If you ask Al Mature ’74 (retail management), he’ll tell you the packed loft inside Pittsburgh’s Cafe Fifth Avenue was a sight for sore eyes. Mature frequently found it challenging to attract large numbers of fellow Steel City-area graduates to RIT Alumni Association activities. But with more than 80 alumni in attendance, it was a pleasure for the Pittsburgh chapter president to finally host a sell-out event.
“This is the best I’ve seen,” he told me. “Up until a week ago, I was concerned about (the turnout).”
He probably didn’t need to be. The reception at Café Fifth on Dec. 30 preceded the RIT men’s hockey game against Robert Morris University. With first place in the Atlantic Hockey Association at stake, the game itself represented a significant draw. But add in that it was taking place inside the new Consol Energy Center, home to the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, and you had the makings for a ‘can’t miss’ event. Tickets ultimately sold quickly as game day approached.
Let’s face it, Tigers hockey remains a surefire rallying point for members of the RIT community. Last season’s success continues to capture our imagination, including the prospects for a repeat appearance at the NCAA Frozen Four.
During a brief presentation to the Pittsburgh alumni, Lou Spiotti, RIT’s athletic director, confirmed that last season’s success “electrified” the campus. He went on to praise this year’s squad, providing no reason to limit expectations for the potential of another postseason run.
“The team is really developing its own identity,” he said. “They’re a great, great group of guys.”
Once inside the Consol Energy Center, I couldn’t help thinking back to the Frozen Four at Detroit’s Ford Field last April. The amenities associated with a large-scale, professional venue were equally impressive, but the energy and urgency that come with tournament play were lacking—as were the Pep Band and the Corner Crew.
Still, when Tyler Brenner put in the game winner with 1:19 left to play, I couldn’t help sense some of that electricity beginning to return—a little bit of Frozen Four Fever starting to seep in.
Obviously there’s no telling what the future has in store. A Frozen Four encore is an awful lot to ask. But I can assure you that it’s still very easy to rally around this team. Jump onboard. It should be quite a ride!
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