After sweeping Canisius, RIT knows ‘they’re all big games from here on out’

Shawn Cameron (15 - RIT) celebrates a third period goal (2020 Omar Phillips)
Shawn Cameron and RIT swept Canisius in an Atlantic Hockey series this past weekend (photo: Omar Phillips).

On a night when Rochester Institute of Technology honored its 2010 Frozen Four team, the current edition of the Tigers generated some magic of their own.

On Saturday, RIT trailed Canisius 4-1 with under nine minutes to play, but scored four times in a 3:32 span to complete the comeback and earn a weekend sweep of the Golden Griffins.

It was a rare weekend that saw all five conference series end in sweeps: RIT over Canisius, American International over Robert Morris, Bentley over Mercyhurst, and Holy Cross over Air Force.

Things were looking good for a Canisius win at RIT late in the game on Saturday, but the Tigers gained the momentum and got the crowd of 3,463 back into the game with three strikes in a 94 second span to tie the contest.

“We though that if we could get a goal and get the crowd into and get some momentum,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “The crowd got involved and then everyone believed.”

With momentum squarely in the Tigers corner, sophomore Kobe Walker finished things off on a partial breakaway with 4:50 left.

“We talked about what a great character win this would be in between periods (two and three),” said Wilson. “It started with the first goal and then kind of snowballed. When you talk about momentum, that was it right there.”

It was all the more special to get the win in front of the 2010 Frozen Four team, who joined the current players in their traditional post-game salute to the “Corner Crew”. Twenty-one of 25 players made it back to campus for the celebration.

For many, it was their first look at the Polisseni Center, which was built in response to the growing interest in the program following that Frozen Four run.

Having the alumni at the game also provided extra motivation, according to Wilson.

“You’re proud and you want to represent RIT,” he said. “It’s your peers, even though it’s 10 years later. You don’t want to disappoint players (that came) before you, You want to do well for your teammates, including those from the past.”

RIT, currently tied for fourth in the AHA standings, starts a string of four straight road games this weekend at Holy Cross.

“They’re all big games from here on out,” said Wilson. “This (win) is a great start to get it going. But there’s plenty of things we can work on. We had lapses in our game that we have to address.”

Nutmeg champs

It was a very, very good week for Sacred Heart, possibly the best in program history.

For starters, the Pioneers won the inaugural Connecticut Ice tournament, featuring the four Division I programs in the Nutmeg State: UConn, Yale, Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart.

Sacred Heart did it in convincing fashion, dominating Yale 6-2 in the semifinals and then after spotting No. 17 Quinnipiac a 1-0 lead, scored the final four goals of the game to win the title.

Senior Jason Cotton had a pair of goals to put him into a tie for second nationally with 17. Classmate Mike Lee posted two assists, bringing his scoring total up to 28 points, tied for first nationally among defensemen.

Josh Benson stopped 43 of 45 shots in the tournament, picking up his 15th and 16th victories of the season.

“This win and championship will be at the top of the greatest accomplishments of my career,” SHU coach CJ Marottolo said after the game.

And the good news wasn’t over.

Last Saturday, the school announced plans to build a $60 million, 4,000 seat on-campus arena for its men’s and women’s hockey teams, set to open in 2022.

The Pioneers, ranked 20th in the poll, travel to Air Force this weekend.

What might have been

Atlantic Hockey has adopted tiebreakers this season, using a three-on-three for five minutes and a potential sudden death shootout if nothing is settled after the traditional five minute overtime.

The game goes into the books as a tie if still deadlocked after the five minute five-on-five overtime, and the three-on-three and possible shootout is used to award an extra point to the winner of the tiebreaker.

That means all games are worth three points now instead of two, and all three points are awarded to a team that wins in regulation, or in the five-on-five overtime.

Otherwise, the winner of the tiebreaker gets two points and the loser one point.

So far, the new system has been used 14 times this season. How much of an effect has it had on the standings?

Here’s how the standings look now versus how they would have looked under the old two point system:

SchoolNew system (points)Old system (points)
American InternationalT-1st (40)T-1st (27)
Sacred HeartT-1st (40)T-1st (27)
Army West Point 3 (37)3 (24)
RITT-4th (31)T-4th (21)
Robert MorrisT-4th (31)T-4th (21)
Air ForceT-4th (31)6 (20)
BentleyT-7th (26)7 (18)
Holy CrossT-7th (26)8 (17)
Niagara9 (24)9 (16)
Canisius10 (22)10 (14)
Mercyhurst11 (10)11 (7)

As you can see, there’s not much change. Air Force has benefitted the most, thanks to winning three tiebreakers so far. The Falcons are currently in a three-way tie with RIT and Robert Morris for fourth place. Under the old system, they’d be in sixth.

If you sort the teams by winning percentage instead of points, there’s actually no change whatsoever in position between the new and old systems.

In the minority

Like American International coach Eric Lang, I’m still not a fan of the shootout. Lang explains his reasoning on the latest edition of USCHO spotlight, and I’m in complete agreement.

But it looks like the shootout is here to stay, and even though so far it hasn’t had a profound affect on the standings, there’s a chance that the shootout will determine home ice or a bye for some lucky (or unlucky) team.

Fortunately, the Atlantic Hockey tournament won’t be using this format, settling things the way they should be settled.

Looking Ahead

Sacred Heart at Air Force – Fresh off their Connecticut Ice championship, the Pioneers, tied for first place, will visit the Falcons who are trying to stay in a position for a first-round bye. The teams split a weekend series in Bridgeport back in November.

Canisius at Army West Point – Both teams are looking to bounce back from being swept last weekend. A key matchup will be on special teams. The Golden Griffins’ power play is really clicking at 21.3 percent, while the Black Knights penalty kill is second in the conference (85.9%).