As good as the men have been since the beginning of December, one thing sticks out as the heart of the ECAC schedule begins: they are in last place in the ECAC. Non-conference wins can bolster your confidence and put you on a better plane nationally, but they don't do jack for positioning yourself for March.
That starts now.
The hits, they just keep on coming for the men, as they prepare to face their sixth game in the last seven against a ranked opponent, and third in a row against an opponent in the national Top 10. Much is being made of Quinnipiac's run: 10 straight wins to open the ECAC schedule has the Bobcats sitting pretty. A .500 record the rest of the way would easily sew up the bye for them - hell, they could afford to lose every game from now until March and they'd still see home ice. That's a position one would call enviable.
And then there's Princeton, and all bets are off with Princeton when they're playing RPI. You never know what you're gonna get with the Tigers. Two tough games, and despite the fact that tonight's is against a team that doesn't do anything but win, it's still an important game for the Engineers. Lose tonight, and that's three in a row, disheartening no matter how good you play.
The women wrap up their non-conference schedule with a pair in Troy against Providence. The Friars won't be pushovers, but they do at least make for a needed breather before heading off to Harvard and Dartmouth next weekend to try and duplicate (or even improve on) last week's performance.
Allow the Bad Boys from Boston to welcome the beginning of the meaty part of the schedule...