ROCHESTER, N.Y. — It was dj vu between Elmira and RIT. Just last weekend, RIT carried a 3-1 lead into the third period only to see Elmira erase that lead. The two teams settled for a 5-5 tie.
Tonight, RIT once again carried a 3-1 lead into the third period. Elmira scored two goals in the first six minutes of the final stanza to knot the game 3-3, setting up another wild finish.
This time it was RIT who scored the fourth goal late in the third period. The Tigers added an empty net goal with :16 left to come away with a 5-3 win.
“It was a gutsy effort on the part of our players,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “They played with a lot of heart. We just didn’t play very smart. We deserved every penalty the ref called against us.”
With the game tied 3-3, the Tiger forecheck was able to pin the puck deep into the Elmira zone. Roberto Orofiamma dug the puck out of the corner, and put it onto Jason Chafe’s stick. Chafe plowed through a crowd of Soaring Eagle players to the net and backhanded the puck high over Elmira netminder Greg Fargo’s shoulder for the goal at the 15:54 mark of the third period.
“I looked at [Orofiamma] and he was able to dish the puck back to me, and then I was able to put it in,” said Chafe.
Elmira chipped away at the RIT lead entering the third period quickly. Just 1:55 into the period, Andrew Morris chipped the puck over RIT goaltender Tyler Euverman off a scramble in front of the Tiger net.
“The players were pretty animated during the second intermission,” said Elmira coach Tim Ceglarski. “They did most of the talking in the locker room and were ready to take it to RIT in the third period.”
Just four minutes later, the Soaring Eagles erased the RIT lead. Tiger defender Ryan Franke cheated at the Elmira blueline, trying to pinch Jason Cassells off of the puck. Cassells was able to elude Franke, and sprinted into the RIT zone all alone and beat Euverman low to tie the game 3-3 at the 6:07 mark.
“With those goals, momentum was on their side, but playing on the road they couldn’t build on that like they did at home last week,” said Wilson.
After RIT took the 4-3 lead, Elmira poured on the gas trying to re-tie the game. Euverman made several spectacular saves with under three minutes remaining in the game to preserve the RIT lead.
“Tyler [Euverman] was there when we had to count on him tonight,” said Wilson. “He’s going to take us where we want to go this year.”
Ceglarski pulled goaltender Fargo with less than a minute remaining. Elmira went on the power play with 39 seconds left in the contest when RIT defenseman Matt Moore was called for holding. With his team on the short end of a 6-on-4 attack, RIT’s David Bagley intercepted the puck and dumped it the length of the ice just wide of the goal. Bagley chased after the loose puck and swept Elmira’s clearing pass into the empty net.
The Tigers started the second period on their first power play of the night. Fargo had to make a spectacular save 20 seconds into the period to prevent RIT from expanding its lead.
Elmira was able to kill off the penalty, and then scored to narrow the margin. Lawne Snyder put a blast from the top of the slot onto the Tiger net. Euverman made the save, but the rebound jumped out to Justin Siebold’s stick who one timed it home for the power play goal at the 1:37 mark.
The majority of the second period was listless, with the flow chopped up by more penalties on both teams. RIT rebuilt its two-goal lead in the closing minutes when Roberto Orofiamma beat Fargo high stick side. Mike Bournazakis dished the puck to Orofiamma as he entered the Elmira zone to set up the goal.
RIT got into penalty trouble early in the first period. Less than two minutes into the game, Elmira found itself with a 5-on-3 advantage for almost a full two minutes. The Soaring Eagles were very patient setting up the power play, almost too patient, and spent quite a bit of time passing the puck around the perimeter. Elmira managed two shots on the power play but didn’t score.
After the Elmira power play, both teams were tentative over the next few minutes of play as neither wanted to make that first mistake.
The Tigers managed to strike first, scoring 8:20 into the first period off a broken play. Players from both teams were scrambling for the puck behind the Elmira net when it dribbled out to the corner of the net. The puck became tied up in Fargo’s skate, and Tiger Lanner Fayad poked it home for the goal.
After the RIT goal, the Tigers took a strong forecheck to Elmira and were able to control the puck for long stretches. Elmira weathered the storm without any more damage and then turned the tables on RIT with some puck-controlling play of its own.
The referee sent a steady stream of players to the box in the first period, mostly Tiger players. Even though Elmira had four power plays in the first period, it was RIT that scored the only special team goal in the first period to take a 2-0 lead.
Killing off a penalty late in the first period, RIT sent a strong forecheck into the Elmira zone after dumping the puck on net. Fargo hesitated passing the puck up ice while bothered by Tiger David Bagley. Finally Fargo attempted to clear the puck, but RIT’s Michael Tarantino intercepted it and flipped the puck back into the net for the goal.