SCHENECTADY There will be some firsts in the 2014-15 Union College men’s hockey schedule.
St. Cloud State will make its inaugural trip to Messa Rink. The Dutchmen will face Boston University for the first time. Union will play an exhibition game before the start of the regular season for the first time in six years.
But the biggest first will be the raising of the Dutchmen’s inaugural national championship banner.
The defending NCAA-champion Dutchmen will raise that banner, along with one for winning the ECAC Hockey regular season and tournament titles, when they host American International in the season opener Oct. 10 at Messa, the team announced Monday.
Union, which went 32-6-4 last season, beat Minnesota, 7-4, to win the NCAA title on April 12 This will be the Dutchmen's 24th Division I season.
“We’re working Time Warner Cable to televise it so that we can share it with a larger audience,” Union athletic director Jim McLaughlin said. “The exact details have not been planned yet. It will be an exciting night. It will be nice to see that banner hanging from Messa Rink.”
The next night, the Dutchmen will host the University of New Hampshire. It will be UNH’s first visit to Messa since Oct. 29, 1995. The Dutchmen swept a two-game series at UNH last season.
Before AIC and UNH come to Messa, the Dutchmen will face the University of Prince Edward Island in an exhibition game Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. The last time the Dutchmen played an exhibition game before the season opener was against the U.S. Under-18 team on Oct. 11, 2008.
“The exhibition game was put in there just for the fact of just wanting to switch it up and get to see a lot of the new guys before the first game against AIC,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, so I thought I would give it a try and see how it works out for us.”
St. Cloud State will come to Messa Oct. 24-25. Last season, the Dutchmen visited the Huskies, who were the top-ranked team in the country at the time, and earned a win and a tie.
The Dutchmen’s first-ever meeting with BU will take place Jan. 3 in Boston. The teams will meet at Messa the following season.
Union will open defense of its ECACH regular-season title Oct. 31 when it visits Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the first meeting between the Capital Region rivals since the infamous Mayor’s Cup brawl at the end of the Jan. 25 game at the Times Union Center. The Dutchmen will . The two teams will meet again Nov. 1 at Messa, and then meet in the third annual Mayor’s Cup game Jan. 24 at the TU Center.
Union will play 10 of its first 12 games in the Capital Region, including nine at Messa.
The only games not in the area will be a two-game series at Maine Oct. 17-18.
“A lot of people have emailed and said some stuff about playing more home games,” Bennett said. “I’m not trying to appease the world here, but at the same token, I tend to agree. We want to get more home games here because it’s such a great venue here to watch a college hockey game and want to appreciate the fans and people that support us by having as many home games as we can.”
After the Nov. 15 game against Princeton, the Dutchmen will play nine straight away from Messa.
Other schedule highlights the Dutchmen playing the in Notre Dame’s Shillelagh Tournament Nov. 28-29. Union will face the Fighting Irish in the first round, a game that could be televised by NBCSN. The cable network has a contract with Notre Dame to televise the Irish’s home games. Ohio State and Western Michigan are also in the field.
The Dutchmen will play in the Frozen Holiday Classic at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., Dec. 29-30. Union will take on UConn in the first round. UMass Lowell and Sacred Heart are in the tourney.
“We feel it’s a challenging schedule this season, but it’s been a challenging schedule the past three seasons,” Bennett said. “We don’t want to switch up the formula. We want to put our guys through a tough test throughout the season so it helps you prepare for the postseason.”
Home games in CAPS
e-Denotes ECACH game
5 — PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND (exhibition), 4; 10 — AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL, 8; 11 — NEW HAMPSHIRE, 7:30; 17 — at Maine, 7; 18 — at Maine, 7; 24 — ST. CLOUD STATE, 7; 25 — ST. CLOUD STATE, 7; e-31 — at RPI, 7.
e-1 — RPI, 7; e-8 — DARTMOUTH, 7; e-9 — HARVARD, 7; e-14 — QUINNIPIAC, 7; e-15 — PRINCETON, 7; 28 — at Notre Dame in Shillelagh Tournament, 7:35; 29 — vs. Ohio State or Western Michigan in Shillelagh Tournament, 4:05.
e-5 — at Brown, 7; e-6 — at Yale, 7; 29 — vs. UConn in Frozen Holiday Classic at Bridgeport, Conn.; 30 — vs. UMass Lowell or Sacred Heart in Frozen Holiday Classic at Bridgeport, Conn.
3 — at Boston U., TBA; e-9 — at Princeton, 7; e-10 — at Quinnipiac, 7; e-16 — CORNELL, 7; e-17 — COLGATE, 7; 24 — vs. RPI in Mayor’s Cup at Times Union Center, 7:30; e-30 — at Harvard, 7; e-31 — at Dartmouth, 7.
e-6 — at Clarkson, 7; e-7 — at St. Lawrence, 7; e-13 — YALE, 7; e-14 — BROWN, 7; e-20 — at Colgate, 7; e-21 — at Cornell, 7; e-27 — ST. LAWRENCE, 7; e-28 — CLARKSON, 7.