ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The RIT Tigers (11-8-3) scored three goals in the third period to steal a 4-2 victory from the Sacred Heart Pioneers (8-10-3). Sacred Heart carried a 2-1 lead into the third, but a goal by sophomore Stevan Matic just over four minutes in erased the deficit, and the Tigers dominated play during the remainder of the stanza and swept the weekend series to take over sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Hockey Association.
RIT tied the game 4:08 into the third period as they buzzed the Sacred Heart net. Brennan Sarazin spun out from behind the Pioneers’ net and put a shot on goal. Netminder Stefan Drew made the save, but the rebound came out the far side right onto the stick of Matic, who wristed it in to tie the game 2-2.
The Tigers continued to dominate offensively in the third period, outshooting Sacred Heart 16-5, and it paid dividends at 13:53 when Ricky Walton scored to give RIT the 3-2 lead. Brennan Sarazin setup the score, out-waiting a Pioneers’ defender until a passing lane cleared, when he fed the puck over to Walton standing at the far side of the crease.
“When you are down, you need to go after it a little bit more,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “Brennan Sarazin came up with two plays in big time game situations.”
Sacred Heart pulled Drew with 45 seconds remaining, but Bobby Raymond and Simone Lambert teamed up to score an empty net goal with seven seconds left to seal the victory for RIT.
RIT opened the scoring 3:41 into the first period on its first, and only, power play of the stanza. After setting up in the Pioneers’ zone, the Tigers moved the puck freely around the perimeter. Justin Hofstetter ripped a shot from the left point that deflected off a linemate Andrew Favot’s stick and bounced past Drew to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Play moved up and down the ice in rushes in a wide open first period. The Tigers held a slight territorial advantage mid-period, but Sacred Heart came on as the period wound down.
The Pioneers’ work paid dividends at 18:41. Alexandre Parent sprung through neutral ice on a partial breakaway and got off a sliding shot just as he was caught by a Tigers’ defender. The puck bounced off the back boards and straight out into the crease, where David Jarman slapped the puck into the empty net to tie the game 1-1.
Sacred Heart carried the momentum into the second period, taking the first five shots on goal, but RIT goaltender Louis Menard made the saves to keep the game tied. The Tigers didn’t get their first shot in the period until the six minute mark, while on a power play.
“Louis [Menard] was very relaxed tonight and saw the puck well,” said Wilson.
A fracas erupted at the 8:25 mark, one that had been building all weekend, as two players from each team paired off. When it ended, Sacred Heart got a power play that RIT killed off.
However, just as that penalty ended, the Tigers were whistled again for a penalty and this time the Pioneers converted to take their first lead of the game. Reade Wolansky wristed in the puck from the left faceoff dot at 11:50.
That goal opened up play even more, as the two teams raced up and down the ice. RIT carried play as time wound down, eventually tying up the shots of goal in the period 8-8, but Sacred Heart held on to its 2-1 lead as the second period ended.