Oh, right. Hockey.
So, the first set of the New Year is always an interesting story. The team's been off for a few weeks on holiday break and you never know how much momentum they can carry into those first couple of games. They're almost always against non-conference opponents, which is good because you want whatever questions there are to be answered after break taken care of before getting back into league games. For RPI, that happens next weekend when they host Cornell and Colgate, but this weekend, it's a trip to Ohio to take on the most common non-conference opponent of the Appert era, the Miami RedHawks.
Now, this is an opponent that, in six games over the last decade, has pretty much destroyed the Engineers left and right. The goal tally over the last six is 28-8, including 3-2 and 3-0 wins for Miami in Troy last year on these exact same days.
The good news? Well, heading into the break, these two teams were going in opposite directions, and it's the opposite of what that 28-8 goal line would suggest. RPI concluded 2015 by going unbeaten in 12 of their last 14 games (9-2-3), while Miami has won only two of their last 11 contests (2-8-1).
But the questions remain... what teams are we going to see coming out of break? Miami's home ice advantage makes this a pretty interesting matchup if momentum stays as it was. To be extremely fair to the RedHawks, the NCHC is brutal. A team that would be among the top in other leagues might be languishing in that conference - and their non-conference record is 3-1-1, the lone loss coming against Providence. But they also finished their 2015 schedule getting swept at Colorado College - that would be 0-13-0 to start the season Colorado College - and will be without one of their top players with Louie Belpedio representing the Stars and Stripes in Finland with the World Junior team.
So it'll be intriguing to see what happens. Can RPI end the schneid against Miami? Will the momentum continue?
(Note to our Miami friends: we have a long, sordid history with the name "Redhawks." Or maybe it only felt long. The title of this post is something we used to chant at "our" own mascot about 15 years ago, though thankfully we never had to do it in hockey.)
Stick tap to our friend Bob for this return-to-play pumpup.