2018-19 RPI Hockey Preview

RPI had a tough season in 2017-18 finishing in second-to-last place in the ECAC with a 6-27-4 record. The Engineers played solid early in the season, tying Ohio State twice 1-1 in Columbus, OH, and dismantling RIT 8-3 in Rochester. However, they lost back-to-back games to rival Union and were then blown out by Clarkson 6-0 which killed their early season momentum. The Engineers had a chance to get back on track in December when all their fives games were at home but they went 1-4 and dropped to the bottom of the ECAC standings. As the season spiraled away, RPI kept grinding and pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season when they defeated #2 Cornell in Ithaca in early February. The season ended with a Game 3 loss to Colgate in the ECAC Tournament First Round.

Head coach Dave Smith is the second year of his rebuilding at RPI, which has lost 20 games in three of the last four seasons.

"Let's be aware of the wonderful history and tradition that RPI Hockey is and where the fans and we believe where we can be and should be. RPI should be in the top of the standings. RPI should be in the final four of our league and competing for the national tournament. That's what we believe and that's why these guys committed here, that's what we work for every day," Smith said.

The Engineers will have a lot of new faces in their lineup this season including 10 freshman and three transfers in Mike Gornall (University of North Dakota), Chase Zieky (Providence College), and Shane Bear (University of Massachusetts)

"It's always difficult until we've played a game to put a guy on that sort of watch list. We like them all, they all came in and in terms of standing out, I wouldn't say on any one day anybody has been special everyone one of those days. I think the opportunity they're going to have is very real. It's going to be be different when another team steps on the ice and smashes them into the boards." said Smith about this about his freshman.

The Engineers are going to turn to some of those younger players to step up this season as four of their top five scorers left this offseason. Returning is their top scorer for last season, Jacob Hayhurst (12 goals, 11 assists) who will be paired on the top line with sophomore Billy Jerry and freshman Jakob Lacka. A freshman from Bratislava, Slovakia, Lacka had 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) for the Central Illinois Flying Aces of the USHL last season. Juniors Jake Marello and Patrick Polino should also be key offensive contributors to the Engineers.

"I think we have a lot more depth this year, we bought a bunch of really good players.  We have some really good defensemen and even the transfers we're going have come in play with us during Christmas are very good players and can play any position on our team if we need." said junior forward Hayhurst.

RPI lost two their top defensemen to graduation in Mike Prapavessis and Jared Wilson.
Team captain Tommy Grant and TJ Semac will be the top defensive pairing. While Will Reilly, a Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick, and Mat Harris will be paired together and expect to see increased playing time. Meirs Moore will also see significant amount of ice team this season.

As a freshman, goalie Linden Marshall proved to be a solid backstop for the Engineers last season finishing the season with .904 save percentage and a 3.17 GAA. Senior Chase Perry and freshman Owen Savory will serve as backups. Perry was a starter for a majority of the 2016-17 season for the Engineers but struggled last season finishing with a .895 save percentage and 3.61 GAA.  Savory could be surprise in the goaltending completion at RPI having improved significantly during his time in junior hockey. He posted two consecutive seasons with at least 38 starts and a 1.99 GAA with St. Catharines of the GOJHL.

"My goal this year is to just keep pushing myself I obviously want to from big-time teams but I'm just here to get better and help this team out in any way I can. Between all the goalies the comradery is really good and when I came in last year Chase (Perry) pushed each other every day and made both of us better and the team better as a whole and we continue to push each other." said sophomore goalie Marshall of the RPI goalies.

Projection: The Engineers are a young team and it's going to take some time for the players to blend as a cohesive unit. They'll rely heavily on their underclassmen this season but should be improved over last year's record.

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