ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Passing was RIT’s forte Friday.
The Tigers were able to weave the puck across the slot of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, setting up several goals. Despite physical play in a competitive first period, RIT built a lead through the second period to secure the game. The Tigers scored eight unanswered goals to take away a 9-1 victory.
“We played much better than in last week’s game against St. Clair,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “We skated better, finished our checks better, and did a lot of the little things better.”
RIT took advantage of a power play to start the second period to take control of the game. The Tigers mounted sustained pressure in the Blugold zone all period, which turned a 2-1 lead into a 5-1 advantage after scoring even-strength, power-play, and shorthanded goals in the middle frame.
The Tigers opened the scoring 6:42 into the second period with a power-play goal. During a scrum in front, Eau Claire goaltender Scott Sutton tipped the left corner of the net off its moorings. However, the ref let play continue and less than two seconds later Mike Bournazakis steered the puck around the sprawled Sutton for the goal.
Almost six minutes later, RIT scored even-strength as Mike Tucciarone wristed the puck into the back of the net.
The waning seconds of the second found RIT killing off a tripping penalty on freshman Tony Bifulco, but a slow line change by RIT actually helped set up the Tigers’ fifth goal.
Jared Conlon and Lanner Fayad both came off the bench late, but the mistake paid dividends when the puck squirted across neutral ice. Conlon picked it up and the pair sprinted into the zone marked by two defensemen. Conlon sent a pass across the slot to a streaking Fayad, who tapped it into the net for the shorthanded tally.
RIT was up 5-1 and in control of the game.
The first period was a physical affair, as both teams took the body at every opportunity. Along the boards was a dangerous place to be as players lined each other up. However both teams kept the checks clean, and play continued through a fast-paced period.
“I thought the first period was our best period,” said Wilson. “We stayed with the game plan and maybe wore them down a little.”
RIT opened up the scoring in the game 8:57 into the first period. Bournazakis carried the puck out of the corner and passed across the slot to freshman Craig Hupp, standing on the far side of the net. All alone, Hupp flipped the puck over Sutton for his first collegiate tally.
Eau Claire answered to knot the game. Matt Gehr collected a rebound deep in the Tiger zone and skated out into the slot unmarked. The Tiger defense didn’t react quickly enough and Gehr wristed the puck over RIT goaltender Tyler Euverman’s stick for the power-play goal.
The teams skated even for the next five minutes, before RIT’s Roberto Orofiamma backhanded the puck into the Eau Claire net at the 16:05 mark to give RIT the lead for good.
The Tigers added three goals in the third period as Orofiamma and Bournazakis each tallied their second goals of the game. Orofiamma scored just 1:36 in, and Bournazakis tallied his power-play goal midway through the stanza.
Freshman Darren Doherty won a faceoff deep in the Blugold zone and buried his own rebound less than a minute after Bournazakis’ goal to give RIT an 8-1 lead. Finally, Conlon chipped in a rebound with eight seconds left to finish the final score.