SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It’s a valued tradition: the Union and RPI men’s hockey teams opening conference play face-to-face. It’s rivalry week in the Capital Region college hockey scene.

The Garnet Chargers are looking to build off their season series win last year. The two sides split the Capital Skates series, with Union taking the Mayor’s Cup 6-0.

This year, head coach Josh Hauge’s bunch posted a 2-3 record in their opening non-conference slate. They’ve had an extra week to prepare for the Engineers following a series split with UConn in their home opener. Both teams, in fact, will be fresh, coming off bye weeks.

The first game of this weekend set will be Friday at Messa Rink, and considering the home team in this matchup has won the last three meetings, the Garnet Chargers know the importance of defending their ice out of the gate.

“We love playing here, and having the ability to play in front of our fans in the first game is important,” said Hauge. “Being able to win the first five minutes – that’s all we can really focus on right now. And for our practices, we’ve been competing really hard; excited about where we’re at.”

“I think it’s huge,” added senior forward Tyler Watkins. “We scrimmaged them earlier in the year, so (we) know a little bit about what they have; they know a little bit about what we have. But I think we’ve grown a lot as a team since then. I think it’s really important that we’re at home on Friday with the crowd behind us. We’re really just gonna focus on our first couple shifts there – setting the tone, playing the way that we want to play and kind of getting back to the way that we know we can play.”

Puck drop from Messa Rink Friday is set for 7:00 p.m. Tune into NEWS10 Sports Wednesday evening to hear from RPI on how the Engineers are preparing for the series.