ROCHESTER, N.Y. — In the opening game of their NCAA quarterfinal series, the RIT Tigers (25-0-1) defeated the Lebanon Valley Flying Dutchmen (18-8-2) by a score of 8-1.
After RIT established a 4-0 lead early in the second period, Lebanon Valley scored a shorthanded goal to get on the board, presaging an even and scoreless remainder of the frame.
But an RIT goal just 41 seconds into the third period killed the Dutchmen’s momentum.
“When they put in their fifth goal, that took a lot of wind out of us,” said Lebanon Valley defenseman Michael Sarro.
Nevertheless, the game was closer than the score might indicate, as Lebanon Valley’s penalty kill kept the high-flying RIT power play off the board.
“Penalty killing is one of our strengths — we work real hard on it,” said Sarro.
Although the underdog, Lebanon Valley came out playing very unlike it. The Dutchmen put pressure on the RIT net and outshot the Tigers early. Neither team could establish much of a territorial advantage through the first half of the period.
The only scoring during the opening stanza of the game was by RIT. Tiger defenseman Jerry Galway passed from the RIT blue line to Mike Tarantino breaking into the Dutchmen zone. Tarantino slid the puck through Lebanon Valley netminder Kevin Block’s five-hole for the goal at 6:59.
RIT turned the gas up a notch midway through the period and started to gain an edge territorially. The pressure paid off for the Tigers. While killing a penalty, Tiger Brian Armes broke into the Dutchmen zone alone on another RIT breakaway. Armes flipped a backhander over Block’s shoulder for the goal at 13:34.
“When you get into these short series, getting momentum is so important,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson.
Lebanon Valley continued to plug away, and put several more first-rate shots towards the RIT net. But it was the Tigers that got the next goal. Peter Bournazakis roofed a backhander high at 16:13 for this 100th career goal, and into a tie for second place on the RIT all-time scoring list with 225 points.
When asked about it after the game, Bournazakis said, “I didn’t even know about the scoring position until one of my teammates told me.”
Lebanon Valley did everything right in the first period, except for scoring. They were able to put pressure on the RIT zone, keep RIT away from many rebounds deep in their own zone, and won faceoffs. Block faced a barrage of 23 RIT shots in the period.
“I have to take the real blame for that. I wasn’t covering my rebounds real well and gave them too many chances,” said Block. RIT skated into the locker room with a 3-0 lead at the first intermission.
RIT built its lead to 4-0 early in the second period. On a delayed penalty, Josh Faulkner weaved around a Dutchmen defender, deked Block, and slid the puck into the far side of the net at 5:22.
Lebanon Valley erased the Tiger shorthanded goal earlier by getting one of its own. Sarro took advantage of a lazy RIT defense to skate in from the blue line, and got around the Tigers to put a clean wrister past netminder Tyler Euverman for the goal at 8:52.
“We gamble on the penalty kill a lot, we take chances. They got a shorthander, and this one evened it out,” said MacCormack.
This goal gave the Dutchmen confidence and play evened out for the remainder of the period. The play got more physical late in the period. RIT’s Matt Moore caught Dutchmen star Brian Yingling with his head down in the neutral zone, and sent him bottom-over-tea-kettle tumbling to the ice. The RIT bench, crowd, and even the press box erupted.
“Up to that point, I didn’t think we played a real physical game. I was looking for some more physicalness from the team, and Moore delivered,” said Wilson.
Lebanon Valley came out with two point blank chances in the opening 10 seconds of the third period, but Euverman came up with two big saves to keep the puck out of the Tiger net.
RIT weathered the early storm and scored on its first rush of the period down into the Dutchmen zone as Josh Faulkner poked in a loose rebound 41 seconds into the period. Jonathan Day poked in another rebound at 7:25, and Sam Hill scored on another delayed penalty at 8:10, and all of a sudden RIT was enjoying a commanding 7-1 lead on the scoreboard.
Completing the bookends, Tarantino scored the final goal of the game with just three seconds remaining to cap off the 8-1 score.
“This is the best RIT team that I have ever seen, very well balanced. These games put our program on the map,” said MacCormack.