ROCHESTER, NY — After a tightly played first period between AIC (0-2) and RIT (1-2-1), the goal floodgates opened in the second as the teams combined for a total of seven goals. RIT scored four of those tallies in the first five minutes of the period to take control of the game, finally coasting to its first Atlantic Hockey league victory by an 8-3 score.
“It felt good to get that first win of the year at home,” said RIT junior Ricky Walton. “It was awesome.” Walton finished with two goals and two assists in the game.
The floodgates opened for RIT in the first two minutes of the second period. The Tigers tallied three goals in a 1:26 span to take a commanding 5-0 lead.
Thirty one seconds into the period, Tiger Justin Hofstetter carried the puck straight down the AIC slot from the blueline. He took a shot from mid-slot that AIC goaltender Tom Fenton saved and kicked straight back at him. However the puck bounced off the leg of AIC defender Chris Bolognino and rolled back through Fenton’s five-hole for RIT’s third goal of the game.
The line of Matt Crowell, Ricky Walton, and Anton Kharin combined for two goals in a twenty-four second span to extend the flurry. Crowell tallied at 1:33 with a quick wristshot off a feed from Walton. And then Walton set up Kharin at 1:57 for RIT’s third goal of the period.
The RIT flurry caused AIC coach Gary Wright to use his timeout following RIT’s fifth goal to try and calm his players. The ploy worked for a short time, but Walton tallied again for RIT at 5:14 to build the RIT lead to 6-0.
“It was an accumulation. It happened so quick,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “I knew we would be ready, but I wasn’t sure we would play with poise. Sometimes the energy of a first home game can be too much. I was very pleased with the effort tonight.”
Just forty seconds later, AIC finally was able to get onto the board at 5:54 of the second period to cut RIT’s lead to 6-1. The Tigers got sloppy with the puck in the neutral zone, and Jereme Tendler collect the puck for the Yellow Jackets carrying it into the RIT zone unmarked. Tendler was patient with the puck, waited for Tiger netminder Jocelyn Guimond to make his move, and then slid the puck around him for the AIC goal.
The Yellow Jackets chipped in another goal at 12:38 to narrow the margin a little more. Mike McMillan deflected in a quick shot by Ben Ellsworth from the right faceoff circle that eluded Guimond and found the back of the Tiger net.
The Tigers weren’t quite done in the period, taking advantage of a 5-on-3 power play late in the period to build its lead back up to 7-2. Lambert circled behind the net, spotted Steve Pinizzotto parked in the low slot, and fed him the puck. Pinizzotto made now mistakes and wristed it past Fenton for the power play goal at 16:59.
AIC goaltender Tom Fenton appeared to catch his right skate in the ice a few moments later, twisting his knee, and was in obvious pain for the remainder of the period.
The Yellow Jackets changed goaltenders to begin the third period by putting senior Matt Tourville in net.
RIT substituted its own goaltender in the middle of the period bringing in freshman Jared DeMichiel for his first collegiate action.
The teams exchanged power play goals late in the third period as Ricky Walton chipped in for the Tigers at 17:52 and Dean Yahura put in a blast for AIC at 18:57.
Territorially, the first period was relatively even. But if you weigh the period by offensive pressure, the scales were tilted strongly in RIT’s favor. The Tigers outshot AIC 11-6 in the first stanza.
“Our first shift of the night set the tone,” said Wilson. “They had some good hits which was important.”
RIT thought they had gotten on the board 3:48 into the game when two players crashed the Yellow Jackets crease, pushing the puck across the goal line. However the referee ruled that one of the Tigers had pushed the net off its moorings prior to the puck crossing the line and waved off the goal.
Just two minutes after that, AIC gained momentum when RIT’s Brad Harris was sent to the locker room for a major hitting from behind penalty. The Yellow Jackets established pressure in the RIT zone during the ensuing power play but the Tigers defense clamped down and didn’t allow a single AIC shot on goal while killing off the major penalty.
Instead it was the Tigers that came out of the man-down situation with a goal. Defenseman Justin Hofstetter gathered a clearing pass, carried it just inside the right faceoff circle and tried to flip it into the net. AIC goaltender Tom Fenton made the save but Tiger forward Simon Lambert slid the rebound home for the shorthanded goal at 8:08 to put RIT on the scoreboard.
Just over seven minutes later, RIT scored again on its only power play of the period. Lambert dug the puck out from behind the AIC net and fed Matt Smith at the top of the crease who whipped it in low underneath the glove of Fenton to give RIT a 2-0 lead at 15:31.