Big news has passed through the streets of Troy in recent days as both the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams have announced their schedules for the 2009–2010 seasons, as well as which student-athletes would be selected to captain the teams in what is expected to be an exciting year for RPI hockey.
The men’s hockey team schedule will face a few changes for their 108th season of collegiate play. Traditionally, homecoming weekend marked one of RPI hockey’s greatest customs—the Red/White scrimmage among members of the current Engineer squad.
However, this year, the 37-game season will open at home in an exhibition game against Prince Edward Island on October 3. Also absent from the calendars this year is the Governor’s Cup Tournament, in which RPI, Union College, another ECAC team, and a guest team would battle it out in the Times Union Center in Albany. Poor attendance in past seasons has scratched the tournament from the books.
Despite losing out on a tournament, the Engineers will still play three additional tournaments throughout the season, beginning with the Brice Alaska Gold Rush to be held October 16 and 17 in Fairbanks, Alaska, the RPI Holiday Tournament over Thanksgiving break, and the Great Lakes Invitational held at the tail end of 2009.
Rensselaer’s regular season will open October 8 against the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, followed by a home game against the University of New Hampshire on October 10. The Engineers begin ECAC play against Yale University on November 6—the seventh annual Black Friday. On February 6, RPI plays host to Clarkson University for Alumni Weekend and the 25th anniversary of Rensselaer’s 1985 NCAA tournament victory, followed by the 33rd Big Red Freakout! to be played against Princeton University on February 20.
RPI—captained this year by junior John Kennedy, with senior Peter Merth and junior Bryan Brutlag as alternates—will return 23 players and welcome five newcomers in a roster that includes six NHL draft picks.
RPI in the 2009 NHL Draft
Two of the RPI men’s hockey recruits were selected in the 2009 NHL Draft, held in Montreal, Quebec. Incoming freshman Brandon Pirri was selected 59th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks and Jerry D’Amigo was picked 158th by the Toronto Maple Leafs, two of the Original Six teams in towns that foster rich hockey history.
Pirri, who was selected in the second round of the draft, spent the previous season with the Georgetown Raiders of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. In 58 games for the Raiders, Pirri tallied 54 goals and 61 assists for 115 points, good to lead the OJHL in points per game and third overall in the league for scoring. He also led Team Canada East in scoring at World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in November.
D’Amigo, a Binghamton, N.Y. native, skated with the U.S. National Under-18 Team for the 2008–09 season, posting 22 goals and 31 assists for 53 points in 50 games. He also led the U.S. Under-18 Team in scoring during its gold medal run at the World Championships earlier this year, in which he was named to the All-Tournament team.
The duo will join sophomores Mike Bergin and Allen York, junior Jeff Foss, and senior Christian Jensen as the team’s NHL-bound players.
The women’s hockey team will again begin its season with an exhibition game against the Canadian powerhouse Bluewater Hawks on September 26. The Engineers’ 34-game season—and 18 home games—begins on October 3 with a weekend match against Wayne State.
Of the teams RPI will face throughout the year, seven were members of the 2009 NCAA tournament—including runner-up Mercyhurst College—and two newcomers in Syracuse University and UNH. Rensselaer begins its fourth season in the ECAC on the road against Princeton on October 30. The Houston Field House hosts the Engineers for the final time of the season on February 12 and 13 against Harvard University and Brown Univesrity, respectively, and end the year on the road against Cornell University and Colgate University on February 19 and 20, respectively.
Last season, the Engineers posted an overall record of 19-14-4, finishing with an ECAC record of 11-8-3. In the historic year, RPI finished conference runner-up, after taking down Princeton and Harvard in the playoffs before ultimately falling to Dartmouth College. The team returns 17 skaters and will have seven new Engineers join the squad. They will be led by seniors Laura Gersten and Allison Wright.