The similarities between the RIT men’s and women’s ice hockey teams don’t end with the nickname or the arena.
As the two teams gear up for a new season each roster is filled with veterans. With the women’s team moving up to Division I from Division III, both teams will face off against the toughest competition in the country.
Each Tiger team has high expectations, too.
The RIT men’s and women’s teams celebrated the start of the 2012-’13 season with media day last Thursday. The Tigers men’s team is eager to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010, while the RIT women are eager to play in Division I for the first time.
“We are excited like all the other teams around the country,” said Wayne Wilson, Tigers men’s team head coach.
“We are excited about our team, we have a good mix of experience and youth. Right now we don’t have any glaring weaknesses, we have guys back and they’re healthy. We just have to play games to see where we have to go from here.”
The men’s team returns 16 players from last season’s team that finished with 20 wins and advanced to the AHA Championship game for the third straight season. RIT opens the season Oct. 11 at Michigan, the first of two straight games against the Wolverines.
Chris Saracino and Greg Noyes will anchor a defense that will try to replace all AHA first-team goalie Shane Madolora. Junior Mike Colavecchia led the team in scoring last season with 32 points.
“We have guys that are younger who can lead so we don’t need to rely on all the seniors to do everything,” Saracino said. “We are going to get stronger as the season progresses.”
The Tigers face another tough schedule of AHA games, which kicks off Oct. 25 when they host Robert Morris. RIT will host division I newcomer Penn State for this year’s Brick City Homecoming game Oct. 20 at Blue Cross Arena.
“When you are looking at a league that plays 27 games you are going to have some tightness, and I don’t see one team pulling away from the pack,” Wilson said. “You have to be healthy, play the tougher teams at home, and be good when you have to be.”
The women’s team will compete in College Hockey America which includes Syracuse and Mercyhurst. The Tigers open the season hosting two games against Mercyhurst, beginning on Sept. 28.
RIT enters the season with plenty of leadership as they return 19 players, including their top 13 scorers.
Webster native Kristina Moss will lead a defense that returns several players from a unit that allowed just 30 goals in 30 games last season. Junior Kourtney Kuncihika will look to lead the team in scoring for the third straight season.
Page 2 of 2 - Last year’s captains Kim Schlattman, Ariane Yokoyama and Tenecia Hiller also return.
“I am so excited,” Moss said. “I can’t wait to see different teams, see all the different skill level. We are going to do really well. We have a lot of returning players and our freshman class looks very good.”
Moss and the rest of her teammates are eager to participate in their first Brick City Homecoming game at the BCA, as the Tigers will take on Yale at 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 20. RIT’s schedule also features a pair of tough road trips to North Dakota and Ohio State.
“Having six seniors on the team who are playoff tested, big game tested a young, only five freshman on the team, 18 players form last year, team chemistry should be at a all-time high,” said Scott McDonald, Tigers head coach. “You can rely on the seniors to handle the scoring and leadership.”