Taking Rochester By The Tail
Rochester Institute of Technology has a lot
to be proud of in its short tenure as a Division I hockey
program, including a regular-season championship in Atlantic
Hockey last season. But the Tigers may have experienced
an even better moment last weekend.
Menard and RIT knocked off nationally-ranked Cornell
last weekend at Blue Cross Arena in downtown Rochester.
The school that wants to etch its name in
the mindset of Western New York hockey fans may have done
so with an impressive 4-1 victory over 18th-ranked Cornell
from the ECAC Hockey League before an appreciative crowd
of 5,142 fans at Blue Cross Arena.
"It exceeded all of our expectations
with the fans and winning the game," said RIT head
coach Wayne Wilson.
It was RIT's first appearance at the city's
entertainment venue in over 20 years. The Arena will also
host the Atlantic Hockey tournament, and RIT is expected
to be a top seed.
"It was something our school wanted to
try, bringing a game downtown," Wilson said. "We
wanted as big a name opponent as we could get and Cornell
certainly fit the bill."
The school was hopeful of attracting more
than 5,000, and it aided the process by running shuttle
buses between the school and the Arena. As RIT's popularity
grows, the school has actually started to turn away fans
from its home rink, Ritter Arena, which seats a bit over
2,000 with standing room – estimates between 300-500
fans were turned down for tickets for the Bowling Green
"I think the fans really enjoyed it,"
Wilson said of the Cornell game. "It was a really good
atmosphere. It was as good an atmosphere as we have ever
played in. The fact we won certainly helped."
RIT shot out to a 2-0 first-period lead on
power play goals from Matt Smith and Sean Murphy. Cornell
halved the lead midway through the third when Joe Devin
scored. The Tigers responded with tallies from Simon Lambert
and an empty-netter from Tyler Mazzei. Louis Menard made
22 saves to preserve the win.
Menard is off to a rough start statistically
with a 4.05 goals against and .872 save percentage.
"Louie has been very solid in net,"
Wilson said. "As crazy as it is, he has played well
in all three games, and he's really had some poor bounces.
… He has done very well."
RIT would like to make an annual visit to
Blue Cross during the regular season.
"This is something we will continue to
do," Wilson said. ECAC Hockey member Clarkson is scheduled
to visit Rochester next season, and Wilson said plans may
have to be made for three and four years out because the
arena schedule is tight with the AHL's Rochester Americans
and numerous shows and exhibits.
Wilson says once fans in the Rochester area
get a taste of the passion that goes into Division I college
hockey, they'll be back for more.
"Our community wasn't exposed to the
Division I college game, with the pep bands going and the
fans being as vocal as they can be, and where the players
lay it on the line," Wilson said. "Our players
play just twice a week so they get after it more than the
grind of a professional hockey player."
SEEN AND HEARD IN ATLANTIC HOCKEY
Holy Cross Back On Top: Falling
from the perch of league champion in 2006 to sixth place
last season was a tough pill to swallow for Holy Cross but
the Crusaders are feeling good with a cast of talented freshmen.
Coach Paul Pearl's team is back on top of the league (albeit
after just two weeks of play) after taking three of four
points at Mercyhurst.
"We're doing OK," Pearl said. "We're
pleased but we're far from a finished product. There is
a little bit of work to do in every zone and in every system.
We have some work to do ahead of us."
Holy Cross posted a 6-4 win at Providence
on Oct. 20, and followed with a 4-1 win and 2-2 draw at
"We've done a really nice job of limiting
opportunities from the scoring area," Pearl said. "We're
trying to take care of the slot and defend well. We've spent
a lot of time in our defensive zone and our breakout –
we're pretty pleased with how that has gone. Five-on-five
offensively, we would like to get more going but we've gotten
good looks on the power play and that has spearheaded the
Providence potted three power play goals but
Mercyhurst was held to 1-for-11 on Saturday.
Senior Dale Reinhardt is centering two freshmen
wingers, J.P. Martignetti and Joe Brock – that line
accounted for six points on Friday. The second line has
clicked well with two sophomores, center Rob Forshner and
right winger Brodie Sheahan, and freshman Everett Sheen
on the left side. Sophomore center Ryan Driscoll and junior
left winger Dewey Thomson are the first penalty kill unit,
and team with speedy newcomer Jamie Jelinek on the right
Holy Cross is averaging 3.5 goals per game,
a nice step up from its 2.74 average last season.
Pearl is pleased with his goaltending play
thus far. Sophomore Ian Dams (1-0-1, 2.88, .921) and freshman
Adam Roy (1-1, 3.50, .917) have performed well and will
continue to split action.
The Big Stage: Who cares
about the Patriots and Colts? College hockey fans have Army
and Holy Cross on ESPNU on Sunday afternoon.
"This is great for our league, certainly,
as well as for our program," Army hockey coach Brian
Riley said. "Any type of exposure is good for your
program in regards to recruiting and gives you more visibility.
We are excited to be on national television three times
Let the football fans have Foxboro. The center
of the Atlantic Hockey universe will be Worcester.
"People outside of our realm will be
impressed with the quality of play, and also our building
and campus," said Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl. "It's
a huge thing for Holy Cross hockey and for our school."
Crusaders Lose a Warrior:
Holy Cross senior defenseman Matt Burke separated a shoulder
on the first shift of the Mercyhurst series. He was lost
for the remainder of the weekend and is expected to be out
for the next three weeks, coach Paul Pearl said.
"Fortunately, it's not a long-term thing,"
Pearl said. "The positive is we initially thought we
lost him for the year."
Burke has played 111 career games for Holy
"We'll have to get some other defensemen
to make up what Matt brings to us," Pearl added.
Great Weekend Getaway
Army at Holy Cross
This is not your typical Friday-Saturday
fare. No, the folks from ESPNU decided to give Atlantic
Hockey a look-see so both schools agreed to shift
the series by one day in order for Sunday afternoon's
tilt to be aired. What they will see are two teams
which skate very well and have strong defenses. Holy
Cross will look to continue its mastery over Army
at the Hart Center.
While you're there: Bring a sign
to Sunday's game. Make sure you write something witty
with the letters ESPNU, and you're a lock to get on
go out to Rochester for pushing 5,142 fans through
the turnstiles to watch RIT beat Cornell at the Blue
Cross Arena. Hopefully some of these same people show
up for the Atlantic Hockey tourney because it looked
mighty sparse last year.
RIT, Holy Cross and Sacred Heart are
excelling on the power play but the rest of the league
is struggling big time. In fact, Air Force, Army,
Bentley and AIC have power play percentages of less
than 10 percent. Ouch.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
• Army has 'Hart' attack – Army
has not fared well at Holy Cross' home rink, the Hart Center.
The Black Knights have lost their last eight games at Hart,
starting with a March 2003 playoff loss in the last days
of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Hockey League.
Army's last win at Hart was a 3-1 decision on Feb. 1, 2003.
Holy Cross has taken six of eight points from Army in each
of the past two seasons.
• Army sends Huskies to kennel –
Army extended its unbeaten string over Connecticut to seven
games (5-0-2) with a 4-1 win in Storrs. The Black Knights
have won their last three games at Freitas Ice Forum. Army's
top line of Bryce Hollweg, Luke Flicek and Owen Mayer each
posted a goal and accounted for eight points. This was the
first meeting since Army downed U.Conn in the Atlantic Hockey
semifinals in March.
• Home away from home – Connecticut
plays a home-and-home with Sacred Heart this weekend, starting
in Milford and finishing in Storrs. The Huskies won three
of four games last season and have won nine of their last
12 meetings with the Pioneers. The Huskies have won three
of the last five contests at SHU's home rink, the Milford
• Revving up the Thruway series –
Rochester Institute of Technology and Canisius play a home-and-home,
opening in Rochester and moving on to Buffalo. The Tigers
took three of four from the Golden Griffins last season,
winning twice at Canisius' alternate home site, the Pepsi
Center in Amherst. Canisius handed RIT one of its four home
conference losses last season.
• Making an early exit onto Victory
Lane? – American International College has got off
to some nasty starts in recent seasons. The Yellow Jackets
opened with losing streaks of eight, four, six and 12 games
over the past four seasons. AIC is 0-2 this season, with
a home-and-home series pending with Bentley, opening in
Waltham and closing in West Springfield. The two teams held
serve on home ice in four meetings last season. The last
time AIC managed an early victory was a 4-3 win over Fairfield
(in the Quinnipiac Cup tournament) in the 2002-03 opener.
• We won. No, we really did –
Canisius has won twice and has nothing to show for it since
both games were exhibitions against Canadian colleges (Royal
Military College, Manitoba). Thus, the Griffs are winless
in five official games (0-3-2). The Griffs were 0-4 in 2006-07,
0-3-2 to start 2003-04 and 0-6 to start 2002-03.
• Lake warning – Mercyhurst fell
to 0-5 with the 4-1 loss to Holy Cross last Friday. The
Lakers salvaged a point with a 2-2 tie on Saturday. The
Lakers opened at 0-3 in 2001-02, 0-2 in 2002-03 and 0-3
in 2004-05 and 2006-07.
• Falcon v. Falcon — Bentley halted
0-4 slide to start season with a 4-0 win over Air Force
on Friday. Air Force bounced back for a 3-1 win on Saturday.
The 1-4 Bentley start equals the 2002-03 start, and a tick
better than the 0-5 start in 2001-02.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report. Ken McMillan can be reached