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TROY — With the rust having been kicked off the skates, the RPI hockey staff is having a look ahead to Friday’s opening puck drop at the season at Houston Field House against Mercyhurst of Atlantic Hockey.
The groups will face off Friday and Saturday as RPI kicks off its season with a four-game homestand forward of subsequent weekend’s video games against Long Island University and Army.
The Engineers are coming off a couple of exhibition video games at house against fellow ECAC member Colgate and the University of Toronto and whilst each video games led to losses at the scoreboard, Engineers head trainer Dave Smith discovered numerous price in enjoying the video games.
“We would like to win every opportunity we can, but the reality is, when you know the games don’t count, the priority is to get everybody in the game and get them some experience,” Smith mentioned. “Get everybody to see another team that is unpredictable. We’ve been practicing against ourselves. Every single guy that was 100 percent healthy played. The takeaways were far more positive than negative. Because of the competitiveness I and we have, the losses still sting.”
Smith is making plans on making RPI quicker at the puck this season and tinkered with shuffling positions all the way through the exhibition video games to open up lineup choices.
“A couple of changes: I tried Jake Lee at center and wing, I tried Brendan Budy at center and wing,” Smith mentioned. “We saw that (Sutter) Muzzatti played center and wing. While we’ve been practicing those things, like defensemen on the left and right side, just some personnel tweaks to make sure we were prepared for situations that might come up.”
The video games introduced a studying lesson that Smith hopes his crew can make use of all the way through the season.
“We had to work on our ice balance; when you get against other teams, the open areas are not the same as they were in practice,” Smith mentioned. “That was the big takeaway; we can be as fast as we want but we actually have to understand where the open ice is and how our game is, and there are some subtle tweaks, ice is a little balanced a bit differently.”
The longest-tenured Engineer, defenseman Ryan Hallbauer, enters his graduate season having been decided on as staff captain and will likely be anticipated to lend his enjoy at the blue line.
“I had a great conversation with him when I told him his teammates selected him as the captain,” Smith mentioned. “He was very appreciative. I told him leadership was about empowering others and making others better. It is natural for him now for five years now and him coming back was critical.”
Budy is a graduate switch from North Dakota and is one among 3 avid gamers that used the switch portal to return to RPI. The six-foot-six Muzzatti is one among seven freshman at the 28-man roster.
The infusion of a lot of new faces changed into essential after the staff misplaced 8 avid gamers with last eligibility from closing season, together with main scorer Ture Linden (Penn State) and veteran defenseman Jake Johnson (Quinnipiac), as some used the switch portal to proceed their collegiate careers whilst ahead Jakub Lacka is now enjoying in his house nation of Slovakia.
“The goal from day one with chemistry, when they come back and what we do with everybody, we’ve been very focused on that,” Smith mentioned. “They love each other. They really enjoy each other’s company, and that has been a very positive thing. The on-ice piece is easier when they care about each other and like each other. I don’t have a timeline on jelling and chemistry, it is something we are intentional about every single day.”
Sean Martin, a neighborhood freelance creator, is a widespread contributor to the Times Union.
- When: 7 p.m. Friday; 7 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Houston Field House, Troy
- Stream: ESPN+; Radio: WRPI 91.5