America's Pep Band
The Houston Field House was renovated before the start of this hockey season. The roof was raised, made flat and coated with soundproofing material to improve acoustics along with a new sound system. The stage area was enlarged (the rink was enlarged and moved to the west several feet). The ice surface was lowered several feet to make viewing better and the height of the glass was raised. This last change made it harder for opposing teams to shoot pucks straight into the band - in the past, the back row of the band was in danger of direct hits.
To go along with the renovations, the Field House people wanted to move the Pep Band off of the stage and into the stands at the far northeast corner. At the first home game, they sat in the stands and had a terrible night. Here's a quote from the "Not In The Box Score" column by Mike Hurle in the Poly sports section that following week: "Need I comment on the Pep Band during Friday night's contest. Being a musician myself for over a decade, and as the conductor of the RPI Jazz Ensemble, I know the problems associated with performing. However, there is no excuse for not being able to start the national anthem on the first try. Not only did they embarrass themselves, but they shamed the entire RPI community. Their lack of interest during the latter part of the game only furthers my condemnation of the group. When the fans are not totally excited in what is going on, it is the job of the Pep Band to get things going. That's what the word pep is doing before band. Perhaps the entire group just had a bad night. I can only hope that the situation improves as the season continues." As a result of that night, the position of Conductor was created and Brad Amidon became the first to assume the position. Also, by the next home game, Meri successfully negotiated the band back onto the stage. In the following issue of the Poly, "Not In The Box Score" said "Let me be the first to congratulate on the improvement of the Pep Band at the Olympic exhibition game recently. It was good to hear the sounds of old. Keep up the good work!"
During the regular hockey season, the Pep Band traveled up each of the two days to the two-night Empire Cup Tournament held in Glens Falls. The Pep Band also traveled to the University of Maine (Friday) and the University of New Hampshire (Saturday) and stayed overnight outside of Boston. At UNH, the UNH team fired several pucks into the band during warm-ups (very low glass barrier).
For the semifinals and finals of the ECAC hockey playoffs, the Pep Band traveled to Boston for two nights of playoff games at Boston Garden and stayed overnight in downtown Boston. RPI beat Clarkson and Boston University to win the ECAC Championship. During the second night, there was a brouhaha when Boston Garden officials made the Pep Band move from their ice-level seats to upper-level, obstructed-view seats right before the start of RPI's championship game.
At the home NCAA quarterfinal playoff games against North Dakota, where RPI lost both games, the giveaway was big, red foam #1 hands.
It was during this season when Sports Illustrated ran a short article on the band and called them "America's Pep Band" - in the issue after RPI won the ECAC championship.