The women are in a very good place. Not yet ready to compete among the very top end of the ECAC, they're in 7th place and a full five points out of 6th place Dartmouth, so there's a bit of a gap. However, that does place the Engineers ahead of their main competition for making the playoffs.
The bottom line is that RPI is very much in control of its own destiny. Games against other would be playoff teams - Yale, Brown, Princeton, Colgate, and Union - are now must earn points. Games against other teams are good for gravy points, and that's what the Engineers have this weekend.
Points tonight especially are going to be gravy. Harvard may well be the best team in the country, and the Engineers came closer than anyone has this season to actually taking points from the Crimson when last they met on January 5 in Troy. RPI scored one of only four goals Harvard has allowed in ECAC play this season (11 games... yeah) and got within 15 minutes of a draw before settling for a 2-1 loss, the only one-goal victory of the year for Harvard if you don't count the empty-netter victory over Cornell.
Still... all that together combined with the game being in Boston is a great reason you can't count on points tonight. Tomorrow is different. Dartmouth is in 6th, and the Engineers picked up a victory at home over the Big Green. It's still gravy right now, but if the Engineers are going to take their eyes off the bottom of the pack, a season sweep over Dartmouth could focus their attention on 6th instead, a far better place to be than fighting for a road trip to Harvard or Clarkson at the end of the year.
For the men, they're at a position where points are a must wherever and whenever they can get them. That one point against Quinnipiac last week was huge in that no other team in the league can claim points against the Bobcats, but it was also the only one of the weekend and RPI's still in last place. If you've seen this team in the last six weeks, you know they're not a "last place team," but the stark statistical reality speaks otherwise.
With far more parity than women's hockey, the points have got to come from everywhere they can be had, and with the vast majority of remaining games coming at home, it's officially go time. Colgate's a young team that can score goals, but the defense has been suspect at times. Tonight's game could well set the tone for the next couple of weeks, and if the Engineers can pull themselves out of last place with a win... well, let's put it this way, they might be in last place, but a weekend sweep at home can put them as high as sixth. There's a gap between 5th and 6th, but 6th is better than 12th no matter how close it is or what time of year it is.
Let's do this. By the way, if you have pump-up requests, tweet them at us or shoot us an email.
Crossing the border for this one, off the Hip's newest album (skip to about 55 seconds in for the music, if you like).