RIT to host men’s and women’s outdoor doubleheader Dec. 14, 2013

Rochester Institute of Technology’s men’s and women’s hockey teams will host an outdoor doubleheader at Frontier Field, Rochester’s minor-league baseball stadium, on Dec. 14, 2013.

The men will face Atlantic Hockey rival Niagara in a late-afternoon game, while the women will open the day in a non-league tilt against Clarkson.

Game times will be decided at a later date.

The two contests are part of a 10-day outdoor hockey event in Rochester, which will include a home game for the Buffalo Sabres’ AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, on Dec. 13, as well as high school and youth hockey events and a Sabres-Amerks alumni game.

“I’m excited,” said RIT men’s coach Wayne Wilson. “I’m sure [our players] have all played outdoors, but I don’t know if they’ve played a meaningful game outdoors, especially in front of how many fans we’re expecting to have there.”

Frontier Field seats 10,840 for baseball. RIT has sold out three consecutive homecoming games at Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena, which has a capacity of 10,556.

“I’ve seen a few outdoor games played in the past and they’re always a good time and get good crowds,” said RIT center Ben Lynch, who will be a senior next season. “Who better to play than Niagara?”

While there have been 16 men’s outdoor games dating back to Michigan at Michigan State in 2001, just four women’s outdoor games have been played during that stretch.

RIT women’s coach Scott McDonald, whose team just finished its inaugural Division I season, was also enthused about the opportunity.

“You grow up playing outside, playing pond hockey,” McDonald said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more, to be a part of this, for our team.”

Sabres’ president Ted Black, who spoke during the press conference today, said that he approached AAA Rochester Red Wings general manager Dan Mason in May to pitch him on the idea of a December 2012 game. Mason suggested waiting until 2013 to allow more community involvement and to allow RIT to participate.

The Sabres will foot the bill for the temporary ice surface, which will extend from first to third base. Rink Specialists, the company that provided the ice for Frozen Fenway in 2012 and the 2011 NHL Winter Classic in Pittsburgh, will provide the rink.