The majority of RIT students weren’t born yet, so they may not realize that the men’s hockey team has already won two NCAA hockey championships.
The first title came at the Division II level in 1983; the second championship was at the Division III level in 1985. The NCAA trophies are on display in Clark Gymnasium.
Is there a triple crown in college hockey?
Now RIT is at the Division I level and the Tigers are up against college hockey’s elite programs in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The University of Denver (14 NHL draft picks), Boston College, Michigan, Yale, and the national media are eyeing the Tigers.
This season’s success brings back fond memories for Lou Spiotti, who proudly sports two NCAA hockey championship rings. Spiotti, RIT’s director of the Center for Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation, alternates wearing the silver and gold on a regular basis.
“This sequence of events has the same kind of feel as that period in time when we won the NCAA Division II Championship back in 1983,” says Spiotti. “Like Denver, Lowell (University of Massachusetts - Lowell) was heavily favored to beat little known RIT and go on to the national title. After all, Lowell had not lost a home game in the last 35 games. They underestimated us. RIT stunned Lowell that night and went on to defeat Bemidji State for our first title. It was unbelievable!”
The Tigers have built a winning tradition since the program’s inception in 1962. Along with the two national titles, RIT has appeared in the NCAA Tournament 13 times, including eight Final Four appearances and three appearances in the finals.
Both RIT NCAA titles were against Bemidji State in Minnesota. Bemidji has also elevated to Division I and is participating in this year’s NCAA tourney while ranked 10th in the nation. RIT joins Bemidji and Minnesota State (formerly Mankato State University) as the only NCAA teams to compete in the NCAA Tournament at the Division I, II, and III levels. One school would make history by winning at all three levels.
“To win the Atlantic Hockey Association Tournament and get to the NCAA Tournament is a culmination of all the players that have come before… all the way back in the Division II and III days,” says Head Coach Wayne Wilson. “RIT has a great hockey tradition and this is another step in that tradition.”
That next step begins Friday in Albany vs. Denver with a mission to reach the NCAA Frozen Four in Detroit.