TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Just three seasons ago, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) women’s hockey team went winless, finishing the year 0-33-1. Fast forward to the first 10 games of this season, and the Engineers have soared out to their best start in 18 years.
Bryan Vines’ squad sits at 6-1-3, and notched victories in its’ first two Eastern College Athletic Conference tilts last weekend in thrilling fashion. The Engineers went on the road to Dartmouth College last Friday and Harvard University last Saturday, and in both games overcame 3-0 deficits, and prevailed 5-4 in overtime. Graduate forward Isabelle Hardy played hero in the extra period against the Big Green, while senior forward Nyah Philip netted the game-winner against the Crimson in the weekend finale.
Not only is RPI’s six wins the most its had through 10 games since the 2005-’06 season, the team’s three victories away from Houston Field House match its road win total from the entirety of last season.
Vines points to one definitive component of this team that he believes has played the biggest role in the program’s quick turnaround from that 0-33 season.
“We’ve really been focusing on the culture of the program, and building that. You have to be patient; that takes time. But you’re starting to see that come to fruition with our group, and the buy-in to our identity as a hockey team, and also as a program. We’ve got great people in our room, and when you’ve got great people, who are driven and committed, good things happen, and they grow.”
The Engineers’ leading scorer this year, senior forward Ellie Kaiser (9 points), arrived at RPI one season after that 2019-’20 campaign. Graduate goalie Amanda Rampado played 13 games that season, starting in net for 11 of those contests. Both players have been catalysts behind the program’s transformation, and have witnessed first-hand what it’s taken to build a winning team from the lowest of lows.
“(It’s taken) just a lot of hard work,” said Kaiser. “And…we’ve really instilled a good culture in our team. We’ve kind of hardened down on that to make sure everyone’s on the same page, and I think that’s why we’re so successful.”
“It’s all about the culture in the room,” added Rampado. “Once we build that up inside the room – those relationships, getting to know our freshmen; welcoming them all in, and making sure everybody’s focused on our short and long-term goals for the season – then that’s just gonna translate onto the ice.”
RPI faces easily its’ toughest test yet this season Friday night when it welcomes Colgate into Houston Field House for the start of Family Weekend. The Raiders are the three-time defending ECAC champions and third-ranked team in the nation, per U.S. College Hockey Online. The Engineers will turn right around and host No. 9 Cornell Saturday afternoon. Puck drops are scheduled for 6:00 and 3:00, respectively.