ROCHESTER, N.Y. — RIT tried to work off some of the summer rust, using Canadian school St. Clair as a warmup in a season-opening exhibition. The Tigers showed some rust, and some strong play, as they defeated St. Clair 6-3 to start the season off on a winning note.
One of the reasons NCAA coaches schedule early-season exhibitions against Canadian teams is to allow their team to get their game legs in a game that doesn’t truly count.
“We were looking for the most competitive Canadian team, so we can get that game under our belt,” said Wilson. “I saw some things that we can improve on, toughness and making plays, that we will need to get better at.”
It took RIT a little while to get going. The Tigers struggled on their breakout passes during the first few minutes of the opening period, resulting in four straight icing calls in the first two minutes. RIT warmed to the task about four minutes into the game and got going with three unanswered goals.
At 4:32, freshman Darren Doherty scored his first collegiate goal to get RIT on the board. Captain Sam Hill sent a quick pass from the corner to Doherty cutting across the slot. Doherty had his stick on the ice and was able to re-direct the lateral pass under St. Clair netminder Grant Cousineau for the goal.
Less than a minute later, senior Mike Bournazakis tallied on a give-and-go from the blue line to give RIT the 2-0 lead. And with that, RIT had shaken off the rust from the summer and had settled into game form.
By the third period, some of the rust had returned to RIT’s play, and the Saints took advantage of it.
St. Clair used a 5-on-3 power play to put pressure on RIT to begin the third period. The territorial advantage finally paid off 4:10 into the period when Adam Russell snuck a shot from the point in between the pads of freshman Tiger goaltender George Eliopoulos.
George had a strong training camp,” said Wilson. “Changing goaltenders in the middle of the game was premeditated. I wanted to see him in a game.”
The parade of players to the penalty box continued, and both teams took advantage to score power-play goals.
The Saints continued to pour on the pressure, as RIT struggled to mount any sustained offensive pressure of its own. St. Clair tallied a power-play goal midway through the third period to cut the deficit in half.
RIT answered three minutes later with its own power-play goal to rebuild the lead to 5-3.
Only one goal was scored in the second period, again by RIT to build its lead to 4-0. The period became more and more chippy as it progressed, ending in a scrum as the buzzer sounded that resulted in seven penalties spread amongst the two teams. A total of 16 penalties were called by referee Peter Feola during the second period, mostly roughing and other physical penalties as the players took the body more than the puck.