Fearless Tigers engineer upset of Denver, 2-1

The Rochester Institute of Technology hockey team said it wouldn’t be nervous in its first trip to t

The Rochester Institute of Technology hockey team said it wouldn’t be nervous in its first trip to the NCAA hockey tournament as a Division I program.

The Tigers were right.

Goalie Jared DeMichiel made 39 saves, and Chris Tanev and Cameron Burt scored the goals as the 20th-ranked Tigers upset No. 2-ranked Denver, 2-1, in the NCAA East Regional semifinal Friday at the Times Union Center.

RIT will face New Hampshire in tonight’s championship game at 6:30.

It was a nation-leading 11th straight win for RIT (27-11-1), which is the fourth seed in the East. The Tigers were facing a Denver team that was the top seed in the East, and the No. 2 tournament seed overall.

Denver (27-10-4), the WCHA regular-season champion, was making its 22nd NCAA tournament appearance. RIT is just in its fifth year in Division I after moving up from Division III.

That didn’t bother the Tigers, who won the Atlantic Hockey reg­ular-season and tournament titles.

“Their mindset has been extremely good coming into this week,” RIT coach Wayne Wilson said. “You say David and Goliath, we’re really just concerned about our team. We’ll look at what we have to get better at for [tonight’s] game. We watch the other team to see if there’s tendencies. Against a high-power team like Denver, we could have gone into being a trapping-type team. But that’s not us. All of a sudden, we become some other team, and we want to be RIT.

“We’re happy being RIT. We like the way we play.”

The key for the Tigers, according to DeMichiel, was to go out and enjoy themselves.

“That’s our mindset,” DeMichiel said. “It’s been our mindset the entire season. We know we’re playing a game. It’s just hockey. You’re supposed to go out and have fun with it, and we do that every day in games, in practices, on the ice and off the ice.”

Denver coach George Gwozdecky, whose team closed out the season with three straight losses, wasn’t surprised that RIT played like an NCAA tournament-tested team.

“There was nothing to be impressed about because we had seen them on tape,” Gwozdecky said, “talked to many people who watched them play, knew they were a very good team, a team that not only won their conference, but their conference playoff. They deserved to be in the tournament. We knew it was going to be a compet­itive game.”

Tanev took advantage of a bad clearing attempt to score the game’s first goal early in the first period. His shot from the right circle beat Denver goalie and Hobey Baker Award finalist Marc Cheverie.

“I just saw their guy coming around the net, and he shot it up the boards,” Tanev said. “I jumped it, sort of, and picked it up. There was a lot of traffic in front, so I just shot. I didn’t know where I was shooting. It went stick side, and went in. I was pretty happy about that.”

Burt made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 12:36 of the third. Joe Colborne got Denver’s only goal, a power-play tally, less than two minutes later. But that would be it.

“He cut the angle down well,” Colborne said of DeMichiel. “They played a good system. They tried to keep us to the outside as much as possible. He was seeing things through traffic, seeing every puck. He was the star of that game, for sure.”

RIT 1 0 1 — 2

Denver 0 0 1 — 1

First Period — 1, RIT, Tanev 10, 4:20. Penalty — Murphy, RIT (kneeing), 16:07.

Second Period — None. Penalty — Lee, Den (interference), 1:10.

Third Period — 2, RIT, Burt 12 (Favot, Ringwald), 12:36 (pp). 3, Denver, Colborne 22 (Ruegsegger, Wiercioch), 14:34 (pp). Penalties — Burt, RIT (tripping), :53; Martin, Den (elbowing), 11:35; Janda, RIT (holding stick), 13:09.

Shots on Goal — RIT 9-9-7 — 25. Denver 11-15-14 — 40.

Power-play opportunities — RIT 1 of 2; Denver 1 of 3.

Goalies — RIT, DeMichiel 22-4-1 (40 shots-39 saves). Denver, Cheverie 24-6-3 (25-23).

T — 2:23.

Referees — Matt Shegos, Mark Wilkins. Linesmen — Tony Molina, Bruce Vida.

Categories: College Sports


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