By Janet Schultz
“It’s an exciting year,” said RIT Women’s Ice Hockey Head Coach Chad Davis in his opening remarks to the Media this week.
Exciting to say the least. It’s Davis’ first season as the women’s coach and the 14th coach in the program’s history. Davis joined RIT on August 22 and in just 30 day he had the team on the ice and working hard.
Davis spent seven seasons at Adrian College in Michigan, turning that team into a perennial powerhouse at the DIII level. He led the Bulldogs to three consecutive berths in the NCAA DIII Championship, including national runner-up honors in 2016-17. Adrian has three straight Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Championships. In seven seasons at Adrian, Davis had a 150-37-10 overall record.
“I’m very optimistic,” said Kendall Cornine, alternate captain. “Especially coming off this weekend (vs Holy Cross). It was the hardest 120 minutes I’ve seen this team play in three years.
It was RIT’s first win since November 2017.
“He has the team back on track. He is pushing the pace and we will have a really successful season,” she continued. “Everyone is in good spirits and on track.
“The team comes to the rink with a really good, positive attitude,” said Davis. “They want to win and we saw that Friday and Saturday.
RIT beat Holy Cross 2-0 on Friday and tied 1-1 on Saturday. These are the types of games fans will probably see all season.
“If we can play 2-1 games all year, that is fine,” said Davis. “I want them to be comfortable with that and games that are tied in the third, one goal games, will push teams out of their comfort zone and that is exactly what our comfort zone will be.
Cornine hasn’t seen a championship in her three years at RIT and she wants to go out a winner, with that championship ring.
“We are one of the fastest teams on the ice, we have speed and we can move the puck,” she explains. “We are working very hard and using that speed to our advantage.”
After playing for one coach for years the team found Davis to be a big change. Cornine said the entire team came in with an open mind and a coachable attitude with an understanding they could adapt to any new systems and strategies a new coach would instill.
“I think the team has adapted really well and Coach Chad has made it an easy transition i just 30 days,” she continued.
Davis walked into RIT’s locker room for the first time and felt at home.
“It’s a new experienced but you have to remember to be yourself, you have to do things your way and remember that it is a new time for the team,” he explained. “So I went in there just like I always enter a locker room and focused on the puck drop.”
After a great start with exhibition tie, win and tie over Holy Cross Cornine said everyone has settled down and they are jelling as a team, both on and off the ice.
Scoring the first goal early against Holy Cross brought an excitement and a positive note right at the start.
“They saw their hard work pay off that night,” Davis said. “I’m used to winning so it was a normal feeling.”
“We will take away time, space and pressure with our speed and create turnovers and the key is to capitalize using our skill set to create those opportunities,” he continued.
Another asset for the Tigers is Goaltender Terre Lanteigne.
“Terre will emerge as a top Tier D1 goaltender in the country,” said Davis. “That is something we will base our success around and shut down defense.
“We also have a high compete level and they are pushing themselves and maximizing everything they have; those are our strengths.”
While Cornine says the practices have been short, he has pushed them hard putting them through lots of repetitions and working on special teams; Davis citing that when you get the opportunity on the power play, that’s where you will win.
Regarding off ice relationships. Davis feels that when happens there comes naturally with creating a new environment and atmosphere.
“There are challenges for everyone, everyone wants more ice time,” Davis explained.
His solution is that people need to own their roles and embrace them and whether its a powerplay or penalty kill, you play your role, own it and embrace it and that builds championship teams.
He also depends on the leadership in the locker room. They have a chance to be themselves and if he needs to adjust things or open a dialogue, he will do that.
“We have been transparent with them,” continued Davis. “They earn their opportunities. They know that my job is to do what is best for the team.”
RIT travels to St. Cloud for a doubleheader this weekend (October 6/7). They return home on October 12 and 13 against Union College.
(As someone who has watched RIT move from DIII to DI; been part of their championships and then to see the team fall off over the past few years, Friday’s game against Holy Cross was exciting; they were in tune with each other and used their skills while seeming to be enjoying the game. The win, and even a tie, on their opening weekend is just what the Tigers need to head out on this season with a winning attitude.)
For their full schedule go to https://www.ritathletics.com/schedule.aspx?path=whock
Tickets are $5 adult; $3 youth (6-12) with RIT students/faculty/staff/alumni free with valid ID. Tickets can be purchased at the Gene Polisseni Center Box Office or by going to www.rithockey.com