It’s that time of season again, with the men’s hockey team making its annual postseason dash in search of its first Atlantic Hockey Association postseason title and a spot in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. RIT, the top seed in the 2010 AHA Tournament, will host No. 9 Connecticut in the best-of-three quarterfinals starting on Friday at 7:05 p.m. Game two will be Saturday at 7:05 p.m. and if necessary, game three will be Sunday, once again at 7:05 p.m.
The Tigers come into this weekend series on a roll, having won six straight games, and have rediscovered their offensive touch, scoring 27 times over that span. Since a 2-1 loss to the aforementioned Huskies on Jan. 16, RIT has lit the lamp 53 times in a 12-game stretch that essentially clinched the 2010 AHA regular season title. RIT went 10-2 over that stretch.
Many people are thinking and hoping that this will be a quick, two-game romp that serves as a warm-up for next weekend’s final four which will be held at the Blue Cross Arena. After all, RIT did post 6-1 and 7-0 drubbings of the Huskies at Ritter Arena back on Oct. 30-31. RIT is 22-11-1, Connecticut, 7-25-3. RIT has scored 118 goals, Connecticut, 55. So on paper, this looks likes a mismatch, right? Guess again. Connecticut did earn a home win over the Tigers, 2-1 on Jan. 16, one night after RIT earned a 4-0 win.
Playoff hockey is totally different from the regular season. Maybe RIT will come out and quickly put away the Huskies both nights and send the Ritter Faithful home happy. My guess is the Connecticut comes out and throws everything they have at RIT. The Huskies have nothing to lose, knowing they are the heavy underdog in the series. Look at the last two seasons for example. RIT was the clear favorite over Holy Cross in both AHA quarterfinal series. In 2008, the Crusaders gave RIT all they could handle, with game one going to the Tigers, 5-4 in overtime, and game two, ending the same way. Both games were tight the whole way, and it took back-to-back hat-tricks by Matt Smith to allow the Tigers to advance. Last year, the Crusaders stunned RIT in game one, 5-3. With the Tigers on the brink of elimination, they responded with a 6-4 win. In game three, The Tigers finally put away the pesky Crusaders in a shootout, 9-5.
This is the postseason and anything can happen. I don’t expect the Tigers to look past or take Connecticut lightly at all. This is a much stronger defensive minded RIT squad this season.
Come out and help sell out Ritter Arena this weekend. Tickets are on currently on sale at the Gordon Field House box office. Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for students. In addition, their reserved seating in Section 100 (guaranteed seating). Those seats are $12 for adults and $7 for students.