Featured Men's Hockey hosts Princeton, Friday and Saturday

Published on November 24th, 2022 📆 | 3830 Views ⚑


Men’s Hockey hosts Princeton, Friday and Saturday


ROCHESTER, N.Y. - RIT squares off with visiting Princeton for a Friday-Saturday doubleheader. Undefeated in their last seven games, the Tigers are back in action following Saturday's 4-1 exhibition setback to the USA U-18  team at the GPC which followed up a sweep of visiting Sacred Heart by identical 3-1 margins (Nov. 11-12). Face-offs are set for 7:05 p.m. and 5:05 p.m., respectively. 

20-20 VISION
RIT was ranked No. 20 in the latest USCHO Division I Men's Hockey Poll, released Monday. The Tigers landed 71 votes in this week's poll to move into the top-20 for the first time since being ranked No. 20 in the final 2016 poll after winning their second-straight Atlantic Hockey Championship. The Tigers highest national ranking in the Division I era was No. 9 in the final 2010 poll following the first Atlantic Hockey Championship in program history and a run to the Frozen Four.

Off to its best Division I-era start (10-2-0), RIT rides its longest win streak since winning eight straight at the end of the 2014-15 season, including a 4-0 record en route to the Atlantic Hockey Tournament Championship as well as a 2-1 upset of top-seeded Minnesota State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers also won eight-straight games early in the 2009-10 season during a campaign that culminated with a D1-era record 12-game winning streak, including the program's first Atlantic Hockey Championship and back-to-back NCAA Tournament victories on the way to the Frozen Four. 

RIT swept visiting Sacred Heart last week in a matchup of the top-two teams in the Atlantic Hockey standings. Sophomore goaltender Tommy Scarfone made a season-high 37 saves - including a single-period career-high 21 in the third - to preserve Friday's 3-1 victory. Sophomore forward Tanner Andrew scored 1:32 into the first period before junior forward Cody Laskosky notched the lone goal of the second period. The Pioneers got on the board with 5:17 left in regulation, but couldn't solve Scarfone as sophomore forward Carter Wilkie closed the night with a three-quarter ice empty-net goal with 0.3 on the clock.  

Tiger senior defenseman Gianfranco Cassaro scored a pair of nearly identical second-period power-play goals off assists from junior defenseman Aiden Hansen-Bukata and Wilkie, before Wilkie tacked on another long-distance empty-netter with 31.1 seconds remaining to ice the sweep.

For their efforts, Wilkie was named the Atlantic Hockey Player of the Week, Gianfranco landed his second Defensive Player of the Week recognition of the season, and Scarfone was named the Goalie of the Week for the second time the last three weeks. 

RIT entered the week ranked sixth nationally and first in Atlantic Hockey with 3.75 goals per game. The Tigers were also tied for 13th in the country with 45 goals scored through its first 12 games.

RIT entered the week ranked third nationally with a .317 (13-for-41) power play percentage and fourth with a .882 (51-57) penalty kill percentage. Both marks led Atlantic Hockey as well. 

RIT entered the week seventh nationally and first in Atlantic Hockey in scoring margin, out-scoring its opponents by 1.42 goals per game.

RIT sophomore goaltender Tommy Scarfone only allowed two goals on 58 total shots during the Sacred Heart sweep. His season-high 37-save Friday showing was his fifth 30-plus performance of the year and bested the 36-stop effort he logged in the 4-2 win at Air Force (Oct. 21). One of three goalies tied for the national lead with nine victories entering the week, he also ranked third with a .900 winning percentage (9-1-0) and 16th with a .924 save percentage. Scarfone was also first in Atlantic Hockey with 291 saves and second with 599:03 minutes played. 

RIT senior defenseman Gianfranco Cassaro and junior defenseman Aiden Hansen-Bukata are the highest scoring defensive pairing in the nation this season with 28 combined points in 12 games. Cassaro entered the week leading all defensemen with seven goals while Hansen-Bukata was tied for second among all blueliners with 12 assists. Cassaro (7G, 7A) and Hansen-Bukata (2G, 12A) were also tied for 33rd overall in scoring among all skaters with 14 points apiece. 

Senior defenseman Gianfranco Cassaro entered the week tied for eighth nationally with four power play goals while grad student forward Kobe Walker and sophomore forward Carter Wilkie are tied for 23rd with three apiece. Walker has already equaled the three extra-man tallies he had all of last year and has netted eight power play goals during his career, while Wilkie eclipsed the two he had during his rookie season.

Sophomore forward Carter Wilkie entered the week 23rd nationally with 132 face-off wins. He won a season-high 16-of-25 in the 3-2 win over Army (Oct. 7) before winning 16-of 28 in the 3-2 setback at Air Force (Oct. 20). 

Head Coach Wayne Wilson moved into 43rd in NCAA Men's Hockey history with his 419th career victory last weekend. Wilson currently ranks ninth among active Division I coaches with a 419-292-77 record the last 24 seasons - all on the Tiger bench. The only coach in NCAA history to win the Spencer Penrose (D1 National COY, 2001) and the Sid Watson (D3 National COY, 2010), he totaled a 116-31-12 mark in six Division III campaigns (1999-2005) and owns a 303-261-65 record during 18 Division-I seasons. Last season, he became the 49th NCAA men's hockey coach to hit the 400-win plateau with the 1-0 OT win at Princeton (Nov. 27). 

Through 10 games, 17 RIT players have scored at least one point, including 13 with at least three points. Additionally, 15 of those 17 players have been credited with at least one blocked shot. 

Junior forward Cody Laskosky had a team-best nine-game point scoring streak broken in the 3-2 win at AIC (Nov. 6). He started the season with at least one point in every game, before going scoreless on the back end of RIT's series with the Yellow Jackets. 

First-year forward Simon Isabelle has been named the Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week on two occasions this season. He landed the award on Nov. 7 after notching the primary assist on the game-winning goal, blocking two shots and winning 7-of-12 face-offs in the Tigers' 4-3 comeback victory at AIC (Nov. 5).  He also won the award after logging three assists during the Tigers' two-game sweep of visiting Holy Cross (Oct. 29-30).

First-year forward Tyler Mahan was named the Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week (Oct. 17) after scoring three goals in the 8-5 win over Union (Oct. 15). It was the first RIT hat-trick since Will Calverley scored three goals in a 6-4 victory over visiting Mercyhurst on Jan. 28, 202. as well as the first three-goal performance by an RIT first-year player since Andrew Rinaldi netted three in a 7-4 win over visiting Holy Cross on Nov. 1, 2019.

RIT swept two games at Princeton last November, winning 1-0 in overtime (Nov. 27) and 5-4 (Nov. 28) in the first ever meetings between the teams. Tommy Scarfone made 21 saves to preserve his first career victory in the opener, before Carter Wilkie (2 assists), Kobe Walker (1 goal) and Kolby Matthews (28 saves) figured on the second night. Current RIT grad student defenseman Matt Kellenberger also scored two goals for Princeton.

Princeton dropped both ends of a home-and-home series with No. 5 Quinnipiac last week, falling 4-1 at home last Friday as well as 4-1 on the road last Saturday. The Tigers won back-to-back road shutouts the previous weekend, earning a 3-0 win at Yale (Nov. 11) and a 1-0 decision at Brown (Nov. 12). Three Princeton players have four points - first-year forward Brendan Gorman is tied for the team lead with three goals to go along with an assist, while senior defenseman Pito Walton (1G, 3A) and junior forward Adam Robbins (4A) also lead the Tiger attack. Sophomore goaltender Ethan Pearson owns a 1.82 GAA and a .930 save percentage in nearly 296:12 played. 

RIT'S 8-5 win over Union (Oct. 15) was its highest scoring output since earning an 8-5 victory over No. 9 Clarkson at the Gene Polisseni Center on Nov. 27, 2020.

RIT earned its first Division I-era win over Union after going 0-7-1 in their first eight meetings, including a 4-3 road setback on Oct. 1 to open this season. 

Tiger sophomore Evan Miller was named the Atlantic Hockey Player of the Week on Oct. 3 after notching his first collegiate goal and multi-point game in the Union opener. Miller missed all but two games last season due to injury, notching an assist in his collegiate debut during RIT's season-opening 5-2 loss at Colgate (Oct. 2) and also played in the Tigers' 3-2 upset at Notre Dame (Oct. 21). 

Before the opening loss to Union, RIT hadn't lost a game when leading after two periods since falling to Holy Cross on Jan. 31, 2020, letting a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes slip away in a 4-3 setback. The Tigers also hadn't lost a game when leading by two or more goals since giving up a 2-0 lead to Long Island University in a 4-3 loss on Dec. 11, 2020. RIT finished 10-0-1 last season when holding a lead after two periods and was also 12-1-1 when scoring first.

RIT is playing the 60th men's hockey season in program history. Starting as an unofficial club in 1960, the team was given a budget of $1,113.20 for the 1961-62 season and named James E. Musker the first head coach. RIT played a 14-game season (all on home ice at the former Rochester War Memorial) with a team originally comprised of over 45 members and, with the new NCAA rules, was required to purchase helmets for the team at a cost of $62.50. After one more season as a club, men's hockey became an intercollegiate sport at RIT in 1964. 

Atlantic Hockey is also celebrating its 20th season in 2022-23. Entering its 17th season in the league, RIT is in the hunt for its fourth conference title and first since winning back-to-back crowns in 2015 and 2016. The Tigers won their first AHA Championship in 2010, before becoming the league's first (and still only) member to advance to the NCAA Frozen Four. RIT finished atop the 2006-07 regular season standings during its first season in the AHA, but was not eligible for postseason play. 

Sophomore forward Carter Wilkie was named the Atlantic Hockey Co-Preseason Player of the Year and a member of the Preseason All-Atlantic Hockey Team. Wilkie returned after leading the Tigers with 30 points and 17 assists, while finishing second with 13 goals during his first season in Orange and Black. He also tied for second in the nation with six game-winning goals, and became just the fifth Division I player in over 10 years to notch three overtime game-winning tallies. The 2022 Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Year and an AHA All-Rookie Team honoree, Wilkie landed seven conference Rookie of the Week honors a season ago, and was also named the league's Rookie of the Month on three occasions.

Sophomore goaltender Tommy Scarfone joined Wilkie on the AHA All-Rookie Team last winter. He finished fourth in the conference with a 2.46 goals against average as well as a .919 save percentage en route to an 8-9-1 record. Starting the final 11 games of the season, he tied a career high with 39 saves in the Tigers' 1-0 shutout of Sacred Heart in the opening game of the AHA Quarterfinals for his eighth 30-plus save outing of the season. He also logged 33 saves on three other occasions during the run, including the 4-4 tie with AIC (Feb. 5) as well as in the 4-2 win at Niagara (Feb. 18) en route to Atlantic Hockey Goaltender of the Week honors. Scarfone closed the regular season with 33 saves in the Tigers' 1-0 OT setback at Air force (Feb. 26). 

A proposal was passed last January at the NCAA Convention during the Division III Business meeting which will allow RIT to offer scholarships to its Division I men's and women's hockey student-athletes. Multi-divisional intercollegiate athletic programs like RIT, which sponsors 22 Division III teams along with two Division I hockey teams, were previously not allowed to apply all Division I legislation to its Division I teams, including the inability to award athletic grant-in-aid to its players based on a 2004 bylaw. However, with the vote overwhelmingly passing by a 388-18-39 margin, the Tigers will be on the same footing as the rest of its peers across the country with a full 18 scholarships available to each hockey team.

RIT graduated three of last season's top-five scorers, including Will Calverley, Dan Willett and Jake Hamacher. A Hobey Baker nominee and 2021 second-team All-American, Calverley led the Tigers with 15 goals and was second with 27 points en route to his second-straight First-Team All-Atlantic Hockey award. Hamacher was third with 21 points (9 goals, 12 assists) and tied for 10th in D1-era history with 106 points (43 goals, 63 assists). Willett finished second with 13 assists and fifth with 18 points while ranking fourth nationally with 91 blocked shots. Willett and Hamacher also finished first and second in program history with 166 and 165 games played, respectively. 

Fifth-year Kobe Walker returns after finishing second for the 2021-22 Tigers with 11 goals, including three power-play tallies, two game-winners and two short-handed scores. In 29 appearances, the top-line right winger's 19 points ranked fourth on the squad, while his eight assists tied for the sixth-highest total on the team. A three-time Atlantic Hockey All-Academic Team member, Walker entered the season with 111 appearances in an RIT sweater along with 56 career points on 28 goals and 28 assists.

Fifth-year Spencer Berry is back for his final season after finishing 2021-22 as one of three Tiger defenseman who appeared in all 38 games during the season, finishing second on the team with 52 blocked shots to go along with three assists. A four-time Atlantic Hockey All-Academic Team honoree, he returned this season with 88 games played and 10 career points (all assists).

Fifth-year Andrew Petrucci played 35 games last season, notching a goal and an assist. The hard-nosed fourth-line centerman entered the season with 104 games during his RIT career, compiling 15 points on eight goals and seven assists. He is also a four-time Atlantic Hockey All-Academic Team honoree.

Senior Elijah Gonsalves returned with 70 career games and 52 points on 20 goals and 32 assists. The 2019-20 Atlantic Hockey All-Rookie Team honoree scored better than 20 points his first two seasons and looks to bounce back after having his season cut short due to injury after 15 appearances last year. Gonsalves is a two-time Atlantic All-Academic Team honoree and was an AHCA All-American Scholar in 2020-21.

Senior Caleb Moretz entered the season with 40 points in 89 career appearances the last three seasons, including a goal and five assists playing all 38 games last winter. He was third on the team with 244 face-off wins and second with a 52.7 face-off win percentage. A three-time AHCA All-American Scholar and Atlantic Hockey All-Academic Team member, Moretz also finished second among forwards on the team with 24 blocked shots.

Atlantic Hockey adopted a new format for its 2022-23 postseason tournament -- only the top-eight of the league's 10 teams in the final regular-season standings will qualify for the playoffs and all three rounds will be hosted on campus sites. The top-seed will host the eighth seed, the second-seed will host the seventh seed, etc. in the best-of-three quarterfinals (Mar. 3-5), before the two highest remaining seeds host the two lowest remaining seeds in the best-of-three semifinals (Mar. 10-12). The highest remaining seed will then host the championship game (Mar. 18) with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. 

RIT finished the 2021-22 season with a 6-1-4 record in 11 overtime games, including a 1-0 win over Sacred Heart in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament Semifinal opener. 

RIT's was 16-4-3 a season ago when holding opponents to three goals or less, including an 14-3-1 mark when holding opponents under three goals. 

RIT was credited with the fastest consecutive goals by the same team in over 24 years at the end of its 4-2 win at Niagara (Feb. 18) last season. Carter Wilkie broke a 2-2 tie with 10.4 seconds left in regulation before Will Calverley was credited with a goal with 6.9 on the clock after the Purple Eagles won the ensuing draw directly back into their own empty net. According to the NCAA record book, RIT tied the fourth-fastest pair of goals ever scored by the same team, matching UMass-Lowell's Randy LeBrasseur and Bill Dohaney's feat against Minnesota on Jan. 3, 1987. The Tiger goals were also the quickest since Nebraska-Omaha's Andrew Tortorella and Jason Cupp scored in a three-second span opposite Denver on Nov. 15, 1997. New Hampshire's John Gray scored twice in a three-second span versus Colgate on Feb. 6, 1971 for the fastest consecutive goals scored by the same player, while Colorado College's Tony Frasca and Omer Brandt hold the all-time record with goals in a two-second span against Michigan Tech on Feb. 1, 1962.

Former RIT standout defenseman Chris Tanev enters his 14th season in the NHL, spending his first 11 with the Vancouver Canucks before signing a free agent contract with the Calgary Flames prior to the 2020-21 season. Voted the 2010 AHA Rookie of the Year, Tanev made his NHL debut on Jan. 18, 2011, becoming the first RIT player to appear in an NHL contest. Entering the 2022-23 season, he has played in 652 NHL games with 30 goals and 128 assists for 158 career points. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2016 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships and was named a finalist for the NHL's Masterson Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Tanev tallied 28 points (10-18-28) and was plus-33 in 41 games for RIT in 2009-10. He and another former Tiger, Steve Pinizzotto (2005-07), were teammates with Vancouver in 2012-13. Pinizzotto tallied 57 points (20-37-57) in 54 career games for the Tigers and appeared in 36 NHL games with two goals and four assists. 

RIT has made 16 NCAA Tournament appearances since 1983. RIT won the 1983 Division II National Championship before winning the Division III National Championship in 1985. The Tigers also finished as Division III runner-up in 1989, 1996 and 2001 while making semifinal appearances in 1984, 1986, 1999, and 2010. Overall, RIT was 26-15-4 in NCAA contests at the DII/III level and is 3-2 in five Division I tournament showings. The Tigers made the NCAA Tournament in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2010, 2015, and 2016.

RIT was the first team in NCAA history to reach the Frozen Four in its first postseason appearance in 2010 and was also the first Atlantic Hockey team to reach the national semifinals. RIT was one win away from duplicating that feat in 2014-15 after upsetting overall top-seed Minnesota State, 1-0, in the Midwest Region Semifinals. 

RIT finished the non-conference portion of the 2021-22 schedule with a 4-4-0 record, tying the highest single-season win total in the Division-I era. It was also the Tigers' third-consecutive season finishing with a .500 record in non-league games after finishing 2-2-1 in 2020-21 and 4-4-0 in 2019-20.

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