There are enough potholes on the short winding road that leads to Messa Rink that you could name each one after a Dartmouth player and have one left over for head coach Bob Gaudet.
Union and RPI ain’t exactly best pals, but the Engineers indirectly did the Dutchmen a big favor by letting Game 3 against Dartmouth — and their season — flush down the sewer on Sunday.
The Route 7 Rivalry took a turn for the bizarre this season when Union and RPI engaged in a bench-clearing brawl at the end of the Engineers’ Mayor’s Cup victory at the Times Union Center.
So as the Dutchmen used the down time last week to stay caught up on schoolwork, they were served a delicious opportunity for some schadenfreude at the expense of their crosstown rival, who blew a 4-2 lead in the third period on Sunday. At home.
Nobody at Union was biting on Tuesday, certainly not in front of the cameras.
“It didn’t really matter to me,” Union’s star defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “Yeah, there’s some history, but I guess the better team won.”
I don’t believe for a second that the Dutchmen didn’t take some delight in seeing RPI collapse in the ECAC Hockey tournament.
The Dutchmen have much bigger things to think about than old territorial grievances, of course, and should only benefit from the reminder that RPI provided.
They said all the right things about not taking an opponent lightly, even one that, as of Friday night, was 8-18-4 and on the top of the endangered list after a 4-1 loss to the Engineers in Game 1.
The Big Green won Game 2, 3-2, and outscored the Engineers, 3-0, in the third period of Game 3.
This was all duly noted by the Dutchmen, who will welcome Dartmouth to Messa for the quarterfinal round this Friday.
“I wouldn’t say it was a surprised reaction,” Union captain Mat Bodie said. “Especially in the ECAC, there’s usually one upset. So I wasn’t totally surprised.
“That they were down, 4-2, I guess that’s a little surprising. That’s something we’ll be able to use going into this series, knowing that they’re not going to quit, regardless of the score.”
The Dutchmen applauded the Big Green’s heart and passion, not with the suggestion that RPI lacked these qualities, but simply as a red flag as they embark on what promises to be a long road into the playoffs.
It would be an upset of spectacular proportion if Union loses to Dartmouth.
RPI, meanwhile, remains in neutral after its eighth playoff series loss in the 10 they’ve played under coach Seth Appert.
The Engineers’ freshman class this year totaled a measly 11 points all season, which makes it hard to get too excited about RPI’s future.
As one person at Union deadpanned, “They have a trophy.”