ROCHESTER, N.Y. — After a weekend of hockey, nothing was decided.
On Friday night, RIT and Army played to a 2-2 tie. Tonight, the teams once again played to a deadlock, this time 1-1.
Despite 11 power plays for Army, eight power plays for RIT, two extended two-man advantages for Army, another five-on-three for RIT, and even a penalty shot for RIT in overtime, neither team was able to force
a decision after 130 minutes of hockey. A tie seemed destined when an Army goal with 1:10 left in overtime was disallowed.
“From our standpoint, obviously we just couldn’t get any pucks to the net,” Army coach Brian Riley said of his team’s powerplay. “We need to work on that. From the penalty killing standpoint, we had talked about this being a big challenge to us. We placed emphasis on coming up here and shutting down a good team on the power play.”
“I think we lost our confidence a little bit,” RIT coach Wayne Wilson said of his powerplay. “I thought as the weekend went on, we got better and better. They put good pressure on us, their guys blocked shots, the goalie played real well.”
RIT immediately got into penalty trouble, which translated to immediately getting into trouble on the scoreboard. Before the game was 1:04 old, two Tigers were in the penalty box. At 1:24, Army had a 1-0 lead thanks to superb passing.
Owen Meyer fed it across the ice to the right faceoff circle to Robb Ross, who passed it back across the middle to Luke Flicek. Louis Menard overplayed Ross, and was unable to recover as Flicek had a wide open net to deposit the puck into.
RIT was back on their heels in the early going, as they did not get their first shot till over six minutes into the game, just like Army the night before. When RIT finally did get their offense going, they were able to tie the game at 12:36.
Matt Smith picked up a rebound to the left of the net, and, from the bad angle, roofed a shot past Jay Clark.
RIT nearly took the lead a few minutes later when Matt Crowell made a nice move in front of the net to get open and beat the goalie with a high shot. However, it sailed up and off the crossbar.
Shortly afterwards, while on a power play, Army nearly took the lead. In a play virtually identical to the first goal, Chase Podsiad received a centering pass with nothing but an open net to shoot out. However, instead of one-timing it, he hesitated, settling the puck, which allowed Menard to get across and make a kick save.
The second period featured plenty of chances for both teams. After outshooting RIT 15-6 in the first period, Army was outshoot, 17-5, in the second. Both teams had plenty of time to fire shots, but many of them never reached the net. The best opportunity came when Matt Smith was unable to stuff in a rebound from in close, as Clark stopped it on the line. Clark was heavily tested in the period in just his third start.
After Josh Kassel played extremely well, some were surprised with Clark getting the start; Riley didn’t have any doubts.
“I thought he played great,” Riley said. “That certainly wasn’t a freshman out there. He made a couple of key saves in the third period, a penalty shot save. We know we have some good goalies here. It was an opportunity to give Clarkie a chance in a great place to play. This will go a long way in helping his development cycle.”
“I thought he played real well,” Wilson said.
As the middle frame progressed, so did the chipiness of the game. By now, familiarity between the two teams was breeding contempt. The hits got harder, the after-the-whistle activity increased, and emotions ran high as players jawed at each other after the horn sounded.
“It was a very chippy game,” Riley said.
Clark continued to shine in the third period, as RIT increased their territorial control in Army’s zone. Menard also had to come up with some big saves, including stopping a semi-breakaway and then the rebound shot from in close.
The defining moment of the game came 17 seconds into overtime when an Army defender covered the puck in the crease, causing an automatic penalty shot call. RIT picked Steven Matic to take the shot.
“I was hoping the Zamboni would come out and clean off the ice,” joked Wilson.
Matic cut right and went to his backhand, but the puck bounced on the well-used ice and he wasn’t able to get much of a shot off, as Clark stayed with him the whole time and easily made the save.
Army got one last power play in overtime, and though they did force the puck into the net in a wild scramble, it was disallowed by the refs.
“To come out of here with the two ties, those were two hard fought games,” Riley said. “Those points were certainly earned by both teams tonight.”
Army (5-2-2, 5-5-2) moves into first place by one point over Bentley. Next weekend they play a home and home series with Sacred Heart. RIT (3-3-2, 4-5-2) hits the road to play two games at Bentley next weekend.