April 7, 2010 PRINT Bookmark and Share

RIT Arrives Mixing Fun, Business

by Joe Meloni/CHN Reporter

DETROIT — It's not that they're just happy to be here or that they don't care if they win Thursday evening — RIT just isn't worried. They know they're playing Wisconsin, and they're not supposed to beat the mighty Badgers.

But things like expectations and underdogs mean about as much to the Tigers as the No. 4 seed they carried into the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., two weeks ago. Frankly, they're getting a little tired of hearing about all the games they aren't supposed to win.

Even as the wins piled up, and they found themselves closer and closer to tomorrow's action, nothing changed for the Tigers. They went to the rink and they played hockey. And when they left, they joked with each other and the media every chance they got.

The Frozen Four is serious stuff for a program like RIT, four years removed from Division III. They're taking it seriously, too, just not so serious that they forget why they love to play hockey.

"All four years here, all of our teams have been very loose and relaxed," DeMichiel said."I think it starts with our coaches. Coach [Wayne] Wilson is very easy-going. He knows that hockey is a game, and it's supposed to be fun. We are having fun, but we are focused and we know what we're here to do. We know that if we're having fun, and we're excited to go out there and keep in mind that it's a game then we'll play to the best of our abilities."

There are coaches throughout the country that may not like managing such a loose team. Wilson views his players' demeanor as a sign of their confidence, though. Winning isn't something they need to worry about, it will happen for them if they let it. There are enough things to worry about for them this week without thinking about losing.

Sophomore forward Cameron Burt is from Detroit, and has spent the last two weeks trying to find tickets for every family member and coach he's had in the area. Pair that with preparing for a national semifinal game, and there isn't much time to spend thinking about losing. Maintaining a loose mindset is part of the Tigers routine, and it's worked pretty well for them so far.

Part of the danger teams of all skill levels encounter this late into a season is pressure, the kind they place on themselves as a result of worrying too much. Wilson allows that mindset to remain in his locker room because he knows his players aren't going to to worry themselves into a bad turnover and lost faceoff.

"You have to play with your personality. We have a pretty loose team that likes to have fun, so that's the way we approach the game," senior defenseman Dan Ringwald said. "There are some guys that are more serious than others. Don't get me wrong, we still have some internal pressure on ourselves, but we're very loose before a game. We just try to limit all the outside distractions and pressure from the family and friends because those things can't really help your game. We focus on what we can control, and we're usually playing our best when we're having fun."

Tomorrow night, the Tigers take on Wisconsin. They'll enter the game as loose as they have been all season even as the reward continues to grow. They'll be having fun too, but a few goals and a few more key saves will make Saturday night even better.

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