Rivalry Revisited: A Look Back at Rensselaer’s Most Important Hockey Matchups


From the frozen ponds of New York to the arenas of North America, the sport of hockey has captured the hearts of millions. And at the heart of this beloved sport lies the intense competition between rival teams. For the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), this rivalry has been a defining aspect of their hockey program since its inception.

Founded in 1824, RPI’s history is steeped in tradition and excellence. Its hockey program, which began in 1901, has produced some of the best players in the NHL and has a long-standing reputation for being a force to be reckoned with on the ice. But with that reputation comes intense rivalries with other teams that have spanned decades. Let’s take a look at some of RPI’s most important matchups in their storied history.

Harvard Crimson – The Longest Standing Rivalry

In the world of college hockey, few rivalries are as legendary or long-standing as the one between RPI and Harvard. Dating back to 1904, this rivalry has endured for over a century. The intensity of this matchup was fueled by the fact that both teams are highly prestigious institutions, creating a battle of not only athletic performance, but also academic superiority.

Throughout the years, RPI and Harvard have faced off in countless memorable matchups, each one more intense than the last. From tense regular season games to heated playoff battles, this rivalry has seen it all. One such game that stands out in the minds of RPI fans is the 2011 NCAA East Regional Final, when the Engineers defeated the Crimson to clinch their spot in the Frozen Four.

Cornell Big Red – A Clash of Titans

Another long-standing rivalry for RPI is the one with the Cornell Big Red. Dating back to 1908, this matchup has been characterized by intense, hard-hitting games that have kept fans on the edge of their seats. The two teams have faced off in numerous playoffs and have produced some of the most memorable games in college hockey history.

One such game occurred in 1995, when the Engineers defeated the Big Red in overtime to win the ECAC Championship and secure their spot in the NCAA tournament. The rivalry between RPI and Cornell has not only been characterized by intense competition on the ice but also by mutual respect and a passion for the game that has endured through the years.

Clarkson Golden Knights – A Battle for Upstate New York

Located just a short drive from RPI’s campus, the rivalry between the Engineers and the Clarkson Golden Knights runs deep. Dating back to 1950, this matchup has been marked by intense back-and-forth games that have kept fans on the edge of their seats. What sets this rivalry apart is the proximity of the two schools, with fans from each team packing the arenas to cheer on their respective teams.

One of the most memorable games in this rivalry occurred in 1985, when RPI defeated Clarkson in triple overtime, giving them their first ECAC Championship in over 25 years. The intense competition between these two teams has continued to fuel this historic rivalry and keep fans coming back for more.

Boston University Terriers – A Clash of Styles

In the 1970s, a new rivalry emerged for the RPI Engineers, this time with the Boston University Terriers. What makes this matchup unique is the contrasting styles of play between the two teams. BU, known for their fast-paced, high-scoring offense, has been pitted against RPI’s disciplined, defensive approach. This has resulted in many memorable games where both teams’ strengths were put to the test.

One such game is the 1985 NCAA National Championship, where RPI defeated BU in a 2-1 thriller, securing their first national title in school history. This rivalry has continued to be a highlight of the college hockey season, with both teams bringing their best to the ice every time they face off.

To summarize

The history of Rensselaer hockey is defined not just by their impressive record, but also by the fierce rivalries they have fostered throughout the years. From Harvard to Boston University, the Engineers have faced off against some of the best teams in college hockey, creating intense matchups that have kept fans on the edge of their seats.

As we look back on these historic rivalries, we are reminded of the rich traditions and deep passion that surrounds the sport of hockey. And for RPI, these rivalries will continue to be an integral part of their storied hockey program for years to come.