ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The RIT Tigers rebounded from Friday night’s loss to the U.S. National Under 18 Development Team and earned a series split with a 4-2 win on Saturday.
“Tonight was more of a mental test, and we need to learn to face adversity a little better than we did last night,” RIT coach Wayne Wilson said.
The first period was wide-open, end-to-end action as both teams put more emphasis on offense than defense. NDTP got a few more odd man rushes and enjoyed a slight advantage in shots, one they would carry throughout every period of the game.
The Tigers struck first, on the power play at 15:32. Blueliner Jerry Galway sent a shot from the slot that got deflected on the way toward the net. NDTP netminder Travis Weber made the save, but Tiger Mike Bournazakis was standing on the doorstep to collect the rebound near the post and tuck it home.
“There were a couple of factors that effected the jump of our team last night that were not there tonight,” Wilson said.
Back-and-forth play continued in to the second period with neither team being able to gain a decided advantage for more than a short period of time. RIT took a two-goal lead at 10:27, this time on the 5-on-3 power play. Derek Hahn, running the power play from the high slot, passed to Sam Hill on the right side of the net. Hill tapped the pass in to the corner of the net to finish the tally.
NDTP cut the lead in half with a power-play goal of its own just two minutes later. Eric Nystrom sent a quick wrister from the low faceoff circle that found the back of the Tiger net, and RIT’s lead was cut to 2-1 at the end of two periods of play.
RIT regained the two-goal lead early in the third period. Sam Hill fed the puck to linemate Errol McDonald just to the left of the NDTP net. McDonald moved around the goalie to the far side of the crease and tucked the puck in the net for the 3-1 Tiger lead.
RIT clearly controlled the first eight minutes of the third period, the only long stretch in either game that either team controlled play. This stretch came to an end at 8:06 when NDTP once again cut the Tiger lead down to a single goal. RIT had trouble clearing the puck out of its zone, and NDTP’s Matt Gens ended up alone in the low slot with the puck. Gens made no mistakes and put the puck top shelf for the goal.
NDTP put pressure on the Tiger net for the remainder of the game trying to get the equalizer. Coach Mike Eaves pulled netminder Weber at 18:49, but the ploy didn’t work as Tiger Mike Bournazakis got the empty-net goal at 19:28 to preserve the 4-2 win.