The RIT women’s hockey team skyrocketed from No. 5 into a tie for No. 2 in the latest national poll with two-time defending national champion SUNY Plattsburgh, after what could have been one of the most successful weekends in the history of the program. After all, not only did the Tigers defeat national powers Amherst and Middlebury, both ranked in the top-six, but they did it their way, pushing the tempo and scoring goals just like they have all season. The Tigers opened the weekend with a 4-1 win over Amherst on Saturday and closed with a 4-2 victory over Middlebury 24 hours later.
Under the reign of third-year head coach Scott McDonald, the Tigers are off to their second best start ever after 21 games at 17-2-2. RIT has now defeated three teams in the top-10 and a pair of Division I squads (Robert Morris and Sacred Heart). McDonald, who was an assistant with the RIT men’s hockey program from 2003-06, has enjoyed unparalled success with the women’s team. He is 57-13-4 in three seasons and led the Tigers to their first NCAA Tournament Appearance in 2006-07. They won the ECAC East regular season crown in 2006-07 and last season, defeated national champion SUNY Plattsburgh on the road, snapping the Cardinals 24-game home winning streak.
A few weeks ago, over 1,100 fans showed up at Ritter Arena to see the Tigers defeat then No. 1 SUNY Plattsburgh, 2-1 in overtime. SUNY Plattsburgh, Amherst and Middlebury were all ranked No. 1 at one time this season.
The Tigers have the most wins (17) in the nation and second best winning percentage (.857) behind No. 1 Gustavus Adolphus. RIT is No. 1 in the current KRACH poll as well.
Senior goaltender Sandra Grant, who was excellent in both wins over Amherst and Middlebury, was named the ECAC West Goaltender of the Week, as well as Rochester Area College Athletics and RIT Female Athlete of the Week. She moved into fourth place all-time at RIT with 27 wins, and is tied for third in the nation with 12 wins.
RIT is the highest scoring team in the nation, averaging 4.71 goals per game. Sophomore Katie Stack has four shorthanded goals tying her for the national lead. RIT has 10 shorthanded goals, most in the nation and two shy of its team record of 12, set last season. Sophomore forward Kylie Mazzetta has four-game wnning goals, tied for seventh nationally. Senior Keltie Jones is tied for second in the nation with 21 assists, while sophomore Sarah Dagg is fourth nationally with 33 points (15-18-33). RIT’s power-play is sixth in the nation.
The Tigers have four regular season games left, two at SUNY Cortland this weekend, and end with a pair of home contests against Buffalo State on Feb. 20-21. On the 21st, RIT will honor its five seniors, Dayna Birch, Lindsay Littman, Maegan Geypens, Jones and Grant. Hopefully, we can fill Ritter Arena and give the seniors a great send-off in their final regular season home games. The contest on Feb. 20 starts at 7 p.m., while the following day’s game begins at 5 p.m.
RIT has a great mix of veterans and youth, with five seniors, four juniors, six sophomores and six freshmen. All 21 players are in the lineup, every game.
That being said, it is nearly certain that the Tigers will have to travel to Elmira for the ECAC West Tournament on March 7-8. If RIT wins the tournament, they will receive an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.