RIT Men’s Hockey returns to action this weekend with two non-conference games against St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. I am stating the obvious; the first half of the season did not go as planned.
As a recap, the season began with a huge win at Michigan in overtime. I am going to go out on a limb and say that the Michigan win was the only positive of the first half of the season. The Tigers situation between the pipes is dismal. We do not have a goalie who can steal a game for the Tigers. In fact, we do not have a goalie that can steal a period or weather any type of offensive storm for the team. RIT Hockey has always had a run and gun style on the offensive end. I think the lack of goaltending has had a snowballing effect for the entire team.
With the struggles in the net, there has been more focus on the defensive zone play. When the goalie can’t shut down any type of odd man rush then the whole team needs to play in a more defensive manner. I could tell by the play that the coaching staff was really stressing the commitment to defensive play. The defensemen are not able to pinch in the offensive zone for fear of giving up a two on one. The forwards really have had to collapse into the slot in the defensive zone because the rebound control by the goalies has been a huge issue too. The issues with the goalies have changed the dynamics of this team. As a result, RIT is 4-8-4 at the half way point of the season.
RIT did beat Michigan but they played a freshman goalie, which is easily their worst goalie. Michigan also had twice as many shots on goal. The other three wins have come against AIC and Sacred Heart, two of the worst teams in the country. At this point in the season, you are what your record says you are. I do think that RIT can make some strides in Atlantic Hockey, maybe even make it up to a top four seed before the season is over. I do not, however, see this team winning the conference tournament and making the NCAA tournament.
St. Lawrence has not had a very good season either, as they are last place in the ECAC. The Saints started the season 5-1-1 but have since collapsed to a 7-8-2 record. Appleton Arena is an old school barn. It is not an easy place to play, the trip up to the North Country is never easy. Much to my chagrin, I see more of the same for RIT this weekend, two losses.
LAST WEEK’S PREDICTION RECORD: 2-0-1 (.833)
THIS WEEK’S PREDICTION:
St. Lawrence Sweeps RIT
SEASON PREDICTION RECORD: 6-4-4 (.571)