While the Union College men’s hockey players get to enjoy some time off for Christmas, Dutchmen head coach Nate Leaman will be busy.
For the second time in thee years, Leaman will serve as an assistant coach for Team USA in the World Junior Hockey Championships Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Ottawa.
Leaman is on the staff of head coach Brian Rolston. Rolston was the head coach and Leaman the assistant, in 2007, when Team USA won a bronze medal when the tournament was held in Sweden.
On Monday, a day after the Dutchmen returned from their two-game series in Maine, Leaman headed to Lake Placid to prepare for Team USA’s training camp.
“We have a five-day training camp, which is really nice,” Leaman said. “We’ll going to get a feel for what we have. We’re going to get a feel for what style that, ultimately, we’ll be successful playing.”
Leaman says he has a better
understanding of how to prepare for the tournament. But his level of excitement for it hasn’t changed.
“Being through the tournament once before, I have a much different take on it,” Leaman said, “of how long the tournament is, how you need to peak at the right time and how important penalty kill and the power play are against the European teams. It’s going to be a great challenge.
“You even anticipate some of the situations a little bit more because you know what to expect the second time through. The first time through, I definitely think we were prepared.”
Team USA returns its three top scorers from last year, forwards James van Riemsdyk (New Hampshire), Colin Wilson (Boston University) and Jordan Schroeder (Minnesota).
“Those three players are outstanding players, and they’ll be relied on heavily,” Leaman said. “Ultimately, the key for our team is to have balanced scoring.”
Associate coach Rick Bennett will run the Dutchmen while Leaman is away. Leaman will miss the Shillelagh Tournament Jan. 2-3 in suburban Chicago.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute sophomore forward Tyler Helfrich is scheduled to see a doctor today in his hometown of Calgary, Alberta, to determine the extent of the knee injury he suffered early in the first period of last Saturday’s 3-1 loss to third-ranked Miami (Ohio).
Helfrich, who led the team in scoring with nine goals and 20 assists last season, is third this season with three goals and seven assists.
“We’re hoping that it’s some type of an MCL [sprain],” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “If that’s the case, [he] wouldn’t be [out] as long. Right now, we don’t have a lot to report. He could potentially be back for the Denver Cup
[Jan. 2-3], or ECAC play, or out for an extended period of time.”
Helfrich joins a list of RPI’s skating wounded.
Forward Paul Kerins sprained his ankle in Saturday’s Miami game. Forward Andrei Uryadov pulled a groin muscle in practice last Friday. Forward Jordan Watts hasn’t played since suffering a concussion in the Nov. 29 game against Northeastern. Defenseman Mike Bergin has injuries to his shoulders.
Appert hopes to have Kerins, Uryadov and Watts for the Denver Cup. The Engineers play third-ranked Boston University in the opener Jan. 2. They will face either Denver and Holy Cross the next day. Holy Cross features former RPI forward Jordan Cyr, who leads the team with eight goals, and is second in scoring with 13. Cyr scored twice in a 9-4 loss at New Hampshire last Thursday.
RPI has received a verbal commitment for next season from forward Marty O’Grady of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League’s Wellington Dukes.
O’Grady, 19, is fifth on the team in scoring with 17 goals and 21 assists in 28 games. Last year, he had 13 goals and 20 assists in 49 games.
LEAVE OF ABSENCE
Quinnipiac goalie Nick Pisellini has taken a leave of absence from the team, coach Rand Pecknold announced last Friday.
“Nick is going to take some needed time off,” Pecknold said. “We don’t know when he’ll return to the team — it could be next semester, or possibly next fall. It is a family matter, and we will respect his privacy. We wish nothing but the best for Nick and his family during this time.”
U.S. Hockey Report said Pisellini’s father in Illinois is gravely ill. USHR also reported that Pisellini rejoined the Chicago Steel, the U.S. Hockey League team he played for the previous two seasons. If he dressed for a Steel’s game, he will be ineligible to return to Quinnipiac this season.
Pisellini has a 6-2-1 record with a 1.38 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage. Senior Bud Fisher will get most of the playing time.
Here’s a look at how college hockey players from the Capital Region are doing heading into the Christmas break.
u Boston College sophomore defenseman Nick Petrecki (Clifton Park) has four assists in 16 games.
u Quinnipiac junior forward Mike Atkinson (Kinderhook) has three assists in 11 games.
u New Hampshire freshman forward Mike Borisenok (Watervliet) has one goal in four games.
u RPI junior defenseman Laura Gersten (Queensbury) has three goals and five assists in 17 games, and is tied for fifth on the team in scoring.
u St. Lawrence junior forward Tara Akstull (Clifton Park) has seven goals and 12 assists in 19 games. She is tied for second on the team in scoring, and tied for fifth in the league in overall scoring.
u Vermont junior defenseman Melanie Greene (Queensbury) has a goal and three assists in 11 games.
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