ROCHESTER, N.Y. — In the six year history of the Manhattanville hockey team, the Valiants had never won at RIT’s Ritter Arena. But Manhattanville battled all game long and won a hard earned 2-1 victory in overtime tonight to break that streak.
Jason Kenyon slid the puck just inside the near post from just to the side 3:25 in to overtime for the game winning goal.
“Kenyon takes this team on his back. The kid has a heart of a lion,” said Manhattanville coach Keith Levinthal.
There was a little bit of everything in this game. RIT’s starting goaltender was injured midway through the first period and left the game. The Tigers scored a goal off the side of the Valiants netminder’s skate. And then Manhattanville scored two power play goals late in the game to take the victory.
“We have taken a lot of penalties this year,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “Sometimes you have to look in the mirror and recognize what you are. Good teams don’t take those penalties down the stretch. There were a lot of little things that decided this game.”
After what had been an escalating level of physical play during the later half of the second period, the physical-ness calmed down a little as the third period opened. The early parts of the period were also choppy with little flow as a series of offsides, icings, and other whistles slowed the pace of the game.
The best scoring opportunity early in the period came for RIT, while skating shorthanded. Valiant Chad Van Diemen wound up for a big slapshot from the RIT blueline, but his stick shattered as he swung. This sent the Tigers off on a 2-on-1 breakaway, with Van Diemen as the lone defender without a stick. Manhattanville goaltender Andrew Gallant made a spectacular save to smother the RIT shot and keep the Valiants within striking distance of RIT.
“What makes Gallant really good is that he handles the puck very well,” said Levinthal. “He was great tonight, and that is why he won the starting job.”
Manhattanville threw everything they had at the RIT net as the seconds of the third period ticked off the clock. Coach Keith Levinthal called a timeout with 6:56 remaining, while his team was on the power play, to set up pressure for the last few minutes of the game.
The strategy worked and Manhattanville tied the game 1-1 at 14:46. As RIT was just finishing off the penalty kill, the referee put his arm in the air again to call another penalty on the Tigers. In addition, an RIT defender broke his stick, so with the extra Valiant on the ice RIT was effectively skating down two players.
Manhattanville took advantage and scored off a scramble in front of the RIT net. Tyler Resch finished off the play, bouncing a hard wrist shot off of RIT backup netminder David Wrisley’s glove and in to the net.
“It was a gutsy effort by our guys,” said Levinthal. “Our guys hung in there and played with a lot of heart ”
RIT got a power play of its own with four minutes remaining but the Tigers were not able to convert on their opportunity.
The referee continued to exert his influence on the game as the clock wound down, calling an interference penalty on RIT with only ten seconds remaining in regulation time of the third period.
In overtime, Manhattanville had four great chances to steal the win during the remainder of the RIT penalty that carried over from the end of regulation play. But Wrisley was able to somehow come up with the saves to keep the game going.
“[Wrisley] did a real solid job tonight,” said Wilson. “He wasn’t fighting the puck at all and played a real good game.”
Once RIT returned to full strength, they had a couple of good scoring chances of its own but this time it was Gallant’s time to steal the show. RIT was whistled for another penalty with 2:08 remaining in the game, this time for high sticking, and Manhattanville again skated on the power play.
This time, Manhattanville converted on the opportunity. Jason Murfitt fought for the puck behind the RIT net and passed it over to Jason Kenyon. Kenyon skated to the side of the net and slid it just inside the near post to score the game winning goal at 3:25 of overtime for the 2-1 victory.
Manhattanville came out with a jump off the opening faceoff of the second period, even though they were shorthanded. This turned in to two good scoring chances in the first fifteen seconds of the period, but Wrisley made both saves.
The Valiants had another great scoring chance at 3:35, perhaps their best of the game so far. Manhattanville skated in to the RIT zone 2-on-1, and managed to weave the pass over to the far player. He got off a great one-timer shot, but Wrisley leaped across the crease to grab the puck out of the air and make the save.
RIT opened the scoring just three minutes later, although the goal was a little flukey. Tiger Brad Harris was battling along the boards behind the Valiants net when he backhanded a soft pass out towards the slot. But the puck caught the side of goaltender Gallant’s skate, and deflected in to the net as he was not holding tight against the near goal post. The goal at 6:25 gave RIT the 1-0 lead.
The physical play continued to escalate as the period continued, with emotions growing with the physical play. There was a rash of roughing penalties in the waning minutes of the period that reflected this pattern.
RIT was able to withstand the Manhattanville attack, and skated off the ice at the end of the second period holding on to the slim 1-0 lead.
The first period was played evenly, although shots on goal favored Manhattanville 12-6. RIT dominated the first three minutes of the period, gaining several good scoring chances but were not able to solve Gallant.
Manhattanville finally got its forecheck going after that, and used that to dominate play for the next two minutes. At the 9:40 mark, starting Tiger goaltender George Eliopoulos went down with an injury. After a delay of several minutes, Eliopoulos was helped off the ice by two of his players in obvious pain.
Backup netminder David Wrisley entered the game, having only played four periods of hockey so far this season.
As the period wore on, the play became more physical as player’s sticks came up higher, particularly by the Manhattanville players. But both goaltenders answered the challenges when called upon, and the period ended in a 0-0 tie.