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Following a sweep by Sacred Heart over the weekend, RIT has slipped down the conference standings and will need to bounce back to prevent another drop against Atlantic Hockey rivals.
The Tigers were defending a seven-game undefeated streak on home ice, but ultimately fell in consecutive contests against Sacred Heart, which came away with decisive 9-5 and 3-1 victories as all but one player recorded at least a point in the series for the Pioneers.
It was a weekend of catch-up hockey for the Tigers after surrendering a quick 4-0 lead on Friday, followed by a 3-0 lead on Saturday. Playing from behind is not only draining, but it’s becoming an ugly trend for a team that scored first in six of eight games to open the season.
Now, that catch-up hockey has dragged the Tigers to a 1-2-1 record over their past four having surrendered the first goal in each game. For a conference whose sole national championship representative has been dependent on the conference winner in each of the past six years, points are dire and the Tigers are letting them slip away with slow starts.
Having gone 5-1 away from home, they’ll likely be welcoming the next four games on the road at Army West Point and American International. They’ll host Mercyhurst on Dec. 6-7 prior to the fast-approaching semester break.
Sacred Heart’s sweep propelled them past RIT and into second place in the conference; another shaky series and the Tigers will be in danger of watching another team — or two — jump them.
With the upcoming series set at Army, the Tigers will be facing a team that has claimed three of its last four with a stingy defense backed by junior netminder Trevin Kozlowski’s strong 1.96 goals against average and .919 save percentage. With the nation’s top penalty kill with a 97.5-percent success rate (39/40), the Tigers’ 14.6-percent power play (7/48) likely won’t come to life despite having the 17th-most powerplay chances among DI teams.
That’s why the Tigers’ rediscovering their early-season committee will be of even more importance against Army before the standings start to look better upside down.
Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.