By Karl Henkel/At the Frozen Four
Detroit -- Rochester Institute of Technology’s magical run to the Frozen Four came to an abrupt halt in Thursday night’s 8-1 loss to Wisconsin, but coach Wayne Wilson and his players relished the opportunity to play in college hockey’s biggest event.
Players specifically cited the swarming attention from the media and faculty and staff the past week.
“I think it affected us in a positive way,” RIT goalie Jared DeMichiel said. “I think a lot of us felt honored and privileged to get that kind of attention from faculty and staff and students.
“I never knew we meant that much to the school.”
RIT, the Atlantic Hockey champions, weren’t expected to make it to Detroit. But upstart victories over the University of New Hampshire and Denver propelled the Tigers to their first Frozen Four since they moved up to Division 1 five years ago.
While their season may have been a success after knocking off Denver, everything changed following the team-record 28th victory of the season, a 6-2 over New Hampshire.
“I came from a couple of losing junior teams,” forward Cameron Burt, a Detroit native, said. “So I think it (the attention) was good for us.”
The lopsided score in the Frozen Four semifinal may have been a disappointment, but Wilson said the experience was well worth it. That’s why he inserted both backup goalies — Shane Madolora and Jan Ropponen — albeit for 2:33 and 2:32, respectively, late in the third period.
“I want them to experience it,” he said. “You never know when you’re going to get back here. So I wanted them to enjoy that.”
Wilson, who himself had to wait 26 years between Frozen Four experiences (and it wasn’t even called the Frozen Four back then) reflected on his team’s experience.
“We’re very appreciative of where we achieved this year,” he said. “And we had a lot of fun doing it, too.”