ROCHESTER, N.Y. — One way or another, the game between the St. Norbert Green Knights and the RIT Tigers was going to be decided by the freshmen. St. Norbert dressed a total of eight freshmen, including five freshmen defensemen. RIT, by comparison, only dressed a total of five freshmen, but all five of those were forwards, including two on the first line.
Both freshmen classes passed their first test with flying colors. The RIT freshmen scored three goals and the St. Norbert freshmen defensemen did a fantastic job in blocking the Tiger clearing passes and keeping the puck in the RIT zone at the points all night long.
“It was a great game for our new guys to get acquainted with college hockey,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson.
The two teams didn’t settle anything though, battling to a 4-4 tie. The same two teams will meet again tomorrow night to continue the battle.
The Tigers killed off the second half of a major penalty to start the third period, but just thirty seconds later RIT took another penalty. St. Norbert was able to convert on this power play to tie the game, 2-2. The Green Knights executed a picture-perfect passing play into the RIT zone that Spencer Carbery finished off at the 4:08 mark.
“The penalties will be addressed right here, right now,” said Wilson. “We need to play more disciplined. If we are expecting to play a man down for half a period and win, we are fooling ourselves.”
For the second time in the game, RIT answered back after a St. Norbert score. This time, the Tigers scored two goals less than a minute after the St. Norbert tally. Tristan Fairbarn scored his first collegiate goal on the power play. That was followed 19 seconds later by Roberto Orofiamma’s goal.
It was then the Green Knights chance to answer back. Connor Hughes sent a backhand shot towards the RIT net that eluded Tiger netminder George Eliopoulos for a goal at the 6:03 mark. What had been a tight checking game suddenly erupted with four goals in less than a two-minute span.
St. Norbert scrapped back to tie the game at the 11:56 mark. Freshman Sheldon Wing put a slapshot on the Tiger net that Eliopoulos saved. But Kelly Wosnack was standing right at the corner of the net to collect the rebound and flip it high into the back of the net.
“They crashed the net very well,” said Wilson. “We didn’t handle them around the net as well as we should have.”
The Green Knights continued to control play after they tied the game, getting several first-rate chances at the Tiger net.
RIT took its first lead of the night 4:34 into the second period, scoring on the power play. Ryan Fairbarn found freshman Rob Tarantino going hard towards the net down the far circle. Tarantino stretched and was able to just tap the puck past Colquhoun for his first collegiate goal.
The physical play built in intensity as the second period progressed. Both teams started throwing the body more and more, clutching, grabbing, and swinging sticks. RIT got the short end of the physicalness, taking four straight penalties in the last ten minutes of the period. The final RIT penalty of the second period was a five-minute major given to Tiger defender Mike Walling. St. Norbert didn’t score in the waning minutes of the period on the power play and carried half of it into the third period.
26 seconds after the opening faceoff, RIT’s Ryan Fairbarn was sent to the penalty box with an interference call. St. Norbert worked a strong power play around the Tiger zone and converted at the 1:44 mark. Crisp passing found Jason Deitsch alone in the slot and he ricocheted a wrist shot off of Eliopoulos’ stick into the top of the net for the goal.
RIT was quick to answer back. The Tigers broke into the Green Knight zone right off the center-ice faceoff. The puck sprung out from behind the net right onto freshman Brad Harris’ stick. Harris wrested the puck past Colquhoun from a tight angle for the goal ten seconds after St. Norbert scored.
After the quick span of goals, the two teams settled down defensively. RIT got 54 seconds of 5-on-3 midway through the period, but the young St. Norbert defense held its ground and didn’t allow RIT a single shot. Both teams had a few good opportunities as the period wound down, but neither were able to convert and the period ended tied 1-1.
The two teams meet again tomorrow evening.