ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Top seed RIT rode a 4-for-9 power-play performance to defeat Manhattanville 8-2 in the ECAC West Finals Saturday night, earning the Tigers their third straight league title.
Manhattanville kept the score close through a period and a half, despite being outshot by a margin of 20-9 in that span. But two quick goals by RIT midway through the second put the Valiants in a 4-0 hole that they were unable to dig out of.
“We thought coming in to this game that discipline might win or lose the game for either team,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson.
Indeed, RIT got in to penalty trouble early in the first period, and gave Manhattanville 1:33 of 5-on-3. But the Tigers were able to kill off the penalties to keep the game scoreless.
Only a minute after RIT killed off the Valiant power play, Manhattanville got tagged with its first penalty of the night. Just six seconds in to the ensuing power play, RIT’s Jerry Galway slid a wrist shot from the top of the slot in to the left side of the net. The goal, at 6:30, put RIT up 1-0.
As the period went along, the play on the ice became more and more physical, despite the fact that the refs continued to escort players from both teams to the box. With the single exception, the penalty kills for both teams did stellar work all period.
Late in the first, RIT garnered another goal to go to intermission up 2-0. Josh Faulkner skated across the Valiant slot and dished the pass to Peter Bournazakis, standing on the right side of the net. Bournazakis one-timed the puck past Valiant netminder Jon Peczka for the goal.
The Valiant penalty killers staved off a RIT power play to open the second period, after which the two teams were able to stop the parade to the penalty box and skated 5-on-5 for the next eight minutes, the longest stretch in the entire game.
The end-to-end action that ensued was even, as both teams got several high-quality chances.
“Our kids never quit. They put in the effort the whole game, and 5-on-5 we played very well with RIT,” said Manhattanville coach Keith Levinthal.
But RIT scored two goals, separated by only 26 seconds, midway through the period to take firm command on the scoreboard. The Tigers got Manhattanville running around in its own zone, and Josh Faulkner scored at 10:33 to put RIT up 3-0.
Moments later, Sam Hill then wristed in a goal from a tight angle to remove most of the doubt about the outcome.
“It was good to see some second- and third-liners come up big for us at a crucial point in the game,” said Wilson.
The wheels then officially came off the Manhattanville bus. Levinthal switched goaltenders, putting Rob McShane in net, but it didn’t stop the hemorrhaging as the Valiants took a series of penalties as the period waned and RIT notched two more power-play goals by Mike Bournazakis and Hill to take a commanding 6-0 lead.
The penalty bug bit the Valiants again early in the third, and RIT senior Jonathan Day put the puck through McShane’s five-hole for a 5-on-3 power-play goal at the 6:55 mark.
Manhattanville got a little revenge in the closing minutes of the period as the Valiants scored two goals to break the shutout. Dave Schmalenberg put away the third rebound while the two teams were skating 4-on-4 at 14:55. Bill Cummings poked in the second Valiant goal at 16:55.
RIT added a topper by Jared Conlon at 17:46 to skate away with the 8-2 win.
Hill was named tournament MVP, scoring four goals and three assists on the weekend series. “We always knew that Sammy could have a big game or series, and he really came through this weekend,” said Wilson.