It's Mayor's Cup week here in the Capital Region!

One of the area's premier hockey events is set to take place this Saturday, January 27th, at MVP Arena in downtown Albany. The RPI Engineers and Union Garnet Chargers will square off in a pair of games, with the women's teams playing at 3PM, and the men's teams playing at 6PM. Each game will have a trophy --- the Mayor's Cup --- that is awarded to the victor, and bragging rights are also on the line.

Ahead of the Mayor's Cup, we welcomed three members of the RPI men's hockey program --- defensemen Nick Strom and Max Smolinski, and head coach Dave Smith --- into our studio to talk hockey on 'The Drive'.

Here's what they had to say.

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RPI Hockey Prepares for Battle With Union in 2024 Mayor's Cup Clash

On Saturday, RPI and Union's men's hockey programs will face-off in the 11th edition of the Mayor's Cup. The Garnet Chargers hold a 7-3 advantage in the all-time series, and are riding a two-cup win streak heading into 2024.

Coach Smith and Co. are looking to change that, as though the games do not count toward ECAC Hockey standings, the opportunity to win a trophy is one that cannot be overlooked.

Nick Strom / RPI Athletics
Sutter Muzzatti / RPI Athletics

Smith and the players, two of which joined us in-studio, spoke about the commitment to getting better day-by-day. The logic in that plan is simple, yet effective: if you end the day better than you began, and you repeat that process daily, by season's end, you'll be a vastly improved group.

Smolinski told us that the team is looking to play faster during the back-half of the season, while Strom explained that the team is also looking to make smarter decisions, two traits that go hand-in-hand for winning hockey teams.

Max Smolinski / RPI Athletics
Max Smolinski / RPI Athletics

Coach Smith, meanwhile, spoke about his team's improvements on the power play in recent weeks, and how now, the focus will be on improving the penalty kill, with the ultimate goal of shoring up the Engineers' special teams units as a whole down the stretch.

Aside from the conversation about X's and O's, we were able to talk about family, something that is extremely important to both players. Smolinski, a sophomore, is the son of Brian Smolinski, a long-time NHL center, and he told us about his experience growing up around the game at that level.

Strom, meanwhile, is a native of Minnesota, meaning that he grew up around the game simply by living in the state itself. He would attend Minnesota Wild games as a kid, and fell in love with the game of hockey at a young age through trips to see them play.

He even, reluctantly, admitted his admiration of Nicklas Lidstrom, a career member of the rival Detroit Red Wings.

attachment-RPI MIH

It was a true pleasure to talk to these members of the RPI program this week. Click below to hear both parts of our interview from Wednesday's show:

Grab your tickets to the 2024 Mayor's Cup HERE.

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