ROCHESTER, N.Y — Rochester Institute of Technology broke a close game open with three goals within a 2:29 span in the third period to defeat American International 5-0 in Game 1 of a best-of-three Atlantic Hockey quarterfinal series.
RIT goaltender Shane Madolora made 28 saves for his sixth shutout of the season.
“I thought we looked rusty, a little sloppy in the first, giving pucks away and missing the net on several occasions,” said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson. “Shane was able to come up some key stops that kept us in the lead and we were able to break it open in the third period.”
The Tigers outshot the Yellow Jackets 44-28, but it was a one-goal game for most of the contest. RIT’s Brian Potts opened the scoring at 17:44 of the first period when his second swat at a rebound beat AIC goaltender Ben Meisner.
Meisner made 19 saves in a scoreless second period, keeping the game close until RIT broke things open in the third period. After both teams failed to score on 5-on-3 chances early in the third, Ben Lynch was able to redirect a pass from Andrew Favot to open at 2-0 lead at 7:47.
At 9:09, defenseman Nolan Descouteaux pinched in from the point and banged home a rebound for his second goal of the season. 1:07 later, Mark Cornacchia scored unassisted, breaking down the right side and beating Meisner stick-side with a wrist shot from the faceoff circle.
Tyler Brenner closed out the scoring at 18:17 of the third by deflecting a shot from Chris Saracino on the power play. It was Brenner’s 25th goal of the season and 100th career point.
Meisner made 39 saves in defeat, while Madolora improved to 15-2-7 with the shutout win.
“It was a hard-fought game like we thought,” said Wilson. “AIC didn’t get here by accident. They beat a tough Army team on the road and played a great road playoff game until we got the second goal and then broke the game open.”
The teams meet again tomorrow with a possible third game slated for Sunday. The winner of the series advances to the AHA semifinals next Friday at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.