Monday, April 30, 2012

Hibernation

You've probably noticed (or not, if you're taking a break like us) that our post-season hangover period is pretty much in full swing. We haven't had an official wrap-up post yet, so... here it is. It's late partially because I wanted to be sure that the season schedule was front and center for a couple of weeks, and partially because dating to before that - right before the Frozen Four, in fact - I had a health issue that was being taken care of. On the mend and doing much better now.

Anyway, here's a little bit of the tidbits that are out there.

Pat Koudys departs
Probably the biggest news since the end of the Union series in RPI's corner is the early departure of junior-to-be Pat Koudys. We occasionally see players who aren't getting much playing time leave the program and turn up elsewhere: Jordan Cyr left and eventually ended up at Holy Cross, Jordan Watts departed and became a solid player at D-III Adrian, for instance.

Neither of those guys were potential impact players, however, and that's where Koudys' departure does hurt a little bit. It could be argued that the team got along fairly well without him down the stretch as Luke Curadi developed into a dependable asset on the blueline and Pat appeared in only four games after the month of January, none of which came during the playoff run.

Koudys came to RPI with a lot of upside potential, but did have a rough sophomore year defensively after a solid freshman campaign.

It doesn't do us much good to speculate about underlying reasons for the departure. Seth Appert told the Troy Record that it was a decision that Koudys himself made in part because of a lack of playing time. Why Koudys was a healthy scratch down the stretch is unknown and will likely remain that way. He was not injured this season, which means he was a healthy scratch on 12 different occasions this year on a team with only seven defensemen.

It's not outside the realm of possibility that the Washington Capitals weren't satisfied with his development in Troy (or just his playing time) and wanted him elsewhere, but Koudys plans to return to juniors rather than sign with the Oshawa Generals, the OHL team that has his rights. That means he's looking to use his last two years of NCAA eligibility in 2013-14 and 2014-15, and in most cases an NHL team leaning on a player to leave school would result in a bee-line for major junior.

Where he ends up from here is a bit of a mystery, but given that he majored in civil engineering at RPI, that might narrow it down a bit if he maintains his field of study. It makes Clarkson and Yale likely potential landing points, and would put Union out of the running, though he does have a connection there in Josh Jooris, who he played Junior A hockey with in Ontario.

At any rate, it's tough to lose a guy with as much potential as Koudys, but hopefully he lands on his feet. He's a good kid and his father, Jim, is a great person. Unless we see him across the ice at any point down the road, best of luck to him in the future.

What does this mean for RPI? Well, for the time being, they're back to being stuck with only seven defensemen, which is where they've been ever since Bryan Brutlag was moved up to forward midway through the 2009-10 season. Chris Bradley and Craig Bokenfohr are coming in, now replacing Mike Bergin and Koudys. Options include Bergin returning for his redshirt season (seen as unlikely), bringing in a last minute replacement (Koudys leaving almost certainly frees up a scholarship), or sticking with seven for a third straight season.


UConn applies to Hockey East
We have been keeping a close eye on the shifting sands in Hockey East, hoping that a spot could potentially be open for the Engineers to move there at some point. That door appears to have closed with the news that UConn has applied to become the 12th member.

From the outset, we have been pretty clear that UConn would be the best fit for the league, if only they showed significantly more interest in their program. Well, much to our chagrin, it appears that they are now moving in that direction, as they likely would not have made their application if they were not ready to do what it takes to compete in Hockey East.

This will mean a major upgrade for the UConn men's program, likely at the expense of other sports in Storrs as the school will need to offset the scholarships they will need to offer the team in order to stay in compliance with Title IX. The team may play its home games in Hartford until a new, Hockey East-worthy building is done on campus. Word is that Gov. Dannel Malloy, a big hockey fan, was one of the top people pushing for UConn to step up, and when the Governor is pushing something, frequently it manages to get done.is

For RPI and the ECAC, this really means that nothing has changed about the league since the beginning of the sea change, the only league left untouched by the birth of the Big Ten and NCHC and the demise of the CCHA (which will have its final season this year). In July or August, however, I'm probably going to talk about the ECAC's place in the brave new world that gets underway in 2013-14.


Fingers crossed for a quiet summer
Since Without a Peer launched in the fall of 2009, we haven't had much in the way of downtime with the exceptions of the April/May periods immediately following the Frozen Four.

Two summers ago was the NHL exodus in which the Engineers got caught up when Jerry D'Amigo and Brandon Pirri left in August, which went along with a summer of change at RPI as renovations were underway at the Field House and a shifting situation with which recruits were coming in when.

Last year was a double whammy as the very foundation of college hockey shifted with teams jumping from conference to conference, not to mention a veritable coaching carousel which kept us on our toes.

This year, not so much, or at least we hope. Minnesota State and St. Lawrence will have new coaches (both already determined), the teams that will move conferences have moved (hopefully), and there doesn't seem to be an exodus this year. So we're hoping to get a couple of months of peace and quiet before we get underway with our annual "Know Your Enemy" series, which will kick off with Ferris State on May 30, running every Wednesday through the beginning of the season.

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