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Cracking the Code of RPI's Schedule
A look at who the non-conference opponents could be and when they could be played
Previously, I broke down the schedule here after the ECAC schedule was released online with a general mapping of the rest of the schedule. With many teams across the country having released their schedules now, we can narrow down the schedule a lot.
First, let’s talk about some likely opponents. A few weeks ago, I theorized our non-conference opponents on USCHO based on history and also some guesswork.
“Games we owe: Mercyhurst two away games, Canisius one away game, Army one away game.
Other possibilities: We did the home and home with Northeastern in 21-22. Usually teams do 2 year agreements, so maybe we see a home and home with them again? UMass Lowell never returned games from the Turkey Leg Classic in 2019-20. I wouldn't be surprised to see UVM on the schedule again, but we've done two years of home and homes with them so maybe we're done.
Coach Smith has said a couple times he wants a road trip to Minnesota since we have a lot of players from there... Maybe Bemidji State or Minnesota State? I think they'd be more likely than Minnesota, St. Cloud, UMD and St. Thomas if we go out to Minnesota.
In summary, if I had to predict right now, I'd say:
2x away at Mercyhurst
1x away at Canisius
1x away at Army
2x away at some Minnesota school
2x home and home with Northeastern
2x home vs UMass Lowell
2x home vs TBD (Atlantic Hockey school? Hockey East school? Other?)”
I ended up being right about a series with a Minnesota team, and somehow it was one of the two teams I mentioned. Minnesota State will be coming to Troy on December 15th and 16th. Outside of that, we do not have any confirmed opponents. Now that we have covered that, it is puzzle-solving time.
The Most Likely Opponents
With Minnesota State being on the schedule, I think you can go ahead and cross off pretty much all the western teams in college hockey. It’s possible RPI plays another one, but based on recent history, they have only been playing one western team a year. This pretty much eliminates the Big Ten, NCHC and CCHA.
I also don’t think they will be playing any of the newer programs nor independents this year. After playing Alaska and LIU for two years in a row, my gut tells me we don’t see teams like that on the schedule.
That leaves us with Atlantic Hockey and Hockey East.
For the Atlantic, it seems like we still owe games to Mercyhurst, Army and Canisius. Three opponents from the Atlantic is already a lot, so if those 3 are all on the schedule, then I’d lean towards there not being another Atlantic team. It’s possible though, so the only one I’d eliminate fully is Robert Morris since they are making their comeback as a program. RIT can also be eliminated because they posted their schedule early by mistake, and RPI was not on it.
For Hockey East, I think Northeastern and UMass Lowell are most likely for the reasoning I gave above. UMass released their schedule already, so they are out. BU, BC, Providence, and UConn are all unlikely. BU and BC seem to already know most of their non-conference opponents. UConn played RPI recently, and I believe they also already know most of their opponents. Providence has all of their games filled except for one, so it’s just really unlikely due to that. That leaves Maine, Merrimack, UNH and UVM. My gut tells me no about UVM because of how many years in a row the team has played them now. Last year was also the second year of home-and-homes, and usually you only do two years of games. Merrimack is also a team that they played fairly recently. RPI played them and UMass Lowell in the Turkey Leg Classic in 2019-20. There was no return trip from Merrimack scheduled because Lowell was the team that was supposed to come to RPI. Maine and UNH I think are decent possibilities. I would lean UNH over Maine because their only known non-conference opponent is RIT right now. Maine knows it has Union, Quinnipiac, and the Ledyard Bank Classic. That’s the only reason I’d lean that way.
With all of that being thought through, I made a grid of the options for each week of the season along with my prediction. In the “most likely” column, I only included the teams that the team still owes games to. In the “there’s a chance” column, I included all the Atlantic Hockey and Hockey East teams that I think RPI has a chance to play. In the “unlikely” column, I put the teams that I’d be really surprised to see on the schedule but are still technically possible.
My predictions are just gut feeling, but the Union games are probably accurate. It’d be surprising if they moved off of the last weekend of October, and both teams are free the usual weekend of the Mayor’s Cup. Overall, the number of realistic options are now limited, and it gives us a good idea of who could be on the schedule.
RPI’s schedule announcements under Dave Smith have been pretty consistent.
The only real exception is 2019. In 2021, the team was coming off the cancelled season, and they wanted to get the schedule released early. The second week of June seems to be the sweet spot. I would expect that we will get the schedule in 2-3 weeks based on that.
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