ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Clarkson escaped a scare from an upset minded RIT, overcoming a 2-0 first period deficit to defeat the tenacious Tigers, 6-4. The second period was the decider as Clarkson outscored RIT, 4-1.
“I knew how tough of a building it is to play in,” Clarkson coach George Roll said of the soldout Ritter Arena. “We knew it was going to be a tough building. I thought our kid played great in net for a freshman. I’m proud of our effort. We made some mistakes, but certainly did well for a road game.”
“I thought we played well,” RIT coach Wayne Wilson said. “If someone said you would outshoot Clarkson, 39-25, I would say I’d take it in heartbeat.”
The comeback started when Clarkson finally got on the scoreboard at 4:42 of the second period. RIT allowed Chris D’Alvise to skate freely in their zone. D’Alvise cut across the front of the net, sliding it under Menard.
“I thought the big thing was getting that first goal in the second period,” Roll said. “It really sparked us and got us rolling in the second period.”
Midway through the period, D’Alvise tied the game when he drifted towards the net and placed the shot just inside the post.
RIT didn’t lay back, retaking the lead 29 seconds later. Stevan Matic fired in a rebound from the left side.
However, that didn’t slow Clarkson down as they retied the contest 1:46 later on the power play. Nick Tremblay’s shot from the right side was stopped by Louis Menard, but the rebound came way out to Matt Beca on the left side. He one-timed it into the open portion of the net.
The Golden Knights took their first lead of the night despite a failed 2-on-1. Clarkson kept the puck down low and Lauri Tuohimaa banged it home from in front of the net.
Clarkson extended their lead midway through the third period on a shorthanded goal. Freeman stole the puck in RIT’s zone, fed Tim Marks in front of the net. Marks made one deke after another, easily burying the puck behind a confused Menard, making it 5-3.
“That was key,” Wilson said. “That may have been the critical point of the game.”
Yet, once again, RIT would not back down as Jesse Newman tipped in a loose puck right at Paul Karpowich’s feet.
Despite applying heavy pressure in the waning minutes of the game, RIT was unable to gain the equalizer. D’Alvise wound up scoring the empty net clincher, completing the hat trick.
The home crowd had a lot to cheer about in the first period. It only took RIT 4:02 to gave the Clarkson freshman goaltender, Karpowich, an initiation to college hockey.
Tyler Brenner, from the right faceoff circle, turned and put a relatively soft shot on net. Karpowich seemed to misplay it, perhaps losing sight of the puck through the crowd, and it went through the five-hole.
Clarkson thought they had the game tied a few minutes later, but the net came off its moorings before the puck went in, and thus the tying goal was called back.
Whenever Clarkson tried to use their speed and size to break through the RIT defense, the Tigers were not afraid of using the body to rid the Golden Knights of the puck and the threat.
After RIT flubbed a 3-on-1, they later played a 2-on-1 to perfection. With Clarkson pressing the RIT zone, the puck shot out to center ice, and Scott Knowles picked it up. He raced into the zone on the left side with Newman to his right and one defender back.
Knowles waited just long enough before sliding the puck across the ice. Newman didn’t waste the opportunity nor wait for Karpowich to recover. He shot it high into the near side for the 2-0 lead at 15:43.
“I thought we had to do a better job defensively,” Roll said about the first period. “When you have a freshman netminder back there, you don’t want to give up too many opportunities, and I thought we did. They left Paul out to dry a few times.”
Clarkson heads down the Thruway to play Niagara tomorrow night to complete their opening weekend.
RIT stays home with a 1-2 record to face another North Country foe, St. Lawrence.