College Hockey:
Army and RIT Skate to 2-2 Tie

— Appropriately enough, a blast that appeared faster than a bullet from
Army’s Bryce Hollweg with 30.9 seconds left in regulation gave the Black
Knights a 2-2 overtime tie at RIT. A goaltending battle came down to a
shot that an NHL goalie would have had trouble stopping.

Louis Menard of RIT and Army’s Josh Kassel battled all game long to keep
their teams in the game. Menard wound up with 36 saves while Kassel
stopped 34 shots.

“I thought both goalies came up big,” Army coach Brian Riley said.
“Each team had some quality scoring chances. Their guy stopped a couple
of breakaways. It was definitely a battle of two top goalies.”

“Both goaltenders played great,” RIT coach Wayne Wilson said. “But
maybe Louis Menard played a little more spectacular.”

The first period did not see too much offensive firepower. Army did not
get their first shot of the game until approximately 6-1/2 minutes, as
RIT controlled the early going. After some penalties by the Tigers,
Army got their offense going and wound up having an 11-7 shots advantage
after the first.

“We played a little sporadic,” Wilson said. “It seemed like we
struggled to string two or three shifts together during the first half
of the game.”

RIT scored the first goal of the game thanks to a terrible mistake by
Army who was on the power play. With the puck deep in Army’s zone in
what should have been a routine clear, turned into a giveaway. Tyler
Mazzei grabbed the puck in the corner and centered it to Ricky Walton.
Walton easily put the puck into the open net since Kassel was originally
behind the net to play the puck and despite a diving attempt, could not
reach it in time.

The 1-0 lead held for the period thanks to a pair of outstanding efforts
by Menard. The first came when Army tried to get their own shorthanded
tally with a breakaway by Chase Podsiad.

Podsiad did everything right. He skated wide, made the goalie react
first, cut across the net … but just as he was about to deposit the
puck into the open net, Menard somehow recovered to poke check the puck
away at the last possible millisecond. Podsiad didn’t give up, picking
up the loose puck and quickly backhanding a shot. Menard had to just as
quickly recover to make another just-in-time save.

Later in the period with Army on the power play, Robb Ross received the
puck unguarded next to the goalpost. He shot towards the near side in
what should have been an easy goal. However, once again Menard kicked
his leg out and just barely knocked it away in time with his skate.

RIT nearly had their second shorthanded goal when Dan Ringwald was
allowed to skate in unimpeded. This required Kassel to come up with a
difficult save.

Shortly afterwards, Army tied the game on the same power play. Luke
Flicek, skating down the middle, let off an off speed wrist shot, which
fooled Menard. He did stop it, but let up a fat rebound which was
easily shot in by Owen Meyer from the faceoff circle.

Once again Menard was asked to stop a shorthanded breakaway a minute
later. This time he stayed with the skater, Meyer, and stopped the shot
on his stick side.

At this point, the game opened up, requiring both goaltenders to be
sharp, especially Kassel who was called upon to make some great saves.

RIT retook the lead after Kassel made the initial save on a shot by
Ringwald, but was unable to get to the rebound when his own defender got
in the way. Lambert swatted at the loose puck knocking it past Kassel.

Menard kept the Tigers lead midway through the third period when he made
a glove save while sprawled on the ice. Seconds later on the other end,
Crowell, streaking down the middle, received a perfect pass from
Lambert, but shot it wide.

A few minutes later Kassel was forced to make two difficult saves when
Kharin took advantage of a giveaway and then got his own rebound.

A late penalty by RIT once again forced Menard to come up with a glove
save that seemingly had his arm stretched out further than his wing span.

“We kept losing momentum every time we took a penalty,” Wilson said.

Army, which came in with the third best power play in the league, only
went one for eight, but they did keep RIT from scoring a power-play goal
in five attempts.

“Obviously, when you have that many power plays you would like to be able
to cash in a little more,” Riley said. “We knew coming in from a
penalty killing standpoint this was going to be a big challenge. Every
time you keep a team like RIT’s power play off the board, you’re doing
something right.”

With their goalie pulled for an extra attacker, Flicek, from behind the
net, fed Hollweg in the slot. Hollweg one-timed a blast that Menard had
no prayer of stopping.

“Anytime you are in a situation where you have to pull the goalie, you
are just trying to get some pucks to the net,” Riley said. “That’s how
we found the puck in the high slot. Obviously, it’s a big point to come
away from here after your down.”

RIT thought they had the winning goal in overtime, the players raised
their sticks and the red light went on, but the ref waived it off as the
puck bounced off the inside of the post and away from the net.

“The disappointment is when you let up a goal so late in the game,”
Wilson said. “Those are opportunities that slip by us. It was a good
effort, but we need a great effort to beat Army.”

The two teams meet again in Rochester Saturday night.

“It should be another great game,” Riley said.

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