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Here we go again Sports

The leaves are changing, mercury is dropping (oh wait, never mind, with back-to-back 80-degree days expected for the weekend) and days are getting shorter. That can only mean that the RIT hockey season is upon us.

It seems like the seasons start earlier and earlier, with this one being no exception. Last weekend, RIT shut out Brock 4-0 in an exhibition game. The Tigers jump right into Atlantic Hockey Association play against Niagara on Saturday in what should be a sold-out Ritter Arena (tickets still remain as of Thursday afternoon) at 7:05 p.m. Once again, the Tigers should be among the top teams in Atlantic Hockey, as they return 19 players from last season’s squad that finished 19-11-8, just missing an NCAA berth for the second straight season. RIT will be gunning for its fourth-straight AHA regular season title and fifth in the last six years.

The Tigers will look for their first win over Niagara in 14 years (the two teams were Division III rivals in the mid-1990s, until Niagara moved to Division I in 1997-98). Last year, Niagara was the only AHA team that RIT did not defeat.

Before heading to the game on Saturday, come out to Ritter Arena on Friday evening, as the Tigers host their annual “Skate With the Tigers” event at 6:45 p.m. Bring the family to skate with your favorite players. As an added bonus, there will be tours beginning at 7:30 p.m. of the new locker room that is nearing its completion.

Speaking of former Tigers, Chris Tanev will begin his first full NHL season with Vancouver, at 10 tonight, as the Canucks host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Versus (soon to be NBC Sports). Fellow former Tiger Steve Pinizzotto looked to have an inside shot for cracking the Canucks roster, but suffered a preseason injury and is out indefinitely.  Three more former Tigers skated in NHL training camps last month before getting sent down to the minors.

This is a new frontier for our fall teams, as they have started play in the Liberty League conference, which consists of Clarkson, St. Lawrence, Union, Rensselaer (sound familiar hockey fans?), Vassar, Skidmore, Bard, Hobart/William Smith and Rochester (who splits its conference affiliation with the UAA and is only part of a handful of Liberty League sports). With the seasons right around the halfway mark, let’s take a look at how they have fared so far.

Men’s soccer is off to a 2-0-1 start in conference play, and is 5-3-2 overall. The Tigers have not allowed a goal since the middle of September and are looking like a legitimate contender despite having to face No. 1 St. Lawrence and No. 18 Hobart in the next few weeks. Senior Dan Holowaty leads the team in scoring with six goals and 15 points, while goalkeeper Sean Conway has earned back-to-back Liberty League Defensive Performer of the Week honors and has a tiny 0.68 goals against average.

Women’s soccer has a deceptive 4-7 record and is 1-3 in Liberty League play despite playing a brutally tough schedule. The Tigers have or will play six of the top seven teams in the East region rankings and four in the top-25 nationally. RIT has more than held its own in those contests and with a few breaks could easily have its record flip-flopped. Up front, sophomore transfer Rachael Bromson has been good as advertised, leading the squad with 13 points.

Volleyball is on a roll as of late, having won three straight and four of five to improve to 10-12 in 2011. The Tigers battled through several injuries to key performers early in the year but look to be getting healthy at the right time. RIT will host a Liberty League crossover during Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend at Clark Gym and will look to rebound from a 1-3 start in conference play. Last weekend, Head Coach Jim Lodes won his 200th career match at RIT.

For the men’s and women’s cross country squads, the Liberty League Championship will be held on Oct. 29 downstate in Poughkeepsie. Both teams have a standout runner, with Mike Kurvach off to a great start on the men’s side, and Erin LaFave as a three-time Liberty League Performer of the Week on the women’s side.

As you can see, the activity level is heating up in the coming weeks for the athletics squad, especially once women’s hockey, swimming and diving, and wrestling get under way before the end of October.

Remember to get your seats for the men’s hockey game at Blue Cross Arena for Brick City Homecoming & Family Weekend, slated for 7:05 p.m. Oct. 15. There you have a chance to get an autograph from Rochester native and U.S. Soccer legend Abby Wambach.


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