Saturday’s Mayor’s Cup game against Capital Region rival Union is the furthest thing from the collective minds of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey team.
The Engineers have more pressing things to think about. There is tonight’s ECAC Hockey matchup against Dartmouth at 7 p.m. at Houston Field House.
More importantly, RPI (3-5-3 ECACH, 8-10-4 overall) needs to find its game if it wants to contend for the regular-season title that many thought it would challenge for this season.
The Engineers were off last week, and haven’t played since Jan. 11, when they dropped a 6-2 decision to Quinnipiac. That was their fourth straight loss, and they are 0-5-1 in their last six games.
In three of the last four games, RPI has lost, 6-2. The other two games came against Ferris State and Minnesota in the Mariucci Classic.
Some things have conspired against RPI to start the new year, thanks to weather issues.
“We want to utilize the week off to get better,” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “It’s been a weird practice schedule. You come back from the [Christmas] holidays, and we didn’t have a lot of time [to practice] because we had to travel to Minnesota. It took us a day and a half to get to Minnesota, and we didn’t get to practice in Minnesota because our bags didn’t get there. And then we got stuck in Minnesota for a couple of more days, so we didn’t really practice Sunday, Monday or Tuesday on the way back. Then we left for Princeton on Thursday.
“We’ve had a staggered, strange, more pro-like schedule where we haven’t had a lot of practice time and a lot of time to invest into getting better since the break. And we haven’t played that well, obviously.”
RPI has been outscored, 23-9, during its six-game slide. Engineers captain Matt Tinordi believes not having games last weekend and just practicing will help the team get better.
“It’s just about getting back to basics and putting in some good, solid work and preparing to get things going again and trying to make a push for the second half,” Tinordi said.
Despite the recent struggles, Tinordi said the team remains confident.
“Everyone trusts ourselves and trusts the work that we’ve done,” Tinordi said. “Obviously, [the confidence] is not where it would be if you were winning a bunch of games. But I don’t think we’re down. We’ve got a great team in the locker room. We believe we’re going to come out of this.”
There is some very sad news involving former Union College defenseman Randy Dagenais and his wife, Helene Cousineau.
Their 16-month-old daughter, Evelyne, passed away Friday of complications from the flu, according to the Sheffield (England) Steelers web site. The Steelers are in the Elite Ice Hockey League, and Dagenais played for their from 2007-10.
Dagenais played 123 games for the Dutchmen from 1999-2003, and had 11 goals and 50 assists. He was a key player in helping the Dutchmen begin their turnaround from a laughingstock program to where they are today.
The funeral will take place at 5 p.m. Saturday in Cochrane, Ontario.
College hockey coaches will be able to contact potential recruits much sooner.
The NCAA board of directors approved legislation last weekend that allows college hockey coaches to reach out to prospective players beginning Jan. 1 of their 10th-grade year. The change is effective immediately.
The move will help NCAA coaches get a jump on recruiting players. It’s also aimed at keeping players away from the Canadian major junior ranks.
The legislation takes away the limits on the number of telephone calls, emails, social media direct messages and text messages that coaches can send to those prospective student-athletes. Under the old rule, coaches couldn’t contact 10th graders or their parents until June 15. That gave the major junior teams a head start on trying to recruit players.
The number of in-person contacts with 10th-graders that coaches can make is still limited, and they cannot make their first off-campus contact with a prospect until June 15.
Dartmouth forward Eric Neiley will have some time off.
ECAC Hockey tacked on an additional game suspension to Neiley for his actions at the end of Saturday’s game against Cornell.
Neiley charged into Cornell forward Cole Bardreau at the end of overtime. He was assessed a five-minute major and game disqualifcation, which carried an automatic one-game suspension. The league added one more additional game after reviewing the incident.
Neiley, the Big Green’s leading scorer with 10 goals and four assists, will miss tonight’s game at RPI and next Friday’s contest against Quinnipiac.
Brown defenseman Dennis Robertson had a great game, for the most part, last Friday against St. Lawrence. He had two power-play goals, including the game-winner, as the Bears jumped out to a 4-0 lead before holding on for a 5-3 victory over the Saints.
But with 21 seconds left in the game, all the good Robertson went by the wayside. He used his head, and it wasn’t a good idea.
Robertson head-butted the Saints’ Jeremy Wick. Not only did Robertson get a five-minute major, he also received a game disqualification. That kept him out of Saturday’s game against Clarkson.
The Bears lost to the Golden Knights, 3-2.
Here’s a look at how college hockey players from the Capital Region did over the past week.
Union junior goalie Colin Stevens (Niskayuna) was named ECACH goalie of the week on Tuesday after leading the Dutchmen to a pair of 3-1 wins at New Hampshire last weekend. He made 38 saves in Friday’s victory, and stopped a career-high 40 shots in Saturday’s triumph. It’s the third time Stevens has won the award this season.
Wisconsin sophomore defenseman Courtney Burke (Albany) collected two assists in the Badgers’ 6-0 win over Bemidji State last Friday. She got an assist in Saturday’s 3-1 triumph in Saturday’s rematch.
Brown sophomore defenseman Hunter Davis (Clifton Park) had an assist in the Bears’ 4-2 victory over St. Lawrence last Friday. It was Brown’s first ECACH win of the season.