ROCHESTER, N.Y. — RIT rode a trio of second-period goals to a 5-2 victory over Plattsburgh. The Cardinals tried to battle back midway through the third period, but the Tigers held on for the win. It was the first time RIT has defeated Plattsburgh at home in the regular season since 1995.
“We were feeling a little bit of pressure, and we were putting it on ourselves,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “We were two evenly-matched teams.”
The second period started out slowly, marked by repeated offsides and icings by both teams. However, the pace quickly picked up as RIT began to win almost all of the battles on the ice. The Tigers started to turn play to their advantage five minutes into the period, winning the races to the loose pucks and out-battling the Cardinals in the corners.
The work paid off for RIT as the Tigers scored three unanswered goals to take control of the game. The run was started by freshman Marc Hyman at 6:30, scoring his first collegiate goal. The play emerged as linemates Jason Chafe and Darren Doherty fought for the puck behind the Cardinal net. They were able to squirt the puck out across the slot, and Hyman collected it at the top of the left faceoff circle and wristed it home for the goal.
This put Plattsburgh back on its heels a bit, and RIT took advantage late in the period. During a power play, RIT got the Plattsburgh penalty killers moving side to side. This proved deadly as Mike Bournazakis wristed it in at the 14:25 mark to make the score 3-1 in to the period.
The Tigers converted on a two-on-two breakaway late in the period for their fourth goal. David Bagley finished off the play, deflecting in a pass from Mike Tarantino as they passed the hash marks heading towards the Cardinal net.
RIT carried a 4-1 lead into the locker room, with the momentum firmly in hand, at the end of the second period. The Tigers continued early in the third period right where they left off in the second. But Plattsburgh tightened up its defense and kept RIT off the board.
A pair of penalties on RIT gave the Cardinals the opening they needed. Brendon Hodge converted on the ensuing power play, with a blast from the top of the slot that hit RIT netminder Tyler Euverman and struck in the back of the net at the 10:18 mark.
Plattsburgh poured more pressure on the Tiger net, but RIT stemmed the tide with a goal of its own just two minutes later. Hyman sent a big slapshot towards the Cardinal net. Sam Hill tipped the puck mid-flight, and the deflection eluded Cardinal goaltender Craig Neilson for the goal.
“This felt great, with all the fans and thundersticks going,” said RIT captain Sam Hill. “This was a game that we really wanted.”
It was all Plattsburgh from the opening faceoff of the first period. The Cardinals carried play deep into the RIT zone, putting pressure on netminder Euverman. Plattsburgh took advantage of a questionable penalty call on Tiger defenseman Ryan Fairbarn just :54 into the period to take the early lead.
Conor McDonough crashed the RIT net with the puck, but was stone-walled by Euverman. The puck skittered off of McDonough’s skate, across the crease, and Jeff Hopkins was there to swat the puck into the net for the goal at the 1:35 mark.
Plattsburgh continued to dominate play after its goal quieted the highly partisan RIT crowd. A pair of offsetting penalties at the 4:36 mark allowed RIT to right the ship a little, and play evened out after that. The Cardinals lost senior defender Peter Ollari who limped off the ice after a check into the boards, and did not return during the game. This key loss of an all-star defensemen hurt Plattsburgh as the game went on.
The only battles that RIT consistently won during the first period were the physical ones. The Tigers played a more bruising style in the first period, compared to past games with Plattsburgh.