The RIT Men’s Hockey team took 3 out of 4 points at AIC last weekend. More importantly they made the commitment to defense that I said they needed to win games. The Tigers tied 2-2 on Friday night and won 3-0 on Saturday night. Goalie Josh Watson picked up his first career shutout and appears to be the goalie that should be the number one goalie for the Tigers.
I called out the goalies in my blog last week because of some horrible numbers. Both goalies stepped up and had much better games against AIC. I want to concentrate on Watson though because it appears that the team plays better when he is in goal. Watson has both wins this year for RIT and is 2-2. He improved his goals against average by over a full goal and is now at 3.27 goals against per game. He was also able to improve his save percentage by 3 whole percentage points. Watson is up to .887 save percentage, which means he is saving about 89% of the shots he is facing. I would be starting Watson in goal tonight against Mercyhurst, and if the Tigers win I would go back to him on Saturday night against Canisius.
I have spent a ton of time on the RIT defense and the goalies in my blogs this year. I want to give some love to senior forward Jeff Smith. Smith is leading the team in scoring this year with 4 goals and 5 assists for 9 points. In the first three years of his career at RIT he accumulated 21 points. Smith has stepped up and filled an offensive gap for the Tigers. With the loss of Cameron Burt, there were some unknowns on the offensive end. It is always nice to see someone step up and fill a needed role for a team. Good for Jeff for hanging in there throughout his career, and believing that his time would come. More importantly, when his opportunity presented itself, he was prepared to take advantage and help out the team.
Tonight the Tigers will try to win their first game at the Ritter this season. The exhibition game does not count so the Tigers are currently 0-2 at home. The record will change this weekend when Mercyhurst and Canisius come to town. Mercyhurst is a solid hockey program; tonight’s game will be a close low scoring game. Mercyhurst is giving up 2.6 goals per game and scoring 2.6 goals per game. They are very solid on the penalty kill, killing off 88.2% of the penalties.
Saturday night brings in a big rivalry against Canisius. A few years back a brawl broke out at the Ritter when Canisius came to town. These two teams are not fond of each other. Canisius gives up very few goals at 1.88 per game, while only scoring 1.25 goals per game. This will be another low scoring affair. Junior goalie Tony Capobianco has a 1.94 goals against average and a .938 save percentage. I have not seen Canisius play but I am sure they are using a trap, clogging the neutral zone and collapsing the front of the net in their own zone. The leading scorer on Canisius is senior Preston Shupe and he has 4 points in 8 games this year. To be honest, this game is going to be a snoozer.
Every season I get very nervous about the RIT hockey team during the first 5-10 games of the season. I feel like every year I am saying that this could be a down year. Every year I am wrong about that and the team wins 20 games and make it far into the conference tournament. This year I am going the opposite direction. I believe last weekend built a foundation of confidence for this team and the Tigers are going to go on a run.
Last Week’s Prediction Record: 1-0-1 (1.00)
This Week’s Prediction:
RIT beats Mercyhurst
RIT beats Canisius
Season Prediction Record: 2-2-1 (.500)