The RIT Men's Hockey Team is NCAA bound for the first time at the Division I level. The Tigers won the AHA Championship last saturday night after a 6-1 win over Sacred Heart. RIT is 26-11-1 and has earned their first national ranking (Div. I) at #20. They will face #2 Denver on Friday, March 26th at 3pm. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU. In Rochester, that is channel 216 if you have Time Warner Cable. There are also several locations in Rochester that will be hosting events to celebrate this program changing event. Jeremiah's is having a RIT Hockey Alumni event for the game, which I am sure involves lots of free wings! On the RIT campus the game will be shown at the RITZ and two other locations.
RIT has spent several years, really decades building a very solid hockey program. The Tigers won the National Championship in 1983 (Division II) and in 1985 (Division III). Both times beating Bemidji State in the finals. In 1983 the Tigers were longshots to win it all. The semifinal game was at UMASS-Lowell who had not lost at Tsonga Arena in 35 games. Athletic Director Lou Spiotti on the 1983 run to the national title, “Like Denver, Lowell (University of Massachusetts - Lowell) was heavily favored to beat little known RIT and go on to the national title. After all, Lowell had not lost a home game in the last 35 games. They underestimated us. RIT stunned Lowell that night and went on to defeat Bemidji State for our first title. It was unbelievable!” These types of stories are a plenty for our hockey program. When I was playing for RIT in the 1998-1999 season the team was still Division III. We headed out to Nebraska-Omaha for two games in their arena. UNO plays in Division I CCHA, nobody thought we had a chance. Well, we took both games from UNO that weekend to start the season 13-0; they were stunned to say the least.
Hockey is a fickle game, an emotional game. 99% of the time, determination and work ethic will beat skill in a one off hockey game. The University of Denver has 14 NHL draft picks, Fourteen!
That is about 2/3 of their team. To my knowledge RIT has none. All that means nothing at all. Hockey rinks are littered with NHL draft picks that never made the show. I believe, I truly believe that RIT can beat Denver tomorrow. I am sure the guys are just jumping out of their skin right about now. The adrenaline is pumping, geez my adrenaline is pumping. RIT goalie Jared DeMichiel needs to play the game of his life, we need to score the first goal, and hope that the goal post is our friend tomorrow. If a couple bounces go RIT's way and we get solid goaltending and Denver comes out a bit flat, it can happen!