SCHENECTADY — The Union men’s hockey team will have to wait one day longer than it expected before playing its first game in 2022.
Meanwhile, the Union women’s hockey team must wait one more week before returning to action.
The Dutchmen’s ECAC Hockey game against Dartmouth on Friday at Thompson Arena in Hanover, New Hampshire, was postponed on Tuesday due to COVID-19 concerns and safety protocols within the Dartmouth men’s hockey team, according to a Dartmouth Athletics press release.
Union will face Harvard at 7 p.m. Saturday at Bright-Landry Hockey Center.
The Union women’s ECACH games at Yale and Brown this weekend have been postponed, Dutchwomen coach Josh Sciba said Tuesday.
The games will be rescheduled, but no dates have been announced.
Later Tuesday, RPI Athletics announced that the men’s hockey and men’s basketball teams were put on pause due to COVID-19 protocols. The men’s hockey team was set to play at Harvard on Friday and Dartmouth on Saturday. The men’s basketball teams had games at Ithaca on Friday and at Union on Saturday.
The Dutchmen haven’t played since dropping a 4-3 decision to Maine on Dec. 11. Union was scheduled to play a two-game series last weekend against defending NCAA champion UMass, but Union postponed the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day games because of health and safety protocols.
Barring any further changes, Union’s game at Harvard will be its first one in 28 days.
“You’re disappointed for the players,” Union head coach Rick Bennett said during Tuesday’s teleconference with reporters. “It’s a game that you’re not playing. Our thoughts as a coaching staff are about the players. That’s kind of where we stand.”
Without the games, the Dutchmen have had plenty of time to practice.
“That’s what is keeping us going,” Bennett said. “That’s all we can do, so that’s what we’re doing as best as we possibly can. The guys are in good spirits in just what they have gone through. That’s how we’re battling through it, just through practice.”
Bennett said not every player is practicing.
“I wouldn’t say it’s full [participation], but we do have some good numbers based on our roster size,” Bennett said. “That’s a positive for us right now.”
The players are disappointed that they have to wait one more day.
“It’s tough not playing last weekend, especially coming off of break,” Union captain Josh Kosack said. “We were pretty eager to play UMass, a really good team coming into our rink would have been exciting. It’s just how things are these days.”
Saturday’s game between Dartmouth and RPI is also postponed.
The Dutchwomen were set to play their first games of 2022. Like the men, the women last played Dec. 11, a 4-2 loss to Franklin Pierce.
“We just don’t have the numbers to safely compete right now,” Sciba said during a teleconference. “It’s just in the best interest of us to postpone.”
“It’s super disappointing,” defenseman Emma Hebert said. “We were all super excited to get back at it after Christmas. It is what it is. The safety of our team and our players and the league is obviously more important. We’re looking forward to playing those teams.”
The RPI men’s hockey team has played twice since Christmas. The Engineers beat Vermont 3-2 last Thursday in a game that was moved from Houston Field House to Gutterson Field House in Burlington, Vermont, because of COVID-19 concerns at RPI. On Sunday, the Engineers played to a 3-3 tie at Army West Point.
“It’s new for us,” RPI men’s hockey head coach Dave Smith said. “But when I talk with coaches around the country, they went through this last year. They went through this where it’s a day-to-day, week-to-week experience, and other sports have gone through this. I’ve leaned on some other guys and said, ‘Hey, how did you deal with it? How have you done?’
“I tried to share that with our players. I gave them the perspective … that when we see the news or a press release that another team has paused, what did we think?’ … We shouldn’t overreact when we’re paused.”
RESCHEDULING UMASS GAMES DOUBTFUL
Bennett said it’s unlikely that the two games against UMass will be rescheduled. Last week, when Union announced the postponement of those games, Union athletic director Jim McLaughlin said one game had been rescheduled for Jan. 18.
“Those two games could be just a wash at this point,” Bennett said. “I’m not going to say that’s 100%, but let’s just use the football terms questionable/doubtful.”
UALBANY WOMEN’S BASKETBALL GAME RESCHEDULED
The America East Conference announced Tuesday that the UAlbany women’s basketball game at Hartford has been rescheduled for Jan. 17 at 1 p.m. The game was scheduled to be played Dec. 30.