Conditioning has made difference for RPI’s Helfrich

After leading Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in scoring his freshman season, forward Tyler Helfric

After leading Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in scoring his freshman season, forward Tyler Helfrich thought the goals and assists would come easy for him.

It took him two years to realize that nothing ever comes easy unless you work hard and are in shape.

Helfrich is off to a good start his senior season, and is second on the team in scoring with four goals and six assists.

Helfrich had nine goals and 20 assists in 38 games his first year. Over the next two seasons, however, he had a combined 39 points. Between injuries and healthy scratches, he missed 19 games over those two years.

He blames that on not being in great shape.

“[I’m] just keep my body healthy, just watching what I’m putting into myself and doing a little extra cond­itioning and not letting that slip,” Helfrich said. “When I got injured the last two seasons, I didn’t do the best job of getting back where I needed to be. That affected me for the rest of the year.”

Helfrich admits he didn’t take conditioning too seriously, espec­ially after his freshman year.

“I had a pretty successful, statistics-wise, freshman year,” Helfrich said. “After that, I just got a little complacent, and thought things would be easy.”

During the offseason, Helfrich worked out hard. He got in better shape.w

“This year, in August, was the first time I felt that jump and excitement since freshman year,” Helfrich said. “It’s exciting to have it back. I just have to make sure I don’t get too complacent again this year, and keep doing what’s gotten me here, which is hard work.”

RPI coach Seth Appert has seen a big difference in Helfrich’s play.

“He’s in better shape,” Appert said. “He’s taking more pride in how he practices. He’s taking more pride in the condition he keeps himself in, not only on the ice in practice, but on the bike. I think he’s doing a better job of taking care of his body. He’s in better shape right now, so that’s allowing him to be more competitive, which allows him to have the puck more. When he has the puck, he’s a pretty good hockey player. He’s talented.”

Helfrich is happy he got the message in time, and he hopes it will propel him to an outstanding senior season.

“You live and learn,” Helfrich said. “I did it that the hard way.”

Union blackout

Union is promoting tonight’s game against RPI as “Blackout Night.” The Dutchmen are expected to wear jerseys from the 1940-41 season.

There could be comparisons to RPI’s “Black Friday,” when the

Engineers wear black jerseys for their ECAC Hockey home opener. With RPI’s league home opener Saturday against Union, it will be “Black Saturday” at Houston Field House.

Union coach Nate Leaman said his team’s “Blackout” has nothing to do with RPI’s “Black Friday” concept.

“It wasn’t supposed to be a concept of a ‘Blackout,’ ” Leaman said. “It more of us wearing a third jersey, and a retro jersey. Our third jersey happens to be black because it’s from the 1940-41 season, and the jerseys were black back then. Then, our media relations jumped on the ‘Blackout.’ ”

Unlike RPI, which auctions off its black jerseys, Union will wear its third jersey at select games.

This Week in

Union history

Time for another stroll down memory lane in Union hockey’s 20th year at the Division I level.

u Clarkson 8, Union 7 (Nov. 13, 1993)

The Dutchmen couldn’t hold leads of 3-0, 4-3 and 6-4, rallied to tie the score at 7-7, but lost when Brian Mueller scored a power-play goal with 46 seconds remaining in the third period. Chris Ford had two goals and an assist, and Chris Albert added three assists as 13 of the 18 Dutchmen skaters recorded a point. Each team used two goalies in the wild game.

u Union 2, RPI 0 (Nov. 16, 1996)

In the first Capital Skate Classic, Craig Reckin and Russ Monteith scored, and goalie Trevor Koenig made 19 saves to lead the Dutchmen to the win at Knickerbocker Arena.

u Union 5, Vermont 1 (Nov. 13, 2003)

In his first game at Messa Rink since leaving Union to become Vermont’s head coach in

July 2003, Kevin Sneddon received a rude welcome. Jason Visser scored twice, Jonathan Poirier had three assists and goalie Kris May­otte made 32 saves and also had an assist to lead the Dutchmen past their ex-coach.

Zalewski commits to RPI

RPI has received a verbal commitment from Michael Zalewski, a forward for the British Columbia Hockey League’s Vernon Vipers.

Zalewski, a New Hartford native, is expected to be at RPI for the 2012-13 season, according to the BCHL’s Web site. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Zalewski has six goals and nine assists in 23 games this season.

Sexton injured

Clarkson freshman forward Ben Sexton’s season appears to be over after breaking his left arm last Friday against Colgate.

Sexton had a frightening fall into the boards at Cheel Arena after scoring 18 seconds into the game. He got tangled up with a Colgate defender, fell and slid heavily into the boards.

Sexton, who has three goals and two assists in six games, was carried off the ice on a stretcher.

“Our team docs thinks that it is season-ending.,” Clarkson coach George Roll said. “A lot will depend on the healing process, and how much atrophy there is in the arm. He should, however, be 100 percent for next season, with no ill effects. [It’s a] tough loss for us. [He’s a] great kid, and a very good hockey player.”

Asked if Sexton will apply for a medical redshirt, Roll said it is to early to speculate.

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