ROCHESTER, N.Y. — RIT and Canisius met for the rematch tonight, this time at RIT’s Ritter Arena, following Friday night’s 5-3 RIT win. The Golden Griffins made adjustments between games and played a much tighter checking style of game. The slow-paced game suited Canisius better, as it earned a weekend split with a 2-1 victory.
“I’m really glad we won,” said Canisius head coach Dave Smith. “It could have gone either way, and I was much happier with our effort. Last night was pretty disappointing for all of us. Last night was a poor effort mentally, and we tried to erase that.”
“Tonight everyone chipped in. I thought we had good balance and everyone did their part. From taking big hits, and there were plenty of them, to making little plays.”
Despite sustained offensive pressure by both teams in the opening period, Canisius was the only team able to put the puck in the back of the net. On a two-on-one odd-man rush, Joel Kitchen ended up alone at the top of the crease as he skated laterally and slid the puck through Guimond’s five-hole for the goal at 7:03.
“I think we are still a little unsure on what to expect of each other,” said Smith. “Getting the first goal provided that little bit of confidence to carry us through a little more. What we are doing is right, and all of the sudden we are rewarded with a goal. Goals are momentum and we feed off that.”
The Golden Griffins had another great scoring opportunity around the 14 minute mark when Billy Irish-Baker collected a rebound at the top of the crease and slid the puck towards the far post. Guimond was able to stretch out just enough to deflect the puck wide with the edge of his skate and keep the Canisius lead to one goal.
RIT tied the game at the 8:51 mark. Griffin Irish-Baker coughed up the puck near his own blue line, and Tiger forward Ricky Walton collected the gift and skated into the Canisius zone 2-on-1. Walton fed Matt Smith, who slid the puck through Hatch’s five-hole to tie the game 1-1.
Canisius’ best scoring chance of the period came at 9:50 when David Ovcjak ripped a quick wrist shot while on a breakaway that just glanced off of Guimond’s shoulder and deflected wide over the crossbar.
Canisius scored the game-winning goal at 5:12 of the third period. David Ovcjak collected the puck near the left faceoff dot in the RIT zone after a defensive giveaway, and flipped it towards the net. Tiger goaltender Jocelyn Guimond made the save, but Jaymie Harrington was there to poke the rebound through his pads for the 2-1 lead.
RIT almost tied the game just over a minute later, when a big scramble along the Canisius goal line found the puck under sprawled netminder Ryan Hatch. But after a lengthy discussion, the referee signaled no goal and play continued with Canisius in the lead.
Most of the last eight minutes of the game were spent in the Canisius zone as RIT tried to tie the game. The Tigers squandered an opportunity when a late power-play opportunity was negated by Tristan Fairbarn penalty.
“It was good defensive battle,” said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson. “I was a little disappointed with some of the little things that we didn’t get done. We were going on the power play and we take a silly penalty there, taking away an opportunity there late in the game. It is the little things that separate the winners and losers.”
RIT pulled its goaltender with twenty seconds remaining, but was unable to score the game-tying goal.