Tags Posts tagged with "Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute"

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

by -
0 1076
Erik Burgdoerfer recently signed an NHL contract with the Buffalo Sabres. Photo from Erik Burgdoerfer

In most cases, we have the right to choose. For one hockey player, the ideal situation chose him.

East Setauket native Erik Burgdoerfer has finally earned his chance to play in the National Hockey League, but what makes his situation unique is that the Buffalo Sabres — the first team to ask him to sign an NHL contract — happen to play in his extended family’s hometown.

“I would go to Sabres games as a kid — I have a big, extended family, and they’re out of their minds,” his mother Jane Burgdoerfer said. “We’re all huge Sabres fans. This is the biggest thing that could ever hit Buffalo.”

The newly signed defenseman will have a built-in fan base when he first hits the ice in Buffalo.

“We were sitting at the table talking about how it would be great if he was at opening night against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 13, and we were counting and talking to people who would go. We would need upwards of 65 tickets,” Erik Burgdoerfer’s uncle Larry Catalano said, laughing. “And this was just literally within the first hour of us talking about it.”

Erik Burgdoerfer previously played for the Hershey Bears, an American Hockey League affiliate of the Washington Capitals’ organization. Photo from Erik Burgdoerfer
Erik Burgdoerfer previously played for the Hershey Bears, an American Hockey League affiliate of the Washington Capitals’ organization. Photo from Erik Burgdoerfer

The news came July 21, when the Sabres announced they signed Burgdoerfer to a one-year, two-way deal. This means that the 27-year-old can be sent between the NHL and the American Hockey League without having to clear waivers, which gives the team flexibility.

“I’m very happy to be joining the organization there and it’s an added bonus that my family is around there,” the player said. “I’m in a new setting now, but I just want to continue trending up, and hopefully with a little more hard work, I can reach my goal of playing in the NHL. But until I get those games, I’m not done yet.”

After graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he started as the youngest college hockey player in the nation, Burgdoerfer began his pro career in 2010 with the Bakersfield Condors, a minor league hockey team in California, where he played for four seasons. There, he had one of his most successful seasons when he put up a career-best 11 goals and 22 points in 67 games and, as a captain, led the team on a 16-game run through the Kelly Cup playoffs, which is the longest playoff run in team history.

His head coach with the Condors, Troy Mann, left for the Hershey Bears, the AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals, and took the player along with him.

“He’s a real hard-working character kid, and I thought he had some good tools in terms of being able to climb the ladder,” Mann said. “When I got the head coaching job at Hershey, I felt that if we were going to sign depth players for us, I preferred players I either coached against or knew personally, and I was pretty adamant about getting Burgy under contract.”

He has that physical component to him, very strong, his stick positioning and stick work is much improved … and he’s just a warrior-type player where his will to win is better than a lot of players.” 

— Troy Mann

According to Mann, his defenseman was excellent in training camp, though he was sent down to South Carolina to play for Washington’s East Coast Hockey League affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays. Mann said as soon as Burgdoerfer was recalled to Hershey, the rest was history.

“He became a vital part of our team and we’re very sad that we’re losing him for this upcoming season,” he said of the 6-foot, 2-inch 210-pound defenseman who recorded 20 points off six goals and 14 assists, and 59 penalty minutes in 74 games. Burgdoerfer also added four assists and 18 penalty minutes in 21 playoff games for the Bears, who reached the Calder Cup finals for the 20th time. The team lost, but has won 11 championships.

“I put an emphasis on how much that experience has meant to me,” Burgdoerfer said of playing with the Bears. “My development in my career that’s led to this point — a lot of that has happened in the past two years. A couple of playoff runs and a great coaching staff have made for a great place for me to grow as a player and a person.”

He will likely begin the season with the Rochester Americans, Buffalo’s AHL affiliate, unless he makes the NHL squad out of training camp, but his continued dedication to the sport has also helped him reach a new level.

Erik Burgdoerfer celebrates with his Hershey Bears teammates. Photo from Erik Burgdoerfer
Erik Burgdoerfer celebrates with his Hershey Bears teammates. Photo from Erik Burgdoerfer

“He continued to follow his dream like nobody I’ve ever seen before,” his mother said. “I don’t know anybody that’s worked harder for their goal. His focus and determination has been unwavering.”

She also said she believes her son is a goalkeeper’s dream on the blue line.

“He’s not a flashy player,” she said. “He’s the guy that gets the job done and that every goalie loves because he’s very protective.”

Mann is looking forward to seeing how his now former player progresses. He said he knows that Burgdoerfer was at the point in his career where he really wanted an opportunity to play in the NHL, and is glad to see he found that with the Sabres.

“He’s very well-rounded,” the coach said. “I think that one of the things you need to be able to do playing today’s game is skate, and I think he skates very well for a big man. He has that physical component to him, very strong, his stick positioning and stick work is much improved over the three years I’ve coached him, and he’s just a warrior-type player where his will to win is better than a lot of players. I’m real happy for him. I wish him well and really hope he sees some games in the NHL this year.”

by -
0 890
Port Jefferson grad Philip Lanieri III grabs an interception for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Photo from RPI Athletics

Philip Lanieri, a former Port Jefferson Royal and third-year starter at defensive back for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was named a co-defensive player of the year, after helping the Engineers to a 9-2 overall record, a share of the Liberty League Championship and a victory in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Asa S. Bushnell Bowl Championship.

He had a team-high five interceptions with 19 return yards in 11 games. He also broke up nine passes and registered 42 tackles, including 23 unassisted and two for lost yards. He had multiple tackles in 10 games and at least one interception in four contests.

He finished third in the Liberty League in interceptions per game (0.45) and fourth in passes defended (1.27 per game) on his way to earning All-Liberty League First Team, AFCA National All-America and AP Little All-America honors.

The Engineers, who are coached by Ralph Isernia, finished the season ranked eighth in the ECAC Lambert Trophy Poll.

by -
0 975
Port Jefferson grad Philip Lanieri III grabs an interception for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Photo from RPI Athletics
Port Jefferson grad Philip Lanieri III grabs an interception for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Photo from RPI Athletics
Port Jefferson grad Philip Lanieri III grabs an interception for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Photo from RPI Athletics

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student-athlete Philip Lanieri III has been named National All-America by the American Football Coaches Association. The senior Port Jefferson native was one of four defensive backs selected for the year-end honor.

A third-year starter, Lanieri had a team-high five interceptions with 19 return yards in 11 games. He also broke up nine passes and had 42 tackles, including 23 unassisted and two for lost yards. He had multiple tackles in 10 games and at least one interception in four contests.

An Industrial and Management Engineering major, Lanieri had a season-high three pass breakups with a pair of tackles at Alfred University on Sept. 12. He picked up his first interception of the season, along with four tackles (three solo) and a pass breakup, in a win at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the Transit Trophy Game two weeks later. He had five tackles (four solo) with one for a loss of two yards and a pass breakup against the United States Merchant Marine Academy on Oct. 3 before intercepting two passes (13 return yards) with two tackles, including 0.5 for lost yards, in a win over the University of Rochester on Oct. 17.

The following week, Lanieri made a season-high five unassisted tackles (six total) with an interception (two return yards) and two pass breakups, including one in the end zone on a game-winning two-point conversion attempt with no time left in regulation, in a 21-20 win at Hobart College. He then had seven tackles (three solo) against Springfield College and a team-best and season-high nine stops (four solo) with a pass breakup in a win in the Dutchman Shoes Trophy Game at Union College to close out the regular season. Lanieri finished his career with two stops (one solo), an interception with a four-yard return and a pass breakup in a victory over Buffalo State College in the Asa S. Bushnell Championship Bowl.

Port Jefferson grad Philip Lanieri III plays football for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Photo from RPI Athletics
Port Jefferson grad Philip Lanieri III plays football for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Photo from RPI Athletics

He finished third in the Liberty League in interceptions per game (0.45) and fourth in passes defended (1.27 per game) and was the Liberty League Defensive Performer of the Week following the game at Hobart. Lanieri was selected to the All-Liberty League First Team before being chosen to play in the National Bowl in Miami, Florida. He helped the Engineers to a 9-2 record and first place in the Liberty League standings with a 6-1 mark.

As a junior, he had six interceptions with 25 return yards and seven pass breakups while starting all 11 games. He made 28 tackles with 19 solo and one for lost yards. He also forced a fumble and recovered another, which he returned 64 yards for a touchdown. Lanieri was All-Liberty League First Team and the team’s Defensive Ultimate Grinder Award winner. The year prior, he was All-League Honorable Mention after recording 44 tackles (29 unassisted) and a team-best four interceptions (four return yards) with three pass breakups in 10 games.

by -
0 1879
From left to right, Matt Lopiccolo, Jacob Arditti, Maki Stavropoulos, Jeff Towle and Mark Napoli signing their letters of intent. Photo from Chris Boltrek

By Clayton Collier

Five Ward Melville student athletes will continue their football careers after committing to play at the collegiate level — a rare occurrence for the lacrosse powerhouse that they hope will soon become a trend.

All-County quarterback Jeff Towle, center Maki Stavropoulos, guard Matt Lopiccolo, defensive end Jacob Arditti, and tackle Mark Napoli will all move on to play college football this fall.

Ward Melville head coach Chris Boltrek said having more of his athletes signing to play in college is essential in reviving the Patriots football program, largely because it makes the sport more appealing to other athletes at the school.

Jeff Towle reaches back to throw a pass in a previous contest. File photo by Bill Landon
Jeff Towle reaches back to throw a pass in a previous contest. File photo by Bill Landon

“To get the football program at Ward Melville to take off, the environment and the image had to change,” he said. “I thought there were plenty of good football athletes in the district that just didn’t realize the potential they had and didn’t realize that playing college football was a real possibility, and instead they gravitated toward lacrosse or baseball or other sports that they thought offered that for them.”

Boltrek, who played college football at St. Lawrence University after graduating from Ward Melville, said the program occasionally gets one player every few years who moves on to the collegiate level. Now having five in one year, he hopes it will bring new life into the program.

“To have five in one year is a pretty big deal for us,” the first-year varsity head coach said.

Towle, who will attend Division II Pace University this fall, also doubled as a talented catcher on the baseball team, but said football has long been his preference.

“I was always a quarterback at heart,” he said. “I just happened to be showing more talent in baseball at the time. Then I got my opportunity on the football field and play well. I’ve been a football guy my whole life.”

Towle was not even the starting quarterback until the final five games of the season. Serving as the reserve, Towle continued to train to ensure he would be ready should he get his chance.

“I worked as hard as I could, knowing maybe I’ll get a shot, maybe I won’t,” he said. “But if I did, I wanted to be ready.”

When Towle got his chance, he thrived, completing 13 touchdown passes and tossed for over 1,100 total yards of offense.

His mother, Jessica Spencer, said her son’s dedication led him to obtaining such an opportunity.

“He hung in there and he did everything they asked him to and it paid off,” she said. “I’m very proud of him and I’m very grateful to have him.”

Stavropoulos, a captain and three-time All-Division honoree, and Lopiccolo, who also achieved All-Division honors, will remain teammates as the pair heads to Division III Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Lopiccolo and Arditti, like Towle, had obstacles to overcome as both were cut from the junior varsity squad in ninth grade.

“I was sad because football is my sport — I’ve been playing since I was five,” Lopiccolo said. “But at the same time it gave me the drive to work harder and hit the gym.”

To ensure that they wouldn’t be cut again, the pair “lived in the gym,” as Boltrek described, working out for 90 minutes a day, five days a week under the coach’s guidance. Lopiccolo said he was thrilled when he and Arditti made the team the following year, crediting the effort they put in  aover the year to improve themselves physically.

“It’s crazy how the tiniest bit of effort can change something completely,” he said.

Napoli, the team’s final commit, was an All-Division tackle who will attend the Division III Stevenson University.

Towle said he, along with his four fellow teammates that committed to play college ball, owe their diligent work ethic and ultimate success to Boltrek for his ambition and guidance.

“To be honest, we probably worked harder than any team in the county throughout the week during the season, and that’s a credit to [Coach Boltrek],” he said. “We wouldn’t be where we are without him; any of us.”