Here they go again.
Last year, RIT went on an 11-game win streak starting in December to give chase to Air Force and eventually make the Atlantic Hockey regular-season race a two-team affair.
It’s way too early to tell how this year’s season will play out, but the Tigers are heating up again.
They won a pair of one-goal games, 2-1 and 3-2, at Mercyhurst last weekend to run their current winning streak to six games. It’s the second-longest such stretch -- after last year’s -- for the Tigers since they joined Division 1.
“They’re a very fast team, a very good team,” said Sacred Heart first-year coach C.J. Marrotolo. “They and Air Force are obviously the teams to beat right now in our league.”
Marrotolo’s Pioneers get their chance this weekend. They are at RIT for games on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
Sacred Heart has a little experience with the challenge.
A year ago, the Pioneers went into Ritter Arena and knocked off RIT, 6-4, on Feb. 6, snapping the 11-game run.
The Tigers didn’t slow down much. They came back for a 5-3 win over Sacred Heart the next night and started another six-game unbeaten streak.
RIT is getting superb goaltending from senior Jared DeMichiel and is once again getting a large chunk of its offense from its defensemen.
Blueliners have accounted for 18 of RIT’s 38 goals. Senior defenseman Al Mazur leads the team with six goals and classmate Dan Ringwald is right behind him with five.
“They have some very good offensive defensemen and they get up in the rush,” Marrotolo said. “We’ll have our hands full. That’s for sure.”
Player of the Week
Andrew Volkening, sr., Air Force
Volkening stopped 29 Holy Cross shots for a 1-0 win and his second straight shutout on Friday night. He has an Academy record 13 career shutouts. He was up to 183 consecutive shutout minutes before Holy Cross picked up a couple of goals in a 2-2 tie on Saturday.
Air Force at Connecticut, Friday and Saturday
After picking up three points at Holy Cross last weekend, the Falcons wrap up their New England swing with a pair in Storrs. UConn is only 3-11-1 overall in the series, but is 2-2-1 in games at home. Air Force won 4-3 and the teams tied 2-2 in their two games at UConn last season.
Around Atlantic Hockey
Home has been quite sweet for the Yellow Jackets: They have played at the Olympic Ice Center twice and have won twice, both times by shutout. Freshman Ben Meisner made 35 saves for a 2-0 win over Army on Saturday to go with his earlier 3-0 shutout of Holy Cross. … AIC’s next four are at home: two against Canisius this weekend and then two against Mercyhurst.
Volkening has a 1.70 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in Atlantic Hockey games. … The Falcons scored only three goals last weekend, but still managed three points with a 1-0 win and 2-2 tie at Holy Cross. … Air Force killed off all 10 Crusader power plays and has killed off 22 straight penalties going into its series at UConn.
Junior Jay Clark made 22 saves and the Black Knights notched their first league win with a 2-1 decision over AIC at home on Friday night. … Army is at Bentley for games on Friday and Saturday nights. The Black Knights have not played at Bentley since February of 2008, when the teams split a pair of contests.
Brendan Harrison, a senior forward out of Scituate, Mass., and the Walpole Stars, matched his goal total from last year with a pair of power-play strikes in a 6-3 win on Friday night over Sacred Heart. … Sophomore forward Herbie Kent of Amesbury, Mass., who played at Governor’s Academy, had three assists in the game.
Sophomore goaltender Dan Morrison made 19 saves against UConn on Sunday for his second 1-0 shutout win of the season. He had 48 saves in a 1-0 win over Ferris State early in the season. Morrison’s GAA is 2.59 and his save percentage is .918. … Canisius is at AIC for games on Friday and Saturday.
Senior defenseman Brendan Olinyk’s first goal of the season was timely on Saturday night. It came with 2:45 left in the game and lifted UConn into a 4-4 tie with Canisius. The Huskies lost Sunday’s game, 1-0. … After this weekend’s pair against Air Force, the Huskies are not home again until they meet Bentley in the first round of the UConn Holiday Classic on Dec. 29.
Freshman goalie Thomas Tysowsky stopped 49 of the 52 Air Force shots he faced for the weekend, but the Crusaders earned only a point for their efforts. Tysowsky had 29 saves in a 1-0 loss on Friday night and 20 in a 2-2 tie on Saturday. … He has a 2.31 GAA and .913 save percentage.
The Lakers have lost their last four games -- the last three by a single goal -- after a sweep at the hands of RIT. Mercyhurst is in a four-way tie for sixth place in the league with Sacred Heart, AIC and UConn. … Holy Cross, tied with Bentley with eight points, is at Mercyhurst this weekend. The team split a pair of 4-3 overtime games last season.
Junior forward Andrew Favot figured in all of RIT’s goals last weekend -- he had a goal and four assists -- in a sweep of Mercyhurst, 2-1 and 3-2. The Tigers were the only team in the league to sweep its games and came out of the weekend tied with Air Force atop the league standings.
Junior goalie Olivier St. Onge stopped 29 shots and helped the Pioneers salvage a point out of a weekend against Bentley with a 1-1 tie on Saturday night. … Nick Johnson, a senior out of Windsor, Conn., and a former Springfield Jr. Falcon, scored the Saturday night goal. He’s tied for the league lead with seven goals.
Allen Lessels can be reached at email@example.com.