FREDONIA, N.Y. — There are certain things that drive coaches nuts. Things like goals in the final minute of a period, or the first minute for that matter. Dumb penalties when the game is on the line. Wasted opportunities. The list of things that give coaches gray hairs before their time goes on and on.
If this game is any indication, Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith and RIT coach Wayne Wilson will be gray well before their time.
Both teams had a continuous stream of players parading to the penalty box during the latter half of the third period and into overtime. But despite the resulting power plays, neither team could take advantage and the game ended in a 3-3 tie.
RIT came out buzzing in the third period and it immediately paid dividends. Right off the opening faceoff, the Tigers pushed the puck into the Fredonia zone. 23 seconds later, Rob Tarantino pounced on a loose puck lying in the area between the two faceoff circles and one-timed it home to give RIT its first, and only, lead of the game 3-2.
Fredonia got away from its physical play of the opening two periods that had worked so well, and RIT continued to carry play in the third. Mid-period, Fredonia got its legs back underneath itself, and its shoulders back into Tiger players, and play evened out.
“I though they worked extremely hard, one of the hardest teams we have played so far,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson.
The Blue Devils tied the game back up at the 7:19 mark with a lucky bounce of the puck. Off a faceoff to the left of RIT goaltender George Eliopoulos, Kyle Bozoian put a hard shot on net. Eliopoulos got in front of it, but the puck deflected up in to the air. It came down to the side, slightly behind the netminder, and bounced across the goal line for the score.
The intensity ratcheted up another notch with the tie score. Emotions were running a little too high for the homestanding Blue Devils though, as they took two penalties in the final nine minutes of the game. They killed off both penalties, barely on the first penalty kill and stronger on the second.
“Just about the time [Fredonia] tied it up, the ref decided that someone was going to win this game,” said Wilson. “I’m not sure who, but he certainly gave both teams enough opportunities.”
Fredonia took a third penalty just minutes later, but RIT only enjoyed 48 seconds more of power play before a series of dumb penalties of its own evened up the skaters 4-on-4. This flurry also took RIT’s two best defensemen off the ice, Ryan Francke and Ryan Fairbarn.
It was RIT’s turn to parade to the penalty box, trying to give away the game, as time wound down. Tiger Mike Walling took the skate of shame to the penalty box with only 44 seconds remaining to give Fredonia a power play that they carried in to overtime.
The Blue Devils couldn’t convert on the man-advantage, mainly due to taking too much time to break out of their own zone resulting in two icing calls.
RIT gave Fredonia another chance in the final minute of the overtime period when Michael Tucciarone took a slashing penalty. Right off the ensuing faceoff, to Eliopoulos’ left, Fredonia dinged a shot off the post and the netminder fell on it.
Fredonia managed to get one more shot on the RIT net as time in the extra period wound down, but couldn’t score, and the game ended in a 3-3 tie.
RIT played the contest shorthanded up front, only dressing ten forwards for the contest. No official reason was provided by the RIT coaching staff for the shortage.
The two teams jockeyed for position in the opening moments of the first period, with neither able to gain much momentum. However, 2:51 in, RIT was assessed a holding minor, and it was off to the races for the Blue Devils.
Will Barlow led the rush into the Tiger zone, and dished off to linemate Ben Tefft. Even though Tefft was marked by an RIT forward from behind, he was able to wrist the puck past netminder Eliopoulos at the 3:55 mark to give Fredonia a power play goal.
Just twenty seconds later, Fredonia struck again as the Tigers were back on their heels. It was Bozoian who flipped the puck towards the crease from along the goal line to the left of the goal. Eliopoulos never got set and the puck trickled between his legs across the goal line to give Fredonia a 2-0 lead.
The Blue Devils continued to press, completely controlling play. It wasn’t until almost seven minutes later that RIT even got another shot on Fredonia netminder Simon Maignan. However, the Tigers were able to keep Fredonia from building its lead, and the first period ended with the Blue Devils up 2-0.
RIT started the second period on the power play, and went on a 5-on-3 advantage just over a minute in. However, Fredonia played an aggressive penalty kill scheme in its own zone, skating hard to the puck carrier as soon as the RIT player received the pass, and this caused the RIT power play unit trouble.
The Tigers were able to score just a few seconds before the second penalty expired, 2:58 in to the period. Brian Payant wristed a puck upwards from the left faceoff circle that hit Maignan on the shoulder and fluttered over it in to the net for the goal.
The goal gave RIT life and the second period was a back-and-forth affair. Each team put strong pressure on the opposing net, dinged one off the post and crossbar, and took the puck up and down the ice. It was also a physical period as the Fredonia players didn’t miss any opportunity to finish a check against the Tigers.
The goaltenders were scrambling as the period wound down before RIT took advantage of one of the few Fredonia mistakes to tie the game 2-2 late in the second. RIT just finished killing off a slashing penalty to Jason Chafe, who came out of the box and skated in to his defensive zone. The puck squirted out and onto his stick and he led a 3-on-1 RIT break up ice. Chafe passed forward through the neutral zone to linemate Michael Tarantino, who carried the puck into the Blue Devil zone before passing across the slot to Michael Tucciarone. Tucciarone settled the puck before wristing it past a helpless Maignan for the goal.