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As always, the AHA Championship will come down to RIT, Air Force and Mercyhurst. RIT went out to Air Force for the first two conference games of the season and came home winless. In all fairness, that is a tough trip out to Air Force. Much is made of mountain air; I can tell you that it is all true. You will be sucking wind out there after 20 seconds of a shift. I know this because while playing at RPI we made that trip and it was tough. The Tigers did play Air Force tough while losing in OT the second night. They have beaten Mercyhurst twice on the road and I think they will take two from Air Force at the Ritter Arena.
The Tigers have a chance to win some non-conference games in the next three games. They host Niagara this Saturday night and then go out to Minnesota State after the holidays for a two game set. I think they can win all three of those games. If they want to be an NCAA tournament caliber team then they need to win those three games.
"You are what your record says you are," Bill Parcells is known for saying. That statement can be used in many different contexts. The Tigers have been on fire lately, riding some sick goaltending, solid defense, and timely scoring. They have not lost in forever and that is only accomplished by outworking your opponent for 60 minutes, 10 games in a row. I am impressed with the maturation of this team; they have played well this season. Their 9-5-1 record tells the story regardless of who they are playing.
As I write this blog I am watching Wisconsin vs. North Dakota, two WCHA teams. I got to tell you, these are some quality hockey teams! If the Tigers want to start working their way up the ladder of college hockey then they need some big wins! I believe that the team is improving every weekend. They absolutely are a top 20 college hockey team, now they need to win games against tough opponents; teams that a lot of people do not believe they should beat.
Come check out RIT vs. Niagara Saturday night at Ritter Arena 7:05