ROCHESTER, NY – The third-seeded RIT men’s hockey team will host No. 7 seed Air Force in the best-of-three Atlantic Hockey Conference Quarterfinal series this weekend from the Gene Polisseni Center from March 13-15. Game one is Friday, game two is Saturday, and if necessary, game three is Sunday. All three contests will start at 7:05 p.m.
Tickets for the weekend contests are available at the Gene Polisseni Center and Gordon Field House Box Offices, by calling (585) 475-4121, or by visiting www.rithockey.com. On Friday, the first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive a free Ritchie bobblehead, courtesy of Coke. On Saturday, the first 2,000 fans will receive a free commemorative cup, courtesy of RIT Dining Services. Soft drink refills during the game with that souvenir cup will $2 each.
The winner of this series will advance to the AHC Championship weekend, which will be at Blue Cross Arena in downtown Rochester on March 20-21. The semifinals will be played on March 20 and championship on March 21.
RIT received a first round bye and enters the quarterfinals with a three-game winning streak and is 10-4-2 over the last 16 games. The Tigers are over .500 at 15-14-5 for the first time since the season-opening win over St. Lawrence on Oct. 10.
Two weekends ago, RIT recorded a sweep over Mercyhurst to end the regular season, winning by scores of 8-0 and 2-1. Brad McGowan (Langley, British Columbia/Surrey Eagles) was named AHC Player of the Month for the month of February on March 4. In goal, Jordan Ruby (Tavistock, Ontario/Wellington Dukes) and Mike Rotolo (Rochester, NY/Cedar Rapids Roughriders) have split time evenly this season. Rotolo is 8-1-1 over his last 10 games and has a 2.51 goals against average and .908 save percentage this season. Ruby is among the AHC leaders with a 2.26 goals against average and .917 save percentage.
Senior forward Matt Garbowsky (St. George, Ontario/Powell River Kings) leads Division I with 594 face-off wins, is tied for second with 24 goals, and seventh with 46 points. Garbowsky has had a hand on 44.6 percent (46-of-103) of RIT’s goals this season, among the highest in the nation. The Tigers have the second highest scoring threesome in the country this season in Garbowsky (46), Josh Mitchell (Osoyoos, British Columbia/Alberni Valley Bulldogs) (42), and McGowan (36), who have combined for 124 points (Boston University has highest with 145). That trio has combined for 50.5 percent of all RIT goals this season (52-of-103).
RIT is fourth nationally in penalty-killing percentage at 89.0 percent. The Tigers are also fourth nationally, averaging 34.6 shots on goal per game.
Air Force (16-19-4) enters the quarterfinal series riding a three-game winning streak. Last weekend, the Falcons dispatched No. 10 seed American International in two games by scores of 6-1 and 10-3. Cole Gunner scored four goals and added an assist in Saturday’s series clinching win. Its opponents are outscoring Air Force, 121-115 this season. Gunner leads the Falcons in scoring with 45 points on 20 goals and 25 assists, while Chad Demers and Scott Holm have 36 and 34 points, respectively. In goal, Chris Truehl has appeared in 34 games, recording a 13-16-4 record with a 2.92 goals against average and .893 save percentage.
RIT is in the AHC Quarterfinals for the seventh time in eight seasons. The Tigers are 10-4 all-time in the quarterfinal round, winning five of the six series. The first five quarterfinals series RIT played in were at Ritter Arena.
RIT went 1-1 against Air Force on the road this season, defeating the Falcons, 5-1 on Oct. 24, while the Falcons exacted revenge with a 4-3 overtime win the next night.
Air Force leads the all-time series between the two schools, 22-17-3. The teams met in the 2011 and 2012 AHA Championship games and combined to win six of the last eight league titles. Since the start of the 2005-06 season, RIT is 14-20-3 against Air Force. The Falcons are 3-0 all-time against RIT in the postseason. All three previous meetings were in Rochester, but were played at Blue Cross Arena downtown.
All three games will be aired live on Time Warner Cable Sports. Friday’s game will be aired on Channel 98 in the Rochester area, while Saturday and if necessary, Sunday’s contests will be on Channel 26. As always, Gene Battaglia and John DiTullio are on the call from the Gene Polisseni Center. The contests will be broadcast over the airwaves on WITR 89.7 FM and witr.rit.edu, and on America One. Live stats are also available for all three contests.
Top-seed Robert Morris hosts No. 11 seed Niagara, No. 2 seed Canisius takes on eight-seed Sacred Heart, while No. 4 seed Bentley hosts fifth-seed Mercyhurst in the other three quarterfinal series this weekend.
Come out and support your Tigers in their first season at the Gene Polisseni Center.