RIT Squeaks By Elmira To Stay In First Place
It took overtime to decide a barnburner at the Domes, but RIT scored in the extra stanza to remain in first place in the league with a 4-3 win over Elmira. Manhattanville moved up into a tie for second place by defeating Hobart 5-1.
A little change in format for this week’s column. Overviews of league games will be covered in a head-to-head format. An overview of non-league action as well as news about the teams can be found in the regular Team-by-Team Report after the league contest review. Let me know what you think about this new format, likes or dislikes, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
League Game Overview
RIT at ELMIRA (1/27): RIT visited Elmira on Saturday to renew the longstanding rivalry between these two teams. The Tigers got on the board first at 3:29 of the opening period when Ryan Fairbarn scored from the top of the slot. The early goal by RIT seemed to take some of the wind from Elmira’s wings for a few minutes, but by the middle of the first period, Elmira was taking the play to RIT with a vengeance. The Soaring Eagles dominated play at times, particularly in the second half of the second period, with a forecheck that just gave RIT fits. The work finally paid off when Eddie Cassie scored to tie the game at 18:32 as he swatted in a bouncing puck from the slot. Dean Jackson notched a tally just 20 seconds later to give Elmira the 2-1 lead.
RIT came out with renewed fire early in the third period. Peter Bournazakis scored a power-play goal at 6:20 to tie the game. And then Brian Armes scored at 9:16 to give RIT back the one goal lead. A late Tiger penalty proved the right time for Elmira coach Glenn Thomaris to pull his netminder with 1:02 remaining and Elmira down 3-2. The strategy ploy worked to perfection. A scramble in front of the Tiger net led to Mike Hulbig collecting the puck and scoring to send the Thunderdome crowd in to hysterics and the game into overtime. Elmira started out strong in overtime, but the Soaring Eagle shots went wide of the net. Mike Bournazakis was the hero for RIT, scoring 2:58 into overtime to give RIT the 4-3 victory and keep the Tigers in the top spot in the league. Tiger netminder Tyler Euverman, returning from a shoulder injury, made 33 of 36 saves on the night, while Rob Ligas stopped 47 of 51 shots for Elmira.
HOBART at MANHATTANVILLE (1/27): Hobart and Manhattanville battled to move up in the standings on Saturday. The Valiants got two quick goals early in the first period on unassisted efforts by Sean Keane and Chris Seifert.
“We got off to a great start. We played very well for the first two periods and had a pretty good workmanlike effort from everyone,” said head coach Keith Levinthal.
The second period was the Tommy Prate show, as he notched two goals to give the Valiants a commanding 4-0 lead. Prate currently leads Manhattanville in scoring with 16 goals and 12 assists.
“Prate has been quietly picking up goals of late,” said Levinthal. Manhattanville got into some penalty trouble in the third period, and Hobart enjoyed the power play for most of the play. The Statesmen took advantage with a power-play goal at the 5:14 mark when Brad Kelly scored. But that was the only shot, of 29 total, that Hobart could get by Valiant netminder Jon Peczka in the game. Manhattanville won 5-1 to move into a tie for second place with Elmira.
RIT (ranked No. 1): With two wins last week, RIT is off to its best start in school history with an 18-0-1 record. The Tigers surpassed the old record of 17-0-1, set back in the ’63-’64 season.
RIT opened the week at Brockport, and crushed that faltering program 14-2. The Tigers double up on shots against Brockport 74-37, with Tiger backup netminder Rob Boope making 30 saves on the 32 shots that he faced before being relieved in net by Matt Hrivnak who went 5-for-5. The Bournazakis brothers led the way offensively for RIT, each notching a hat trick and an assist for four point nights. Freshman Mike Tarantino also chipped in four points, with two goals and two assists.
Two more league contests are on tap this week for RIT. The Tigers play at Hobart on Friday, and then continue on to downstate NY to take on Manhattanville on Saturday.
ELMIRA (ranked No. 5): One win and one loss this week left Elmira on the verge of its 500th all-time win. The Soaring Eagle record currently stands at 499-231-18.
The Soaring Eagles started the week out against Cortland. The Red Dragons came out well rested and outshot Elmira 14-4 in the first period.
“We weren’t as sharp as we have been,” said coach Glenn Thomaris. “They were well rested, and we were a little tired.”
Goaltender Rob Ligas kept the Cortland onslaught off the board, and his offense took over in the second period. Dean Jackson got a pair of goals less than one minute apart early in the second period to get Elmira rolling. Steve Kaye chipped in another goal at 9:03, and Jay Zanleoni notched a tally at 16:37 to stake Elmira to a 4-0 lead.
But penalty trouble, including a major, by Elmira gave Cortland the opportunity to climb back into it. Cortland ripped off three straight goals to make the score 4-3 by early in the third period. Elmira clung to the slim lead for the remainder of the game for the victory.
With this win, Elmira extended its winning streak to eleven games, going all the way back to late November. Since the winning streak started, “we have gotten a lot better. Robbie (Ligas) is playing better in net, and the freshman have become more confident,” said Thomaris. Unfortunately, the streak came to an end against RIT on Saturday.
Elmira takes a break from play this week. The Soaring Eagles will next take the ice on February 9 against Manhattanville.
MANHANTTANVILLE: After a rocky 0-3-1 start to the new year, the Valiants have now strung together three good wins and look to be back in form. “I think we learned some things up in Oswego a couple of weeks ago,” said coach Keith Levinthal. “They are very team focused, and we needed to see that to remind us where we wanted to be.”
Manhattanville defeated Williams 4-1 in non-league play this week . Jon Peczka was a standout in net, stopping 26 of the 27 shots that he faced, including helping to keep Williams 0-for-6 on the power play.
“Jon’s a big kid who fills the net up a lot. But we have been playing well defensively, and Jon made the saves that he needed to,” said Levinthal.
After a scoreless first period, Kenny Hood got the Valiants on the board early in the second period. Tommy Prate notched a power-play goal midway through the period, before Williams put in a goal, to end the period with Manhattanville enjoying a slim 2-1 lead. Dave Schmalenberg stepped up in the third period to seal the Valiant victory.
“He’s been playing extremely well of late, and probably is one of the best freshmen not only in the ECAC West, but in the nation as a whole,” said Levinthal. Schmalenberg stuffed in an even-strength goal midway through the period, and then added an empty netter with 29 seconds remaining to cap the win.
The Valiants have the busiest week of all the ECAC West teams. They start at Skidmore on Tuesday, return home for a quick one-game homestand against RIT on Saturday, and are then off to Curry on Monday.
HOBART: Hobart began the week in a wild back and forth affair against Buffalo State. This contest was extremely even, both teams had 42 shots, both teams had five power plays, neither team led by more than a goal, and the game ended in a 5-5 tie. Can’t get more even than that.
Sean Elliott notched the only goal in the first period, to give Hobart the 1-0 lead, as the teams felt each other out. They exchanged a goal each in the second period, with Greg Reynholds scoring for Hobart, and the Statesmen held on to a 2-1 lead after two periods. But the offensive fireworks started early in the third. Buffalo State notched two early goals to take its first lead of the contest 6:02 into the third period. Hobart answered back with goals by Greg Reynholds and Tim McCarthy, and it was Hobart up 4-3 at the 12:46 mark. Buffalo State ripped off two more quick goals to regain its lead. But once again the Statesmen answered right back with another goal by Tim McCarthy just 23 seconds after the last Bengal goal. The game was now knotted 5-5, and that was how it ended after overtime.
Hobart opens this week’s contests at Hamilton on Tuesday. Then the Statesmen return home to host RIT on Friday.
Game Of The Week
There aren’t really any standout games on tap this week. Probably the most interesting will be RIT as it continues its road trip through the ECAC West. Can RIT sweep Hobart and Manhattanville to remain undefeated? Or will either the Statesmen or Valiants (or both) play the spoiler, knocking the Tigers off their pedestal?