ROCHESTER, N.Y. — After struggling against a solid Manhattanville game plan during the entire contest, RIT broke the tie late in the third period on the way to a 3-1 win.
RIT came out stronger in the third period, and evened out the play to keep momentum swaying and the intensity building.
“We played one period, anyways,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “I wasn’t happy with our effort. My concern is our consistency. We didn’t play as I would like us to play until the third period.”
Manhattanville only made a few mistakes in its own zone, but RIT took advantage of a key one late in the third. Jared Conlon intercepted a loose puck squirting through the left faceoff dot with less than six minutes remaining. Conlon quickly wristed the puck towards the net; it wound its way through traffic and into the top corner of the net to give RIT the 2-1 lead.
After injuring his knee earlier in the period, Mike Bournazakis walked it off and added an insurance goal late. Matt Moore sent a slapper from the blue line that went wide of the net. The puck ricocheted off the back boards to the far side, where Bournazakis was right on the doorstep and chipped the puck home to seal the win for RIT.
After the goal, Bournazakis was helped limping to his bench by his linemates.
Manhattanville had a sound game plan and executed it well. The Valiants put up a wall across the neutral zone, containing the faster RIT players from breaking cleanly into the Manhattanville zone. The Valiants then used passes across the neutral zone to gain odd-man rushes into the Tigers’ third of the ice.
“I thought we outplayed them,” said Manhattanville coach Keith Levinthal. “We don’t leave this game with a very good taste in our mouth.”
The plan worked to perfection in the second period, as Manhattanville dominated play and outshot RIT 16-5.
The Valiants tied the score 1-1 midway through the period right off a faceoff deep in the RIT zone. Dave Schmalenberg won the faceoff and immediately got the puck to his winger Dave Law at the top left of the circle. Law was in the shooter’s position and wristed the puck into the top left corner of the net.
“We’re a different team,” said Levinthal. “It’s a process to get better, and people forget that.”
The first period was even. Manhattanville carried play during the opening minutes, but a penalty to Garrett McNeil cut the Valiant momentum. RIT gained the upper hand and carried it through the next 10 minutes of play.
RIT found itself killing off a penalty mid-period, but that didn’t faze the Tigers. Mike Tarantino hit David Bagley breaking into the Valiant zone. The Manhattanville defenders didn’t expect Bagley to take the puck hard to the net, and Bagley was able to skate around both of them. A quick move around goaltender Jay Chrapala and Bagley found the back of the net for the shorthanded goal.
Manhattanville dug out of the momentum hole and carried play into the RIT zone during the last five minutes of the period, and into the second period.
“They are a really strong team,” said Wilson. “This is their best team that I have seen; [they] are really balanced throughout.”