ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Back during their Division III days, RIT put together many long winning streaks. Though the Tigers have had a lot of success since moving to Division I, putting together long winning streaks has been a bit more difficult.
After defeating the University of Connecticut, 5-3, the Tigers now have their longest Division I winning streak at six games. The record streak was kept alive thanks to a four-goal outburst in the final period to break a 1-1 tie from the first period.
“Every game is different,” RIT coach Wayne Wilson said of the streak. “It’s from people contributing at different times.”
RIT took their first lead of the game at 2:02 of the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie. After Brennan Sarazin’s shot almost went in, Cameron Burt cleaned up the rebound from the right slot area into the near side.
That lead didn’t last long, as a fracas resulted in a UConn power play. Five seconds off the faceoff to start the power play, the Huskies scored. Andrew Olson won the faceoff cleanly, and Jason Krispel sent a slap shot past Jared DeMichiel at 5:54.
RIT retook the lead at 9:11 on a Justin Hofstetter power-play goal with a shot from the left side through a screen.
“That third goal on the power play was the difference,” UConn coach Bruce Marshall said.
The Tigers got an insurance goal less than two minutes later. Bobby Raymond scored from in close when it appeared Beau Erickson had control of the puck. Somehow, it snuck by him and over the line.
They needed that insurance goal, as UConn made it interesting with their second power-play tally of the night at 17:12. Chris Waterstradt’s shot from the point found its way in.
Before UConn was able to pull their goaltender, RIT put the game away with 1:15 left. After strong pressure, Sarazin was able to knock it in.
UConn’s ability to keep the puck in the RIT’s zone early in the game coupled with RIT’s inability to clear the zone in the early going paid off early at 2:31 of the first period. Pat McAuley took advantage of a rebound coupled with RIT’s missed clearing opportunity, poking it past DeMichiel for the initial 1-0 lead.
“We’ve been talking about how we’ve been coming out,” Marshall said. “I hoped we would come out with that kind of energy. It’s coming down to crunch time, and we need to dictate the play.”
Midway through the period, the teams traded penalties like it was the Stock Exchange. Eventually, this led to an RIT four-on-three power play. Seconds after it expired, but before the Huskies’ player could get back into the zone, the Tigers scored.
Matt Crowell passed across the high slot from right to left. Justin Hofstetter, at the faceoff circle, wristed a shot past Beau Erickson.
“I thought they were very aggressive tonight,” Wilson said. “The game could have gone either way when it was 1-1. You have to wait for a break, and we got it.”
“We had two-to-three really good chances in the first period,” Marshall said. “If we got those, we could have been out of that first period up 3-1 as opposed to 1-1. That was the difference, and they buried their chances in the third, and that made it tough for us.”
A key moment in the game came a third of the way through the middle stanza when RIT received two concurrent penalties. Though UConn had their moments during the two-minute, two-man advantage, RIT hung tough, successfully killing off the penalties.
“The personnel we really wanted out there had just come off, and they were gassed,” Marshall said. “We had to go with the other unit, which isn’t as good on the five-on-three, but they’re capable of making those plays. If you got a five-on-three, you should make plays and get shots off, and we weren’t able to do that.”
Beau Erickson made 28 saves for UConn (4-15-1, 3-8-1) while DeMichiel made 23 saves for RIT (11-9-1, 10-4-1).
These two teams meet again Saturday night at 7:05.