The last time the RIT hockey team played at Blue Cross Arena, an Atlantic Hockey Championship was at stake and the Tigers delivered two devastating performances, crushing Canisius and Sacred Heart to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Now, that was just the tip of the iceberg as to what the Tigers would accomplish in the next two weeks, a whirlwind trip that left the campus, community, and nation buzzing. Fast forward seven months and here we are again, set to face-off at Blue Cross Arena as one of the focal points of Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend, this time against UMass Lowell of Hockey East, one of the strongest conferences in Division I.
The AHA title, NCAA East Regional Championship and Frozen Four appearance is a sweet, but, distant memory. It is a new season, with new faces and new obstacles to climb. Last weekend, the Tigers played well in their opening two games at the Mutual of Omaha Stampede, but ultimately fell short to two very strong programs in St. Cloud State and Nebraska-Omaha.
However, tickets are selling like hot cakes, with more than 7,500 already sold for Saturday’s contest. A sellout is a distinct possibility, and more than likely will happen. Think about that for a second? RIT, selling out a 10,556 seat arena in its sixth season as a Division I program? Really? The Blue Cross Arena record for most fans was set on April 1, 2005, when the Rochester Americans drew 10,805 to see the future core of the Buffalo Sabres (Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Paul Gaustad, Jason Pominville) play the Cleveland Barons. Now, RIT cannot break the record because capacity at BCA was reduced to add several party decks on the one end of the rink. I still think back to when the announcement was made to go Division I on Dec. 15, 2004, and I am floored how far this program has come and evolved into one of the best in the nation.
Make sure you get your tickets before they sell out. Besides the packed sea of orange, fans can meet and greet with ESPN hockey analyst, and former NHL player and coach, Barry Melrose. There will be several great raffles, promotions and video that will be aired just before the teams take the ice at 6:56 p.m. that will be sure to get everyone pumped for the contest. RIT will be wearing special black jerseys that will be auctioned off online from Oct. 14 to 17 to Support Sharky’s fight against cancer. Craig Charron, a Rochester Americans Hall of Famer and UMass Lowell alum, was stricken with cancer and is bravely battling for a cure. Fans are urged to help support the cause as well.
RIT drew 7,421 fans last year against Colgate on Brick City Weekend. The most fans to see the Tigers in a regular season game happened on Dec. 29, 2007, when 10,046 people saw RIT pull off a monumental 4-3 win over Minnesota at historic Mariucci Arena. A sellout would top that.
Come on out be a part of history on Saturday.
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