Men’s hockey season begins tonight on the road

Team travels to Bowling Green, Western Michigan

Follow Joe Venniro on Twitter
Follow RITNEWS on Twitter

Ken Huth

RIT goalie Jan Ropponen during a recent practice in preparation for the 2008-2009 season, which begins this weekend.

The RIT men’s hockey team opens its fourth season of Division I hockey and 44th as a NCAA intercollegiate program this weekend with a pair of road contests against Central Collegiate Hockey Association opponents. On Friday, the Tigers open the 2008-2009 season against Bowling Green State University at 7:05 p.m. The following night, the Tigers play a 7:35 road contest at Western Michigan University.

RIT, who finished the 2007-2008 season with a 19-12-6 mark, returns 18 players, including goaltender Louis Menard (Chicoutimi, Quebec), along with captains Brennan Sarazin (Nepean, Ontario), Bobby Raymond (Lucknow, Ontario) and Dan Ringwald (Oakville, Ontario).

The Tigers return eight of its top-10 scorers from last season and four experienced defensemen. The Tigers are no stranger to playing tough non-conference contests, as they knocked off nationally-ranked Cornell and Minnesota last season.

In addition, this is the first senior class to go through all years at RIT as a Division I program. Menard, Sarazin, Raymond, Jesse Newman (Westbank, British Columbia) and Justin Hofstetter (Bright, Ontario) were part of RIT's inaugural Division I recruiting class and are looking to make their final season one to remember.

Bowling Green returns 21 letterwinners from last season's team that finished 18-21-0. Four of Bowling Green's top-five scorers from a season ago returm, led by Jacob Cepis, who recorded 31 points. In net, Nick Eno and Jimmy Spratt are both back after combining to record a 3.06 goals aganist average and .891 save percentage in 2007-2008.

It will be the fourth meeting between the two schools. Bowling Green leads the all-time series, 3-0-0. Last season, Bowling Green defeated RIT in the Tigers home opener on Oct. 19, 2007, 5-3. Bowling Green standout and Rochester native Derek Whitmore recorded a hat-trick in the win for the Falcons. Alan Mazur (Burnaby, British Columbia) scored a goal and added an assist for the Tigers.

The Falcons also defeated RIT, 3-2 in Bowling Green on Feb. 4, 2006, and 4-3 in the Syracuse Invitational on Dec. 28, 1986.

RIT Head Coach Wayne Wilson and Associate Head Coach Brian Hills both played and coached at Bowling Green. Hills, who played from 1980-1983 is second all-time in scoring at Bowling Green, while Wilson was a captain on the 1984 team that won the NCAA Division I Championship.

This will be the second meeting between RIT and Western Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Broncos 4-3 at the Syracuse Invitational nearly 23 years ago on Dec. 27, 1985.

Western Michigan returns three of its top four scorers from last season, led by Patrick Galivan, who recorded a team-best 31 points. The Broncos finished the 2007-08 season with an 8-27-3 mark.

Last Saturday, the Tigers raised $1,900 for Hockey Coaches Care during its Orange and White scrimmage and Skate With the Tigers event.

Both games will be broadcast locally by WITR-FM (89.7).