Coming into the Amherst series this past weekend, RIT had already had an impressive season. The Tigers were a perfect 8-0-0 with a quality win over Norwich. If you didn’t take notice before, you most certainly should have now after RIT swept the two-time defending national champion Amherst by scores of 2-0 and 5-1 over the weekend at the Frank Ritter Arena.
When asked what he would have said if RIT would have been a perfect 10-0-0 at this point at the beginning of the season, RIT coach Scott McDonald laughed and said, “Yeah, not really.”
”I would have bet against that for sure. It’s kind of surprise to be honest and it’s unbelievable actually how well we’ve come out and played so far this year. It’s a little different than last year when we had a completely different record after playing some of the top teams.”
I raved about RIT’s stud freshman goalie Laura Chamberlain after the Norwich East/West Hockey Classic and now, one month later she’s a household name as the backstop of the newly-minted No. 1 team in the nation after the impressive sweep of Amherst.
“The first night Laura Chamberlain was the difference,” McDonald said. “We were letting a lot of shots through and she was there for everything. She never got rattled at all and was very poised and calm in the net. It was fun to watch her in her element.The second night we did a better job defensively and were jumping in front of everything they were shooting. It was a closer game than the score indicated, but we really capitalized on our scoring chances.”
Chamberlain has posted video-game like numbers so far this season with a 8-0-0 record, 0.62 goals against average a .969 save percentage while posting four shutouts.
“We’re pretty excited to have her,” McDonald said about his freshman sensation goaltender. ”We weren’t sure if we were going to get her but she had a couple friends on the team from her LA Selects day and that was a huge plus. She’s fit right in and has had a calming effect on our team. We can take a few more chances now on offense knowing she’s back there if we make some mistakes.”
The scary part is Chamberlain isn’t the only freshman making an immediate impact for the Tigers this season. Kourtney Kunichika leads the team with two goals and 15 assists for 17 points. All this coming on a team that already returned two All-Americans from last season in seniors Katie Stack and Sarah Dagg.
“The freshmen aren’t playing like freshmen,” McDonald said. “They are all scoring at different times and it seems like everyone on the team can score at any time. Kourtney just controls everything. She’s got a great set of hands on her and vision that I haven’t seen from too many other players. She can pass it like I’ve never seen before.”
Erin Zach, who was just named the ECAC East Rookie of the Week, leads the team with nine goals and Kolbee McCrea ranks third on the team with seven goals.
Player of the Week – Kim Weiss, Trinity
Kim, a senior forward from Potomac, Md. led Trinity to a 3-0 week. She scored the game-winning goal in a 3-2 upset win over #8 Manhattanville and added an assist as well. Weiss had a hand in all three of the Bantams’ goals in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Hamilton with two goals and an assist. She also added an assist in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Conn. College. She leads the team with three goals and three assists on the season.
Goalie of the Week – Laura Chamberlain, RIT
Laura, a freshman goalie from Norco, Calif. backstopped the Tigers to a sweep over previously top-ranked Amherst. She stopped all 40 shots in Saturday’s 2-0 shutout win and then followed up with 28 saves in Sunday’s 5-1 win over the Lady Jeffs. Chamberlain has four shutouts on the season in eight starts.
Rookie of the Week – Erin Zach, RIT
Erin, a freshman from Elmira, Ont. tallied a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Amherst and then followed up with two goals in Sunday’s 5-1 win. Zach has nine goals and four assists for 13 points on the season. Her nine goals are tied for the nation lead with Elmira’s Tori Charron.