West Point / RMC Hockey Back On!

Paladins Have a Date With Black Knights, 10 Days Before Valentine’s Day at West Point



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Key years in the history of the series


1923     First game – played at West Point

1926     No game – Sudden death of Officer Cadet Campbell at RMC a few days before the scheduled game caused the cancellation

1939     First win by West Point

1940 – 1941 – No games because Canada was at war

1942     Both countries at war. RMC travelled to West Point, two months following the attack on Pearl Harbour

1943 – 1948 – RMC closed

1949     Series resumed with the arrival on the New 100 in the summer of 1948

1987     Last win by RMC at West Point

2000    First win by RMC in 13 years

2006     Last game – played at Kingston



Royal Military College – West Point Hockey Classic Returns in 2012


The historic hockey rivalry between the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) and the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) will be back on the ice at West Point, N.Y. February 4, 2012.

This will resume a series that started in 1923 and “stood down” following a 2006 – 3-3 tie in Kingston. It was inaugurated by U.S. General Douglas McArthur, then Superintendent of the USMA, and Lieutenant General Sir Archibald Macdonnell, then Commandant of RMC, to foster greater bonds of friendship and understanding between the two institutions.

The hockey game will be held at West Point in 2013 too. RMC will host the classic competition in 2014. Some time between now and 2014 the leadership from both institutions will look at working out a long term commitment.

The Director of Athletics at RMC, Darren Cates, says that bond remains strong today.

“There is a lot of tradition between our two institutions and this international hockey game in particular is a tremendous experience,” said Cates. “Not only are the players representing their College, they are representing their country.”

Brian Riley – the third Riley to coach the Army Black Knights over the past 62 years. His dad, Jack Riley coached at West Point from 1950 – 1986; older brother, Rob continued the family tradition for 18 years until 2004; Brian has been behind the Army bench ever since.

“We are very excited to renew the series with RMC. For our Cadets to have the opportunity to be a part of this series in the coming years is something that they will never forget and there is no doubt they will have memories from the games that will last a lifetime.”

Brian also added, “On a personal note this game means a great deal to me. As a kid growing up watching my Dad’s teams’ play this was the game that the Riley family had circled on the calendar. My brothers and sister were always very excited for the game but I think just as important we were excited because we knew Danny McLeod would be coming to stay at our house!”

The soft spoken hockey coach speaking from the heart concluded: “The Riley family over the last 60 years has built many great relationships with so many wonderful people from RMC to include coaches, players, and administrators. Names like McLeod, Laliberte, Scott, and Oliver are the first to come to mind but there are so many more. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and making new friends as the series hopefully moves forward.”

The West Point – RMC hockey rivalry became very intense sometime in the 1950s. Read the Al Roberts article about the story behind the story of the – ‘First Penalty’ elsewhere in this edition.

In conversations with former hockey Redmen from the ‘50s well into the ‘00s will always involve a “story” of the West Point game. We attended most of the games over the last 25 years in which the series was played. There were a lot of thrillers especially in Kingston. In particular, we recall the 2-2 tie in ’98; 3-0 shutout by Tom Connerty in 2000; Shannon Goudie, scored the overtime goal in a thrilling 3-2 win in 2002. Great memories!

“Army’s hockey program is formidable and the game will provide a great opportunity and challenge for our team,” said Adam Shell, Head Coach of the RMC Paladins. “To be able to participate in this historic rivalry will be a highlight of their careers at RMC and something they will remember long past graduation.”

When Cadets stopped sharing rooms and socializing with each other appeared to start in the early part of the 1980s. At West Point around that time hockey became a legitimate varsity program – on par with their football & basketball programs. Prior to that hockey only had Recreation Club status. NCAA Division 1 athletes are not in the habit of sharing rooms with the opposition or even socializing with the opponents.

Not even – ‘brothers in arms‘. This approach is hard to accept by many on this side of the border. We will be surprised (no shocked) if Army has changed their socializing varsity sport philosophy in 2012.

Just how intense was this rivalry? We can recall games where things got a little out of hand right from the opening face off. School administrators tried to put the breaks on such behavior, but when the puck drops, next February, we have no doubt that the rivalry will be as hot as ever. And hopefully, just as exciting as most of the previous 75 encounters.

Rolande and I are making plans to attend the game south of the border next February.


What do you think of the West Point / RMC hockey series resuming?  Feel free to leave a comment below…or…contact Darren Cates, RMC Athletic Director at (613) 541-6000 ext 6422; [email protected]



  • Helga Grodzinski

    May 30, 2011 at 8:21 am

    That’s nice; however, what I would really like to see is a resumption of the West Point – RMC exchanges similar to what we enjoyed in the ’80’s and which involved other activities, such as fencing, debating and the Ball. At least in those areas we managed to maintain an intense rivalry without behaving like thugs.

  • David Hall

    May 30, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Danny’s comments are right on. I remember being billeted with a West Point Cadet in my first year. It gave me some real meaning to the whole West Point/RMC event. (I got a nice date out of the deal too!!) But that was the last year that happened. I never once had a beer or a chat with one of their players. Not once. One year when we tied West Point in Kingston, Jack Riley was so p/o’d that he packed his team on the bus back to West Point right after the game. So much for building inter college camaderie and America’s version of sportsmanship. I also remember never meeting socially with any USAFA cadets which was just as dumb too. Not once. (Loved their rink though,what a complex)

    As a player, I always put more emphasis on the OUAA season. One game against West Point (which was about 10 times the size of RMC at the time, and developing some really fine players too) may have been a piece of history for the college but as a player, it was a one time event that was becoming way, way too serious. I HATED losing or tying, but it was just one game.

    I have played a far better calibre of hockey AFTER leaving RMC than I ever did in the OUAA. And a major compenent to enjoying the game? The guys you meet. It’s the camaraderie. Friends I’ve played with – and against – for over thirty years now! (yeah, I’m old) Not some artificial “us versus them” crap like the RMC/West Point games devolved into.

    Restarting the series like Macdonnell and McArthur envisaged is the way to go. Have the players get to know each other. I don’t think they even called penelties in the first contests. Who knows? Twenty years later – long after they’ve forgotten the scores – maybe one or two of them may still stay in touch.

    Dave Hall ’76/77
    OUAA All-Star team, 1976
    Tommy Smart, 1977
    CARHA Worlds, Over 55 Champs (with CC, Dickie and Marc), 2008

  • Robert Charette

    May 30, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Félicitations à tous ceux qui ont contribué à remettre cette rencontre en vigueur à nouveau. J’ai moi-même eu l’occasion de participer à plusieurs de ces rencontres tant comme invité à West Point que comme hôte au CMR. J’ai suivi avec beaucoup d’enthousiasme les parties de hockey des Paladins surtout à domicile mais aussi à l’extérieur occasionnellement. J’ai même hébergé des joueurs de hockey des Paladins chez-moi à Kingston. Je suis ravi d’apprendre que la fin de semaine West Point-CMR va renaître de ses propres cendres. Pour avoir oeuvré au CMR pendant près de 30 ans comme professeur de français au centre des langues, je sais combien les traditions sont importantes chez les militaires. Et c’est avec beaucoup de tristesse que j’avais appris la fin des rencontres traditionnelles entre West Point et le CMR. C’est pour cette raison que je prends le temps d’écrire ces quelques commentaires car je suis très heureux de constater que la tradition est de retour au programme. Je veux également souligner l’importance de cette fin de semaine: pas seulement au niveau de la partie de hockey, mais également des autres compétitions sportives, des débats etc. C’est vraiment une fin de semaine inoubliable pour tous les participants.
    Je termine en mentionnant que même si je suis à la retraite depuis près de 4 ans, je ferais volontiers partie du contingent du CMR lors des prochaines rencontres West Point-CMR.
    Encore une fois: BRAVO à ceux qui ont réussi à redonner vie à cette belle tradition!!!!
    Robert Charette, ex-prof de français au centre des langues du CMR.

  • Keri Kettle

    June 1, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Dave’s comments are spot-on, and particularly relevant given what the series had turned into in recent years.

    Although it seems wonderful that the entire college is excited about the game, the experience becomes quite negative for the players and coaches, who feel the burden of the college on their shoulders. Moreover, recent trips to West Point could not have possibly been less about about camaraderie. The two teams did not interact off the ice, and the intensity of the hatred and conflict on the ice was akin to a Flyers-Bruins game from the 1970’s.

    Underlying all of this has been a deep mistrust between the teams – one that has not been helped by recent events. For instance, in the last game on West Point ice (2005) the referee was a personal employee of the Riley family. Peter Torgerson, who refereed primarily in another league (the ECAC), was brought in to referee the game. See the two links below for the boxscore from that game and more information on his relationship with the Riley family:


    Shockingly, Army had a 5 to 1 powerplay advantage in the first period, and a 12 to 6 PP advantage over the course of the game. After the game, Mr. Torgerson went to dinner with the West Point team (?!?!?!?), while the RMC team ate pizza alone on campus (at a “social event” that nobody else attended). Although I am sure that Mr. Torgerson is a fine referee, perception is reality. I am certain that Bill McCreary did not sip champagne with Team Canada after the Gold Medal Game in Vancouver.

    It is my sincere hope that those days are behind us, and that both sides are willing to agree to play the game in a fair and meaningful way. This game has the potential to be an incredible experience for both teams, and an exceptional event that transcends hockey. However, given my experiences with the event, I will reserve judgment until February 2012 has come and gone.

  • Hussain Ali-Khan

    January 27, 2012 at 7:45 am

    The game is next weekend. Hopefully the administrations have negotiated out some of the unpleasantness experienced in past years and tried to focus on the camaraderie as well as the game. Looking forward to a great match !

  • Rob Dargewitcz

    January 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I think its great its back. I played in the loss in 1991 game at West Point and it was great to see the intensity even in the warm up when the West Point players tried to skate the whole ice and crossed our red line. Bad idea. Old time hockey. Glad its back and hope the Redmen play tough as usual.