Head hockey coach addresses new players

RPI’S ICE HOCKEY HISTORY STARTED in 1901 as an independent Division I team in the NCAA, then joined the Tristate League in 1950, and eventually ECAC in 1961. (File photo)

Get ready for October 3: hockey season is around the corner. The Engineers will first face off against St. Thomas University as they start their quest to win the Eastern College Athletic Conference championship. Men’s hockey head coach Seth Appert talked about the upcoming season and the current state of the team.

As of right now, the hockey team has a completely new look. During the offseason, the Engineers recently lost their two best offensive players to the National Hockey League. The Engineers were also bogged down by several injuries to players last season. “We had a disappointing year last year. The guys have worked really hard last summer.”

The roster for the 2015-2016 season features many new players, including eight freshmen. Five are forwards, two are defense men, and one is a goaltender.

For Appert, the most important skill for a hockey player is the ability to compete at a high level. Another key skill is to maintain and to take back the puck from an opponent. About fifty percent of practice is devoted to the players practicing skill development, while the remaining amount of the time is put into game tactics.

With so many freshmen on this year’s team, Appert has made it clear that the freshmen players need to build a trust with all their teammates. The freshmen have a close relationship to Appert since the coaching staff recruited them. Building connections with the teammates will develop better chemistry among all the players, taking the team to extraordinary heights. According to Appert, the best way for players to build trust is to show up ready on time for everything that has to be done.

Senior Jason Kasdorf is the best player and an unquestionable leader of the hockey team. Appert explained how he has a great work ethic and is a mature young man. Kasdorf also became a potential draft pick for the NHL, but decided to stay back with the team.

Just as the hockey team has its own objectives, Appert has goals for the team too. Everyone needs to play with fervor and competitiveness. Most importantly, all the players should take great pride in playing for RPI.

Without the fans that pack the Houston Field House, the team would not be the same. The energetic fans provide the players with the energy and enthusiasm to put forth their best effort in the game.

Throughout the season, a team will win and lose a bunch of games. For Appert, the most important thing for the players is to learn how to respond for the next game coming off a win or a loss. If the team comes off a win, the players need to maintain their skills. If the team suffers a loss, it is essential that no one lose their fighting spirit. The worst thing that could happen is for a hockey player to become overconfident after a win or lose focus after a loss. During the hockey season, there is a structured practice schedule. On Monday, the players practice skills. On Tuesday, more physical gameplay occurs. Finally, on Wednesday and Thursday, everyone is involved in game strategies.

Appert is excited for the upcoming season. The team has great speed, goaltending, and a stellar transition game from the defense; the problem is the offense. The lead goal scorer is currently undetermined.

Another huge aspect for the team is mental preparation this year. The team has a sports psychologist that helps players become mentally stable. However, Appert believes that preparation is the key to being mentally healthy. When players eat the right foods, get the right amount of sleep, and practice hockey skills, then they have the confidence to go out and compete at a high level every game.

Hockey is one of many sports that involves a lot of contact and physical gameplay. Physical play and contact may lead to intense fights. Whenever Appert deals with a player who is involved in a quarrel, he reminds the player to play with emotion, but also to be in control of those emotions. “Play with emotion, but do not be emotional.” Getting too emotional may serve as an impediment to the team.

Hockey features role players and superstars. Appert treats all players fairly, not equally. Players who have Appert’s respect have more leeway. For Appert, the most important game is the next one. The RPI men’s hockey team is a winning team. Each game must be approached with the same level of urgency, and physical and mental intensity.

When Appert is recruiting for players, he is not only looking for a certain skill set, but is searching for players that can deliver the win when the game is on the line. Appert believes that great athletes put in a lot of work, which allows some to rise above others.

Off the ice, many RPI players are taking on harder majors. Some are part of the School of Engineering, which requires a lot of time commitment. It seems that majoring in engineering and playing for the hockey team is too much, but Appert believes that it is positive for the students and the school. Engineers on the team represent the student body of RPI well. The players can be successful in keeping both academics and hockey as top priorities.

If there are any freshmen who do not know anything about hockey, but would like to learn, buy season tickets. Come to the student night season ticket party on September 9. There are great games early in the season. Some of them are home games against Union College, Boston College, and Michigan State.

The hockey team is headed in the right direction for the 2015-2016 season. It will be interesting to see how they perform this year. Go Engineers!