ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Sean Murphy had two unassisted goals and Shane Madolora made 39 saves to lead Rochester Institute of Technology to a 4-2 victory over Connecticut in the first semifinal of the Atlantic Hockey tournament.
RIT had a 3-0 lead early in the game but needed an insurance tally from Murphy with 3:38 to play to hold off the Huskies.
“I thought for us it was a game of survival,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “We didn’t bring our ‘A’ game, which is a tribute to UConn. I thought they played very well.”
The Huskies outshot the Tigers in each period and 41-27 for the game.
“Shane shut the door,” said Wilson. “He kept us in the game when we were out of synch. We rode the storm out.”
“Goalie of the year, what more can you say,” said UConn forward Cole Schneider, who had both of the Huskies’ goals. “You’re not going to beat him that often.”
“We threw a lot of pucks at the net,” said UConn coach Bruce Marshall. “Their goalie was obviously the difference.”
The Tigers scored three times in the first 15 minutes of the contest. Scott Knowles got the Tigers on the board at 3:31 of the first period, deflecting a shot from the point by Chris Haltigin. Ben Lynch made it 2-0 at 9:11, redirecting a headman pass by Trevor Eckenswiller.
Murphy got his first of the game off a faceoff at 14:23 to make it 3-0. While the Tigers were short-handed and with a faceoff in the Huskies zone, he won the draw to himself and walked in, putting a wrist shot past UConn goalie Garrett Bartus.
“I got lucky,” said Murphy. “It kicked off the centerman’s skate and came right back to me.”
Marshall then replaced Bartus, who made seven saves on 10 shots, with freshman Matt Grogan.
“I thought we came out with a lot of emotion, but didn’t channel it well,” said Marshall. “I thought we needed to change things up and Matt has done that for us before and is comfortable in that role.
“It definitely worked for them,” said Murphy. “We ended up not getting many shots on him. Fortunately, we got one in the third period.”
UConn scored goals late in both the first and second periods, both by Schneider, to draw within one. At 18:25 he was able to skate in to the Tigers’ zone two-on-two and put a wrist shot by Madolora. He scored again, this time on the power play, with seven seconds to go in the second period.
“It sort of seemed we just let up at the end [of the periods],” said Madolora. “[On the second goal] we lost the draw and I lost sight of it.”
Things remained close until late in the third when Murphy got his second of the game, beating Grogan from a tight angle.
“Definitely lucky,” said Murphy. I was just throwing it to the net, looking for a rebound.”
“Irish luck a day late,” quipped Wilson.
“They were shooting for sticks [deflections] all game,” said Grogan. “They got this one on net and I didn’t see it very well.”
RIT will get a chance to defend its title Saturday night against the winner of the second semifinal between Air Force and Holy Cross.
“Nobody remembers who wins the regular season,” said Wilson. “The first 27 games are so you can fine tune for these two games.”
Video: RIT captain Sean Murphy:
Video: RIT goalie Shane Madolora: