Gross Misconduct Hockey Thoughts from a drifter on the hockey landscape

10/30/2009

RPI Hockey Weekend: Rivals, Black Knights and Masked Men

Filed under: college hockey,RPI,RPI hockey,Union College — Joe Yerdon @ 4:18 PM

This weekend the RPI Engineers play one of a potential four games against local semi-rival Union College.  I call them a semi-rival because I’ve noticed through how the teams play these games that there’s a pecking order for motivation in games that are listed off as “rivalry” games where sometimes one of the opponents treats it like a blood feud and the other treats it like they’re play some other team.

That’s exactly what RPI-Union has been over the years.  Union is the kid brother of the pair, always looking to stick it to their big brother RPI and prove to them that they should be taken seriously at all costs.  Of course, RPI plays the part of the big brother rather well.  They’re the longer established hockey program, they have two National Championships and they have other schools that rank higher on the supposed pecking order as far as rivals go (Clarkson, Cornell).  At least those are the teams that RPI seems to get up for like they’re going to war.

The RPI-Union rivalry, for all intents and purposes, is similar to the baseball “rivalry” that the New York Mets and New York Yankees have and the similarities in comparing the two are striking.  Yes, they’re separated by just a few miles in locaation, that much is obvious.  In this case RPI plays the role of the Yankees while Union stands out the way the Mets do… Except that Union has a reason to have hope and they don’t have terrible management.

In baseball, the Mets go balls out to try and take down the Yankees, meanwhile the Yankees are caught up in worrying about what the Boston Red Sox are up to and being more concerned with taking them down in their divisional battles.  Of course, that’s where the one key difference between these rivalries exist, Union and RPI are both after the same ECAC crown meanwhile the Mets have the Phillies and Braves to contend with directly and the Yankees have the Red Sox and Rays.  So why is it that sometimes these travel partners can’t seem to mutually get up for games against each other?

The Engineers (and the Yankees) have the pressure to try and keep the local “kid brother” down so they (and their fans and the city rag newspapers) stay quiet but it’s often viewed to be more important to take care of business with the other rival(s) that the fans care more about.  In this situation, The Daily Gazette and Troy Record aren’t fighting each other for readers but the Union fans are just as vocal about giving grief to RPI as anyone. Call it an inferiority complex if you will as Union fans certainly get caught up in what happens in Troy whereas RPI fans could care less… Until recently.

During last Saturday’s game in Troy between RPI and AIC, out of town scores were being announced during the TV timeouts and when the announcement that Union was down 5-1 to Sacred Heart was made, a larger than normal roar went up from the home fans.  Is it because RPI had just dispatched Sacred Heart the night before and seeing them, at the time, throttling the travel partners from Schenectady was satisfying?  Perhaps, but it’s more than likely a huge case of schadenfreude.  That said though, if the fans are starting to care about what is going on with Union then perhaps this “rivalry” will get to drop the quotation marks and become a legitimate one.

As for the teams, given how well RPI has done against Union the last few seasons (4-9-3 since the 03-04 season) perhaps taking their “kid brothers” a little more serious might be a good idea.

How To Insult Army Cadets And Get Away With It

RPIs other game this weekend is against the United States Military Academy, you know them better simply as Army.  I don’t have much insight to offer about Army as I see them very rarely and they never quite land on the radar.  That said, the last time Army came to RPI, RPI drubbed the Black Knights 4-0.  The hilarious and insulting moment of the game came in the third period as the Engineers were strolling away with the victory and a sousaphonist from the RPI band made his way around Houston Field House until he was just behind the Army bench playing a tune:

Yup, the fight song of the United States Naval Academy. Nothing like rubbing a little salt in the wound especially to guys in the military. Hockey, the only sport that allows the nerds to beat up on the future officers of the military.

God bless America indeed.

Goalie Art Via Shoddy Photographs

A couple weeks ago I showed off goaltender Allen York’s mask and how I want to steal credit for the inspiration of him having Troy native Uncle Sam painted on the mask, and hey, it was cool enough to get noticed by Brian Sullivan at USCHO too.  I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I didn’t help this process along but also wanted to make sure I could get some photos of the other side of the mask as well and to get some photos of backup goaltender Bryce Merriam’s sweet helmet.  Besides, it’s Halloween weekend so what better to do than take a look at masks.

So without further ado, here we go.

RPIGoalies 004aThe other side of Allen York’s mask: Lady Liberty

RPIGoalies 005aBryce Merriam sports the RPI crest and Puckman on the front/side.

RPIGoalies 007aCan’t quite make out what that says?  Fear not…

RPIGoalies 001aThis reeks of confidence for the future.  I dig it.

RPIGoalies 002aThird-stringer Joe Harkenrider in an artsy-looking motion shot.

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.

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