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The RIT hockey program continues to amaze me. This program is a true story of the underdog. RIT offers no athletic scholarships. The Atlantic Hockey Association is the weakest conference in the country. There are very few nice arenas in the conference. When the Tigers go on the road, they play at American International in front of 34 fans, and that is being generous. Most of those fans are parents. My point is that from a recruiting stand point, this is a really tough sell. Prior to the new locker rooms and the new arena, which will begin construction during the Brick City Homecoming Festival, the RIT locker room was a closet. It sounds trivial but these are all really important factors when recruiting hockey players. The coaching staff has to go out and turn over every rock, turn over rocks under those rocks to shape their team. I have said this many times and I will say it again, the coaching staff does an incredible job with the RIT Hockey Tigers. This is a top 10 coaching staff in the country and we are lucky to have them at RIT!
Last night RIT went out to perennial power Michigan and beat the 3rd ranked Wolverines in Yost Arena. They were down 3-0, but just kept plugging away. They were not intimidated by the Wolverines, packed with future NHL players. They staged a comeback and tied the game late in the third period. Just 14 seconds into overtime, Adam Hartley won the game for the Tigers. Honestly, these types of wins make me want to be 20 years old again. The exhilaration the guys must have felt can’t be put into words! Truth be told, many of them probably dreamed of playing for Michigan when they were little guys, playing youth travel hockey in freezing cold arenas at 7am on a Sunday morning.
This blog was inspired by a couple different factors. I am out in Cleveland, working for the admissions office at RIT. I am sitting in my rental car outside of a Starbucks, in between school visits to the Laurel School and Shaker Heights High School. Listening to the call on the radio last night inspired me. The amount of passion from the Rochester community for RIT hockey is incredible. The other inspiration stems from a conversation on Facebook which I have been having with the voice of RIT Hockey, Chris Lerch. We started talking about the biggest wins in RIT hockey history. This win certainly is in the top 5. What this does for recruiting can’t be measured! I look at the clock and realize that I have to run to Shaker Heights High School. Darn, I was on a roll….
Fast forward about a week later. I am finally able to get back to this blog. The second night of the road trip out to Michigan did not go as well. RIT lost to the Wolverines on the second night of the road trip but were in the game deep into the 3rd period. The road trip was absolutely a success for RIT Hockey. It is hard to sweep any team on the road, let alone a future Big Ten team like Michigan.
RIT will face Penn State this weekend in front of a sold out crowd at the Blue Cross Arena in downtown Rochester, NY. We will have a sea of orange awaiting the Nittany Lions, the barn will be hopping. This weekend is always a fun opportunity for me to catch up with RIT Hockey teammates of years past. I expect RIT to come out strong and take it to the new Penn State hockey team.
Prediction: RIT beats Penn State 5-1.