POTSDAM, N.Y. — Nothing happened on time for RIT and Potsdam on Saturday.
The 4 p.m. start was pushed back two hours waiting for a substitute bus after the Tigers’ first bus dropped its transmission on an interstate off ramp on the way to the team meal, 75 miles from the rink.
Then it took an extra 4:13 after regulation for RIT to pull out a 4-3 win.
Defenseman Ryan Fairbarn set up his own winning goal and stopped a Potsdam rush by batting the puck back to center ice from just inside his own blue line. Mike Tarantino reached back to scoop up the loose puck, raced up the right wing around the last Potsdam defender and left a drop pass to the trailing Fairbarn, who fired a blistering slap shot over the shoulder of Ryan Venturelli.
Freshman Darren Doherty had given the Tigers a 3-2 lead early in the third period, taking a puck poked free by Matt Moore from just outside the blue line, parting the Potsdam defensive pair with a quick burst, and scoring a top-shelf goal from below the hash marks.
But with less than five minutes remaining, and after odd-man rushes by both teams, Potsdam’s Anthony Greer and Chris Lee took their own two-on-one into the RIT zone. Greer one-timed Lee’s pass, roofing it past RIT netminder Tyler Euverman on the far post, forcing overtime.
“I wasn’t happy with any of the first three periods,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “[But] I was happy with overtime. I thought we were controlling things well down low.”
Despite the win, Wilson gave low marks to the play of his upperclassmen.
“I told them I was very disappointed in the effort from our captains on down, and our veterans and ‘marquee players.’ They’re marked guys and they’re going to have to work extra hard,” he said.
A pesky forecheck and a quick, crisp, transitional game — much like the system first-year Potsdam coach Glenn Thomaris ran for fourteen seasons at Elmira — kept the Tigers bottled up for long stretches in their own zone during the first two periods and much of the third.
“There’s no excuse for the way we played tonight. We were sloppy,” said Wilson. “They just outworked us.”
Even with Potsdam’s strong play, RIT had jumped to a two-goal lead by the middle of the first period.
Mike Bournazakis dug the puck free from a pile in the corner and walked out to the top of the face-off circle, finding Roberto Orofiamma, who deflected Bournazakis’ feed past Venturelli for the first Tiger goal, and Orofiamma’s fifth in three games.
Later in the period, with the Bears on the power play, RIT’s Marc Hyman poked the puck ahead to fellow rookie Craig Hupp at the Potsdam blue line. Hupp’s shot at a tight angle bounced off the glove-side shoulder of Venturelli, and fluttered into the net.
Potsdam narrowed RIT’s lead to 2-1 late in the first, again on the power play, as Euverman anticipated a Jim Quilty shot from the point and committed to the post. Corey McAllister took Mike Snow’s redirection of Quilty’s shot and flipped a backhander over the outstretched Euverman.
The Bears tied the game at 2-2 with the only goal of the second period, when Mike Smitko took a shot on Euverman that went wide and Scott Craig one-timed the resulting bounce off the back boards.
Wilson said that after two blowouts last weekend, the tight game was “a good game for us to get refocused. I think this game grounded us pretty well.”
Both teams enter league play next weekend. RIT (3-0) hosts Manhattanville and Neumann in the ECAC West, while Potsdam (4-1) opens SUNYAC play at home against Brockport and Geneseo.