One year ago this weekend, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute prepared for a two-game series with second-ranked Miami (Ohio) at Houston Field House.
The Engineers were ranked 16th in the country and had an 8-5-3 record heading into the series. It was a chance to see where they were turning the corner under second-year coach Seth Appert.
It proved to be a disastrous weekend. The Engineers were swept, 7-3 and 5-1, giving up a combined nine goals in the third period of those games.
The losses started RPI on a year-long slump; the Engineers are 6-29-2 over the last year.
But as the Engineers (3-11-1) get set to face the third-ranked and CCHA-leading RedHawks (10-3-3) tonight and Sunday in Oxford, Ohio, RPI coach Seth Appert would rather look ahead than look back.
“We haven’t looked at it that way,” Appert said. “There’s no reason to. We went through struggles at the beginning of this season. More importantly, last season was last season. You learn from that, but you move past. It’s different players, new freshmen, graduating seniors, etc.”
And that’s how the players are looking at it.
“In the past year, we’ve made steps in the right direction,” senior goalie Mathias Lange said. “It hasn’t shown as much as we love to on the record right now. Guys are working hard every day. We still have a pretty young team, but I’m not making that as an excuse.”
The Engineers’ offense broke out for 10 goals last weekend, including a season-high seven against Brown last Saturday. Before that, RPI went four straight games with scoring just one goal each game, and hadn’t scored more than three goals in a game.
“We’re maturing a little bit as a team. We still have a long ways to go,” Appert said. “But we, as a staff, have seen signs in practice in the last three weeks, and in parts of games against Northeastern, against Mercyhurst and, obviously, against Yale and Brown where, whether it’s one period, it’s two periods, it’s 30 minutes, it’s 50 minutes, we’re seen parts of games where we’re starting to understand how we need to play to have success. Those are the things we’re focused on, and we’re not focused on our ranking or lack there of, or where Miami is.”
Patrick Cullen played a big role in last weekend’s goal outburst. The freshman forward scored four, and that earned him ECACH rookie of the week. He is second on the team in scoring with seven goals and three assists.
“The lightbulb’s starting to come on,” Appert said. “What we’ve been trying to hammer home with him in the first half of the season is his habits as a player have to get better.”
Appert said Lange and Allen York will each get a start in the series. . . .
Sophomore forward Carter Camper leads the RedHawks in scoring with 10 goals and 10 assists. . . .
Sunday’s game will be televised by ESPNU at 4:30 p.m. It is available on Time Warner Cable channel 606.
Categories: College Sports