Capital Land Hockey Is Among the Best in the Nation: Part I – The Union Dutchmen
It seems that having two top ten ranked Division 1 college hockey teams with in 12 miles of each other is the best kept secret in Upstate New York. Now I’m about to let the secret out.
With RPI and Union both in the top 10 (RPI 8, Union 9) in the www.USCHO.com college hockey polls, the Capital Region should be ready to EXPLOAD! But it’s not; people are paying more attention to the mediocre Basketball seasons going on at U-Albany and Siena. We are on the verge of having 2 teams in the NCAA Men’s tournament and all I hear are whispers. This needs to change and here is why.
The UNION College Dutchmen
First off The atmosphere at Union's Messa rink is one of best in local sports. The 22 hundred seat arena is the smallest in the ECAC but dare I say with the mightiest. From the Pep Band to the creative student body, finding ways to fire up their boys on the ice the crowd is one of the best in hockey. Other Colleges envy the support Union Hockey has grown accustomed to in little old Schenectady.
The team it’s self equally as entertaining as the crowd in the stands. The Union Dutchmen have won 10 of their last 12 and the last 5 in a row all over ECAC opponents including Yale (the former number 1 in the country). Union has been ranked in the top 20 all season and is now ranked the highest the school has ever been at #9. Union is the first team in the country to reach 20 wins in the 2010-11 season, and they weren’t playing cup cakes people. The wins came over teams like Anchorage, (Last year's surprise NCAA team) RIT. Sacred Heart, and the previously mentioned (number one in the country) Yale. Wins like this are impressive and really help rally the team and the fan base.
Union is flying high on the Coaching Styles of Nate Leaman who last year set the programs record for wins in a season and is well on his way to besting that record again this year. It’s this winning tradition that has players like Sophomore Jeremy Walsh, Freshmen Daniel Carr, Junior Kelly Zajac scoring over 30 points already this season and launching the Dutchmen to 2nd place in the ECAC.
The Dutchmen are set with 6 more ECAC games this weekend against Colgate and Cornell next weekend At St. Lawrence and at Clarkson, but don’t worry they return to Messa Rink against Quinnipiac, and Princeton on February 26th and 27th that should be enough excitement to get you to Schenectady at the end of the month. After that it’s off to the post season and, unlike most year's, the ECAC Final Four is not at the headquarters in Albany. Instead, they have moved the festivities to Atlantic City, so at best you are getting one home playoff series in Dutchmen Country.
This is hockey at its finest; the ECAC has been at to for front of College Hockey for years. Do your self a favor grab some pocket change and head to a Union Dutchmen’s game, there is one more homestand Don’t MISS IT.
Part 2 - tomorrow on RPI.