Gross Misconduct Hockey Thoughts from a drifter on the hockey landscape

07/31/2009

RPI Plans To Take More Money From Fans

One of the collegiate guilty pleasures you’re going to have to get better accustomed to if you’re a follower here is my fandom of the ECAC’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI, if you’re nasty). The majority of my college hockey watching takes place at Houston Field House and I can virtually always be found there taking in an RPI game during hockey season.

So if you want to get into stalking me, enjoy beautiful Troy, NY.

So if you’re curious as to why this latest bit of information from RPI found its way onto my radar, well, there you go. It reads like the standard “season is approaching, get ready to buy tickets” type of news, but this year there’s a new spin.

The general public price remains as it has been in recent years for 14 home games, while four games feature premium pricing. The majority of contests will cost $10 for adults and $7 for children & seniors, while the four premium-priced games are $13 for adults and $10 for children & seniors.

The games with premium pricing are those against Cornell University on December 4, Union College on December 9, Clarkson University on February 6 and Princeton University on February 20.

That’s right, premium ticketing comes to ECAC Athletics. At long last fans can feel like they’re part of the big time as they’ll pay up more for tickets to the games they REALLY want to be at.

Great.

What do you think of this Dr. Horse?


Hmm… No sir, I don’t like it.

OK so I’m having some fun here because being dreadfully serious is dreadfully boring and this isn’t a topic that deserves to be lambasted, but it is a bit troubling for the future.

Premium ticketing for certain games is something that’s not new to sports fans in general (many NHL teams already do this including the Sabres) and, let’s face it, the cost for RPI games isn’t outrageous by any means. A weekend homestand will run you $20, there’s no price for parking and you’ll get a good night out of hockey in, at the least, a semi-festive college environment.

What’s a bit disturbing about this is, of course, the timing. RPI appears to be a team headed in the right direction.

After a poor regular season, the Engineers found their way in the playoffs upsetting and sweeping sixth seeded Dartmouth in the ECAC tournament first round and then taking ECAC Tournament finalists Cornell to three games in the quarterfinals before losing.

This year, the Engineers bring in two 2009 NHL Draft Picks with forwards Brandon Pirri (2nd round 59th overall to Chicago) and Jerry D’Amigo (6th round 158th overall to Toronto) as well as other forwards C.J. Lee and Marty O’Grady to join an already very young team. RPI has struggled and head coach Seth Appert has, for all intents and purposes, rebuilt the program in the last three years at the helm.

Whether the progress continues to bring success hinges a lot upon what this new crop of players can do immediately and with that the folks at RPI have apparently decided that folks will pony up no matter what, especially for certain games. The games they’ve got picked out are the traditional big ticket games each year taking advantage of the opponent or the situation.


Puckman wants to see you in Troy… And make you pay for it.

In the case with the game against Cornell, RPI is looking to capitalize upon the swarm of visitors that descend upon Troy from Ithaca each year and looking to make a few more bucks off of the fans from Cornell… Well really, paying more to come to Troy will really stick in their collective craws and that’s just fun to make them upset.

Much is the same with the fans coming from Schenectady from Union College. Making those folks pay a few bucks more for the pleasure of visiting Troy makes me laugh because they hate to do it.

RPI’s games against Clarkson and Princeton in February actually are premium tickets as far as RPI fans are concerned.

RPI and Clarkson are big time rivals in the ECAC, at least they are from RPI’s standpoint. Clarkson tends to have more rivalry-like hate for the likes of St. Lawrence and Cornell. In this case, RPI has chosen their game against Clarkson to be Alumni night and they’ll be honoring the 1985 National Championship as it’ll be the 25th Anniversary of RPIs last national title and hey, you don’t need a good excuse to bring Adam Oates and Daren Puppa back to town now do you?

Putting this event the same night as their game with Clarkson is a really nice coincidence though.

The game with Princeton is a convenient double-whammy as Princeton, traditionally, brings very few fans on the road which will not help them as this game is RPIs annual Big Red Freakout as well as senior night.

As that link explaining the Big Red Freakout says, fans can thank RPI for the NCAA rule banning noisemakers at games as the gift given out to fans in 1987 were horns and well… Wild, rambunctious and boozed up college kids with horns at a hockey game? I can’t see how that ever turned out badly.

RPIs record in the Big Red Freakout is something quite remarkable (18-9-5 since 1978) and they’ll be looking to get off a three-year winless streak in 2010 as well as avenging their Freakout loss to Princeton two years ago that saw the Engineers lose 4-0 in a game that wasn’t even as close as that score indicates.

Four premium ticket games, two of which are actually premium games that will very likely be sellouts. It’s a shrewd financially-driven decision by RPI to do this and, let’s face it they’re going to get the money they’re looking for here. It is a choice that I worry will be taken advantage of in future seasons and leading to ticket prices going up.

After all, RPI does have a nice new athletic facility to show off and try to make money off of (not that it has anything to do with the hockey program) but since RPI has made headlines locally for cutting jobs and talking about financial hardships making a few bucks off their only Division I men’s athletic program should be no surprise.

That’s a whole ‘nother rant entirely however.

I wanted to really tear ass about this more, but I can understand why RPI is doing premium ticket pricing for these games, I just hope that this isn’t a harbinger of doom for the future.

Sure, college hockey ticket prices are a bit higher in the midwest (Denver University’s single game tickets range between $17-$35 for example), but the demand out there is much higher as well so it makes sense. If RPI starts winning again, the long lost dormant RPI fans will come back and the students will be out in force if for no other reason than to be seen at the games.

As it is, the exhibition game with Prince Edward Island on October 3rd is a date most RPI fans cannot wait for just so they can finally get a look at guys like Pirri and D’Amigo on the ice in cherry, white and black.

I’m sure the coaching staff is hoping that the new class is able to inspire more goals and victories and make the fans want to come to Troy on the weekends once again.

02/28/2009

Back To School: Clarkson 4 – RPI 2

Filed under: Back To School,Clarkson,Ivan Drago,Nikolai Volkoff,RPI — Joe Yerdon @ 4:19 PM

If you were following along last night either at Gross Misconduct Twitter or thanks to the guys at WRPI you know that Clarkson College took out RPI 4-2.

What folks might not know is that for the fans of RPI, Clarkson is the big rivalry. For Clarkson… not quite so much. Clarkson fans view their travel partners St. Lawrence as well as Cornell to be bigger rivals than RPI.

Having been to a few Clarkson-RPI throwdowns in the past, I can say that I’ve seen RPI’s Houston Field House packed to the rafters loaded with loud and often obnoxious fans.

Not so much on this night. RPI is in the midst of a very down season and Clarkson is in a bit of a rebuilding year. Suffice to say, the crowd was a little bit lighter than usual but with both bands in the house and two fan bases that can be loud when there’s reason to be.

Adding to the craziness was it was RPI’s night to do their duty for Coaches Vs. Cancer, something taken up by the ECAC on the whole. Very classy, yet confusing since the ECAC has their own style of jersey that the host teams wear on the nights they opt to do their part.

The other fun part of this is that the schools will put the game-used jerseys up for auction as well as the coaches ties as part of the means to raise money for cancer programs. You can find a list of the items currently up for auction on Ebay here, and it won’t just be items from RPI but all the teams in the ECAC and if you’re a jersey collecting freak like yours truly, the bidding for game worn jerseys starts at $150. Not bad at all.


Let’s Go…Black? Pink? Ah screw it…

With the home team in black and pink and the visitors wearing gold, let’s just say it made it look like a bit of a technicolor nightmare on the ice. See for yourself:

That’s a bit much, but at least they didn’t do things over the top the way folks in the AHL are wont to do. Don’t believe me? Well, take a look at this Iowa Chops promotion.

Don’t get me wrong, this is all done for a fantastic reason it’s just that, well, pink ice? Really?

Oh yeah – really.


There are no words for this.

Since it’s the final home weekend for RPI, that means they pay tribute to the seniors and before the playing of the national anthems it was announced that instead of playing “Oh, Canada” the Russian national anthem would be played in honor of RPI senior forward Andrei Uryadov.

No, it was not sung by Nikolai Volkoff nor Ivan Drago.


Not singing anything nor breaking anyone last night.

As for the game itself, Clarkson getting a pair of power play goals in the first period really sucked what little life there was in the field house right out of it – it was so down that even the Clarkson fans weren’t being their usual boisterous selves.

Down years are a major drag.

RPI freshman goaltender, and Blue Jackets prospect, Allen York made a major blunder in the second period playing a puck and trying to send it behind his net and around the boards to his defensemen but ended up bouncing it off the side of the goal where the oncoming Clarkson forechecker tapped it in for a gimmie goal.

Yeah, it was that sort of night. York later on in the second had a Brandon Defazio wrist shot get ripped by him and the rout was seemingly on with the Golden Knights being up 4-0.

Play plodded along in the third period until about the 12 minute mark. I’m not kidding when I say the game plodded along, there was nothing to write home about or excitement – nothing.

RPI was able to control the puck a bit more, keep it in the zone consistently and then with about nine minutes to play, Chase Polacek rips a wrist shot by freshman goaltender Paul Karpowich and there was much rejoicing as the Engineers wouldn’t be shut out.

Two minutes and change later, Tyler Helfrich puts home a backhand rebound in front of the net and now Clarkson is back on their heels and RPI is taking play to them.

Wha…what happened? RPI was lifeless and mostly shotless in this game. After two periods, Clarkson was outshooting them 19-7 and now Clarkson can’t even get the puck out of their own end.

With about 2:30 to play, Clarkson picks up a very poor tripping penalty, possibly in honor of the Russian national anthem since Jake Morley appeared to give the RPI player he was chasing after the puck with a Russian leg sweep.


Volkoff approves – Clarkson head coach George Roll does not.

Whether they’ll admit it or not, many Clarkson fans might recall being RPI’s opponent at the Big Red Freakout in 2002, RPIs big annual tradition, and being up 3-0 heading into the third period only to see RPI storm back to tie the game with under a minute left and then win the game in overtime (check the box score here). Now RPI is going on the power play with all the momentum on their side and a goal away from making things very uncomfortable.

Of course, this is not RPIs year and they may have spent a lot of their magic earlier this season in their incredible 7-6 win in Appleton, NY beating St. Lawrence. Clarkson was able to withstand the pressure, Alex Angers-Goulet flattens Karpowich drawing an interference call with 30 seconds to play and then that’s your game. 4-2 Clarkson hangs on.

The atmosphere for this game was a serious letdown as this is the big rival RPI waits for every year and the fans just didn’t have it in them until the game got back to within two goals. The Clarkson fans weren’t pushing the issue that they were shutting down RPI to the point of boredom and kicking their tails on the scoreboard. Everything about the whole night was just off.

Tonight’s game against St. Lawrence is the last home game of the year for RPI and the seniors will all be honored this evening and there’s word that many of the big time recruits on the horizon for RPI will be in attendance.

I’d also have to guess we’ll hear the Austrian national anthem being played for goaltender Mathias Lange – expect to see lots of this guy in tomorrow’s wrap-up.


He’s the only other guy in America that knows what the Austrian national anthem sounds like.

Hopefully things for RPI will be more like The Terminator than they will be The Last Action Hero.

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