ECAC Hockey: RPI up against Brown, history

The facts can’t be ignored.

The facts can’t be ignored.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hasn’t won an ECAC Hockey tournament series at Houston Field House in four tries under head coach Seth Appert. Two of those losses have come against Brown. The Bears won a first-round series in 2010 and eliminated the Engineers in the 2013 quarterfinals. Both series went three games.

Add to the fact that it has been 12 years since the Engineers have won a postseason series at home, and it would seem there is enormous pressure on the team to end the slide.

But sixth-seeded RPI (16-13-7) isn’t thinking of the past as it gets set host 11th-seeded Brown (5-17-7) in best-of-three first-round series starting tonight at 7. Game 2 will be 7 p.m. Saturday. If necessary, Game 3 is 7 p.m. Sunday.

“What happens in the past has no influence or doesn’t dictate anything about the present unless you let it,” Appert said. “We’re not going to let it. Our focus is on how we start the series at 7 o’clock on Friday night. That’s it.

“You can’t worry about winning a series, you can’t worry about Game 2 or potentially Game 3. You worry about the first shift Friday night, setting a tone, being the aggressor in the series. We’ve done a really good job of being physically competitive team, of being a team that’s hard to play against, of being a that gives ourselves a great chance to win pretty much every night.”

In both series against Brown, RPI lost the first game, won the second and dropped the third. In both Game 3s, Brown jumped out to 3-0 leads before holding on.

RPI senior goalie Jason Kasdorf was in the nets for the 2013 series.

“I think the biggest thing is that we just focus on taking it one shift at a time, not worrying about the whole series, just winning your shift,” Kasdorf said. “The result will take care of itself.”

RPI won the season series against Brown 1-0-1. But the Engineers could have easily lost both games.

The Nov. 14 game at the Field House ended in a 3-3 tie, but it’s a game that the Bears should have won. Tyler Bird’s shot got past goalie Cam Hackett with 41.9 seconds left in overtime. Hackett fell back on the puck, hiding the puck from the officials. The call on the ice was no goal. When they went to review it, the video replay system wasn’t working, so the call had to stand.

That led Brown coach Brendan Whittet to tell the Providence Journal, “An engineering school can’t figure out how to get the video going? Everybody pays a lot of money to have video technology available to the refs and all of a sudden it’s not working? It’s ridiculous, in Division I hockey, that they couldn’t find the replay. Outrageous. Can you imagine that happening at our place? I’d be embarrassed.”

In the Jan. 29 rematch at Meehan Auditorium, Brown jumped out to a 3-0 lead. RPI rallied for a 4-3 win.

“I think they have a good offensive group,” Kasdorf said. “That’s probably their key.”

Brown is led offensively by senior forward Nick Lappin with 16 goals and 16 assists. Freshman forward Tommy Marchin is second with 14 goals and 11 assists. Senior forward Mark Naclerio is next with five goals and 16 assists.

“I think Naclerio and Lappin are two of the better senior forwards in our league,” Appert said. “I think Lappin will be an all-league player this year, and Naclerio is an all-league caliber player. Naclerio is one of the best faceoff guys in college hockey.”

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