By Dominic Santina
The Rochester College Hockey team is just one win away from bringing the Jug back to RC.
In the three seasons since RC hockey began, its competition against Oakland University’s club hockey team is quickly becoming a famed, local rivalry. The two teams battle each year for the Jug, and the next match between the two rivals will take place on Friday, February 10, at 7:30 p.m. at the Onyx Arena in Rochester Hills.
The Warriors won the first game 4-2 on October 28, and then came back and defeated OU 4-1 at Suburban Ice Macomb on October 29. The two teams will play the final game of the series Saturday, Feb. 11, at Suburban Ice Macomb, at 1:30 p.m.
The all time series between the two schools is tied at 7-7. Rochester has evened up the series after starting the rivalry by losing the first three games back in the 2013-14 season. The Warriors then went 3-1 in 2014-15, which brought the Jug to RC for the first time. Last year, the two clubs were tied and the battle came down to the last game of the regular season. Oakland ended up winning the series and taking the Jug back.
"I have talked to a few people in the local hockey community that have attended our games against Oakland, and they say it helps bring awareness to the Rochester College hockey program, which helps us promote a high quality of play in Division 1 of the ACHA," Coach Scott Cagnet said.
A hockey program that is starting to find its legs in its fourth season, the Warriors are 14-10-1 with just over a month remaining.
Cagnet reflected on the possibility of taking the Jug back after last year. “Winning the Jug is one of the expectations we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year and we are always excited to realize our expectations. It would be a good testament to the hard work that our players have put in this year."
Cagnet said the key point for the Warriors is to be more disciplined. “We have worked really hard on the power play and on the penalty kill. We need to play a simple disciplined game and not force things, but be ready to capitalize on mistakes."
Rochester College has outscored its opponents by 21 goals so far on the season, scoring 102 compared to opponents who have only scored 81 goals. Cagnet hopes the team will continue to capitalize on the other team’s mistakes.
“We need to play 200 feet of hockey, dump the puck in and pressure hard to create the mistakes that will lead to scoring chances. The more we have the puck in the offensive zone, the less chance they have to attack,” he said.
Cagnet also has his team focusing on consistency. “We need to be prepared for each opponent the same way and execute our systems with consistent discipline and energy,” he said.
After the two-game series with Oakland, the Warriors finish the regular season with a home-and-home series with the University of Michigan Dearborn on February 18-19.
Cagnet said the team is looking for four hard fought wins to end the season solidly, with hopes of qualifying for the ACHA national tournament.