ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The opening game of league play in the ECAC West was a rematch of last season’s championship contest between Hobart and RIT. The Statesmen won that contest to capture their first-ever league title. They weren’t as successful Friday, as RIT gained a small measure of revenge with a 6-1 win.
The RIT forwards gained the upper hand in the second period, and built an insurmountable 5-1 lead. Five different Tigers chipped in for the goals.
“We played one good period,” said Hobart coach Mark Taylor. “We lost focus, and they capitalized. We never regained it, and they kept it.”
RIT opened the scoring while skating four-on-four 3:07 into the period. Jason Chafe and Tony Bifulco skated in to the Hobart zone with a 2-on-1 breakaway. Bifulco set up the lone Statesman defender, and used him as a screen to slide the puck past Hobart netminder Adam Lavelle.
Just 21 seconds later, Hobart tied the score with both teams still down a man. Edward Poirier carried the puck into the RIT zone down the right boards, and then wristed a quick shot that eluded Tiger goaltender George Eliopoulos.
Play continued even, although RIT retook the lead at 6:33 when freshman Darrell Draper scored his first collegiate goal. Even with the slim lead, Hobart continued to press.
However, the scoring floodgates opened for RIT late in the period giving the Tigers the advantage. In a span of just over two minutes, the Tigers scored three goals to build the 5-1 lead.
Matt Smith started the onslaught with a power-play goal at 14:26, Marc Hyman chipped in one at 15:01, and Simon Lambert tallied at 16:42. That was enough for Hobart coach Mark Taylor, and he replaced goaltender Lavelle with freshman Dimitri Papaevagelou.
“We’ve got to get some of our guns running,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “Chafe, Draper, Lamber, Walton were really flying.”
RIT chipped in a power-play goal midway through the third period. Michael Tucciarone, running the power play from the point, found Tristan Fairbarn down low along the end line. Fairbarn gathered the pass and wristed it past Papaevagelou on the short side to build the Tigers’ lead to 6-1.
Hobart had its chances during the remainder of the game, but was unable to put any more goals on the scoreboard.
In the first period, it was Hobart that carried play. The Statesmen used a strong forecheck to give the young RIT defensemen fits. The Tigers struggled to make passes out of their own zone through much of the period, including during each of the four power plays that they were awarded.
“[Hobart] had us on our heels,” said Wilson. “We weren’t ready for that pace of a game.”
The Statesmen outshot RIT 13-4 in the first period, and enjoyed an advantage in the quality of those shots. However, they were unable to solve Eliopoulos and the period ended scoreless.
“We’ve had some success in the past in playing our game of putting pressure on the defensemen,” said Taylor.