The next big game
The Tigers take on University of Massachusetts/Lowell in the home opener during Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend.Date: Saturday, Oct. 16
Time: 7:05 p.m.
Where: Rochester Blue Cross Arena
Tickets: Available at www.rit.edu/brickcity, from the Gordon Field House box office (585-475-4121) or through ticketmaster.com.
The men’s hockey team’s next home game certainly won’t be as big as its last contest – but it’s going to be special, nonetheless.
The Tigers, who captivated the RIT and Rochester communities last season with their incredible run to the NCAA Division I Frozen Four, will open their 2010-2011 home regular season schedule Saturday, Oct. 16, at Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena during Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend.
Men’s hockey was first featured as part of Brick City Weekend last year. Tigers fans transformed the Blue Cross Arena into a sea of orange as 7,421 watched RIT open its season against Colgate.
Excitement should again be at a peak when RIT faces off against the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. It’ll be the first time RIT plays in Rochester since capturing the Atlantic Hockey Tournament title and its NCAA Tournament bid on that same Blue Cross Arena ice in March.
“We’re very excited to be playing downtown during Brick City Weekend,” says Head Coach Wayne Wilson. “Last year was great, playing in front of such a large crowd with a great atmosphere. We hope to see this event continue to grow and maybe play in front of a sellout crowd – setting a new RIT attendance record in Rochester.”
Interest in Tiger hockey is at an all-time New heightshigh following the team’s Frozen Four run, which ended with a loss to the University of Wisconsin in the national semifinal in April. The RIT community celebrated with dozens of on-campus spirit events and more than 50 viewing parties around the world.
The team received publicity in thousands of news stories and television broadcasts across the country. Locally, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle published a special section and 13WHAM News produced a 30-minute special that aired live from Detroit the night before RIT’s matchup with Wisconsin.
Team members received recognition for academics as well as athletic achievement. Forward Mark Cornacchia received the NCAA Elite 88 Award, given to a player participating in the Frozen Four who has the highest cumulative grade point average. Cornacchia, a third-year finance major, had a 3.85 GPA (the team’s overall GPA was 3.3).
It has been an eventful offseason for several of the key cogs of that historic team. Wilson signed a five-year contract that will keep him as coach of the Tigers through the 2014-2015 season.
“I couldn’t be happier with living in Rochester and working at RIT,” says Wilson. “Our administration has been extremely supportive and our fan support is tremendous.”
Wilson received the 2010 Spencer Penrose Award, given to the Division I men’s hockey national coach of the year. In 11 seasons as coach, he has compiled a 216-103-25 record.
Dan Ringwald ’10, a defenseman and captain of last season’s team, earned his master’s in business administration and has signed a contract to play professional hockey with the Hartford Wolfpack of the American Hockey League – a league that includes Rochester’s professional hockey team, the Americans.
Jared DeMichiel ’10, whose wit during NCAA Tournament press conferences made him a favorite of local and national media, graduated and is also looking to hook up with a professional hockey team. As of press time, DeMichiel had been offered a few contracts but hadn’t quite found the right match.
“I’m planning to lift and skate at RIT this summer to train for professional hockey next year,” DeMichiel says. “I’m just waiting to get the right contract.”
Freshman defenseman Chris Tanev has signed a contract with the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League. Tanev totaled 10 goals and 18 assists during the season, on his way to earning Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Year honors.
There is plenty of talent returning to the Tigers program, however. Seventeen members of the Frozen Four team will return, seeking to build on their success.
The intense interest in the program has magnified RIT’s need for a new hockey arena. The Frank Ritter Ice Arena, even before last season’s success, almost always attracted standing-room-only crowds and frequently sold out. University officials recognize the need and have begun an effort to identify potential donors to support the construction of a new facility.
A cramped arena shouldn’t be an issue during Brick City Weekend, however. The Blue Cross Arena has 12,428 seats – and Wilson is hoping each is occupied by someone wearing orange.
John Follaco with Joe Venniro