COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — RIT converted three times on an Air Force major penalty midway through the second period to defeat the host Falcons 4-3, winning the championship of the Radisson Inn Hockey Classic at Air Force.
It was the fourth tournament victory so far this season for the Tigers (11-0 NCAA, 12-1 overall).
“This was a goal for us, to win the five tournaments we’re in this season,” said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson, whose squad will also play in the Pepsi Cardinal Classic in Plattsburgh on January 5 and 6. “I’m pleased with the way we’re playing right now.”
After a scoreless first period that saw each team dominate for stretches of time, RIT got on the board at 8:07 of the second on Adam George’s third goal of the season. The freshman winger took a feed from linemate Lanner Fayad and wristed the puck past Falcon goaltender Marc Kielkucki.
About two minutes later, Air Force defenseman Ryan Smith was called for a major kneeing penalty as he leg-whipped RIT’s Derek Hahn at the Falcon blue line.
“I thought it was a good call,” said Wilson. “Pete Bournazakis was given a DQ for the same thing earlier this season.”
The penalty and subsequent RIT power play were the turning point in the game, as RIT scored three times to take a 4-0 lead.
Sam Hill scored off a goalmouth pass from Pete Bournazakis at 10:37, followed by a goal from the high slot by Ryan Fairbarn at 12:43 that found the back of the net through a crowd in front.
Pete Bournazakis got his fourth goal of the tournament at 13:21 off a pass from Hahn, who had re-entered the game after being shaken up by the major penalty to Smith.
Air Force got a power-play goal of its own at 18:55 to make it 4-1. Brian Rodgers poked the loose puck underneath RIT goalie Tyler Euverman, and it trickled over the goal line to get the Falcons on the board.
Air Force continued to pressure RIT in the third period, but the Tigers held on.
“I liked what we did for most of the third period,” said Wilson. “We kept the puck down low, but they kept coming at us and late in the game we were running around a bit, and things got pretty hairy.”
The Falcons got an unassisted goal from Andy Berg at 14:17 to make it 4-2, and kept the pressure on over the final five minutes.
At 19:35, with Kielkucki pulled for an extra attacker, Rodgers got his second of the night, deflecting the puck with his upper body past Euverman, who complained to the referee that the puck was directed in off Rodgers’ hand.
“Tyler thought it went in off a glove,” said Wilson. “It looked that way from our vantage point as well.”
Air Force got off two more shots in the final 25 seconds, but both were blocked before they reached Euverman.
RIT went three for five on the power play, while Air Force was one for five. RIT outshot the Falcons 31-28 for the game.
The Tigers improve to 11-0 in NCAA play, and are off until January 5, 2001, when they take on Colby in the semifinals of the Pepsi Cardinal Classic in Plattsburgh.
Air Force falls to 9-6-1 and will next play Denver in the first round of the Wells Fargo Denver Cup on December 29.
Forwards: Justin Hamilton (Air Force) Brian Rodgers (Air Force) Adam Rogowin (Connecticut College)
Defense: Joe Locallo (Air Force) Ryan Fairbarn (RIT)
Goal: Tyler Euverman (RIT)
MVP: Pete Bournazakis (RIT)