After a year off because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Mayor’s Cup games between the Union and RPI men’s and women’s hockey programs resume Saturday at MVP Arena.
The men will play the ninth edition of the Cup game at 2 p.m., and it will be the first without Rick Bennett as the Dutchmen’s head coach. Bennett, who was Union’s head coach for 11 years and spent 17 years at the school overall, resigned Friday after a school investigation into “an allegation about his coaching style and practices that was substantiated.” Bennett had been on paid administrative leave since Jan. 20, a day after Union was made aware of the allegation.
John Ronan, who served as acting head coach the last three games, was named interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Ronan previously was an assistant coach with the program.
The fourth edition of the women’s Cup game will take place at 11 a.m. Union won its first Mayor’s Cup game in 2020.
The RPI men are the defending champions, having won in a shootout in 2020.
“Yeah, losing in shootouts is like the worst feeling ever,” Union captain Josh Kosack said on Thursday. “It pretty much just comes down to a player versus goalie. I vividly remember that and I hope to have better memories this time around.”
Ronan, speaking a day before Bennett’s resignation, said Union was eager to play its first Cup game in two years.
“We missed it,” Ronan said. “To pinpoint one thing, yeah, missing out on a great event like the Mayor’s Cup was no fun. Just in general, it wasn’t an ideal situation.”
Likewise, RPI is excited to play the game after a year off.
“I’m looking forward to it,” RPI men’s head coach Dave Smith. “Love important games, and this is an important game. It’s a trophy. It’s a rivalry game. It’s a showcase game. There’s a lot of reasons to be excited for it.”
Union and RPI have played three times this season. The Engineers won them all — a 5-2 exhibition triumph Oct. 2 at Messa Rink, a 4-2 ECACH victory Oct. 29 at Messa and a 4-0 conference win Oct. 30 at Houston Field House.
The Dutchmen would like to get a win over the Engineer and reclaim the Cup.
“…They’re a very structured team,” Kosack said. “They don’t give up much, so it’ll be really important for us for special teams, establishing [offensive] zone time, getting some greasy goals. They’re a very good team. They just had a big win against Harvard, so we have to play our game and have a full 60 [minutes] to beat them.”
WOMEN’S GAME STARTS DAY
Like the men, the RPI women won the ECACH games back in October in convincing fashion. The Engineers took a 4-0 victory Oct. 8 at Messa Rink in the conference opener for both teams. The next day, RPI routed Union 9-2 at Houston Field House.
“When we played RPI twice this year, that was our first league games for probably two-thirds of our team,” Union head coach Josh Scbia said. “Coming off a weekend where we had swept RIT, I think it was the first time our group actually felt what league play was like. They felt kind of what the intensity of an ECAC matchup was like. They felt what a Union-RPI rivalry was all about. I think we’ve learned a lot since then.
“Going into the game on Saturday, there’s a large percentage of our team that hasn’t felt what a Mayor’s Cup is all about. They haven’t been on the ice in a Mayor’s Cup. They don’t know what the big venue is like. They’re going to learn that from just competing in it.”