Patrick Eaves used the third period as a showcase, dominating for the U.S. National Development Team as the U.S. defeated RIT 7-1 Saturday. Eaves scored a hat trick in the third period to break open a close game en route to the win.
The U.S. team was up 2-1 entering the third period and RIT was able to mount more sustained offensive pressure during the opening moments of the final period than at other time during the game. But Eaves took away that momentum at 3:30, scoring on a nifty spinning backhanded shot.
That goal quelled the potential RIT comeback. From that point forward it was all U.S. for the remainder of the game.
RIT came out tentative in the first period as they tried to adjust to the Olympic size ice sheet. The U.S. team was much more comfortable, and outshot RIT 26-7 in the period, but was only able to notch a single goal.
Mark Stuart sent a blast from the top of the slot that navigated through traffic into the back of the net at 18:21. The power-play tally gave the U.S. its first lead of the two-game weekend set and it never looked back.
The U.S. scored on another shot from the top of the slot 2:14 into the second period to take a 2-0 lead, that one by Matt Stuart.
Shots on goal were closer in the second period although the U.S. still enjoyed an 18-16 advantage. David Bagley got RIT on the board at the 11:12 mark of the second period to pull the Tigers close, sliding in a rebound off a scramble in front of U.S. netminder James Howard.
The third period was all Eaves, Brett Sterling, and the U.S. team. Eaves got his squad going, and the U.S. put the game away midway through the third period with three goals in a 59-second span.
Sterling completed a 2-on-1 break at the 10:34 mark to get the string going. Eaves scored again at 11:08 and then completed the hat trick at 11:33 and the game was all but over.
Sterling slid in an empty-netter while the U.S. skated shorthanded at 19:34 to finish the 7-1 victory.