ROCHESTER, N.Y. — It was a tale of two games as the Rochester Institute of Technology hosted Army Friday night.
The story of the first two periods was an inglorious streak by RIT. The story of the third period was an awakening by Army.
In the end, the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
“I thought we created a lot of opportunities for ourselves,” RIT coach Wayne Wilson said. “I thought we carried the play, the momentum. Good goaltenders for both.”
RIT’s inability to score in the Frank Ritter Ice Arena this year continued through the first period, extending the streak to 145 minutes. This, despite an odd-man rush in the opening seconds, a breakaway, a point-blank shot which grazed the outside of the post, and a backhander in front which missed the open corner.
A 13-4 shot margin, two power plays, and the majority of the play in Army’s end meant nothing for the Tigers.
“I’m not concerned at all,” Wilson said of the offensive slump. “Everyone keeps wanting to talk about it. We’re playing very well. We’re generating a lot of shots. It’s just a matter of time when the goals are going to come.”
The streak just kept on going in the second while the chances kept on coming, fast and furious — a turnover provided an open blast from the slot, a shorthanded breakaway, a turnaround backhander surprising the goalie, and most frustrating of all, the puck sitting on the goal line before swept away by Ryan Leets.
The shots were once again lopsided, 20-7, in favor of RIT in that period.
Then finally, RIT turned on the red light in their rink. Matt Garbowsky gently dropped a backhand pass for Brad McGowan in the high slot and McGowan rifled a shot that sailed just inside the post.
The goal came at 17:28 to end the Ritter scoreless streak at 162:28, more than eight periods worth of hockey.
The next scoreless streak lasted 21 seconds as RIT scored again to make it 2-0. Off the face off, Mark Cornacchia found the puck between an Army defender’s legs and fired a wrist shot. Leets appeared to have lost sight of the puck and it beat him five-hole.
Army did have an opportunity to take a 1-0 lead earlier when Maurice Alvarez smacked the crossbar.
RIT had their first lead heading into the third period all season. Army was not intimidated as they only needed 26 seconds to cut that lead in half as a rebound from a shot off the face off was smacked in at the back door by Mark Dube.
Army tied the game at 11:42. Dube, from behind the net, fed Mike Hull at the inside of the right circle. With two RIT defenders closing, Hull released a shot that beat Josh Watson over his glove on the near side.
The game turned around so extensively that Army outshot RIT, 17-8, in the final period.
Adam Hartley committed a hooking penalty with 48 seconds left in regulation, providing Army with an excellent chance to win.
“Power plays down the stretch gave them a chance,” Wilson said.
The power play extended over to overtime and RIT was able to kill it off and nearly scored shorthanded with a 2-on-1 breakout.
The final seconds of overtime were at a frantic pace. As the clock wound down, RIT made the mistake of trying to keep the puck in their zone on a difficult play. This enabled Andy Starczewski to go in on a breakaway.
Just as he was about to make the move on Watson, out of nowhere came a diving Chris Haltigin who swept the puck away with his outstretched stick to save the game.
RIT had the only two shots of overtime.
Leets wound up with 41 saves, while Watson stopped 26 shots.
Army (0-1-1, 0-3-2) and RIT (0-2-2, 1-3-2) face off again Saturday night, each looking for their first conference win. Once again, RIT will be without its No. 1 goaltender, Shane Madolora, as he has one more game to sit out due to an NCAA infraction.