Union hockey announces 2012-13 schedule (with video)
Playing away from Messa Rink didn't bother the Union College hockey team last season. It was a big reason the Dutchmen reached the NCAA tournament Frozen Four.
So, for an encore in 2012-13, the Dutchmen will be road warriors again.
Just like last season, the Dutchmen will play 20 of their 34 regular-season games away from Messa Rink. The schedule for the team's 22nd Division I season was announced Friday.
Combining their road and neutral-site records, the Dutchmen were 16-6-3 away from Messa. That played a major role in helping Union go 26-8-7, win its second straight ECAC Hockey Cleary Cup regular-season title, it's first ECACH tournament championship and it's inaugural NCAA tournament East Regional title. The Dutchmen also made it to the Frozen Four, but lost to Ferris State, 2-1, in the semifinal.
"Every year, every team has its own identity," Union coach Rick Bennett said. "Last year's team was a strong road team. I think it really helps a program. It helps us to get on the road. The quicker that we start to get together as a group and forget about this past year, I think, will help us out for this year."
Unlike last season, when they opened at Army, the Dutchmen will play their first game of the upcoming campaign at home against Merrimack on Oct. 6. It's the first day college teams can begin play. It will eliminate the annual Garnet-White scrimmage.
"By the same token, we wanted to try something different," Bennett said. "They're in the same ballpark as we are as a mandatory start date. Both teams are on an even playing field going into the first game."
The Dutchmen will begin its quest for a third straight Cleary Cup when they open ECACH play with a home-and-home series against Capital Region-rival Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute the first weekend of November. The Engineers will host the first game Nov. 2, and the Dutchmen will have the home game Nov. 3.
Union went 5-0 against RPI last season, including a two-game sweep in the ECACH tournament best-of-three quarterfinals.
"I won't speak for Seth [Appert, RPI's coach], but I don't really care when we play RPI," Bennett said. "We enjoy playing [them]. The fans enjoy seeing RPI vs. Union. We'll play them in the summer if they want. It makes for good hockey."
The two teams will meet a third time in a non-conference game Jan. 26 that is expected to be played at the Times Union Center.
There are a few other highlights on the schedule.
— The Dutchmen will make their first visit to American International in Springfield, Mass., Oct. 26. Union has hosted AIC five times.
It will be a homecoming game for the Springfield-native Bennett.
"[Coach] Gary Wright and AIC have come here an awful lot," Bennett said. "I want to make sure that we try to keep the college hockey community on the same page and everyone's helping out each other," Bennett said. "It's more about reciprocating to Gary Wright and the AIC program for years of coming here than it is a homecoming for Rick Bennett. It's not about that. It's nice I can go home and see family and a few friends, but it's not about that."
— Union will host Division I hockey newcomer Penn State for two games Nov. 24-25. The Nittany Lions are coached by former Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky.
— Union will face Harvard, the team it beat in the ECACH tournament title game, for the first time Nov. 9 in Boston. The two teams will play Tuesday, Jan. 22, at Messa.
— The Dutchmen will play Vermont and former Union coach Kevin Sneddon in the Catamount Cup Dec. 29. It will be the first meeting between the two teams since 2004-05 season, Vermont's final year in ECACH before joining Hockey East.
Home games in CAPS
e-Denotes ECAC Hockey game
6 — MERRIMACK, 7 ;12 — at Bowling Green, 7; 13 — at Bowling Green, 7; 26 — at American International, 7; 27 — at Connecticut, 7.
e-2 — at RPI, 7; e-3 — RPI, 7; e-9 — at Harvard, 7; e-10 — at Dartmouth, 7; 24 — PENN STATE, 7; 25 — PENN STATE, 4; e-30 — QUINNIPIAC, 7.
e-1 — PRINCETON, 4; e-7 — at Brown, 7; e-8 — at Yale, 7; 29 — at Vermont in Catamount Cup, 7; 30 — vs. Merrimack in Catamount Cup, 4.
4 — at Lake Superior State, 7; 5 — at Lake Superior State, 7; e-11 — at Princeton, 7; e-12 — at Quinnipiac, 7; e-18 — CORNELL, 7; e-19 — COLGATE, 7; e-22 — HARVARD, 7; 26 — vs. RPI at site TBA, 7.
e-1 — DARTMOUTH, 7; e-8 — at Clarkson, 7; e-9 — at St. Lawrence, 7; e-15 — YALE, 7; e-16 — BROWN, 7; e-22 — at Colgate, 7; e-23 — at Cornell, 7.
e-1 — ST. LAWRENCE, 7; e-2 — CLARKSON, 7.
To see Bennett's interview, click here.