SCHENECTADY — Last weekend, the Union College women’s hockey team did something it had only done one other time since becoming a Division I squad in 2003-04, opening the season 2-0.
On Friday, the Dutchwomen can do something they have never done before — win their first three games of the season. And, by the end of the weekend, maybe even go 4-0.
The Dutchwomen have a chance to make history this weekend when they open ECAC Hockey play against Capital Region rival RPI. The teams meet at 6 p.m. Friday at Union’s Messa Rink, and at 3 p.m. Saturday at RPI’s Houston Field House.
The Dutchwomen last started a season 2-0 in 2013-14. They are well aware of the history they can make on Friday.
“This year, especially, we have a really competitive edge,” Union junior defenseman Emily King said. “Having such a long time off, I know we’re all just excited to be playing again. But I think with all these new people on our team and just the whole team environment, have been really hard in practice, and we were all just super good and team-first this past weekend. I think if we just continue to bring that mentality and take it day-by-day, shift-by-shift, we can continue to win.”
Union is facing an RPI that has started the season 0-4, including two overtime losses, and is on a 39-game winless streak (0-38-1). The Engineers have lost 31 straight since a 2-2 tie against Holy Cross on Oct. 27, 2019. RPI’s last win came March 2, 2019, against Cornell in Game 2 of the ECACH tournament best-of-three quarterfinals.
The Dutchwomen, who won both meetings in 2019-20, including the Mayor’s Cup contest, know they can’t afford to take RPI lightly. Standings points are important, especially for the Dutchwomen, whose goal is to make the ECACH tournament for the first time in program history.
“We know,” Union head coach Josh Sciba said. “We’re going to shape it around what we know to be prepared for from them. Coming off the Mayor’s Cup win and [RPI’s] zero-win season, we know they’re going to be hungry. With the Union-RPI rivalry, there’s league points on the line, we know we can’t take them for granted.
“We’re going to prepare just like we did for [last] Friday against RIT, when we were facing a winless team there. It’s the same way. We’ve got something to prove ourselves, and the focus is going to be on us, but we know we’re going to be prepared for a hard game.”
Union opened its season, its first since the 2019-20 campaign, with a pair of victories at RIT last weekend. In the opener, the Dutchwomen erased a 3-1 second-period deficit by scoring six third-period goals, the most they have ever scored in a period, to beat the Tigers 7-4. They carried that momentum into the second contest and cruised to a 4-1 victory.
Union freshman defenseman Maren Friday said the six-goal third period was important for the team’s confidence.
“Coming off that second period, we talked [and] we figured out what we wanted to change,” said Friday, who was named ECACH Rookie of the Week on Monday after her two-goal, two-assist effort last weekend. “But I think is that we let it go, we moved on and we came out almost like a new team, supporting each other, playing hard, being first to pucks and just getting shots on net. It counted.”