RIT men’s hockey make final preparations before NCAA Tournament

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (WHEC) – The RIT men’s hockey team arrived in Sioux Falls where they will match up with Boston U. on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s incredible. You dream of this your whole life, growing up playing hockey. This is the big stage,” said graduate senior Caleb Moretz.

The Tigers went 27-10-2 and won the Atlantic Hockey Association Tournament, earning an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Their draw isn’t easy, facing 2-seed Boston U. who dominated in arguably the toughest conference in Division I hockey.

Still, in the Sioux Falls pod, RIT is the only of the four teams coming in on a winning streak. The hope is that momentum can carry over.

“You hope it does,” said head coach Wayne Wilson. “You also understand that it can end suddenly.”

Still, the Tigers have a track record of pulling off upsets on the big stage. In 2010, the Tigers used home-ice to their advantage, knocking off 1-seed Denver in Albany, 2-1. Then they breezed past 2-seed New Hampshire, 6-2, before falling to Wisconsin in the Frozen Four.

In 2015, RIT men’s hockey pulled off a major upset, taking down the top overall seed, Minnesota State, 2-1. The luck ran out in the following game to Omaha.

RIT lost in the first round in 2016, which was also their last appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

This time around, they don’t want to go home so early.

“We’ve done a lot of mental preparation. We’ve had our goal set since the beginning of this year. This is nothing new to us. This isn’t a surprise,” said Moretz.

“We’re not finished. We really want to win it all,” said graduate senior Elijah Gonsalves.

Puck drop for their first round game is set for 5 p.m. on Thursday.