ROCHESTER, N.Y. — RIT defeated Mercyhurst 5-1 on Friday night at the Ritter Arena. The Tigers improve to 15-8-2 on the season and 12-4-2 in Atlantic Hockey play, while the Lakers fall to 14-10-3 and 11-4-3 in AHA play. The win vaults RIT into first place in the conference, one point ahead of Mercyhurst.
RIT got the scoring started just under six minutes into the first period. Forward Brad McGowan appeared to be trapped in the corner before breaking free toward the net. He fired in a pass from behind the goal that was deflected by Mercyhurst’s Edward DeWald that trickled over the goal line.
RIT doubled its lead at the 11:20 mark when Jeff Smith coasted in untouched on the left side, deked the defender and sent the puck over Mercyhurst’s Max Strang.
Strang was solid for the Lakers during his 40 minutes of play, stopping 22 shots. His biggest save came late in the first when RIT’s Matt Garbowsky came into the zone on a two-on-one with Taylor McReynolds. Garbowsky sent a pass across the middle to McReynolds, who was robbed by Strang on the doorstep.
RIT dominated play early in the second period, not allowing Mercyhurst to fire a shot-on-goal until 14:40 into the frame. The Tigers scored twice in that time, both on the power play. The first came when Greg Noyes gathered the puck at the blue line and sent it across the ice to Mike Colavecchia, who put in his 11th of the season. The second came off of a tip, as Adam Mitchell redirected a shot from Chris Haltigan to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead.
When asked about the strong defense, RIT netminder Shane Madolora was happy with the effort.
“Everyone was making plays,” said Madolora. “When I’m not facing shots I have to keep focused, stay loose.”
Mercyhurst’s first opportunity of the period came at the 14:40 mark, when DeWald and Matthew Zay each had a chance from close range, but Madolora was up to the challenge, stopping both shots. With less than three minutes remaining in the second period, Mercyhurst got on the board, as Zac Frischmon took a pass from Zay for his second goal of the season.
Mercyhurst changed goalies for the third period, bringing in sophomore Jordan Tibbett. Tibbett was strong, making 17 saves.
The final goal of the game came late in the third, with Cameron Burt sliding in a rebound off of a shot from Haltigan.
The game got a little chippy in the closing minutes, with three Lakers picking up 10-minute majors.
“RIT was much better than us tonight,” said Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin. “We played poorly.”
RIT assistant coach Mike Germain was happy with the defensive effort.
“We’re committed to very strong team defense,” said Germain. “We’ve been playing good team defensive hockey since before the break, and its worked for us.”
RIT outshot Mercyhurst 44-22 on the night. The Tigers went 3-for-6 on the power play, while the Lakers went 0-for-6.
These two teams meet again Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. When asked about what they need to change for tomorrow, the coaches had this to say.
“We need to play a lot better,” said Gotkin. “A lot better.”
“Tomorrow’s game is a big game,” Germain said. “It’s a three-game series and we’re tied 1-1.”