Houston Field House will have a different look and feel when Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute faces Colgate tonight at 7.
The lights in the field house and the video board won’t be as a bright. There won’t be any music screaming from the speakers. The goal horn won’t sound when the Engineers score. Public address announcer Al Shibley’s announcements will be softer.
It’s all for a good cause.
The Engineers are hosting an autism awareness game. The goal of the arrangements for the night is also to make the experience more comfortable for the children with autism and special needs who are in attendance at the game.
“I’m extremely excited and honored to partner with Autism Awareness,” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “Jason Kippen, who’s a good friend of our program, has been a big help in this. It’s a real neat opportunity.”
Kippen, a Troy native, longtime RPI fan and state worker, has a son, Mike, who has a form of autism called asperger. It is a type of pervasive developmental disorder. According to www.webmd.-com, asperger autism involves delays in the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate and to use imagination.
“Autistic kids can be very sensitive to noise, light,” Kippen said. “There’s other things, of course, within it.”
Kippen took Mike, who is an honors student at Sacred Heart elementary school, to his first RPI game when he was 5 years old.
“Crowded places are difficult for them,” Kippen said. “The doors open at 6 o’clock, so him and I go over together. We’re just going to get acclimated to the place and before everything gets ramped up. So, I’m walking through the field house, and I know Seth a little bit. Seth sees me and Mike and, I go over and we briefly talk to him.
“Mike does what is call autism dysregulates — he’s not looking coach in the eye, stimming a little bit and he’s flapping his wings. I whispered to coach, ‘He has autism. He has aspergers.’ And he said, ‘Jason, no problem.’ ”
Appert has a good understanding of autistic childrens’ needs. His mother is a special needs teacher in Minnesota.
“It has been something special in my family,” Appert said. “My mother has spent years working with autistic children.”
RPI’s coaches will wear Autism Speaks Puzzle Piece lapel pins. The pin is a replica of the Autism Speaks logo. On the back of the pin is the slogan, “Autism Speaks. It’s Time to Listen.”
There will also be opportunities for the Albany Autism Society to raise awareness and money. Members of the group will staff a table with information and literature to distribute. The night’s Chuck-a-Puck proceeds will be donated to the autism society.
“It’s an opportunity to raise the awareness of autism and that they are young kids that are special, and have an opportunity to do great things in their life and they don’t need to be treated dramatically differently,” Appert said. “As a program, we’re honored to partner with this. .. . It’s an event I’m looking forward to.”
Union will honor two members of the Team USA World Junior Hockey Championships gold-medal winning squad before tonight’s game against Cornell.
Dutchmen defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and Big Red forward Cole Bardeau will be honored in a brief pregame ceremony. The two players contributed to Team USA’s third gold medal in the WJC a few weeks ago. Gostisbehere had a goal and assist in six games. Bardeau was an alternate captain.
There will be plenty of games on TV this weekend.
Union will have two weekend games on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel 50 and TWCS-1803 HD. Tonight’s contest against Cornell and Saturday’s game with Colgate will be aired at 7.
There is another ECACH matchup on TV tonight. NBC Sports Network and NBCSN has the Yale at Harvard matchup at 7:30 p.m.
There are two other men’s games tonight. FOX College Sports Atlantic has North Dakota at Minnesota at 8, and Big Ten Network and BTN HD has Miami (Ohio) at Wisconsin at 9.
At 7 p.m. Saturday, CBS Sports Network and CBSSN HD televises Alaska at Notre Dame.
There will be a women’s game on TV tonight. Wisconsin, with features freshman defenseman and Albany native Courtney Burke, will face North Dakota on FOX College Sports Central at 8.
Speaking of Burke, she helped Wisconsin to a weekend sweep of Ohio State.
She had two assists and a defensive rating of plus-2 in last Friday’s 4-1 win over the Buckeyes. Burke picked up an assist in Saturday’s 2-1 victory.
Burke has three goals and 14 assists in 22 games. She is the top-scoring rookie defenseman in the WCHA.
A sweep in the North Country led to a sweep of the ECACH weekly awards for Yale.
The Bulldogs beat St. Lawrence, 5-3, last Friday, and then took down Clarkson, 3-1. Goalie Jeff Malcolm and forwards Kenny Agostino and Stu Wilson played big roles in the sweep.
Malcolm was named goalie of the week. The senior made 36 saves against the Saints, and followed that up with a 32-save effort against the Golden Knights.
Agostino won player of the week. The junior had a goal and an assist against St. Lawrence, and he repeated that effort against Clarkson.
Wilson took home rookie of the week. The freshman collected a goal and an assist against the Saints.
Boston College coach Jerry York, NCAA hockey’s all-time winningest coach, had eye surgery last Thursday and missed last weekend’s games two-game Hockey East series against New Hampshire.
The 67-year-old York had a detached retina repaired. He had a second procedure earlier this week, and he won’t be behind the bench when the Eagles host Massachusetts tonight and Saturday’s game at Northeastern.
Associate head coaches Mike Cavanaugh and Greg Brown will continue to lead the program in York’s absence.
St. Lawrence sophomore defenseman Nelson Armstrong left school Wednesday and signed with the Ontario Hockey League’s Peterborough Petes.
Armstrong, 19, played in 18 games this season and had three assists.