ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The RIT Tigers scored three times in a 10-minute span during the second period and gave an inspired defensive effort en route to clinching the Atlantic Hockey crown Saturday night at Ritter Arena by a score of 3-0. In the last four seasons, the Tigers have been crowned the AHA Champions three times, while splitting the 2009 Championship with Air Force.
“When you beat Air Force, it’s a pretty rewarding feeling,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “They came out fast in the first 10 minutes tonight, but we were able to take advantage of opportunities. I really felt like the difference in tonight’s game was the way our defense played. They have continued to perform well on both ends of the ice.
After an overtime defeat last night, Air Force came out in the first period determined to get off to a fast start.
“I liked how we came out tonight; we played hard and had a lot of juice in the beginning of the first period, but we unfortunately had some bad breaks throughout the game.” said Air Force coach Frank Serratore.
After a scoreless first period, the Tigers struck just 3:11 into the second period on a Chris Haltigin goal.
Sophomore Scott Knowles sent a cross-ice pass to Haltigin, who was sitting at the top of the Falcons’ zone. He fired the puck over the right shoulder of Air Force goaltender Andrew Volkening to put the Tigers on the board 1-0.
“They utilized a five-man offense the way big time teams usually do,” said Serratore. “They are playing the way they want to be playing right now.”
RIT made the score 2-0 just seven minutes later when defensemen Chris Tanev took a centering pass from Andrew Favot and fired the puck past Volkening on the far side of the net off a Falcons’ giveaway.
The only power play goal of the night came at 12:50 in the second period, as Dan Ringwald netted his 10th goal of the season, making the score 3-0. He batted down a pass from Favot, and once again beat Volkening high.
“The third goal really hurt us,” said Serratore. “When you’re within two, you have the opportunity to score a quick one and change momentum, but when you’re down three, it’s tough to swing that momentum your way.”
Air Force had some of its best chances on four power-plays during the third period, but DeMichael was excellent, saving all 11 shots that he faced over the final 20 minutes.
“We played very poised in the third period, allowing us to finish the game strong,” said Wilson.
The series between the two teams is now 12-12-2.
DeMichael now has five shutouts and is fourth nationally with a 2.11 goals against average. RIT is third in the nation defensively after tonight’s performance.