RIT Hockey is having a rough season, starting with a 2-8-3 record. I can’t remember the last time the season started this poorly. The Tigers have yet to win at the Ritter Arena, beginning the season at 0-4. Still the Rochester community supports the only Division I Men’s sport in the Rochester area. The games are very close to sold out for this weekend’s games against Sacred Heart.
If the season is going to get back on track, this is the time for the Tigers to make it happen. The Tigers are the 57th ranked team in the country, out of 59, according to the RPI numbers. Sacred Heart is dead last in the RPI rankings. Sacred Heart is 0-12-2 on the season; I would classify them as the worst team in the country. RIT has to win both of these games. Not only does RIT need the wins to get the season on track but the negative mental backlash would be staggering if they lost even one of these games. Both of these games are absolutely must win games.
For those of you who are not familiar with the RPI, it stands for the Ratings Percentage Index. The Ratings Percentage Index is one of the tools used to determine the teams for the NCAA ice hockey tournament. Factors involved are the team's winning percentage; the average winning percentage of the team's opponents; and the average winning percentage of the team's opponents' opponents. These factors are multiplied by 25%, 21%, and 54% respectively.
RIT has played better over the last couple games. They took Air Force to overtime last weekend but lost the game about a minute into overtime. RIT had a 2-0 lead in this game in the first half of the second period. Unfortunately, they allowed Air Force back into the game in the second half of the second period after taking two five minute major penalties. From what I have heard, the penalties were borderline calls. This season has seen all sorts of issues for the Tigers. Poor defense and goaltending early in the season led to some loses. In my opinion, RIT did not match the effort and determination of their opponent’s in some of the games early in the season.
With all that being said, I absolutely have seen more effort and more awareness in the defensive zone over the past three games. The last three games have all gone to overtime, which tells me that RIT has been fighting until the very end in all of these games. I have a hunch that this team may be turning a small corner, and this weekend may just be what the doctor ordered. I think RIT sweeps Sacred Heart this weekend at the Ritter Arena. I also believe, and hope, that we will look back at this weekend and view it as a turning point in this season.
In addition, RIT has a third game this week, heading to Dwyer Arena to take on first place Niagara University. RIT has never won at Dwyer Arena, Niagara owns RIT since we have gone Division I. If RIT can beat Niagara it could really be something to build on for the second half of the season. Unfortunately, I don't believe RIT will win. Niagara is the only team from Atlantic Hockey that is ranked in the top 20.
LAST WEEK’S PREDICTION RECORD: 1-0-0 (1.000)
THIS WEEK’S PREDICTION:
RIT Sweeps Sacred Heart
Niagara Beats RIT
SEASON PREDICTION RECORD: 4-4-3 (.500)