ROCHESTER, N.Y. — When St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh scheduled a pair of games against Division I independent RIT last spring, he was doing the Tigers a big favor. Not only was he providing the transitioning program two games against a nationally ranked team, but he was one of the few teams willing to travel to RIT’s rink to do it.
“They are trying to get into Division I,” said Marsh. “They have always been good at hockey and haven’t just come out the woodwork. It is an important step for them, obviously, and we are a local New York State team it can’t hurt to promote it.”
RIT took its only lead of the game at 16:04 in the second period when freshman Darren Olson scored his first collegiate goal, the only even strength goal of the game by either team. After that, it was desperation as the Tigers held on for a 3-2 victory over No. 18 ranked St. Lawrence.
“Heart, character, and a goalie that was hot is what got us through,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. ‘[Jocelyn] Guimond obviously was there and came up big all night.”
St. Lawrence poured its entire arsenal at the RIT net during the first 4:35 of the third period, trying to take advantage of the major penalty assessed against the Tigers to close the second stanza. The Saints ripped off thirteen shots on goal, most of them first quality scoring chances, but were unable to puncture the wall that RIT netminder Jocelyn Guimond put up.
When the teams were at even strength, RIT was able to limit the Saints chances and mount some offense of its own. When St. Lawrence had the man advantage, it was all over the Tigers zone however, pouring 47 shots on goal during the advantages.
St. Lawrence’s best chance came at 14:23 while on the power play when Kyle Rank tried to cram home the puck from the left post. Guimond made the save and the puck squirted out to the top of the crease. Max Taylor was right there, lifting the puck towards the top of the net, but Guimond stretched his glove hand out to snag the puck out of mid air and maintain the slim 3-2 RIT lead.
Guimond made another game saving save at 18:24 when T.J. Trevelyan skated in all alone on a short handed breakaway chance. Trevelyan tried to slide the puck through Guimond’s five-hole, but the puck came up just short of the goal line underneath Guimond.
The Saints called a timeout with 58 seconds remaining, and pulled netminder Justin Pesony for the extra attacker. St. Lawrence did all they could to try and tie the game in one last gasp of desperation, but the Saints came up short and RIT held on to win 3-2, despite being outshot 68-15 during the game.
St. Lawrence tallied a power play goal at 13:03 to take the 1-0 lead. Mike Zbriger and T.J. Trevelyan setup a nice tic-tac-toe passing play from the right point to the left faceoff dot to John Zeiler at the far side of the crease. Zeiler buried the chance for his first goal of the year. This ended RIT’s streak of 28 straight penalty kills dating back three games.
But almost immediately after the goal, St. Lawrence got into penalty trouble of its own, giving RIT a 5-on-3 power play. The Tigers converted on the opportunity at 15:51 to tie the game. After working the puck around the perimeter, Matt Smith let a rifle shot go from the middle of the slot. The puck deflected off the left post and dropped at the feet of Simon Lambert, who collected the puck and lifted it over Pesony’s shoulder for the score.
St. Lawrence, despite outshooting RIT 24-5 and dominating play, could only muster a 1-1 tie on the scoreboard as the first period ended.
“After the first period and we took so many shots, maybe we got lulled into a false sense of security,” said Marsh. “I was out coached. We were outworked. You can’t say enough about [RIT], they did a great job.”
The Saints continued to poor the shots on goal in the second period with RIT players making a parade to the penalty box. St. Lawrence had two separate 5-on-3 power plays in the first eight minutes of the period, and retook the lead on the second opportunity. The goal at 7:14 was almost an exact mirror of the Saints first goal, this time Zeiler found Zbriger at the far corner of the crease to give St. Lawrence the 2-1 lead.
RIT answered with a 5-on-3 goal of its own at 11:39 to tie the game for the second time, again similar to its first goal. Matt Smith sent a shot down the slot that ricocheted off of Pesony’s shoulder, and Darren Doherty swatted the puck home as it lay on the goal line to tie the game 2-2.
“To find the open guys, that is what was given to us,” said Wilson. “We were looking for the man down low, but Smith was open so that is what we took.”
Despite being outshot 15-6 in the period, RIT took the lead at 16:04 when Darren Olson scored his first collegiate goal. Olson collected a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated into the Saints zone marked by two defensemen. Olson was able to get far enough around the side of the defenders to get a shot off in the slot that tucked just inside the far corner of the net, and suddenly RIT was leading 3-2.