ROCHESTER, N.Y. — RIT came back from deficits twice to tie Plattsburgh during this NCAA Quarterfinal contest, once from a two-goal deficit and once when the Tigers were down by a single goal. Overtime was a wild affair but neither team could get the puck past the stellar goaltending and the game ended in a 4-4 tie.
Neither team was playing for a tie, as players were flying all over the ice looking for the game- winner. RIT netminder Tyler Euverman and Plattsburgh’s Niklas Sundberg both came up with huge saves to keep the game knotted.
“I’ll certainly take the tie,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “We were tentative and nervous, especially in the first period, and I was disappointed with our play.”
This is the third tie in four straight playoff games for Plattsburgh. The Cardinal’s first two games against Oswego last weekend in the SUNYAC finals ended in ties also. Plattsburgh had a goal by Brendan Hodge disallowed 2:57 in to overtime. The ref blew the whistle right before the goal crossed the goal line, calling Plattsburgh for a man in the crease.
“You never get used to overtime,” said Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery.
Defense was the name of the game for both teams early in the third period. The defenders kept shots away from their respective goalies very well. After eight minutes of play, the shots on goal tally stood at RIT with only three and Plattsburgh with one.
Plattsburgh mounted sustained pressure in the RIT zone midway through the period. It finally resulted in an interference penalty on Tiger Jerry Galway. After killing off 50 straight opposing power plays since mid-January, the RIT penalty-killing unit finally gave up a goal. Adam Richards finished off a two-on-one breakaway to give Plattsburgh the 4-3 lead.
Things were looking grim for RIT as the clock wound down in the third period. However, RIT mounted good pressure in the Plattsburgh zone and the Tigers tied the game 4-4 with only 2:56 remaining. Mike Tarantino put a shot on net, and the rebound popped out to the top of the crease. David Bagley was there for RIT to chip the puck over Sundberg for the goal.
“RIT was getting two or three chances each rush up the ice,” said Emery. “We were only getting a single chance in the RIT zone but it was a quality chance.”
The Tigers climbed back into the game in the second period. RIT put its first mark up on the scoreboard 6:23 in to the second period. Jason Chafe, from the corner, found Brian Armes all alone in the Cardinal slot who ripped a shot past Sundberg for the goal.
“We were kind of spotty in getting pressure,” said Wilson. “Armes’ goal changed the momentum a little in our favor.”
The RIT goal didn’t phase Plattsburgh, and the Cardinals used their speed to give RIT fits in the Tiger zone. James Coleman single-handedly gave the Cardinals their two-goal lead back midway through the period. Coleman carried the puck in to the RIT zone along the boards, through the corner, wove around two Tigers, and tucked the puck past Euverman as he slid across the slot for the goal. It was an amazing individual play by Coleman to stake Plattsburgh to a 3-1 lead.
After the third Cardinal goal, something clicked within the RIT players, and they strongly carried play for the remainder of the second period. The Tigers decided to show Plattsburgh that they could play a relentless forecheck game as well, and the pressure paid off with two RIT goals.
The second Tiger goal came at 14:27. Chafe dug the puck out from behind the Plattsburgh net, skated out around the top of the crease and slid a backhander past a butterflying Sundberg.
The RIT power play tallied the Tigers’ third goal 17:06 in to the period. Ryan Franke knelt down on the ice to keep the puck in at the point along the boards. He stood up and slid the puck across the slot to Brian Wilkins at the top of the far faceoff circle. Wilkins paused, and then put a blast past Sundberg’s glove for the goal.
Plattsburgh came out skating right from the opening faceoff and put pressure on the RIT net. Just 16 seconds in to the first period, the Cardinals rang a shot off the crossbar of the RIT net. Plattsburgh didn’t relent on the pressure and it paid off at the 1:21 mark.
Tiger Michael Tucciarone sent a soft clearing pass up the boards that was intercepted at the point by Cardinal Peter Ollari. Ollari wound a shot through a crowd of players that beat Euverman high over his right shoulder to give Plattsburgh the 1-0 lead.
“We just wanted to not give up any goals in the first period,” said Emery. “Getting two goals was something extra.”
After his early heroics, Ollari took two straight penalties over the next five minutes. While RIT didn’t score on these power plays, it did allow the Tigers to steady themselves a little bit.
RIT had trouble handling the speed of the Plattsburgh players throughout the first period, and the Cardinals used their speed to put a strong forecheck on RIT that gave the Tigers fits.
“We were tentative coming out of the locker room,” said Wilson. “We weren’t mentally strong, and we paid a price for it.”
Plattsburgh struck again at the 14:58 mark of the period. RIT had setup in the Cardinal zone on the powerplay. The puck came out to the top of the slot, and Tiger defender wound up for a slapshot. Brendon Hodge blocked the shot out and the puck skittered out towards center ice. Hodge and Rob Retter took off down the ice with a two-on-one shorthanded break.
Retter and Hodge passed the puck back and forth a couple of times as they skated in to the Tiger zone, before Hodge finished off the play with Plattsburgh’s second goal of the game.