ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Six of the last seven contests between Rochester Institute of Technology and Niagara went to overtime, including tonight’s matchup of Western New York foes.
For the second time this season, the game ended in a tie, this time, 3-3.
“I thought it was a good battle both ways, as close as you can play a game,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. “You have two one-goal leads and could not hold it, but it’s RIT and a great atmosphere. They got a lot of horses up front and they came through when they needed it.”
“I thought that was one of the better college games we’ve been a part of,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “It was competitive, guys battled hard, goalies battled hard, special teams. Obviously, we’d like to win the game. You’re down going into the third [and] it’s nice to come back.”
The five minutes of the extra period packed a lot of action. RIT’s chances came when Brad Shumway just missed on a rebound shot, Jeff Smith missed by inches right in front of the net and later on a breakaway he was foiled, when hauled down from behind. RIT was unable to do anything with the short power play.
Niagara’s Chris Lochner couldn’t get a shot off right in front of the net and another scramble was covered up by Josh Watson.
“They snuck a guy in behind us for a breakaway and ended up with a power play,” Burkholder said. “But we had a couple of chances when it was laying in the crease. You know what, it was a tie.”
RIT took the lead late in the first period at 17:09 when a shot from the blue line by Nolan Descoteaux was deflected in front by Brad McGowan. The goal came seconds after Josh Mitchell missed a wide-open net when the puck slid off his stick on a backhand attempt.
However, the lead didn’t hold for long as Niagara tied it at 18:22. Ryan Rashid picked up a rebound from the backboards that caught Watson out of position. Rashid walked it in front and easily deposited it into the unguarded goal.
RIT played with fire all night on their line changes. A number of times, a player jumped onto the ice while the player coming off was still at his own face off circle. Once, RIT had to let a pass go because it would have been a penalty.
The Tigers finally got burned by these early line changes, committing a too many men penalty at 8:07 of the second. Just 43 seconds later, the Purple Eagles grabbed the lead.
A scramble in front of the net resulted in Marc Zanette banging the puck home for the 2-1 lead.
In one of the most bizarre plays of the year, RIT’s Ben Lynch received a pass at the backdoor for what should have been an easy and gentle tip-in early in the third period. However, upon receiving the soft pass, his stick inexplicably broke in half.
RIT got its first power-play goal at 4:56 of the third period to knot the game at two. Mike Colavecchia fired a slap shot from the right point that Josh Mitchell deflected in from the slot.
Again, Niagara quickly matched the goal with a two-on-one. Dan Kolenda came down the right side. His first pass was blocked, but his second attempt found Rashid on the opposite post, firing it past Watson who had no chance to react in time.
“We’ve been getting timely goals all year,” Burkholder said.
Seven minutes later, RIT tied it again. Matt Garbowsky won the faceoff cleanly. Shumway shot a relatively soft one from the right point and it found its way past Carsen Chubak, giving Shumway his first collegiate goal.
“I don’t think it had a lot on it,” Wilson joked. “But it found the back of the net.”
Rashid nearly had a hat trick to win it when his wide-open shot from the slot rang off the post.
“That whole line [Rashid, Lochnar, Kolenda] played great for us all night,” Burkholder said.
Watson wound up with 29 saves, while Chubak stopped 33.