ROCHESTER, NY – The defending Atlantic Hockey Conference Champion RIT men’s hockey team unveiled its 2015-16 season schedule on Tuesday, June 23. The Tigers will play 34 regular season games and one exhibition contest in their 11th Division I season. RIT will play 15 regular season home games in its second season at the 4,300-seat Gene Polisseni Center on the campus of RIT, and one contest at Blue Cross Arena in downtown Rochester in addition to 18 away games.
On Saturday, Oct. 3, RIT opens its second season at the Polisseni Center by hosting Ontario Institute of Technology in an exhibition contest at 7:05 p.m. The following weekend, the Tigers begin regular season play on the road at longtime ECAC foes Clarkson and St. Lawrence on Oct. 9-10.
The Tigers will play Bowling Green State University at Blue Cross Arena during Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend on Saturday, Oct. 17 at 7:05 p.m. It is the ninth straight year RIT will play downtown during its annual homecoming weekend. RIT has drawn sellout crowds of 10,556 fans each of the last five Brick City Weekends. One of the most sought after tickets in Rochester, last year’s game against Boston College sold out four days in advance.
Both Wilson and associate head coach Brian Hills played collegiately at Bowling Green in the early 1980s.
“We are thrilled to have Bowling Green come to Rochester for Brick City weekend,” said Wilson, who recently signed a seven-year contract extension through the 2022 season. “It has proven to be an electric atmosphere downtown year in and year out and our guys really love playing in front of a loud, exciting crowd.”
From there, RIT plays a home-and-home series against a strong Colgate team from the ECAC. The Tigers travel to Colgate on Oct. 23, and host the Raiders in the regular season home opener at the Gene Polisseni Center the following night. The Tigers won their final five games at the Gene Polisseni Center in its inaugural season en route to a 10-5-3 home mark.
The Tigers wrap up non-conference play on Nov. 28 with a road contest at perennial power Boston College. The Eagles have won three NCAA Championships over the last eight seasons and are coached by Jerry York, college hockey’s all-time leader in wins with 984. Wilson and Hills played for York at Bowling Green and have plenty of respect for their former coach.
“We have a very tough non-league schedule, which is the way it should be, will get us going right away,” said Wilson, who enters his 17th season as head coach at RIT. “Going north to Clarkson and St. Lawrence will be a great challenge right away and Bowling Green is a very good team. Colgate has a real good senior class and should be a nationally-ranked team. Heading to Boston College will be a great challenge. We know they are arguably the best team in college hockey, so we will be tested immediately.”
RIT will open Atlantic Hockey Association play with back-to-back road trips against American International on Oct. 30-31 and Army on Nov. 6-7.
With 11 teams in the league this season, the Tigers will play four games against American International, Bentley, Mercyhurst, and Niagara, and two each versus Air Force, Army, Canisius, Robert Morris, and Sacred Heart. In all, 28 of RIT’s 34 games are against AHC rivals.
“Atlantic Hockey is so competitive, top to bottom and we will have the target on our back as defending champs,” said Wilson. “It is very important to put ourselves in position to host a quarterfinal series, advance to Blue Cross Arena, and win a league title. We want to be playing our best hockey come March.”
The Tigers host Bentley for two games on Nov. 13-14 and upon returning from Boston College, play their final 22 games against league foes. On Dec. 4-5, defending regular season league champion Robert Morris comes to the Polisseni Center for a pair of games. The following weekend, RIT closes out the 2015 calendar year with a home-and-home series against Niagara on Dec. 11-12.
On Dec. 13, RIT will hold its annual “Skate With the Tigers event” at 12 p.m. All proceeds raised from the skate will be donated to “Hockey Coaches Care.”
RIT begins 2016 with a home-and-home series against Mercyhurst on Jan. 2-3. The Tigers will play a special 4:05 p.m. home game against the Lakers on Jan. 2 before going to Erie the following evening. Canisius heads to the Polisseni Center for a pair of games on Jan. 8-9 before RIT heads out on the road over its intersession break, travelling to Bentley and Sacred Heart. With students back in session, RIT hosts Holy Cross on Jan. 29-30.
RIT makes its longest road trip of the season across two time zones to face rival Air Force on Feb. 5-6. The Tigers return home for a two-game home stand against American International on Feb. 12-13. From there, RIT ends the regular season with consecutive home and home series against Niagara on Feb. 19-20 and Mercyhurst on Feb. 26-27. RIT’s final regular season home game will be Feb. 26 against the Lakers.
The Atlantic Hockey Association playoffs begin with a best-of-three series for the sixth through eleventh place finishers from March 4-6. The top five teams get a first round bye. Quarterfinal action will be held at the top four sites from March 11-13. The Atlantic Hockey Association Tournament Semifinals and Championship will be held on March 18-19 at the Blue Cross Arena for the tenth straight season.
RIT will look to earn its second straight berth and third overall in the NCAA Tournament as a Division I program. The 2016 NCAA Division I Tournament begins on March 25, and ends with the Frozen Four on April 7 and April 9 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.
The Tigers are 177-120-42 since the start of the 2006-07 season. Last season, RIT won its second Atlantic Hockey Conference Championship, and made its second trip to the NCAA Division I Tournament, advancing to the Midwest Regional Final. RIT finished with a 20-15-5 record in 2014-15.
Season and single game ticket information will be released in the near future at www.ritathletics.com and www.rithockey.com. Season ticket package renewals begin July 6, while new season ticket sales start July 22. Single game tickets will go sale in early August. For more information, contact the Gene Polisseni Center box office at (585) 475-2516 or visit www.rithockey.com.