RPI wants Appert to continue momentum

In his fourth year as the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute men’s hockey coach, Seth Appert had his f

In his fourth year as the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute men’s hockey coach, Seth Appert had his first winning season.

RPI athletic director Jim Knowlton is con­fident that there will be many more.

Knowlton rewarded Appert for his job by giving him a two-year contract extension. The deal runs through the 2013-14 season, but financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Appert led the Engineers to an 18-17-4 record, including a 10-9-3 mark in ECAC Hockey play. They finished in a fifth-place tie with St. Lawrence, and were the sixth seed in the ECACH tournament, the first time they had home-ice advantage since 2006.

Appert, who came to RPI in 2006 after serving as an assistant coach at Denver University, has a 49-85-18 career record.

“I appreciate the opportunity that’s continued to be given to me and my staff by [school president] Dr. [Shirley] Jackson, [vice president for student life] Dr. [Eddie] Knowles and Jim Knowlton,” Appert said. “I love coaching this program. I have a lot of pride for RPI hockey, and also for this university and what we stand for. We’re excited to try to continue to build off the things that we’ve been doing here for the last four years.”

Under Appert, two RPI players won major ECACH awards this season. Junior forward Chase Polacek won Player of the Year, and was also named a first-team All-America. Freshman forward Jerry D’Amigo won Rookie of the Year, and also helped the United States win the gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships in January.

“I’ve watched what he’s done with our program,” Knowlton said. “I’ve watched the kind of student-athletes that are graduating from our program, and the student-athletes he’s bring into our program. We went from seven to 17 regular-season wins this year, and I really feel like the momentum has turned and we are really starting to move on the upward side.

“He’s going to continue to bring us to the promised land. We’re all wanting an ECAC championship, and then we’re looking for an NCAA championship.”

Appert didn’t feel any pressure to have a winning season this year.

“I know that there’s no pressure put on me by others that isn’t double what I put on myself,” Appert said. “I have very high standards that I have for myself and I have for our program, and what I expect of myself, in terms of work ethic and leadership for this program and daily accountability. I guess I don’t concern [myself] with expect­ations of others. My expect­ations are probably higher most of the time.

“At the same time, I have great appreciation for our fans and what they’ve meant to the program, and also to me. They have been really good to me and my family. Yeah, you get some calls, or e-mails or letters saying it’s time to start winning some hockey games. But overwhelmingly, the response that I’ve received from our fan base has been very positive about the direction of our program, the kind of young men we’re recruiting, not only to play, but the quality of character, and the style of play that we’re trying to bring to our program.”

Denver coach George Gwozdecky spoke about Appert last month when the Pioneers played in the NCAA hockey tournament East Regional at the Times Union Center. Gwozdecky recalled Appert as a very hard worker.

“There are very few guys I know who need as little sleep as Seth does,” Gwozdecky said. “He’s a four-hour-a-night guy. That’s how he’s always functioned. I’ve been with him once or twice where you see the batteries are running low, he gets eight hours of sleep and, boom, he’s ready to go. He’s hungry to learn, very intuitive, understands the dynamics and the rhythm of a game and the rhythm of a locker room.

“He’s a great salesperson. He’s a great representative of RPI.”

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