SCHENECTADY – It may be an exhibition game, but the Union vs. RPI men’s hockey matchup at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Mesa Rink will feel like much more than that.
Capital Region rivals will not only treat it like a regular season game, they are thrilled to finally play a game.
Saturday’s match will be the first for both the teams after the 2019-20 season. Both teams, along with six Ivy League schools, sat out last season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Union’s last game was a 2–1 double-overtime loss to Yale in the decider of a best-of-three series of the ECAC Hockey Tournament on March 8, 2020. RPI’s last game was a 4–1 win over Dartmouth. February 29, 2020.
“Whenever you play against the RPi, it’s a rival game,” said union junior defenseman Dylan Enhorn. “People want to win, no matter what’s at stake. We’re approaching that game with a winning mindset.”
Fans attending exhibition games will be required to wear facemasks. The game will not be streamed online.
The teams were 1-1-1 against each other in 2019-20. They were all close games. On October 25, 2019, the RPI won 3-2 at the Mesa Rink. The next night at Houston Field House, the Dutch won 2–1. In the Mayor’s Cup game on January 25, 2020, the teams drew 1–1 at Albany. (The Engineers won the Meyer Cup by winning 2–0 in a shootout.)
The game will serve as a tune-up for the regular season openers next Friday. Union opens in New Hampshire, while RPI hosts Bowling Green.
“I am very excited,” said union junior forward Gabriel Seger, who has been the Dutchman’s top returning scorer since 2019-20, when he scored seven goals and 15 assists in 37 games. “The whole team seems super excited. It’s not like a normal exhibition game for us because we haven’t played in so long.”
The feeling in Troy is mutual.
“We are playing union, and they are our biggest rivals,” said RPI senior forward Tur Linden. “We’ve been playing them four times this year. It’s exciting to start that rivalry right away. How excited we are, many of us haven’t played a game in it.” [over] 500 days. I really can’t describe how excited we are to finally be playing a game again.
“We’re looking for a win. It’s not really an exhibition [game] This year because we are so excited and we want to beat the union.”
For RPI head coach Dave Smith, he will have to get used to wearing the suit again.
“Honestly, I’m really looking forward to it,” Smith said. “But it reminds me of what to wear to a sport again? What’s that heat of passion going to be? . . . This is the first year this exhibition game is going to be there, and I think the federation and the RPI It’s a great start because of the passion that flows, or boils, between.”
Union head coach Rick Bennett expects the lineup to include as many players as possible to see how they perform.
“It will be a little hodge-podge of players walking around,” Bennett said. “I think it’s really good for players to get a chance to get into a game-like environment. We’re going to try and have four [forward] lines, and maybe seven [defemsemen] And there are some goals to be scored, and then between periods, we rotate them. Can you rotate them between periods? If one coach wants to do this and the other doesn’t, who knows? We are trying to involve all the players.”
Union and RPI will start ECACH games against each other on the last weekend of October. The Dutchmen will host the 29 October game, and the Engineers will host the 30 October competition. Both the games will start at 7 pm. Mayer’s Cup game in Albany on January 29 at 2 p.m.
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