It’s no secret that RIT needs a new hockey arena. Since going division 1 and having an amazing run last year Ritter Arena has been packed and virtually always a sell out. During Brick City weekend RIT sold out the much larger Blue Cross Arena, something other local teams haven’t been able to do in years. Go to any game at Ritter and when you see the “standing room only” you know it’s time for something bigger.
Well, that time has come. Last week RIT kicked off the Power Play campaign to raise $15 million to fund the new arena. With some help from Stephen and Vicki Schultz’s $1 million gift the project is off to a good start. For the first time since graduating I have the urge to give back to the Alma Mater.
Once completed the new arena should house somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 fans. A far cry from the current capacity of 2100 at Ritter Arena which will continue to stay open even after the new arena is built.
Exciting news for the RIT community, especially as RIT hockey has turned their season around and are winning games now.
I traveled north to Rochester last night to watch my alma mater, the RIT Tigers, face the UMass Lowell River Hawks in front of a sold out crowd downtown at Blue Cross Arena. That’s a feat that the Amerks have never had very good luck doing and has actually only happened 3 times since the arena’s renovation in 1997. I doubt any of the 10,000+ fans left disappointed after one of the most exciting hockey games I’ve seen in a while.
The Tigers spent most of the game trailing but took the lead on two separate occasions in the third period. With the River Hawks taking a penalty with 2:04 left and trailing 4-3 it looked like the game was sealed. That quickly changed with 1.3 seconds left as UMass netted the tying goal.
Both teams had good chances in the OT period but neither were able to finish a chance so the game ended in a 4-4 tie. RIT improves it’s season record to 0-2-1 as they struggle to gain last years success that ended in a trip to the Frozen Four. The Tigers looked good though, skating quick and playing physical. A few elementary mistakes were clear but, at this level, aren’t a grave concern for the team.
The atmosphere in the arena last night was intense. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a college hockey game and I’m sure it being homecoming had something to do with it but the 10,000+ last night rivaled any 18,000+ crowd I’ve heard at HSBC arena. After RIT’s 4th goal the atmosphere was a little too intense as a fan shattered the glass behind the visitors bench. During a long delay for cleanup the fan was escorted from his seat. No word on what exactly happened.
Only three games into the season the Tigers have plenty of time to turn their season around. Hopefully picking up this tie is the start of the corner that will get them on track to repeat last season’s run. Hopefully this year it’ll be a couple of games longer.