HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WROC) — Just over a week after their seasons were canceled, RIT men’s and women’s hockey are back on the ice getting ready to start playing once again.
RIT announced today that they have reconsidered their decision to cancel the men’s and women’s hockey seasons.
“We plan to move forward with college hockey competition, contingent upon New York State consent,” said RIT President David Munson in a press release. “While we remain concerned about the increase in COVID-19, we also realize that the RIT campus will be only lightly populated from Thanksgiving through late January, providing a period where play will be safer.”
“We really are going day-by-day. Things change. I think it even showed it today’s practice. Our team is so excited to get that next day, that next practice where we get to all be on the ice together,” said senior assistant captain Dan Willett. “We’re hoping that sticking by the rules and guidelines and keeping our team COVID-free, we’re hoping we can keep chipping away day-by-day until we start playing games. That’s really all we ask for from the school.”
The men’s hockey team had campaigned for the school to change their minds and created a petition that had nearly 5,000 signatures.
“It shows that RIT’s leadership and President [David] Munson, they listen to students and they listen to student-athletes,” said senior Jake Hamacher. “We couldn’t be more grateful and appreciative that they were able to us and take our points of view into consideration.”
“The teams have done everything we have asked them to do,” said Sandra Johnson in a press release, the senior vice president for Student Affairs. “We are proud of all RIT students for meeting the challenges of this pandemic.”
“We had shown in the previous two-and-a-half, three months that we could follow all the rules and regulations and the COVID-19 protocols,” said Hamacher. “We could do it successfully and safely as shown by the fact that we had zero cases.
“The energy out there today and just everyone had smiles on their faces,” said Willett. “It was just a great, positive atmosphere getting back onto the ice, kind of getting back into the swing of things. We’re really excited.”
The men’s hockey team is a member of the Atlantic Hockey conference, while the women’s team is a member of College Hockey America. Both conferences have submitted return-to-play safety plans to New York state for approval.
Schedules for the upcoming season are still to be determined. Willett said that while nothing is finalized, they could begin their season as early as the weekend after Thanksgiving.