It’s an interesting schedule for the Niagara hockey team.
The Atlantic Hockey season is capped with a home-and-home series against the defending champion while its local rivalry has been cut in half.
And the six non-conference games are pretty challenging as the Purple Eagles released their 2014-15 hockey schedule late Tuesday afternoon.
Niagara opens the season at Dwyer Arena Oct. 10-11 with two games against ECAC teams. Clarkson comes to Monteagle Ridge on Oct. 10 with St. Lawrence visiting Oct. 11.
Niagara then kicks off Atlantic Hockey play against defending champion Robert Morris, traveling to Moon Township on Oct. 17 and returning to Dwyer on Oct. 18.
The Purple Eagles close out the regular season against the Colonials, the team which defeated Niagara in overtime in the conference semifinals last season. The teams will play at Dwyer on Feb. 27 and in Moon Township on Feb. 28.
Along with the ECAC openers, Niagara’s non-conference schedule includes two-game road series at Notre Dame (Oct. 24-25) and at North Dakota (Jan. 16-17).
Now for the mixed news for Western New York college hockey fans.
Niagara will meet RIT four times, with home-and-home series. They meet Dec. 12 and Feb. 7 at the new Polisseni Center on the RIT campus and Dec. 13 and Feb. 6 at Dwyer Arena.
But the annual Western New York grudge match on ice will be a disappointing two games this year, both at Dwyer Arena. Niagara hosts Canisius on Thursday, Jan. 22 and Saturday, Jan. 24.
With Atlantic Hockey membership dropping to 11 teams this season, the league went to a new scheduling format - play four teams four times then play the other six only twice.
The conference apparently decided that Niagara-RIT was a protected rivalry and not Niagara-Canisius.
It also means one of the most interesting matchups in the league will not get a showcase in the Golden Griffins’ new home at HarborCenter.