Of the five men’s Division I college hockey conferences, ECAC Hockey teams play the fewest number of league games — 22.
Union coach Nate Leaman would like to see that number increase. And he has an interesting idea.
He believes that two league games should be added. What makes the proposal intriguing is that Leaman endorses having a “Rivalry Weekend” the final weekend of the regular season, where the travel partners play each other in a home-and-home series.
Leaman discussed the concept with fellow coaches at their annual convention last spring in Florida. He expects more discussion at next year’s convention.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Leaman said. “As coaches, we’re always trying to find ways that may be better for the league.”
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute coach Seth Appert likes the idea, especially if it means two more games.
“I enjoy the opportunity to play Union,” Appert said. “I think it makes our program better to play a rival, even if it’s non-conference. I welcome those games. I think it’s very good for our programs.”
Half of ECAC Hockey’s 12 schools play 34 regular-season games. Those six schools — Clarkson, Colgate, Quinnipiac, RPI, St. Lawrence and Union — play 12 non-conference games, and coaches are finding it harder and harder to schedule those.
Over the last few years, league teams have been playing non-league games against one another. This season, for instance, RPI and Union, along with Clarkson and St. Lawrence, played in the non-league Halloween Faceoff in Lake Placid. Colgate will play Cornell in a non-leaguer Nov. 27 in Newark, N.J.
“It’s tough to schedule,” Leaman said. “At the same time, it’s good for the fans to see a lot of different teams, or see your team in a lot of different venues, as well. There’s pluses and minuses to that.”
The one issue the league has to deal with concerns the six Ivy League schools. Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale are limited to 29 regular-season games. Those schools have only seven non-league contests to schedule.
However, some of those teams are committed to tournaments. Harvard is in the Beanpot, while Cornell hosts a Christmas tournament in Florida. Dartmouth hosts its own Christmas tournament, plus has yearly games against former ECACH travel partner Vermont and in-state rival New Hampshire.
Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet would like to be able to add two regular-season games. That way, the Ivy League schools can play the additional two league games and keep their traditional non-conference games.
“It’s a bigger hurdle than it may seem,” Gaudet said. “We constantly try to find a way, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be in the foreseeable future. We’ll keep on chipping away.”
ECACH commission Steve Hagwell is open to any and all suggestions.
“We’ve looked at so many different scenarios over the years,” Hagwell said. “We’re looking at ways to alleviate any scheduling issues that our members have.”
Last Saturday’s Halloween Faceoff double-header in Lake Placid was a success.
A crowd of 5,500 saw some exciting hockey. In the opener, Union rallied to earn a 3-3 tie with RPI on Mat Bodie’s goal with 30 seconds left in the third period. Clarkson won the nightcap, 2-1, over St. Lawrence in overtime.
Leaman and Clarkson coach George Roll were pleased with how the double-header was run.
“The crowd was terrific,” Leaman said. “It was a great environment. It was a great experience. It was good hockey. It was all good.”
Said Roll: “It was a great atmosphere, with great support for all four teams. We have talked about keeping it an annual event with adding different teams each year if we cannot get the four that were there this year. Our players loved it.”
This Week in Union history
It’s time for another stroll down memory lane in Union hockey’s 20th year at the Division I level.
Union 0, Army 0 (Nov. 4, 1995)
The Dutchmen’s scoreless tie is the first in the Division I era for the team. But it is remembered more for Dutchmen coach Bruce Delventhal’s postgame tirade in the locker room that could be heard outside in the hallway.
When Delventhal met with reporters afterward, he acted as it nothing had happened.
“We didn’t lose,” he said. “There are worse fates.”
Union 8, Colgate 6 (Nov. 5, 1999)
Jason Ralph sets a Dutchmen Division I team record by recording six points as Union opens ECAC play with a win. Ralph had three goals and three assists. He completed his hat trick at 11:25 of the second period, giving the Dutchmen a 4-2 lead. Both teams scored four goals in the third period.
When Harvard hosts Union tonight in the ECACH opener, it will mark a rare occurrence for the Crimson.
It’s only the third time in 31 years that Harvard will open the year against an opponent from outside the Ivy League. One of the two previous occasions came in 1991, when the Crimson beat the Dutchmen, 7-5.
Here’s a look at how college hockey players from the Capital Region did over the past week.
— New Hampshire junior forward Mike Borisenok (Watervliet) had a goal and two assists to lead the Wildcats to a 7-4 win over Cornell last Friday. Borisenok assisted on Stevie Moses’ short-handed goal at 5:31 of the second period.
— Boston College sophomore defenseman Patch Alber (Clifton Park) had an assist in the Eagles’ 5-2 victory over UMass-Lowell on Tuesday.
— Ohio State sophomore forward Lizz Rizzo (Glens Falls) picked up an assist in the Buckeyes’ 5-1 victory over Syracuse last Friday. Rizzo got the assist on Melissa Feste’s goal early in the first period that made it 2-0.
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Categories: College Sports