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Union hockey: Jooris hopes to duplicate what his father did at RPI

Thursday, April 5, 2012
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Josh Jooris, left, and Jeremy Welsh celebrate a Union goal.
Josh Jooris, left, and Jeremy Welsh celebrate a Union goal.

SCHENECTADY — Like father, like son.

The son, Union sophomore forward Josh Jooris, wants to duplicate what his father, Mark, did with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1985 — win an NCAA hockey title.

Josh Jooris and the rest of the Dutchmen will get that opportunity starting today. Union (26-7-7) will face Ferris State (25-11-5) in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinal at 4:30 p.m. at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

If the Dutchmen beat the Bulldogs, they will advance to the championship game at 7 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the Boston College-Minnesota semifinal.

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Gazette reporter Ken Schott provides video coverage of Frozen Four press conferences held Wednesday. Click HERE.

"It would mean a lot [to win a title]," Josh Jooris said this week at Messa Rink. "It would be great to follow in his footsteps."

And Mark Jooris would love to see it.

"That would be awesome," said Mark Jooris, who played at RPI from 1982-86. "We really know how bad he wants it, and we're pulling for him."

Josh Jooris has heard the stories from his dad about that magical 1984-85 season, when the Engineers rolled to a 35-2-1 record and the second NCAA title in program history. They went 32-0-1 over their final 33 games.

After winning the quarterfinal series against Lake Superior State, 1-0-1, RPI advanced to the Frozen Four at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Back then, the semifinals were played on separate nights. The Engineers played the second semifinal on March 29, and needed double overtime to down Minnesota Duluth, 6-5. The Engineers came back the next night to edge Providence, 2-1, in the championship game.

"He's told me a lot about his college experiences at RPI, and what an unbelievable time it was during that national championship run and how much it means," Josh Jooris said. "If he could have those four years back, especially that championship year; he really cherished those four years, and he made sure he got that message across to me. I'm just taking this all in. Hopefully, we can get it done."

There is another motivating factor for Josh Jooris. Every time his Dad comes to watch him play, he is always wearing his championship ring.

"I don't know if he's rubbing it in," Josh Jooris says. "He's always flaunting that ring around. Hopefully, I can get one of those, too."

"Hopefully, we'll be comparing them soon," Mark Jooris said.

Mark Jooris, who had 84 goals and 99 assists in 117 career games at RPI, sees similarities between his Engineers team and his son's squad, particularly with a hard lesson learned the season before reaching the Frozen Four.

RPI won the 1983-84 ECAC regular-season and tournament titles. The Engineers hosted North Dakota in the first-to-three points series. But the Fighting Sioux won the series by scores of 5-4 and 4-2.

Union won the 2010-11 ECAC Hockey regular-season championship. But it lost to Colgate in the ECACH tournament best-of-three quarterfinals, and then were ousted in the NCAA tournament by Minnesota Duluth.

"They were there last year, and they were pretty excited about being there and felt they accomplished something," Mark Jooris said. "This year, they're just not satisfied. I remember that feeling my second year, when we won the ECACs. It was the same thing, we were pretty good and we accomplished something, and [then] getting beat out.

"These guys haven't reached their goal. I have a great feeling about the way they're approaching things."

Josh Jooris has been on a roll in the postseason.

In six games, he has three goals and six assists. He was particularly strong in the ECACH championship round. Jooris had a goal and three assists in the 6-2 semifinal win over Colgate, and had a goal and an assist in the 3-1 championship game triumph over Harvard. Jooris scored the game-winning goal and had an assist in last Saturday's 4-2 win over UMass Lowell in the NCAA East Regional final. He was named to the all-regional team.

In eight of his last 10 games, Jooris has had at least one point. He has eight goals and 20 assists in 37 games this season.

"I'm just gaining some of that confidence back," Jooris said. "I'm just keeping things simple. Earlier in the year, maybe I tried to do too much, and I got a little off my game."

And Jooris got healthy, too.

"I know he was battling something there with the ankle for a while," Union coach Rick Bennett said. "Sometimes, those high-ankle sprains take a toll on a guy. Once he got 100 percent fully healthy, his game took off. He's skating much better, and more importantly, he's shooting the puck a lot better. That helps a lot."

 
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