RIT Clinches Regular-Season Title
With a convincing win over Hobart, and a narrow victory over Manhattanville, RIT clinched the regular-season ECAC West title this week. Hobart fell in non-league games and Manhattanville split, while Elmira was idle.
League Games Overview
RIT 10 at Hobart 0 (2/2): Hobart came out playing a scrappy forecheck in the game, and kept even with the Tigers for most of the first period. But the steamroller that seems to be the RIT offense this year finally pushed through the Statesmen, and tallied three goals late in the first period to take the lead. RIT added another goal early in the second period. The twist this time in the RIT scoring was that the first four goals were all scored by defensemen. The Tiger offense finally decided to join the fray midway through the second period, as they notched two power-play goals to give RIT the 6-0 lead after two periods. Bang, Bang, Bang, three goals in a 1:48 span early in the third period, put the game into the runaway category as an injury riddled Hobart just didn’t seem to have the horses to keep up with RIT. Jerry Galway had a six point night, with one goal and five assists, to push him over the 100 career points plateau. Derek Hahn also chipped in five point on two goals and three assists. Tyler Euverman was challenged to make several saves by Hobart, but stopped all 21 shots that he faced.
RIT 3 at Manhattanville 2 (2/3): After the Hobart game, RIT jumped on the bus and headed downstate to take on Manhattanville. Mike Tarantino scored just 2:09 into the game for RIT, and Peter Bournazakis chipped in another at the 16:01 mark, to give RIT a 2-0 lead after one period of play. The Valiants came out in the second period quite physical, and this seemed to stymie the Tigers, keeping the period scoreless. “From the second half of the game on, we got things going,” said Valiant coach Keith Levinthal. “I thought we played them pretty tough.” Manhattanville used the momentum gained, and a tiring RIT team, to get back in the game in the third period. “The game settled down a little bit in the third, and our boys stuck to the game plan,” said Levinthal. Bill Cummings scored at 7:09 and Scott Jensen tallied another at 8:05 of the third period to knot the game 2-2. “Our emotion got the second one for us,” said Levinthal. “But it probably gave up the game winner to RIT also.” Just when it looked like Valiants were going to finish off the scare they were putting on RIT, Tiger Josh Faulkner tallied at the 8:25 mark to give RIT back the lead. Manhattanville outshot RIT 16-8 in the final period, but couldn’t get the goal needed to retie the game, as RIT held on for the narrow 3-2 win.
RIT(ranked No. 1): With the league wins against Hobart and Manhattanville this week, RIT has effectively clinched the ECAC West regular season title. “Hold on a minute” you might say, “If Elmira sweeps Hobart and Manhattanville, and defeats RIT on the 17th, then they would be tied with identical 5-1 league records.” All true, but RIT holds enough of an advantage to win the tiebreakers.
The tiebreakers within the ECAC West this season are:
1 – head to head
2 – conference wins
3 – record against common opponents
4 – overall record
Assume that Elmira and RIT split head to head, and Elmira sweeps Hobart and Manhattanville, then the two teams are still tied after the first two tiebreakers.
The third tiebreaker is where RIT holds the deciding edge. Elmira and RIT have faced the following common opponents: Oswego, Brockport, Plattsburgh, Geneseo, Cortland, Fredonia, and Hamilton. RIT is 10-0-1 against those opponents, with a game against Hamilton still on tap. Elmira is 7-2 against those opponents, with the two losses coming against Oswego and Plattsburgh. So, if RIT loses to Hamilton on the 10th, it may provide for some discussion at ECAC headquarters, but the 10-1-1 record should be enough to win the regular season title for RIT. And certainly if it rolls to the fourth tiebreaker, RIT holds a considerable advantage in overall record.
Next up for RIT this week is a home game against Hamilton.
ELMIRA(ranked No. 5): Elmira was idle this week, resting up after a hectic couple of weeks of hockey. The Soaring Eagles get back into the swing of things this week with a road game at Manhattanville on Friday. The Soaring Eagles all-time win countdown still hovers at the 499 mark.
MANHANTTANVILLE: Just when it looked like the Valiants had righted the ship, they dropped a midweek game against a struggling Skidmore team. Skidmore plays on an Olympic size sheet of ice, and it gave the Valiants fits. “We struggled on the big ice,” said Levinthal. “We were emotionally and physically tired. We got behind and it was too little too late from us.” Manhattanville got outshot 31-23 in the contest. Valiant Dave Schmalenberg answered an early Skidmore goal to tie the game 1-1 midway through the first period. But Skidmore retook the lead less than two minutes later. The opening of the third period found the Valiants in an even deeper hole, down 3-1. Leading scorer Tommy Prate put in a goal 5:38 into the period to pull Manhattanville to with a goal. The Valiants poured on the pressure, including pulling netminder Jon Peczka, but Skidmore tallied a late empty-netter to finish off the Valiants 4-2.
The trip was only 190 miles, and should have taken less than four hours. Instead, an old fashioned Nor’Easter on Monday turned the Valiants’ trip to Curry into an eight hour adventure in snow. But Manhattanville got to Curry just minutes before the warmups were scheduled to begin, and the perseverance paid off as they defeated Curry 8-0.
Manhattanville hosts Elmira on Friday to continue league play. “Elmira is a big challenge for us to be consistent enough to play Elmira as tough as we played RIT,” said Levinthal.
HOBART: It looks like Hobart’s rash of season-ending injuries has finally caught up with it. Over the last few weeks, Hobart has lost its three top scorers (at the time of their injury) who were each contributing more than a point per game; Greg Reynholds, Jerry Toomey, and Matt Pane. As if that wasn’t enough, starting goaltender Chris Connolly also went down two weeks ago against Fredonia with a season ending knee injury. That would be enough to cripple any team, and it looks like it has done just that to Hobart. The remaining players are still playing tough hockey with a ton of drive, but heart can only take a team so far. The remaining games will be a struggle for Hobart to stay competitive with a shortened bench.
Hobart opened the week at Hamilton and took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Tim McCarthy midway through the first period. Hamilton tied it up soon after, but Hobart owned a distinct territorial advantage for most of the period. The Statesmen retook the lead just :26 seconds into the period on another tally by Tim McCarthy. The floodgates opened for Hamilton soon after, and they ripped off five unanswered goals to take a commanding 6-2 lead. Zach Mundy notched a late second period goal to start to chip away at the deficit. Sean Elliott scored another Statesmen goal in the third, but it was sandwiched by two Hamilton goals, and Hobart lost the contest 8-4.
Hobart hosts a surging Potsdam team midweek for its only contest.
Game of the Week
Elmira against the Valiants of Manhattanville is this week’s pick. Manhattanville played RIT tough, and will be looking to show some consistency when the Soaring Eagles come to town. Elmira, on the other hand, is looking to keep pace with the Tigers to challenge for at least a tie for first place at the end.