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College Hockey:
Strong Start Carries RIT Past Neumann

— The RIT Tigers used a six-goal outburst in the first period to coast to an 8-1 victory over the Neumann Knights.

RIT scored 1:35 into the first, as Roberto Orofiamma backhanded a pass in for the score. Flashbacks to last year’s 24-0 score, a game in which RIT topped several longstanding school records, winked through the minds of the fans.

But this was a different Neumann team, not quite ready to go toe-to-toe with the top Division III teams, but more competitive nonetheless.

The Tigers went on to score five more goals in the first, most in the second half of the period, and all by different scorers.

“We had a good first period,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “Then Neumann controlled play, really, for the second and third period.”

RIT added another goal early in the second period as Darren Doherty chipped in his second score of the game.

“My players didn’t follow the game plan in the first period at all,” said Neumann coach Nick Russo. “They needed to stay focused on the basics that we talked about.”

Though down 7-0, Neumann kept plugging away in the second period. The Knights used several penalties against RIT to take play into the Tiger zone. The work finally paid off 11:10 in to the period. John Nicoletti blocked a shot near the Neumann blue line to start the play. As the puck rebounded out towards center ice, Nicoletti beat a Tiger defender to the puck and he was off to the races. Nicoletti streaked down the slot and beat RIT netminder George Eliopoulos over his shoulder to score the unassisted goal.

“They are the better team, no doubt,” said Russo. “Some of my young guys stepped up. Our goalie kept us in the game. It was a big step in the right direction.”

Neumann goaltender Mike Billingsley played a solid second and third period, making several strong saves as RIT put pressure on.

The second period came to an early end as a pane of glass in a corner was jarred loose by a big check and came crashing down. The lengthy delay sent the teams to their locker rooms with 3:57 remaining on the clock.

Once the glass was fixed, the third period was a choppy affair interrupted by a constant stream of players escorted to the penalty boxes. Seven minors, two misconducts, and a major were called in the period — all deserved — but it meant that not much time was spent playing hockey.

As the final buzzer sounded, RIT’s Ryan Franke threw a big check on Knight Tim Tabb, into the boards at the Tiger bench. Both players jumped up swinging, and a scrum ensued involving all of the players on the ice. No penalties were handed out, and it remains to be seen how much carries over to the next meeting between these two teams on December 6.

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