New Year’s Eve 2015 is a little over two months away, but the Union hockey team is already looking ahead to Dec. 31 of next year.
The Dutchmen will close out 2016 by hosting North Dakota at Messa Rink. It’s the first time the Dutchmen have played a game at home on New Year’s Eve in their Division I era. It will be the latest December game at Messa ever for Union. The Dutchmen played a home game against Northeastern on Dec. 29, 2001.
“It’s just the way how it kind of played out,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “When you’re trying to work around other team’s schedules, along with your schedule, sometimes you’ve got to take what you can get. It’s New Year’s Eve, and we’ll just have some fun with it because, I guess, things don’t get going until 12 o’clock anyway. We’re going to give the people something to do.”
Union has twice played on New Year’s Eve, both on the road. The Dutchmen played in the Mariucci Classic against host Minnesota in 2010. The following year, Union was at Colorado College.
For some of the Dutchmen, playing on New Year’s Eve will be a new experience.
“I’ve never done it,” sophomore forward Ryan Scarfo said. “I think it will be a blast. I’m looking forward to it.”
“I’m excited,” junior goalie Alex Sakellaropoulos said. “It says a lot, obviously. We’ve made a name for ourselves the last four years, going into the  Frozen Four in Tampa, and then winning it in Philly [in 2014]. It shows that a lot of teams want to play us, and we want to take them on.”
North Dakota, which plays in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, will visit Union for the first time. North Dakota has won seven NCAA titles, made 30 NCAA tournament appearances and reached the Frozen Four 21 times.
North Dakota’s appearance marks the second straight season that a prominent program will visit Messa for the first time in the Division I era. Boston University came to Messa on Oct. 10, and Michigan was here Friday.
“I don’t know what it says about our program,” Bennett said. “It’s more of just college hockey in general. Just with the new alignments of the leagues, I feel teams have to reciprocate and go elsewhere. Teams are smart enough now. It’s all right to come to your place, but when teams don’t want to come back to your place, I don’t think it creates a good environment in college hockey.”
Union will go to North Dakota for two games in 2017-18.
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Categories: College Sports