ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A third period short-handed goal gave Colgate a 3-2 victory over RIT in front of a record Rochester college hockey crowd.
“RIT took it to us early,” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said. “But as the game went on, we were able to find our legs. Our go-to guys really stepped up.”
“I was very happy with the way we played,” RIT coach Wayne Wilson said. “We generated offense. We have to capitalize more often. We have to find a way to win that game. We can’t be giving up a short-handed goal like that.”
That short-handed goal came at 7:05 of the final period. A poor line change by RIT resulted in the winning goal. Austin Smith broke down the middle alone. Jared DeMichiel tried to pokecheck the puck away, but missed, and Smith went to his left and easily deposited the puck past an out of balance DeMichiel.
“It was the end of a shift,” Smith said. “I was looking towards the bench for a change. Then the puck came through the zone, and they [RIT] miscommunicated who will take the puck. Once I faked the shot, I knew I had him. I pulled it around him and put it past him.”
“We had a player coming off the ice,” Wilson said. “The puck was sitting right there. He decided not to play it.”
The teams traded goals in quick succession in the first and second periods. Before the large crowd could get settled into their seats, Colgate put them there, scoring 22 seconds into the game. The Red Raiders came straight down the middle with Brian Day redirecting a pass from David McIntyre past the left pad of DeMichiel.
It didn’t take long for RIT to get the orange clad crowd back on their feet waving their white towels. Two-and-a-half minutes later, Taylor McRenolds tied the game at one, firing a shot from in-close on the right side.
RIT continued to attack, getting the better scoring chances as they outshot Colgate, 15-5, but Alex Evin was equal to the task. DeMichiel had to keep his team tied with a quick kick save on a point blank shot. In the final seconds of the first period, RIT nearly scored during a frantic goal-mouth scramble.
“Our goaltender was the best player,” Vaughan said. “Evin was the player of the game for us. I looked to our leadership [during the first intermission] in our locker room. ‘You guys have to find a way.’”
RIT picked up where they left off, peppering Evin early in the second period. It finally paid off at 5:34 with a wraparound goal by Stevan Matic, catching the defense napping.
It was a defensive mistake by the Tigers that allowed Colgate to tie it up less than three minutes later. Smith found himself wide open skating across the slot, backhanding a shot in after receiving the pass from Nick Prockaw.
Colgate started to take over the momentum, pressuring RIT’s defense more than they did in the first. The Red Raiders outshot RIT, 11-9, but once again a period ended with the teams deadlocked.
RIT came very close to tying the game, missing an open net after some fancy passing when Adam Hartley’s shot hit the post with less than two minutes left. In the waning seconds, Colgate committed two penalties, and with DeMichiel on the bench and the crowd on their feet, RIT desperately attempted to find the equalizer.
“We’ve been there often,” Vaughan referred to many close games recently. “It’s not something we haven’t had to deal with.”
“I am happy with the way we played the game,” Wilson said. “Not the result.”
Both goalies finished with 29 saves.
Colgate won their first game in regulation since February 14 of last season, moving to 1-0-1. The Red Raiders stay home next weekend to play a pair against Nebraska-Omaha.
RIT drops their first game of the season. They travel to the North Country to take on St. Lawrence and Clarkson.