SCHENECTADY — The Union and RPI men’s hockey teams were scheduled to play exhibition games against Canadian college hockey squads on Oct. 2, but those games were canceled because of concerns related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The longtime Capital Region rivals will meet in an exhibition game on Oct. 2 at 4 p.m. at Messa Rink.
Last Friday, the NCAA granted a waiver that allowed teams to schedule exhibition games against non-Canadian schools because of the pandemic.
“When we got the waiver, I talked to Dave Smith over at RPI,” Union head coach Rick Bennett said Thursday. “With the teams not having played [since Jan. 25, 2020], let’s see if we can play each other. The logistics worked. Everyone agreed. So, we’re going to play.”
A Union Athletics department spokesman said fans will be allowed to attend the game. Single-game tickets sales start Sept. 13. RPI is not allowing off-campus fans to its home athletic events.
Union and RPI were two of the eight ECAC Hockey teams that canceled their 2020-21 seasons because of the pandemic. Union’s last game was March 8, 2020, a 2-1 overtime loss to Yale in Game 3 of the ECACH tournament first-round series.
The last time RPI played was Feb. 29, 2020, a 4-1 win at Dartmouth in the regular-season finale. The Engineers were scheduled to face Harvard in the ECACH tournament quarterfinals, but, when the Ivy League canceled the remainder of its sports season in 2020, RPI’s new opponent became Colgate. Then, that series was canceled.
“Honestly, I think it’s important to put these things in order,” Smith said. “First and foremost, I’m happy that we’re practicing. Second, I’m happy we’re playing a game. … And the third thing is we’re playing Union. It’s win, win, win.”
The teams will now play each other four times this season, including the exhibition game. They open ECACH play against each other Oct. 29 at Messa and Oct. 30 at Houston Field House. The Mayor’s Cup game between the rivals is Jan. 29 at Times Union Center.
Union opens the regular season Oct. 8 at New Hamsphire, while RPI hosts Bowling Green in its season opener that night.
A Capital Region native and the son of a Stanley Cup champion are making their way to the Union College men’s hockey team this season.
Goalie Connor Murphy of Hudson Falls and forward Thomas Richter, the son of New York Rangers goalie Mike Richter, are two of the nine players that make up the Dutchmen’s 2021-22 recruiting class that was announced Thursday.
Murphy, a junior, is transferring from Northeastern. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder played in 21 games last season for the Huskies, posting a 9-9-3 record with a 2.72 goals-against average, a .910 save percentage and two shutouts.
“We kind of knew him seeing him growing up a bit,” Bennett said. “But his path took a different route. Ultimately, he ended up here, and we’re happy he did.”
Before going to Northeastern in 2019-20, Murphy played for Carleton Place of the Central Canada Hockey League.
Richter played in 20 games in a shortened season for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League last season, collecting three goals and six assists.
Richter had been at Union a few years ago, participating in a summer prep school showcase.
“From talking with Thomas and his family, they seemed like they enjoyed the camp,” Bennett said. “From there, it took on a life of its own. The recruiting process began, and it worked out.”
Overall, there are five forwards, two defensemen and two goalies in the recruiting class.
The other forwards are Collin Graf (Boston Junior Bruins of the National Collegiate Development Conference), Michael Hodge (Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League), Andrew Seaman (Prince George Spruce Kings of the BCHL) and Caden Villegas (Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League.
The defensemen are both from the North American Hockey League. Cullen Ferguson played for the Aberdeen Wings, and Josh Phillips of the Minnesota Wilderness.
The other goalie is Joe Sharib, who played for the NCDC’s Connecticut Jr. Rangers.