Team of the Week: RIT
by Timothy O'Donnell/
If there was a perfect way to end 2011, RIT found it. Winning the Catamount Cup was only the icing on the cake. En route to that title, the Tigers defeated then-No. 11 Ferris State and then-No. 16 Lake Superior State. It was the first since the 2010 NCAA Tournament that RIT had won two straight games against ranked opponents.
Along with the consecutive wins against ranked opponents, RIT shut out Ferris State. It’s the first shutout against a non-Atlantic Hockey opponent since the Tigers moved to Division I before the 2005-06 season.
“The whole weekend we played smart,” head coach Wayne Wilson said. “We seemed to be in control of our play. There was no panic even though you’re going to go through those times of the game when the other team brings it at you pretty hard. I thought we weathered those storms pretty well.
“It shows what we are capable of doing when we are playing well and doing the right things.”
Wilson credits the weekend sweep to things that the Tigers “tinkered” with over the break.
“Our power play, odd-man rushes, and just re-emphasizing competing, winning one-on-one battles, blocking shots, and some of the smaller things in the game that I thought we were getting away from,” Wilson said. “Those three areas are the big ones.”
That tinkering paid off, especially on the defensive end. The Tigers allowed just one goal in the two games.
“We played a little more conservatively, in particular with our 'D' but also our high forwards are doing a better job,” Wilson said. “We gave up shots but nothing really dangerous. We turned a good defense into a better offense.”
The Tigers were outshot in both games by a combined 56-47. But they surrendered just the one goal to Lake Superior, and that was after the Tigers had already scored three times.
As an added bonus for their defensive efforts, Josh Watson picked up his first career victory against Lake Superior on Friday. Watson had been playing well all season, especially when Shane Madolora was suspended earlier in the season, Wilson said. But the offense just wasn’t playing at the same level of the defense, Wilson added.
But the offense may finally be on the same level as the defense. While the Tigers didn’t put up any eyebrow raising numbers this weekend, they did capitalize when they needed to.
“We scored some very timely goals. When we needed one, we got one,” Wilson said. “Whether it be rebounds or things like that, I thought we scored some greasy goals. Sometimes we’re trying to be too perfect.
“The object is to get the puck in the net. It doesn’t really matter how it goes in there.”
The timely offensive attack was led by Michael Colavecchia, Adam Mitchell, and tournament MVP Chris Saracino. Colavecchia and Saracino had a goal and two assists each while Mitchell had a goal and an assist.
The Tigers are already looking forward to next weekend and building off the tournament win.
“We set a bar now. Now we’re expected to maintain that and try and push it a little higher,” Wilson said. “That’s what our goal is going to be this weekend.”
Despite these wins, RIT knows it will still need to win the Atlantic Hockey tournament, ultimately, to make the NCAAs. If its Frozen Four trip two years ago didn't prove, this past weekend again shows that the Tigers can be formidable once they get there.