Courtesy of RITAthletics.com
ROCHESTER, NY – The RIT men’s hockey team was picked to finish seventh in the 2018-19 Atlantic Hockey Conference preseason poll, as voted on by the conference’s coaches, and announced at the conference’s annual media day held via teleconference on Tuesday, Sept. 25.
RIT received a total of 49 points in the poll. Two-time defending Atlantic Hockey Champions Air Force Academy, received seven first place votes and 97 total points. Canisius College is picked to finish second in the 2017-18 preseason poll, with four first place votes and 92 total points. Robert Morris is predicted to finish third with 66 points, while last year’s regular season champion Mercyhurst is slated to finish fourth, right behind with 65 points.
RIT returns 20 players from last season’s squad, including 11 forwards, six defensemen and all three goaltenders. In addition, six highly touted newcomers join the squad for the 2018-19 season, giving RIT excellent depth as they look to earn its third league title in the last five seasons and fourth overall.
American International is picked to finish fifth with 60 points, while Army West Point is predicted to place fifth with 55 points. After RIT, Holy Cross (40), Bentley (31), Sacred Heart (29) and Niagara University (21) round out the bottom four. The College of the Holy Cross is picked to finish sixth with 58 points, while Mercyhurst University is seventh with 48 points.
Just 14 points separated all 11 teams in the Atlantic Hockey regular season standings last season.
“There’s always great energy for the start of a new season,” said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson, who enters his 20th season at the university. “Our league is so competitive, there’s such a fine line between the top and bottom teams.”
The Tigers will play four games against American International, Niagara, Robert Morris and Sacred Heart and two each versus Air Force, Army West Point, Bentley, Canisius, Mercyhurst and Holy Cross. In all, 28 of RIT’s 34 games are against AHC rivals.
The 2018 Atlantic Hockey Tournament will begin March 8. The top five teams receive a bye into the quarterfinal round with seeds 6-8 hosting seeds 9-11 in a best two-out-of-three weekend series. The first-round winners will then be re-seeded and travel to the top-three seeds, as the fifth seed will travel to the fourth seed for a best-two-out-of-three quarterfinal series, which will begin on Friday, March 15. The four winners will then travel to HARBORCENTER in Buffalo, N.Y. with the highest remaining seed facing the lowest remaining seed in the first semifinal, with the other two remaining seeds facing off in the second semifinal on Friday, March 22. The two semifinal winners will then face-off in the Championship game on Saturday, March 23 with the NCAA automatic berth on the line.
RIT opens the 2018-19 season with an exhibition contest against Wilfrid Laurier University on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7:05 p.m. RIT heads on the road to take on UMass Lowell for a pair of games on Oct. 12-13 before returning home to Colgate University at Blue Cross Arena as part of Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Last year, RIT was picked to finish second and was sixth in the regular season before bowing out in the first round. RIT won the regular season title the first three seasons they were not picked to finish first (2006-07, 2008-09 and 2009-10). RIT won a regular season (2006-07) and postseason championship (2014-15) in each of the previous two seasons RIT was picked to finish seventh or lower.
RIT has won four Atlantic Hockey regular season titles and made three straight trips to the AHC Championship game from 2010-12. In 2010, RIT won its first AHA postseason title, parlaying that success into an historic run to the NCAA Tournament, where they advanced to the Frozen Four. The Tigers also won league titles in 2015 and 2016.
2017-18 Atlantic Hockey Association Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Air Force (7 first place votes) – 97 points
2. Canisius (4) – 92 points
3. Robert Morris – 66 points
4. Mercyhurst – 65 points
5. American International – 60 points
6. Army West Point – 55 points
7. RIT – 49 points
8. Holy Cross – 40 points
9. Bentley – 31 points
10. Sacred Heart – 29 points
11. Niagara – 21 points
(First Place votes)