The RIT men’s cross country team and women’s standout runner Jouhan Allende will compete at the 2009 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships at Highland Hills Golf Course in Highland Hills, Ohio, on Saturday. The men qualified as a team in 2006 and finished 19th. Hopefully, the men can fare better this time around and secure a few All-American honors. Junior cross country and track standout Jillian Putney will travel with the team this weekend and blog about her experiences at the NCAA Championships next week.
I traveled with the men’s hockey team last weekend to Mercyhurst, and saw a team that is much more confident, than the last time they were on the road. It was evident with the results, 2-1 on Friday, and 3-2 on Saturday, in a building that is traditionally tough to play at. On Friday, Mercyhurst came out as the desperate team, taking the play to the Tigers for the first 10 minutes of the game before RIT regrouped, getting two power-play goals from Alan Mazur to take a 2-1 lead after two periods of play. RIT goaltender Jared DeMichiel was great in the third period, stopping all 12 shots he faced. Chris Haltigin swept the puck out of the goal crease in the final seconds to secure the win.
On Saturday, RIT was clearly the better team for all 60 minutes, but ran into a hot goaltender in Ryan Zapolski. RIT scored twice in the third period to earn the win. The Tigers out-shot Mercyhurst 43-25 on Saturday. Senior defenseman Dan Ringwald picked up his 100th collegiate point over the weekend. He is the second RIT player since the team moved to Division I in 2005 (Simon Lambert) to reach that milestone.
One thing that stuck out the most to me over the weekend, was the lack of fan support that Mercyhurst received. The attendance according to the box scores were 967 fans on Friday and 946 on Saturday. If those numbers are true, then I am 6-foot-5. If there were more than 350-400 fans each night, that would have shocked me. In addition, nearly half of the crowd made the trip from Rochester to cheer on the Tigers. I have been to the Mercyhurst Ice Center twice before with the team, on Super Bowl Sunday, 2006, with a snowstorm rolling through Erie, and once again in Feb. 2008, with Mercyhurst students on Spring Break. What was the excuse this time? I was very surprised to see the lack of student support at Mercyhurst.
This weekend, the Tigers host Sacred Heart for a pair of contests on Friday and Saturday. RIT is gunning for its seventh and eighth straight wins, which would be the second longest winning streak for the Tigers at the Division I level, shy of the 11-game winning streak set last season. Ironically enough, Sacred Heart was the team that broke RIT’s winning streak, also at Ritter Arena. Friday’s game begins at 7:05 p.m., while Saturday’s is at 4:05 p.m. Just a hunch, but expect a fair amount of goals to be scored this weekend. RIT has 21 goals in its first four home games, while Sacred Heart has allowed nearly four goals per game. Last season, the two teams combined to score 18 goals in two games at Ritter Arena last season.
Support from the students and community is something we continue to improve on. At USCHO.com, there is an article that is receiving plenty of positive buzz at RIT. On Nov. 6, national columnist Dave Starman covered the game for USCHO.com and raved about Ritter Arena, and how it is one of the top five venues in all of college hockey. He writes a very flattering piece about RIT Hockey from top to bottom, a great read. Unfortunately to see the article, you must be a USCHO.com premium subscriber. We are working on getting the article, so that the RIT community could view it.