Thursday, March 17, 2016

Looking to Next Year

With the season over and the schedule for next year still not out, might be a good time to take a look and see exactly what we're expecting for 2016-17.

First thing we always do is look at the non-conference schedule from the season past and try to divine things from that:

UMass-Lowell could be coming to Troy if they were part of a home-and-home starting last season.

Boston College was thought to be a home-and-home deal for 2013/2015, which would be concluded. If it's not, it's possible that 2015 was the first end of a home-and-home, so that would see the Engineers playing at Chestnut Hill this year.

Hosting New Hampshire this year was the conclusion of a second consecutive home-and-home, they're a common opponent and a trip to Durham wouldn't be unexpected this year.

Michigan was part of a 1-for-2 deal that concluded last year. The Engineers are done with the Wolverines.

At Arizona State for two is expected this coming season, if not, in two years.

Miami was the conclusion of a home-and-home four-game set. They are out.

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Then there are the other teams we've heard scuttlebutt about. Last year they were on the schedule is in parentheses.

RIT (2012) is expected to be coming to Troy at some point as part of a Capital District weekend for them. RPI has played at least one Atlantic Hockey team every year since that conference was founded.

Rumors of Maine (2008) being on the schedule early in the season have been heard, not sure if that is home or away. Might pair well with UNH. As with Atlantic Hockey, RPI has had a Hockey East team on the schedule every year since that conference was founded (if you count beating Providence in the '85 championship game). Both make lots and lots of sense, they're right nearby.

North Dakota (2011 NCAAs - 1990 scheduled) is coming to Schenectady for a single game on New Year's Eve, and Union returns to Grand Forks for two in 2017-18. Tough to envision UND coming out east for just one game at Union of all places, but it's unknown if RPI would be a second game. Have heard it rumored that the Engineers and Fighting Hawks (huh?) are going to be paired off in this year's U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame game. That would be in Grand Forks and would be an exempt game, giving RPI an extra game to schedule. It's not out of the question that both could be true - which would set up an odd situation where there was essentially a home-and-home against a non-conference team in the same season, months apart. Stay tuned.

Ohio State (2007) supposedly is going to play a pair of games in Troy as the series with the Buckeyes searches for its first ever winner. All three prior games between the Engineers and OSU were in Troy and ended in 5-5 ties - two in the 1970s, and one in the 2000s. For what it's worth, expect to see more big names from out west coming east now that there is a Pairwise benefit to playing road games. Minnesota is known to be playing at Clarkson and St. Lawrence next season, something that never would have happened even four years ago. This is in line with Michigan coming to the Capital District last year and North Dakota next year.

No specific discussion has been heard on Boston University (2015), but like New Hampshire, they're a common opponent and it was unusual that the Terriers were not on the schedule this year. We're still waiting to see if David Quinn is going to schedule RPI as often as Jack Parker did, we may still see a lot of BU but maybe not year in and year out.

Finally, the tournaments. The Engineers have been in an in-season tournament every year since 1952 with one exception: 2013. This is partially because they had one that they hosted from 1952 until 2011, but ultimately it's usually a good bet. This season, maybe not so much. Taking a look at the usual tournament periods...

Early: RPI isn't in the Icebreaker field, and it's highly unlikely they'd go to Alaska two years in a row.

Thanksgiving: Not in the Friendship Four field in Belfast, and unlikely they'd be in the Shillelagh Tournament two years in a row. This might be an opportune time for the Arizona State trip, if it is in fact this season.

Christmas: Plenty of opportunities for a tournament appearance here, though we've sort of eliminated more than half of them - GLI (WMU), Pittsburgh, and Florida (both known fields). If Arizona State keeps up their tournament, it's probably not overly likely that RPI will play in it, since they're due to head out there anyway. Burlington (which RPI played in 2006), Minnesota (2014), and Dartmouth (never in 27 years) tournaments are all possibilities among tournaments that existed last season.

As always, expect to learn about completely unexpected specific opponents when the schedule is released. At present, we haven't heard anything about WCHA teams on the schedule, but every other conference is represented among the rumors at least.

We do, however, have the dates for the non-travel partner games in the ECAC, which are planned in advance. They're subject to slight changes, especially the game at Harvard, since it's due the Saturday before the Beanpot final.

The Union games are likely to be home-and-home as has become the norm. Since the addition of the Mayor's Cup, these games have always been in the fall semester, either in October (to start the ECAC schedule) or November.

Saturday, 8 October - at North Dakota (US Hockey Hall of Fame Game) ?

Friday, 4 November - BROWN (Black Friday, unless the Union home game takes place earlier)
Saturday, 5 November - YALE
Friday, 11 November - CLARKSON
Saturday, 12 November - ST. LAWRENCE

Friday, 2 December - at Quinnipiac
Saturday, 3 December - at Princeton
Friday, 9 December - at Yale
Saturday, 10 December - at Brown

Friday, 13 January - HARVARD
Saturday, 14 January - DARTMOUTH
Saturday, 21 January - vs. Union (Mayor's Cup) ?
Friday, 27 January - at St. Lawrence
Saturday, 28 January - at Clarkson

Friday, 3 February - COLGATE
Saturday, 4 February - CORNELL (possible Freakout!)
Friday, 10 February - at Dartmouth
Saturday, 11 February - at Harvard
Friday, 17 February - PRINCETON
Saturday, 18 February - QUINNIPIAC (possible Freakout!/Senior Night)
Friday, 24 February - at Cornell
Saturday, 25 February - at Colgate

Fri-Sun, 3-5 March - ECAC First Round (at 5-8 seeds)
Fri-Sun, 10-12 March - ECAC Quarterfinals (at 1-4 seeds)
Friday, 17 March - ECAC Semifinals (Lake Placid, NY)
Saturday, 18 March - ECAC Championship (Lake Placid, NY)
Fri-Sun, 24-26 March - NCAA Regionals (Manchester, NH; Providence, RI; Cincinnati, OH; Fargo, ND)

Thursday, 6 April - NCAA Frozen Four (Chicago, IL)
Saturday, 8 April - NCAA Championship (Chicago, IL)

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