Rochester Institute of Technology joined the
Atlantic Hockey ranks this season but the Tigers didn't
really arrive until last weekend's impressive sweep of defending
playoff champion Holy Cross.
"All the facets of our game were really
clicking last weekend," said coach Wayne Wilson. "It's
something as a coach you would like to bottle up and continue
with because you don't know what comes the following week."
at Sacred Heart
a break: Atlantic Hockey will take a breather for
the holidays. Following this weekend, there will be
just four games between now and the New Year's weekend.
Mercyhurst plays at Maine on Dec. 16, Connecticut
hosts Union on Dec. 17, and Sacred Heart hosts Bentley
in a rare weekday series on Dec. 20-21.
Even with students on break, the Tigers drew
1,110 fans for Friday's opener. Steve Pinizzotto and Anthon
Kharin produced power play goals – the latter with
3:17 left in regulation – and Jocelyn Guimond made
20 saves in a 2-1 victory. With more students trickling
back to campus, a crowd of 1,453 showed up on Saturday and
the Tigers treated them to an early blitz – RIT stormed
to a 4-0 lead through 25 minutes and freshman Louis Menard
made 22 stops in a 5-1 triumph.
"That's the first weekend we have played
all six periods," Wilson said.
Wilson praised the goaltending, and noted
the RIT defensive corps did a good job breaking the puck
out of its own end. The Tigers' special teams limited the
league's top power play unit to one goal on 18 chances while
converting four of 15 man-advantage opportunities.
RIT's second sweep of the season pulled the
Tigers (6-5-2, 6-2-1 league) into a three-way tie for third
place with Air Force and Holy Cross (the Crusaders squeezed
out a point on Wednesday night with Army to take sole possession
"Now it's exciting to see where you are
in the standings," Wilson said, mindful of last season's
NCAA Division I independent status. RIT is not eligible
for the Atlantic Hockey playoffs this season.
A year ago, RIT was forced to schedule numerous
one-game visits with teams in Atlantic Hockey and the ECAC
Hockey League. "It's hard enough to play Cornell in
their barn," Wilson said, "but it's that much
harder when you are playing Clarkson the night before and
"In some ways it's a bit of a relief
to have a balanced schedule and know when we are going to
Mercyhurst (on Friday) it's our first game (of the weekend)
and their first," he added.
It has been a very satisfying season to date,
Wilson said, but he cautions that the joy and success from
a Holy Cross sweep will all go for naught should the Tigers
be swept at Mercyhurst this weekend.
"We have to see the whole league and
see what each team brings to the table and see how we stack
up," Wilson said. "I would say we're happy with
what we've done so far but we're very anxious to see what
the rest of the schedule will bring to us."
SEEN AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
Waiting for a new rival:
Even though RIT has played a number of teams from Atlantic
Hockey in the past, the Division I-newcomers still have
not developed a rivalry that will boil the blood of its
fans, much like Elmira did when RIT was a member of Division
III’s ECAC West.
"I think it’s going to take time
to build rivalries," Wilson said. "It will take
a couple of playoff series, whether it’s a hard-fought
win or hard-fought loss, an exhilarating championship game
or a tough loss. Once you go through some of those things,
that’s when your fans can identify a bit more."
RIT’s fans are known to be among the
most rabid in Atlantic Hockey.
"Right now they don’t like anyone
because they (the visiting teams) are the opposition but
they will have a hatred. Someone will come along and there
will be a rivalry. Even though we have great attendance
I don’t know if our fans know exactly who so and so
(in Atlantic Hockey) is just yet."
Wilson said RIT’s fans travel relatively
well, evident in recent trips to Canisius and Cornell. “We
brought a good contingent of fans to Cornell, but they drowned
us out," Wilson laughed.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
Great Weekend Getaway
at Mercyhurst (Fri.-Sat.)
The addition of RIT to Atlantic Hockey was an instant
boost for easier traveling and a potential regional
rival for Western outposts Mercyhurst and Canisius.
RIT rolls into Erie having swept Holy Cross last weekend.
Yes, Mercyhurst handed American International College
its first victory of the season, but the Lakers answered
with a resounding 8-3 victory in the series finale
and have secured points in five of their last six
games. RIT (3.69 goals) and Mercyhurst (3.67 goals)
are the top two offensive teams in Atlantic Hockey.
RIT dropped its lone meeting at Mercyhurst last season,
a 4-3 decision on Feb. 5.
American International College squad needed seven
weeks to crack the win column but the Yellow Jackets
did so in convincing fashion, jumping out to a 4-0
lead and holding on to beat Mercyhurst 4-2. Strange
but true: AIC posted its first win last season on
the same weekend.
has caught up to Holy Cross, winless in its last five
games (0-3-2). Aside from one five-goal effort by
RIT, the Crusaders defense is getting the job done
but the offense has languished a bit, producing just
nine goals in five-plus games.
• Double the fun: RIT’s weekend
sweep of Holy Cross was the Tigers’ second of the
season. RIT swept AIC during an October series, and did
not sweep any weekend series during its one season of independence
in 2005-06. Prior to the move to Division I, the last time
RIT swept a weekend was Feb. 4-5, 2005, and you have to
go back to Oct. 25-26, 2002, for the last time the Tigers
beat an opponent twice on the same weekend (Wisconsin-Eau
• I sweep you, I sweep you not: Out
of 24 weekend series in league play thus far, there have
been 10 sweeps. The four teams to post two sweeps are Army
(AIC, Connecticut), Holy Cross (Army, Canisius), RIT (AIC,
Holy Cross) and Sacred Heart (Mercyhurst, Holy Cross). Air
Force has one sweep of AIC, and Bentley just swept Canisius
• Regaining the sting: AIC snapped a
15-game losing streak in games with Mercyhurst. The last
time the Yellow Jackets beat the Lakers was Feb. 9, 2001
with a 5-4 win in West Springfield. Mercyhurst outscored
AIC, 83-25, during the streak.
• Cold Crusaders: Holy Cross’
vaunted power play was cooled off by RIT in the Tigers’
weekend sweep. Holy Cross was 1-for-9 in Friday’s
2-1 loss and 0-for-9 in Saturday’s 5-1 setback. The
Crusaders atoned with a 1-for-3 effort against Army in Wednesday’s
2-2 draw. Holy Cross ranks ninth nationally at 22.4 percent.
• It’s my turn: Holy Cross coach
Paul Pearl has used a pair of freshman netminders, Ian Dams
and Tyler Chestnut, though the Crusaders’ first 16
games. On Wednesday night, Pearl turned to Ian Dams and
the sophomore produced 27 saves in his collegiate debut,
a 2-2 tie with Army.
• Still winless: Sacred Heart headed
to Colorado having never won at Air Force. The Pioneers
will have to wait another year after coming home with 3-3
and 1-1 draws with the Falcons.
• Busy first semester: There was a time
in Army hockey history when the Cadets would not play games
until the calendar turned to January. Times have changed
for sure, and the Black Knights (8-6-3) have already played
17 games. A red-hot 8-2-1 start (including two exhibition
wins over Ryerson) has been followed with an 0-4-2 slide
over the past four weeks.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report