In less than 24 hours from now, the RIT women’s hockey team, ranked No. 2 in Division III, will host the 2011 ECAC West Championship and start its postseason run against Utica, at Ritter Arena. Expectations are high for the Tigers this season, as they were the No. 1 ranked team from the first week of December until the middle of February and have tied a school record for wins in a season, with 22. RIT has three extremely strong forward lines, led by 2011 ECAC West Player of the Year and two-time All-American Sarah Dagg and fellow All-American Katie Stack.
Buoyed by a strong freshman class, which includes 2011 ECAC West All-Rookie Team members, forward Kourtney Kunichika and goaltender Laura Chamberlain, to go along with 17-goal scorer Kolbee McCrea and Erin Zach, the Tigers have unparalleled depth up front. That being said, RIT is the highest scoring team in all of Division III this season, and the top defensive squad, led by four-time All-ECAC West defenseman Traci Galbraith.
RIT plays Utica in the first semifinal at 3 p.m. Saturday. The Tigers defeated Utica twice on the road, 5-2, and 4-1 earlier in the season, but the Pioneers come in on a high note after beating Elmira 2-1 last weekend to advance. Perennial power SUNY Plattsburgh and Neumann meet in the second semifinal at 7 p.m. Saturday. Plattsburgh, ranked fourth nationally, has made seven straight NCAA Tournament Appearances, while Neumann comes in riding a 10-game unbeaten streak—but Plattsburgh won both meetings earlier in the season, 3-1 and 7-0.
The two winners will meet at 3 p.m. Sunday with a spot in the NCAA Tournament on the line. If it is RIT and Plattsburgh who meet, it will be a rematch of two hard-fought contests played at Ritter Arena just six weeks ago. In the first game, Dagg scored with just under a minute left in regulation to force a 2-2 tie in front a RIT record crowd of 2,100 fans. The next day, both goaltenders stole the show in a scoreless tie. If it is RIT and Neumann, RIT holds a 2-0 lead in the season series this season, after 7-1 and 6-1 wins at Ritter Arena in November.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students per day, and are available at the Gordon Field House Box office or at Ritter Arena. Campus Life has purchased 250 tickets for RIT students for each day as well, and will be available at will call with a valid student ID on a first come, first serve basis.
The last time RIT hosted a postseason tournament was in 2007 as members of the ECAC East Conference. The Tigers also made their lone NCAA Tournament appearance that season as well.
Come on out to Ritter Arena for what is sure to be an unforgettable weekend of hockey. Hopefully, it is the just the start of a magical postseason ride for the Tigers.
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