Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Recruiting RPI Hockey

With all this talk of where RPI stands in the national tournament picture, and the fact that the school to the west is in the middle of the same talk, I wanted to shift gears a little bit.

Recently, a friend of mine said that he was going to disown the NCAA basketball tournament due to the fact that it is way too big and there are no local teams to root for this year, so I let him know about college hockey's upcoming Big Dance and the peripherals of the local team(s) that will be involved. Needless to say, he was very intrigued and wanted more information.

This got me to wondering... if he was new to the area and wanted a team and a sport to root for, what would I tell him? This is of course, assuming that said person likes Division I college athletics.

First, there is UAlbany and Siena, the darlings of the area. Both schools are Division I in every sport they play, so there's that going for them. So what sport do you pick? Basketball? Both teams have had their successful years, most recently Siena. Both schools have been the doormat of their leagues, most recently UAlbany.

Not a basketball fan? OK, then there's lacrosse at both schools. Siena's program has been on the rise, but they have barely scratched the surface in the MAAC, let alone nationally. Siena is the type of team you play when you are a big powerhouse team that wants a meaningful scrimmage game. Albany? They have been and are currently nationally ranked, and has even been to a national semifinal where they lost to Cornell, so that's a distinct possibility, but lacrosse isn't a mainstream sport, so that's out. I'm sure baseball at both schools is very good, but with all the snow we have had, both teams are already about six months behind the 8 ball.

Thus, we transition to another niche sport, college hockey. There are only two division I men's teams to cheer for, so which one do we choose? Union, since 1991, has only recently made their strides. Since Nate Leaman has come along, Union has consistently finished above RPI in the rankings. Since Nate Leaman has come along, Union has amazingly beat out bigger schools with recruits. But let me ask you a question real quick. Who is the only player from Union to leave early from school to sign a pro contract? If you said T.J. Fox, I'll buy you a drink of your choice. Who? My thoughts exactly.

While even I don't particularly remember Mr. Fox's playing days with the Dutchmen, I'm sure he was a fine player. That brings me to RPI. Three league championships, eight (hopefully nine) NCAA tournament appearances; five Frozen Four appearances; and finally, two national championships. If you are familiar with hockey, then the names Adam Oates, Joe Juneau, Kevin Constantine, and Daren Puppa are familiar to you. There are, of course, other pros. Some had above average careers, and some had a cup of coffee in the NHL, but at least they were pros. In addition, the first NHL player of Jamaican descent was a graduate of the school. If I were new to the area and a fan of all sports, there's no question where my allegiance would be pledged.

How about you, how would you recruit the team to a new fan? Think about it. Think about why you became a fan in the first place, and enjoy the ride that is RPI Hockey.

1 comment:

  1. While winning a national championship in 1954 and 1985 was quite an accomplishment in it's day, why would I, as a new fan, care about what a team did 26 years ago? The teams most recent record would be more important to me and during the last several years, Union has had a better record than RPI. If anything, the fact that Union has had a better record over the last several years despite the fact that they
    have 0 athletic scholarships to RPI's 18 would make me want to root for Union. People like to root for an underdog.

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