RPI's Bailen breaking into the pro game with Rochester
It took him a couple extra weeks to break into the pro game, but Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute defenseman Nick Bailen caught on with the Rochester Americans for an amateur tryout contract and played three games with the AHL club this weekend.
"It's a completely different game and experience than college, so I'm still trying to get used to everything like the new systems, and the speed and the size of the guys," Bailen said. "But so far, it's been pretty good."
Bailen missed RPI's final game of the postseason, a loss to Brown, with a lower-body injury. That injury kept him from signing an ATO sooner.
“I think it was three weeks off the ice, then I had three practices in before I started playing,” Bailen said. “I'm still trying to get my legs back a little bit, being off for three weeks. It kind of takes a toll on your body, especially three games in three nights, it's pretty hard. I'm slowly getting back into it.
"I was hoping I'd get an opportunity somewhere," Bailen said. "You just never know what teams are interested in you or if there's going to be an opportunity, based on the longevity of your season in college. It's been great, and I'm really fortunate that I was able to get an opportunity here in Rochester, which is pretty close to home and pretty close to school. It's been great."
He registered an assist in his first pro game against Lake Erie on Friday, a game in which he had 21:39 of ice time. He has been used on the power play, which is no big surprise considering he led RPI with seven goals on the man advantage this season.
"That's what I was really good at in college," Bailen said. "I'm trying to see what I can do here at the next level. We haven't had goals on the power play on the unit I've been on, but I think we've had some pretty good chances. I'm playing with really good guys, so it makes it a lot easier."