ROCHESTER, N.Y. — When RIT and the USA Under-18 team met a month ago for a pair of games in Ann Arbor, Mich., the teams played with plenty of fireworks. The teams combined for a total of 28 goals as they split the two games.
Tonight, the goaltenders and defenses decided to show that they could also play a part in a game and did a great job of keeping many opportunities harmlessly to the outside. The two teams were only able to tally three goals, and RIT came out on top of a 2-1 final score.
“We were very conscious of what they like to do with their defensemen joining the rush,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “We had a few breakdowns tonight, but were able to limit it more during this game.”
The USA team dominated play territorially during the first period, outshooting RIT by a wide 17-6 margin. They had their best scoring chance of the period midway through when Bill Sweatt got off a quick wrist shot from near the left hash mark. RIT goaltender Jocelyn Guimond got a piece of the puck with his shoulder before it deflected off the crossbar and plopped to the ice just outside the goal line. Guimond pounced on the puck before a USA player could get to it, and kept the game scoreless.
“I don’t think we necessarily had it during the first period, but we built as it went on,” said Wilson. “That could be a result of having the week off.”
However, right off the resulting faceoff deep in the Tigers zone, RIT broke out with a 2-on-1 advantage. Steve Pinizzotto carried the puck into the USA zone and fed linemate Darren Doherty in the slot. Doherty outwaited USA netminder Joe Palmer and flipped the puck high into the back of the net to give RIT a 1-0 at 9:36.
RIT scored on just its second shot of the game. After being outshot 12-2 prior to the Tigers goal, RIT kept the shot totals closer during the second half of the period at 5-4.
The second period was much more evenly played than the first as each team garnered seven shots on goal. While RIT had three power plays during the period, compared to one for USA, the USA penalty killing was outstanding limiting the Tigers to only one shot on goal during the advantages.
The closest either team got to a goal was RIT at 10:47 when the referee waved off a potential goal due to the net being dislodged.
The defense of each team stepped up in the second period, doing an outstanding job of keeping the puck to the outside of the zone and disrupting most rushed through center ice.
“We still have to do a better job down low,” said Wilson. “That comes with a lot of youth in our lineup. But there were a couple of shifts where we did a good job.”
The Tigers extended their lead to 2-0 at 8:07 of the third period. Off a faceoff deep in the USA zone, RIT won the puck back to Bobby Raymond at the left point. Raymond sent a strong wrist shot waist high through a crowd of bodies that found the back of the net for the goal.
Team USA scored at 15:38 to narrow the margin to 2-1. Jamie McBain skated from the left point to the high slot before launching a big slapshot. The puck wound through a crowd of bodies and over Guimond’s blocker to score on the power play.
The USA pulled goaltender Joe Palmer for the last minute of the game, pouring everything they could on the RIT net. But Guimond and the defense held firm and were able to preserve the 2-1 victory.