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College Hockey:
‘Fragile’ RIT Outlasts Fredonia, 5-3

— RIT played an uninspired game against Oswego on Saturday, and head coach Wayne Wilson expressed his disappointment in the lack of effort of his players in post game comments. The Tigers played a much stronger game against Division III Fredonia tonight, but struggled to stop a potent Blue Devils power play.

“Mentally, we were a little fragile coming into this game,” said Wilson. “I thought that our effort was there tonight. We just couldn’t capitalize.”

Fredonia tallied three power play goals to stay in the game through two periods, but an insurance goal by the Tigers late in the third period sealed the 5-3 victory for RIT. The Tigers outshot Fredonia 42-28.

“I feel pretty good about the game,” said Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith. “Our goal is to be playing our best hockey at this time of the year. I think we are playing solid hockey now.”

Skating at even strength, RIT dominated play in the first period. The Tigers were able to frustrate the Fredonia breakout attempt plays and maintain long periods of pressure on the Blue Devils net. However Fredonia took advantage of a pair of power plays to keep game tied at the end of the stanza.

RIT opened the scoring just 1:14 into the game on a rush up ice. Simone Lambert flipped the puck over to Darrell Draper who roofed the puck over Fredonia goaltender Rick Cazares’ shoulder for the goal.

Fredonia answered just over two minutes later with its first power play goal of the period. Kyle Bozoian held the puck behind the Tiger net, and spotted linemate Kraig Kuzma unmarked in front. Kuzma made no mistakes when Bozoian passed him the puck, and Fredonia tied the game 1-1 at 3:33.

“The keys for us were just trying to keep it simple,” Meredith. “We just wanted to get the puck to the net.”

The flurry of early goals continued when RIT retook the lead at 5:03. The Tigers were cycling the puck behind the Blue Devils net when the puck came out to Darren Doherty at the near post, who chipped it home to give RIT a 2-1 lead.

That goal slowed down the scoring onslaught until late in the period, when Fredonia tallied its second power play goal of the period to tie the game 2-2. Neal Sheehan slid home a rebound, after the puck got lost in a forest of legs just outside the top of the crease, and scored at 14:50 for the Blue Devils.

The Tigers continued to carry play at even strength into the second period, but Fredonia kept its pesky power play rolling to stay in the game.

RIT kept trying to pass the puck to skaters right in front of the Blue Devils net throughout the first half of the period, but Fredonia did a tremendous job of lifting sticks and tying up players to prevent shots.

With the game still tied 2-2 midway through the period, Fredonia got back on the power play. The RIT fans clinched a little, after RIT seemed powerless to stop the Blue Devils power play so far, but it was Simon Lambert that broke the trend for the Tigers. Lambert blocked a pass at the RIT blueline and rumbled up ice while trying desperately to corral a bouncing puck. Lambert was finally able to settle the puck just at he got into the lower slot, and steered the puck around a sprawled Carazes for the shorthanded goal at 9:28 to give RIT a 3-2 lead.

However, after successfully killing of its first Fredonia power play of the night, the RIT penalty kill promptly fell apart at the next opportunity. Sheehan tallied his second power play goal of the game at 13:25 off a nifty turn around wrister that found its way through a screen and tied the game back up at 3-3.

“Special teams was definitely not our forte tonight,” said Wilson.

RIT finally scored a power play goal of its own at 17:03 when Brennan Sarazin put a backhander high over Carazes shoulder. This staked RIT to its fourth one goal lead of the game, at 4-3, as the second period wound down.

Just over four minutes into the third period, RIT was awarded a five minute power play due to a major hitting from behind penalty assessed to Fredonia’s Colin Sarfeh. But the Blue Devils penalty killing units played exceptionally strong, with a great forecheck at their own blue line, and continually frustrated the RIT offense as it tried to break into the zone.

The Tigers finally setup shop in Fredonia’s zone midway through the power play, but they only managed one shot on goal during the entire man advantage.

Fredonia mounted a flurry of pressure with seven minutes remaining, lobbing three good shots on net, but RIT goaltender George Eliopoulous stood in front of all three shots to maintain the Tigers lead. This flurry opened up rapid end to end action as both teams got desperate to score a goal.

The open play benefited RIT, who eventually intercepted a pass at center ice and tore into the Fredonia zone with a 3-on-1 breakaway. Doherty finished off the play, scoring his second goal of the game, at 15:38 to push RIT to its first two goal lead of the game at 5-3.

Fredonia pulled its goaltender for the final forty two seconds of the game, but didn’t manage to get a shot on goal.

Russell Jaslow also contributed to this story.

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