zajac are the others] to contribute this year.

“For Brian to get off to that start might be a real bright spot for us. Hopefully, it will give him con­fidence to keep shooting the puck all the time.”

Since it was an exhibition game, the goals won’t count on Yan­ovitch’s stats. But it was good enough for him to be named ECACH rookie of the week Tuesday.

Yanovitch had 18 goals and 33 assists last season for the Eastern Junior Hockey League’s Bridge­water Bandits. He did show a knack for scoring goals during his soph­omore year at Mansfield (Mass.) High School in 2004-05, when he had 30 goals, along with 31 assists, in 22 games.

“I didn’t score that much in jun­iors,” Yanovitch said. “I was more of an assist man. The first two goals were kind of weird to score.”

On the first one, Yanovitch fired a wrist shot from the left circle over goalie Adam Murray’s glove.

“The first goal kind of killed my nerves,” Yanovitch said. “I was really nervous out there. To get that first goal right away was great.”

On the second one, Yanovitch was going to the net when he put in the rebound of a Lane Caffaro drive from the top of the slot.

“I was pretty much in the right place at the right time,” Yanovitch said. “Lane had a nice shot on net. The goalie didn’t control the rebound well.”

Despite the loss to the Under-18 team, Leaman was pleased with the offensive attack. The Dutchmen fired 52 shots on goal.

But if they want to beat the Bobcats, the Dutchmen must cut down on taking penalties. They were called for 12 penalties, 10 of which came over the final two periods.

“I know they have a great power play. They always do,” Leaman said. “They have very good faceoff men. But I really like our team. I like the way things are going right now.”

Big stretch for RPI

When Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute takes the ice tonight at 7 against sixth-ranked New Hampshire at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H., it will begin a big stretch of games for the team.

The Engineers will play three games in five days, and five games in nine days. After facing UNH (1-0), the Engineers (0-1) will host Bentley at 7 p.m. Saturday at Houston Field House, then entertain Massachusetts at 7 p.m. Tuesday before playing in the Governor’s Cup next Friday and Saturday.

It will feel like the Engineers are playing a pro schedule, which is fine with coach Seth Appert.

“You might not want to have this type of stretch in the second half of the season, or coming down to playoff time,” Appert said. “At this time, it’s great to have this amount of games. The guys are excited and ready for them. We have a deep team that we need to get different guys different games.”

RPI meets an UNH team that is coming off an impressive 5-1 win over Wisconsin last Saturday. Goalie Brian Foster made 30 saves, and five different Wildcats scored the goals, including James van Riemsdyk, who was picked by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the 2007 NHL draft.

It’s the first meeting between RPI and UNH since Nov. 29, 2003, at the Whittemore Center. UNH overcame a 3-2 second-period deficit to beat RPI, 4-3.

“I saw the game on tape against Wisconsin, and [UNH] is outstanding,” Appert said. “They’re very good on the big sheet [of ice]. They don’t lose very much up there. They skate extremely well as a team. They’re kind of a hyper-aggressive team. They really come at you, and take chances. I don’t want to say they cheat on offense, but they anticipate offense extremely well, and make you pay for playing sloppy against them.”

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