ROCHESTER, N.Y. — File Saturday’s game between RIT and Manhattanville under “classic.”
On the line was the lead in the ECAC West with only one weekend of the regular season remaining — meaning the winner would gain a leg up on hosting the playoffs — that is, if there had been a winner. The Tigers and the Valiants, each backstopped by star performances in net, battled to a 2-2 draw.
Twice during the contest Manhattanville took a one-goal lead, only to see RIT answer, but the real stars were the netminders. RIT’s George Eliopoulos made 40 saves on 42 shots, while Valiant goaltender Jay Chrapala matched him with 36 saves on 38 shots. Both made several spectacular, sprawling saves to keep their teams in the contest.
“It felt good to give my team a chance to win,” said Eliopoulos. “I was a little shaky at the start, fighting the puck a little bit. But then I settled in.”
One minute into the overtime, Manhattanville gained a big advantage as Tiger Jason Chafe was given a spearing major penalty and sent to the locker room early.
Immediately, the Valiants skated into the Tiger zone and forced Eliopoulos to make a flashing glove save to extend the game. Manhattanville got two more great scoring chances in the next twenty seconds, but couldn’t score.
RIT’s best chance came with 2:45 remaining in the overtime stanza, when Brent Macovi took off up ice alone on a breakaway. But this time it was Chrapala flashing his glove to deflect the puck into the corner.
Eliopoulos was called on to make one last spectacular save, one on one against Valiant B.J. Greaves with two seconds remaining to maintain the tie.
“Every game we play against RIT, both teams play hard and clean,” said Manhattanville coach Keith Levinthal. “With each team’s power play, no one wants to take a dumb penalty and cost their team the game.”
Manhattanville struck first in the opening period. Andrew McShea flipped a shot from the left faceoff circle towards the Tiger net. The puck popped over Eliopoulos and settled just outside the goal line. Neil Clark was there for the Valiants to pounce on the loose puck and poke it across the line at 5:19.
In the first, RIT did a fine job of applying pressure in the Manhattanville zone. However, the Valiants did a better job of crashing the Tiger net.
The Tiger pressure finally paid dividends at the 13:16 mark to tie the game 1-1. Mike Tarantino collected his own rebound and wristed it past Chrapala for the goal.
Neither team gained an advantage on the scoreboard during the second period, either as both goaltenders continued their strong play in net.
For the second period in a row, the Valiants scored first, taking a 2-1 lead at the 9:00 mark. Manhattanville was skating on the power play, putting pressure on the RIT net. B.J. Greaves flipped a shot towards the Tiger net that Eliopoulos saved. However, the puck squirted out the far side of the crease, Eliopoulos was down and out, and Jordan Menzies was at the right place to wrist the puck into the wide-open net for the goal.
Just over three minutes later, RIT tied the game at 2. Darren Doherty held the puck at the bottom of the right faceoff circle, spotted linemate Brad Harris alone in front of the Manhattanville net, and sent the pass his way. Harris one-timed the puck, and Chrapala had no chance as it found the back of the net.
Each team had first-rate chances as the period wound down, but the goaltenders continued to make great saves, and the second period ended with a 2-2 tie.
The opening minutes of the third period were a string icing calls as both teams were content to dump the puck in a tight contest. RIT held a territorial advantage early in the period, but Manhattanville took that over towards the middle of the stanza.