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College hockey: Hard work paying dividends for Dutchmen forward Pallos

College hockey: Hard work paying dividends for Dutchmen forward Pallos

After playing in 57 games his first two years with Union College, Justin Pallos struggled to get ice

After playing in 57 games his first two years with Union College, Justin Pallos struggled to get ice time last season. He appeared in just 10 contests.

This season, Pallos is bouncing back.

Pallos, who grew up in Rotterdam, has appeared in 14 games this season and has already established career season-highs in goals with four and points with seven. He came into the season with two goals and eight assists in 67 career games.

An injury to Union senior forward Adam Presizniuk got Pallos into the lineup. Last weekend, Pallos played left wing on a line with center Kelly Zajac and right wing Wayne Simpson.

“I just had to be ready and work hard,” Pallos said. “I think it shows the depth of our team. I think any guy could step into the role and play on that line with ‘Zaj’ and Wayne. As long as I’m working hard, good things will happen for me. That’s been my focus, so far.”

Pallos worked hard for the first two-goal game of his career last Friday against American International. He scored the Dutchmen’s first two goals in the same fashion, by simply going to the net.

On the first one, midway through the first period, Zajac dug the puck out of a scrum in the AIC right-wing corner. He took it to the net and got a shot on net. AIC goalie Ryan Kerpan made the save. Pallos got the rebound, and his first shot was stopped. But Pallos got the second rebound past Kerpan.

Pallos got the game-winning goal at 6:17 of the second. Simpson drove the net off of a faceoff win by Zajac. Simpson’s shot was kicked out by Kerpan, but Pallos was there for the rebound. The Dutchmen took control of the game after that.

“Justin has tremendous character,” Union coach Nate Leaman said after the AIC game. “He’s our spark plug. He’s our little Energizer rabbit. He’s the guy that’s got to be a bulldog for us, and I keep mentioning that to him. He won two one-on-one battles, got two second chances, followed his shots to the net, got to the dirty area and scored. If our guy who’s 5-7 can do that, that’s great leadership out of ‘Pallie’ to show other guys that we’ve got to get to that area and score.”

Leaman says the key for Pallos is to have a high energy level and battle hard every shift.

“I’ve held him to a high standard through his career,” Leaman said. “It’s starting to pay off for him. It’s fun to see.”

Pallos understands Leaman’s methods and has no complaints.

“If I’m not playing hard, if I’m not going well, I’m not going to be playing,” Pallos said. “That’s pretty fair. I know if I don’t have a good week of practice, I know I’m not going to be playing Friday and Saturday. I’ve told him, in every meeting I’ve had with him, that I’m perfectly fine with that.”

Pallos lived in Rotterdam until he was 12 years old when his father, who works for General Electric, was transferred from the Schenectady plant to Connecticut. The Pallos family now lives in Glastonbury, Conn.

Pallos is no stranger to the Messa Rink ice surface. He used to play for the Schenectady Youth Hockey Association, reaching the Mites level.

“I learned how to skate at the Union rink, and what used to be Center City before they tore it down,” Pallos said. “It’s kind of neat to be able to play college hockey at the rink you learned how to skate on. Not many people can say they’ve done that. It’s a pretty special feeling.”

NEW CAST

Presizniuk, who is recovering from a broken right thumb, skated after practice Wednesday wearing a glove on his right hand.

Leaman said Presizniuk was fitted with a new cast. During his skate, Presizniuk took some shots.

“He saw the doctor [Wednesday], and they gave him a different cast,” Leaman said. “What you probably saw was him trying to do a little bit with that cast. He’ll go back [to the doctor] one more time before Christmas. They gave him a cast he can play with and a cast that he can have when he’s not playing hockey.”

Leaman is hoping that Presizniuk will return for the Dutchmen’s game against Minnesota in the first round of the Dodge Holiday Classic Dec. 31 in Minneapolis.

Presizniuk broke the thumb is the second period of Union’s 4-3 overtime loss to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Nov. 13.

THIS WEEK IN UNION HISTORY

Time for another stroll down memory lane in Union hockey’s 20th year at the Division I level. These are games that didn’t make my top 20 list in the October special section.

Union 7, Connecticut 2 (Dec. 17, 2006).

TJ Fox scored twice during the Dutchmen’s four-goal second period, helping Union to a win. Fox’s first goal of the per­iod snapped a 1-1 tie. Fox also had an assist. Jason Walters added two goals and an assist in a game that saw UConn’s Eric

St. Arnauld and Nick Schneider ejected from the game for major checking from behind penalties.

TIME CHANGE

There has been a time change for RPI’s game at Alabama-Huntsville on Dec. 31.

Originally scheduled for an 8:05 p.m.

faceoff, the game will now start at

4:05 p.m.

ANOTHER TRICK

Clarkson forward Brandon DeFazio must love playing in Connecticut.

In an Dec, 4 game at Quinnipiac in Hamden, Conn., DeFazio scored three goals in the third period, lifting the Golden Knights to a 5-3 victory over the Bobcats.

Last Sunday, the Knights returned to Connecticut for a game against Sacred Heart in Fairfield, and DeFazio got another hat trick. This time, DeFazio had a goal in each period of Clarkson’s 9-2 win. DeFazio also had an assist.

CAMP OPENS

Training camp for players invited to the United States World Junior hockey team opens today at RPI’s Houston Field House as it prepares for the World Junior Hockey Championships Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

Team USA will hold two days of practices. The times are 9:30-11 a.m. and 5-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The practices are open to the public.

Team USA will face RPI in an exhib­ition game at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Field House.

Former RPI standout Jerry D’Amigo, who helped Team USA win the gold medal, is one of 29 players invited to the camp. D’Amigo is playing for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.

RECORD CROWD

Last Saturday’s outdoor hockey game between Michigan and Michigan State at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., drew a record crowd.

What that record number is, apparently, is up for debate.

The crowd was announced at 113,441 during Michigan’s 5-0 victory in what was dubbed “The Big Chill.” On Tuesday, the Guinness Book of World Records listed the crowd at 85,451.

“We will continue to work with Guinness to identify the exact number of people that went through the scanners, and those who had their tickets torn,” Michigan assistant sports information director for hockey Matt Trevor told the Detroit Free Press. “We knew we would end up with two different numbers because of different standards used.”

Trevor added that Guinness didn’t count people who were working the game, such as concessionaires and media members. Michigan counted those people.

Whatever the number is, it will still be a record for an outdoor hockey game. The previous record was the first outdoor game between Michigan and Michigan State in “The Cold War” at Michigan State Oct. 6, 2001.

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