Rensselaer: nothing to lose
Nobody is giving RPI much of a chance against North Dakota, in the Engineers’ first NCAA appearance in 16 years… but really, why would they? The Engineers were the last team into the field and the Sioux are widely considered to be the best team in college hockey (even if Yale, Union, Boston College, or a few others may beg to differ).
So what does the ‘Tute have going for it? The element of surprise, low expectations, and Allen York/Chase Polacek/Tyler Helfrich. A fast start and a few big plays for RPI could strike a little doubt or uncertainty into NoDak, and that can have a snowballing effect.
I’m not going to lie – I don’t expect RPI to pull the upset – but I’d sure love to see it happen, as would just about every other college hockey fan in the country not wearing green and black, it seems.
Union: stating its case
The Dutchmen have a big task ahead of them Friday afternoon. Minnesota-Duluth has been ranked the top team in the country already this year, hailing from a powerful conference and carrying with it equal parts confidence and expectation against a “weak” field in the East Regional (at least, according to many unacquainted with east-coast hockey).
Union can point to its road upset of Minnesota on New Year’s Eve as proof of its worth all it wants, but skeptics will nod to losses at Alaska and two at Western Michigan as evidence of a team that has yet to earn the national spotlight.
This game is the program’s biggest opportunity ever to state its case as a major player… but will the Dutch rise to the occasion, or crumble under the pressure? The first 10 minutes of the contest should speak volumes.
Yale: road to redemption
Bulldogs players wore shirts with the slogan “unfinished business” emblazoned across the back this year. It doesn’t take an Ivy Leaguer to figure out what they mean.
Following the Elis’ slobberknocker of a loss to Boston College in the Northeast Regional finale last spring, there have been nagging, persistent questions about Yale’s true value. Is the offense as good as it seems against a shorter, ECAC schedule? Has the goaltending come far enough since last season – and the BC game – to lift the Bulldogs when they really need it to? Is this a one-dimensional team, or a squad that is really capable of playing smart, consistent, determined two-way hockey?
I don’t need to share my opinion of the team, as it’s pretty irrelevant (not to mention well-known) by now. Air Force is no joke, having already defeated Yale earlier this year and owning a brief but respectable history in the NCAA’s.
The exam for Yale starts when the puck drops Friday night, and with every shift, the Bulldogs will be tested and evaluated with the biggest grades of their careers.
Music to get the adrenaline flowing
And finally, I hope these serve to get you a little amped up and ready to go before our ECAC representatives take the ice. Go get ’em, boys.
And finally, Union’s intro tune. I’m not a big fan of Coldplay, but this edited version of “Fix You” is simply outstanding. Even if you’ve never been to Messa Rink or seen the Dutchmen play, just imagine the team – or your team, or any team – taking the ice with the lights low and these beats pumping. It should give you goosebumps.