After a tight-checking first period, RIT exploded for three goals in the opening five minutes of the second in its Friday game against Utica. The lead was enough as RIT carried on to a 10-4 victory.
“[Utica] wanted to win the game more than we did in the first period,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “During the first intermission, I told [the players] that they need to start winning the battles, play with heart, and win the one on one’s.”
RIT (17-2) took control of the game in the opening minutes of the second period. Just 15 seconds into the period, sophomore Ryan Franke wristed a shot from near the hash marks in the slot past Utica netminder Jake Miskovic. That gave RIT the 2-1 lead and it put Utica on its heals.
The Tigers chipped in another at 1:53 by Brian Armes, and again at 5:25 by Ryan Fairbarn. It looked like RIT was off to the races. RIT outshot Utica 8-0 in the first nine minutes of the period before Utica got its first shot.
Heenan called a timeout at that point to settle the team down. It worked, and even though RIT controlled play until mid period, Utica (8-10-3) stopped the bleeding and kept RIT off the board again until mid period.
“The first period was the best period we have played all year,” said Heenan. “We outworked them in the first. But during the intermission our players relaxed and lost that edge that they had. Lack of maturity killed us tonight.”
Utica tallied 11:56 into the period to narrow the margin to 4-2. Travis Doan snuck the puck in from a tight angle to the left of RIT goaltender Tyler Euverman.
The Tigers answered right back with a goal be Jason Chafe at 12:12. David Bagley chipped in another goal at 16:50 for RIT, before Jimmy Sokol finished the scoring for the period with a goal for Utica. RIT enjoyed a 6-3 edge after two periods.
The first period was an exceptional stanza of college hockey. It was played at blistering pace up and down the ice right from the opening faceoff, with both teams playing physical, up and down the ice hockey earning lots of scoring chances.
RIT opened the scoring 9:53 into the contest. Mike Walling sent a blast from the point towards the Utica net. It went through a screen and got tipped by linemate Sam Hill to sneak past Miskovic for the goal.
Utica answered back very quickly. After matching minors put the teams skating 4-on-4, Utica carried the play into the Tiger zone on a 2-on-1 breakaway. The play was almost broken up by the RIT defenseman back. But Ron Mexico was able to collect the puck around his skates and crammed it past Euverman for the goal.
The two teams skated very even for the remainder of the first period and it ended tied 1-1.
There wasn’t much pretty about the third period. RIT outscored Utica 4-1 in the period on the way to the win. And a rash of roughing minors midway through the period exemplified the frustrations mounting on the ice.
The referee must have had all but three pages ripped out of his copy of the NCAA rulebook, as he was only able to call roughing, high sticking, and 10 minute misconducts. Of course, he did those in profusion, calling 29 roughs, four high sticks, and four misconducts in the game.