ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The RIT Tigers and the Air Force Falcons had met three times this season already, splitting the games 1-1-1. So it should be no surprise that Monday’s game came down to the wire as well.
Air Force built a 2-0 lead by early in the third period, before RIT stormed back with a pair of goals in the final five minutes to send the game to overtime. Falcon Brian Reese scored his second goal of the game 1:51 into overtime to give Air Force the 3-2 victory.
Reese carried the puck into the zone after a turnover at his own blue line, on a 2-on-1 breakaway with Billy Devoney. Reese looked to pass and then wristed the puck past RIT goaltender Jocelyn Guimond for the game winning goal.
“We had no feet tonight whatsoever,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “We were slow and lethargic. We didn’t finish any checks, and have no excuses for it. The bottom line is that Air Force just outworked us.”
The game was the third in four nights for both Air Force and RIT, but the Tigers also had the added adventure of a flight home from Huntsville, Ala., Sunday, and it showed in the first period. Air Force used three power plays to build a territorial advantage and a shots on goal advantage of 17-6. But both goaltenders stood firm and prevented either team from scoring during the first period.
Air Force continued its territorial advantage in the second period and this time received dividends for the effort. Mid-period, Andrew Ramsey carried the puck laterally across the RIT slot and flipped a backhander towards the Tiger net. The puck deflected off a player at the side of the crease and over RIT goaltender Jocelyn Guimond’s blocker to give Air Force a 1-0 lead at 10:38.
RIT had two good scoring chances during the second period, the best when Steve Farrer found himself alone in front of the net just as a power play ended. Farrer was in too tight to the crease and could only wrist it into Air Force netminder Peter Foster’s belly.
Air Force outshot RIT 13-6 in the second period.
A lucky break off the opening faceoff to start the third period extended Air Force’s lead to 2-0. The Falcons won the center ice faceoff and Eric Ehn carried the puck down the right side into the RIT zone. As he approached the endline, Ehn slid the puck towards the top of the crease where it deflected off Falcon Brian Reese’s skate and into the net for the goal at the 10-second mark.
The RIT players complained to the referee about the skate deflection, but the referee was too far behind the play to have seen it and the goal stood.
The Tigers almost broke onto the scoreboard around the eight-minute mark of the third period when Ricky Walton sprang free shorthanded into the slot. But Foster stonewalled Walton’s attempt to flip the puck high into the corner and Air Force maintained its 2-0 lead.
RIT took advantage of a late power play to climb back into the contest. Steve Pinizzotto carried the puck in from the right faceoff dot and put a seeing-eye wrister past Foster for the RIT goal at 15:03 to narrow Air Force’s lead to 2-1.
RIT pulled goaltender Guimond with 1:20 remaining in the game. The ploy worked in spades when RIT tied the game with 25 seconds remaining. Tony Bifulco sent a big slapshot from the right faceoff dot that Tristan Fairbarn redirected in at the far side of the crease to send the 2-2 game to overtime.
The Tigers finally evened out the shots on goal differential in the third period, holding a slim 8-5 advantage.