Just 5 years ago, the Rochester Institute of Technology Hockey Team became a Division 1 Hockey and became one of the fastest teams to go from expansion to the NCAA Frozen Four in the history of the NCAA Division 1 Hockey Team.
After winning the Atlantic Hockey Conference, RIT was going into the tournament as the #4 seed in a tough East Regional with the University of Denver where they upset in the opening round. The Tigers got a break when the Cornell Big Red got upset by New Hampshire. Then in the Regional Final, RIT was able to beat New Hampshire in the Regional Final.
Regardless of the result, RIT has come along way and are looking to at least be the face of the Atlantic Hockey that has often been labeled as the 5th of the 5 major Conferences in NCAA Division 1 Hockey. (Not counting the College Hockey America Conference that is officially all gone now.)
Wisconsin was able to beat Vermont in the opening round. Then took advantage of a St. Cloud State Team who beat Northern Michigan in Double OT the previous day. The Badgers had a huge 1st period against St. Cloud State to hold on to advance to the Frozen Four.
In last night's game, it was a fast start in the 1st period with 2 goals in the first 10 minutes for the Badgers with goals by John Mitchell and Derek Staphan to stun the Tigers. Then the 2nd period just ended any hope for a RIT Comeback with 4 goals involving a strong Special Teams with 3 power play goals (2 of them 5 on 3) to go up 6-0.
Wisconsin will move on the NCAA National Championship Game against Boston College who's looking to complete a strong 2nd half of the season after struggling and finishing 2nd in the WCHA.
From Paula C. Weston of the United States College Hockey Website: www.uscho.com
Wisconsin pressured early, made the most of the 2nd period power plays and spread the goals around in an 8-1 win over RIT in Thursday's first Frozen Four Semifinal game at Ford Field, giving the Badgers the change to play for their 7th NCAA Championship Game on Saturday Night.
"It was one of our emphasis to get off to a great start, and we wanted to take time and space away as quickly as we could just to see how they would handle it", Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said. "And we did we needed to do, and we were able to get an early lead. And the power play put us, separated the gap a little bit. But getting the good start was paramount for us."
John Mitchell's first period goal at 1:27, on a rebound by Cody Goloubef, seemed inevitable after UW controlled the play from the opening faceoff of the game. Stepan's first goal was a tip-in of Ryan Mcdonagh's shot from the point at 9:38, giving the Badgers a 2-0 lead that held through the first period.
RIT Coach Wayne Wilson said that an early UW lead was a changing point in the game. "And then, just the power plays in the 2nd period," said Wilson. "They have a tremendous power play. We knew that going in. And we didn't want to give them those opportunities."
The Badgers netted four straight goals in the second before RIT's Tyler Brenner scored for the Tigers at 19:32. The last three UW goals in the 2nd period were with the man advantage, the last two with two Tigers in the penalty box.
"The Penalties we took, took us right back out of it," said Wilson. "And then particularly in the 2nd period, you know, they just started scoring goals and reviewing - it was just a slow, methodical period, and we didn't get anything going whatsoever."
Jordy Murray scored at 2:18 and Justin Schultz at 4:26 to give the Badgers a 4-0 lead before Wisconsin had two nearly consecutive stretches of two-man advantages. During Tigers forward Mike Cornacchia's five minute-major penalty for hitting from behind at 10:26 - a penalty for which he was also given a game misconduct - the Badgers scored twice, first with Taylor Mazzei also in the box for roughing, and then with Taylor Mcreynolds out for tripping.
Michael Davies tic-tac-toe goal at 11:15 made it 5-0, and Blake Geoffrion scored at at 13:24 on a rebound of Brendan Smith's shot from the circle to give UW (28-10-4) a 6-0 lead.
Mitchell said that creative traffic in front of the Tigers net was essential to the win. "Our forwards take Jared DeMichiel's eyes away," he said. "He's been hot."
Toward the end of the third period, Wilson pulled DeMichiel to allow freshman Shane Madolora and Junior Jan Ropponen a little time in net. Madolora gave up one goal to Craig Smith at 17:28; Ropponen let in Stepaen's at 17:48.
"I almost felt bad, but I got both of my other goalies in the game as well," said Wilson. "Unfortunately, they were on the other score sheet. I put them in a tough situation. I want them to experience it. You never know when you're going to get back here. So I wanted them to enjoy that."
The Tigers finish the regular season 28-12-1; this was their first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
"There's no such thing as an easy win." said Eaves. "And you can speculate and look at paper and do all that. But you've got to out and perform. And I think our kids did a tremendous job 0f sticking to the game plan and focusing on what we needed to do to win this game here."
The University of Wisconsin has advanced to the NCAA National Championship Game on Saturday Night.
RIT 1 Wisconsin 8 (0-2, 1-4, 0-2)
0-1 WISC: John Mitchell (Goloubef, Schultz) 1:27 1st
0-2 WISC: Derek Stephan (Mcdonagh) 9:38 1st
0-3 WISC: Jordy Murray (Bendickson) 2:18 2nd
0-4 WISC: Justin Schultz (PP) (Smith, Geoffrion) 4:26 2nd
0-5 WISC: Michael Davies (PP) (Smith, Geoffrion) 11:15 2nd
0-6 WISC: Blake Geoggrion (PP) (Smith, Stepan) 13:24 2nd
1-6 RIT: Tyler Benner (Ringwald, Favot) 19:32 2nd
1-7 WISC: Craig Smith (Bohmbach, Smith) 17:28 3rd
1-8 WISC: Derek Stepan (Street, Smith) 17:48 3rd
SOG: RIT 14 WISC 37
PP: RIT 1/4 WISC 3/7
PIM: RIT 29 Minutes on 9 Penalties WISC 10 Minutes on 5 Penalties
Goalies: RIT Jared DiMichiel 27 SVS on 32 Shots Jan Ropponen 2 SVS on 3 Shots Shane Madolora 0 SVS on 0 Shots WISC Scott Gudmandson 13 SVS on 14 Shots
3 Stars: N/A
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