Lakers prepare for rematch with top-ranked RIT

Since joining the ECAC West in the 2007-08 season, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Tigers have been one of, if not, the best teams in women’s Division III ice hockey. In five seasons playing in the ECAC West that features nationally-ranked Elmira College and SUNY Plattsburgh, the Tigers have amassed a 102-18-8 record under sixth-year head coach Scott McDonald. RIT had its best season last year when it looked like it may finish the year unbeaten during the regular season. Their hopes of an undefeated season when the Oswego State women’s ice hockey team came into Ritter Arena and defeated the Tigers, 2-1, on RIT’s Senior Day.

The Lakers stunned the Tigers on Feb. 12, 2011, and gave Oswego State national attention for the first time since the team’s inception in 2006-07. Senior forward Mackenzie Lee scored the game’s first goal at 17:47 of the first period with assists by sophomore forward Olivia Boersen and senior defender Kathryn Sbrocchi. After a scoreless second period, the Lakers took a two-goal lead on Boersen’s goal at 3:45 of the third period. The Tigers responded quickly with a power-play goal by Katie Stack at 5:42 of the period. The Lakers held on for dear life the rest of the period, as the Tigers fired 20 shots on Oswego State goaltender Emi Williams in the third period alone. The Lakers had just three shots in the third period.

Williams finished with 46 saves to earn the biggest win of her career for the Lakers. The Tigers outshot the Lakers, 47-10, and limited the Laker offense to no more than four shots in a single period. The Oswego State defense shut down the RIT power play unit, as the Tigers went just 1-for-8 with the extra skater. The Lakers were 0-for-6. The Tigers would go on to advance to the national championship game, where they would lose to Norwich University at Ritter Arena.

The Lakers and Tigers meet for the first time since that day on Friday, Feb. 3, at the Campus Center Ice Arena. The Tigers will be looking to spoil the Lakers on their Senior Day on Saturday afternoon to return the favor. Friday night is “Pink the Rink” at the Campus Center Ice Arena, where the Lakers will wear pink jersey.

Oswego State is coming off a crucial sweep of the Buffalo State Bengals to improve to 9-8-2 overall and 8-4-2 in ECAC West play. The Lakers currently sit in fourth place in the conference with 18 points, three points behind RIT for third place and a home playoff game in the conference playoffs. The Tigers are ranked No. 1 in Division III with a 17-1-1 overall record and a 10-1-1 ECAC West record. The Tigers’ lone loss and lone tie came against Plattsburgh.

The Tigers have six players on the roster who have scored at least 20 points so far this season. Kourtney Kunichika leads the team with 28 points on 11 goals and 17 assists. Kunichika is third in scoring in Division III. Kolbee McCrea is second on the team in scoring with 25 points on 14 goals and 11 assists and is 10th in scoring in Division III.

The Tigers offense an defense are one of the best in the country. The offense ranks second, averaging 5.26 goals per game. The defense is also ranked second in the country, allowing just 1.11 goals per game. RIT has totaled eight or more goals in four games this season, including 15 and 14 in games against Chatham. The defense has allowed one or fewer goals in 15 games this season, shutting out opponents six times.

RIT’s special teams are also ranked near the top of the country as well, as the power play is second and the penalty kill is third. The Tigers are successful on 28.57 percent of their power play attempts and have allowed just seven power-play goals in 102 attempts.

Even though Plattsburgh is considered to be Oswego State’s archrival, the Lakers have a strong disdain for RIT. The Tigers have owned the series against the Lakers, but Oswego State believes that it can skate with any team they face.

Lee leads the Lakers in scoring with 15 points on 10 goals and five assists. Senior forwards Kelly Collins and Jillian Bergeron and sophomore forward Megan Howe are tied for second on the team in scoring with 12 points. Bergeron leads the team in assists with 10.

The Lakers can no longer rely on Williams to make save after save, as she has since graduated and is no longer on the roster. Instead, the Lakers will turn to sophomore Catherine Cote and freshman Bridget Smith. Cote leads the team in goals against average with 2.55 and save percentage at .893 percent. Smith has the better win percentage at .643. Cote has played in 12 games, while Smith has played in eight games.

Oswego State is 0-3-0 when being outshot by opponents, and they will more than likely be outshot against RIT. Home ice has not been kind to the Lakers either, as they are just 3-6-1 at home compared to 6-2-1 on the road. The Lakers have also struggled against ranked opponents, being shut out against Plattsburgh twice and Amherst.

The Lakers will face off with the top-ranked Tigers on Friday night at the Campus Center Ice Arena at 7 p.m. The two teams will meet again at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

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