Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Know Your Enemy: RIT

It's been a hectic week or so with each of your trusted, loyal, dedicated, and obnoxious WaP correspondents busy with life and other relative inconveniences, but with any luck we're back on the right path. Expect some additional updates later this week, including the continued tsunami watch.

For the second straight week, we talk about a game with a repeat non-conference opponent from last year, an Atlantic Hockey team which has, without question, earned the right to a visit from the Engineers, who make their very first visit to the Rochester area to take on the Tigers this coming season.

Rochester Institute of Technology
Nickname: Tigers
Location: Henrietta, NY
Founded: 1829
Conference: Atlantic Hockey
National Championships: 2 (Division II in 1983, Division III in 1985)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2010
Last Frozen Four: 2010
Coach: Wayne Wilson (13th season)
2010-11 Record: 19-11-8 (15-5-7 AHA, 1st place)
Series: RPI leads, 4-1-0
First Game: November 29, 1985 (Troy, NY)
Last RPI win: October 22, 2010 (Troy, NY)
Last RIT win: November 1, 1986 (Troy, NY)

2011-12 game: November 25, 2011 (Henrietta, NY)

Key players: F Cameron Burt, sr.; D Chris Haltigin, sr.; F Adam Hartley, jr.; G Shane Madolora, jr.; D Chris Saracino, jr.; F Ben Lynch, so.; F Adam Mitchell, so.; D Nolan Descoteaux, so.; D Greg Noyes, so.; D Stuart Brownell, fr.; F Brandon Thompson, fr.

Previous KYE installment:
Last year's game between the Engineers and Tigers was one of the best of the season for RPI, a very well rounded game highlighted by some of the most solidly physical play from the Tute that many observers can remember seeing in some time. Brock Higgs scored the first two goals of his collegiate career as RPI scored the game's final three goals on their way to a 4-1 victory.

Much as they did in their Frozen Four season, the RIT Tigers struggled through their early nonconference schedule - picking up only an upset in Ithaca over a similarly struggling Cornell team - but once the Atlantic Hockey schedule got underway, it was back to business. The Tigers put together another solid season with their fourth first place finish in their five years in the league.

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean much in Atlantic Hockey - only the team that wins their final game is going to ultimately get a bid to the NCAA Tournament, but that wasn't in the cards for the Tigers. After demolishing American International in two games and putting together a solid win over UConn in the AHA semifinals, the Tigers ran into goaltender Jason Torf and the Air Force Falcons. Despite 40 shots on goal in the championship game, the Tigers could not put one past Torf, and their season ended with a 1-0 loss to Air Force, the other team that has been dominant since joining Atlantic Hockey.

One of the signs of RIT's emergence on the Division I level is their loss, for the second straight year, of an underclassman to a professional contract. The first was defenseman Chris Tanev, who plays for the Stanley Cup tonight with the Vancouver Canucks. The second is forward Tyler Brenner, who led the Tigers in goals last year with 26, twice as many as senior Andrew Favot, who was second. He will be missed, but RIT still returns a gritty, experienced squad. Hartley and Mitchell are the team's top returning goal scorers with 11 each last year, while Lynch and Burt return as the team's top two scorers from last season with 30 and 28 points respectively.

With this game falling the day after Thanksgiving, chances are good that the renowned Ritter Arena crowd probably won't be at peak effectiveness, but it'll almost certainly be a solid, boisterous crowd nonetheless. RIT is replacing their long-time rink (with quite odd dimensions) with a new facility capable of holding a higher capacity in the near future, so if you want a chance to experience what is easily the best atmosphere in Atlantic Hockey and has frequently been cited as one of the best in the nation, it would behoove you to do it this season. Be sure to get tickets in advance.

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