Opening Faceoff: Union men’s hockey goalie Pipes earns prestigious scholarship

Union goaltender Merek Pipes skates during a September 2021 practice at Messa Rink.

Union goaltender Merek Pipes skates during a September 2021 practice at Messa Rink.

Union men’s hockey senior goalie Merek Pipes is the perfect description of a student-athlete.

Pipes hasn’t played much in his four seasons with the Dutchmen — he saw 3:52 of action and made two saves in an Oct. 18, 2019 game against UMass his freshman season — but that’s OK with him. He loves being around his coaches and teammates.

Where Pipes is excelling is in the classroom. An engineering major with a minor in economics, Pipes has a 3.97 grade-point average. He is a three-time recipient of the team’s Thomas Van Arden Dukehart Academic Award, which is presented to the Union men’s hockey player with the highest GPA. Pipes is also a three-time member of the ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team.

On Jan. 17, Pipes was named a recipient of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Aerospace and Electronic Systems (IEEE AESS) Engineering Scholarship.

It’s just the third year of the scholarship, and Pipes is the first Union student to earn it.

When I read the press release a couple of weeks ago, my jaw dropped. Pipes and Professor Chandra Pappu are working in the field of joint radar and communication.

That’s impressive. I will let Pipes explain it because if I tried to, I wouldn’t know what I was talking about.

“The work that we’re doing is using a waveform to … get data from it, but also you can use it for radar,” Pipes said during a telephone interview Wednesday. “Every radar system, and every information system uses some kind of waveform, and we’re trying to prove or see if chaotic waveforms can be used if they have increased performance, and we’re trying to show that.”

My head is hurting after writing that quote.

I asked Pipes what the goal is of the research.

“The research that I’m doing is proving bistatic radar, and its advantages using chaotic waveforms,” Pipes said. “Right now, we’re focusing on the bistatic radar, which is having a receiver in a different area than the transmitter. But overall, it’s just basically improved ways to communicate and to have radar and showing that the resolution of the image, when you have radar systems using chaotic waveforms, is improved, showing that the broadband and the bandwidth properties of it is improved and just things like that.

“I guess the ultimate goal would be to prove it so well that, eventually, there’ll be systems using this waveform in places, maybe the military or maybe transportation or things like that.”

My mind is blown. I bet yours is, too.

Pipes credits Pappu for piquing his interest.

“I think it was electrical engineering 240, a class that I had with [Pappu],” Pipes said. “He talked about some of his research, and I had asked about it. A little down the line, he reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, like, do you want to pursue this with me? I can guide you through it.’

“Honestly, it was partly his idea, and partly because I expressed interest and I had done well in his previous classes. I’m really thankful for the guidance and all the time that he’s put in with me as well, because he’s a he’s a super knowledgeable guy.”

Union men’s hockey head coach Josh Hauge is happy for Pipes.

“You look at a guy like Merek, and he provides value to us by how hard he competes every day in practice and just his personality and how much fun he is to be around,” Hauge said on Tuesday. “He’s got a smile on his face every day he’s at the rink. He does everything the right way. He’s a great person, and he’s going to be really successful in life and I’m glad he got rewarded with that.”

Pipes will be successful in any field he chooses. I have no doubt about that.


Union junior defenseman Nic Petruolo was having one of his best games of the season during last Saturday’s Capital District Mayor’s Cup game against RPI. He had two assists, blocked three shots and had a defensive rating of +2.

But late in the game, he got into a confrontation with RPI forward Jon McIsaac. It led to a fight between the two players. They kept their gloves on while they were throwing punches.

Both players received five-minute majors for fight and game disqualifications. The game DQs carry an automatic suspension. Both players will miss their respective team’s games Friday — Petruolo is out against Colgate, while McIsaac will miss the Cornell game.

During Tuesday’s media availability at Messa Rink, Petruolo discussed the events leading to the fight.

“It all kind of started in the corner when I picked up the puck, and he just came down on my wrist [with the stick], and at a really bad spot [and] not even trying to go for the puck,” Petruolo said. “It was a heat-of-the-moment. At that point, it was a 6-0 game with two minutes left. That’s obviously not the situation that I would have liked to find myself in. It was an unfortunate event, being that I am suspended on Friday. It’s something you just got to look past. … It’s just looking at Saturday night for me and rooting [for] the boys on Friday night.”


The Union women’s hockey team will look to keep its fading ECACH tournament hopes alive when Yale and Brown come to Messa Rink this weekend.

With six games remaining, the Dutchwomen (4-11-1, 11.5 points, 11-16-1 overall) are in ninth place 7.5 points behind Princeton for the eighth and final tournament berth. This is the final year of the eight-team tournament. All 12 teams make the tournament starting next season.

Union faces an enormous challenge at 6 p.m. Friday against Yale. The Bulldogs lead the ECACH 43.5 points, thanks to a 14-1-1 record. Yale, ranked second in the country, are 21-1-1 overall.

The Dutchwomen dropped a 6-1 decision at Yale on Dec. 10.

“We just have to go back to the basics and work hard,” Union captain Emily King said. “We just have to believe in ourselves and stop overthinking that, ‘Oh, my gosh, we’re playing Yale.’ You should go in and think … it’s never over till it’s over, so you might as well just go out there and prove that we can do what we want to do.”


Dutchwomen freshman forward Riley Walsh has been named to the Hockey Commissioner’s Association 2023 Rookie of the Year watch list, the association announced Thursday. Walsh is the first Dutchwomen’s skater to be named to the Watch List in program history.

Walsh has 13 goals and six assists in 27 games. She has four game-winning goals, three of which came in November, all in overtime.


Time for my latest ECAC Hockey men’s power rankings.

1) Quinnipiac — Wins Connecticut Ice tournament, climbs up to No. 2 in the and USA Hockey Magazine/USA Today polls.

2) Harvard — Rallies to beat Colgate in overtime, and then dominates Cornell.

3) Cornell — Before losing to Harvard, the Big Red got past Dartmouth 3-2.

4) Colgate After losing in OT to Harvard, Raiders beat Dartmouth in OT.

5) St. Lawrence — The Saints swept Route 11-rival Clarkson, the first weekend sweep since the 2008-09 season.

6) Union — Dutchmen goalie Connor Murphy owns RPI in the Mayor’s Cup.

7) Princeton — Blew leads of 2-0 and 3-1 and lost to LIU 6-4 at Hobey Baker Rink last Saturday

8) Brown — Had last weekend off.

9) RPI — Shut out for second straight year in Mayor’s Cup.

10) Clarkson — I thought the Golden Knights would be better.

11) Dartmouth — Two tough home-ice losses.

12) Yale — Lost twice in Connecticut Ice.

Contact Ken Schott by email at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @slapschotts.

Categories: College Sports, Sports, Union College

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