While most RIT fans would have liked to see the Tigers jump right back into action after their stunning wins in Albany — the team’s 11th and 12th straight victories — the players would rather take the extra time off at the expense of possibly cooling off. It’s been a media frenzy for the school and the team, neither of which is used to this much attention from the sports world.
“We do have some momentum going our way right now, but at the same time I think it’s good to have time off,” said senior goaltender Jared DeMichiel. “It gives us time to heal physically, and also to maybe let our heads deflate a little bit. We need to get back at it and maybe focus a little more.”
Coach Wayne Wilson has said he is concerned about the distractions that come with big media exposure, something the other three Frozen Four programs take in stride as perennial contenders. Wilson turned for advice to Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore, who went through it last year with his Beavers.
Serratore sent Wilson back an e-mail that included the following warning: “By the time we got to D.C., the game might have been secondary from the experience we had from winning [the regionals].”
Wilson posted the message in the RIT dressing room.
“We can either listen to [Serratore] and benefit from someone who’s been through it or do our own path and maybe fall into the trap,” he said. “We know this is nice, but we’ve got to make sure we’re ready and not think we’re better than what we are, because we’re not. We’ll be as good as our effort and we can challenge, but if we start thinking we’re real good we’ll become a very average team quickly.”
That approach has led to the Tigers’ 12-game winning streak, including 6-0 in the postseason, where they have outscored the opposition 26-8. Over its last 11 games, RIT has allowed just 14 goals.
“Maybe because the expectations of winning it all aren’t there, but I haven’t felt and the players haven’t felt any pressure at all,” said Wilson. “I can honestly say that we are just enjoying this and we’re just looking forward to the next game. It’s been a really fun experience and a very unique experience because I don’t think a lot of teams would be reacting this way. It’s been a very mature and workmanlike approach.”