College Hockey:
RIT battles to tough win over Wilfrid Laurier

Jeff Smith notches game-winner

— Rochester Institute of Technology pulled away from Wilfred Laurier and posted a 3-1 exhibition win to kick off its season.

The Tigers outshot Wilfred Laurier 31-11 over the second and third periods, holding a 44-21 advantage in the game, but Golden Hawks goaltender Ryan Daniels kept his team in the contest.

“It was exactly what we were looking for,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. Both teams competed hard.”

Wilfred Laurier had several quality chances in a scoreless first period, but Tigers’ goaltender Jan Ropponen kept the Golden Hawks off the board.

The teams traded goals in a 36-second span in the second period. RIT got its first goal of the game on a four-on-three power play. Chris Haltigin’s shot from the high slot beat Daniels through a screen. Moments later, Wilfred Laurier tied the game on a Ben Skinner shot at point-blank range off of a feed from Alex Poulter.

RIT's Chris Haltigin takes a slap shot on Saturday (photo: Dylan Heuer).

RIT’s Chris Haltigin takes a slap shot on Saturday (photo: Dylan Heuer).

The Tigers took the lead for good with just over four minutes to play in the second period with a short-handed goal. RIT’s Jeff Smith poked the puck away at center ice and scored on the resulting breakaway to make it 2-1.

The Tigers got an insurance goal from Adam Hartley on a delayed penalty at 11:19 of he third period.

“We have a ways to go,” said Wilson. “It was a good start, but we were sloppy. But now we have a starting point as we look at film to get better.”

Ropponen played 31 minutes and allowed one goal on 17 shots. Freshman Josh Watson relieved him and stopped all six shots he faced.

RIT dressed only two goaltenders, as Shane Madolora, who is expected to start Friday’s game against St. Cloud, is nursing a sore ankle.

“Janni (Ropponen) played very well,” Wilson said. “Josh (Watson) didn’t see as many shots, but I thought it was a good start for him coming into that situation, ahead by only a goal.”

The Tigers open NCAA play next weekend at the Mutual of Omaha Stampede tournament. They’ll face St. Cloud in the opening game, and then the host University of Nebraska-Omahma Mavericks on Saturday.

“Those will be good games for us to see where we’re at,” said Wilson. “I think it’s going to be difficult, but that’s why we play these nonconference games. It also gives us a chance to experiment before we get a little more conservative going into league play.”

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