ROCHESTER, N.Y. – In the annual Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend game at Blue Cross Arena, Michigan had to withstand a furious comeback by RIT to pull out a 7-4 victory.
After Michigan built a 4-0 first period lead, the Tigers came roaring back in the second to tie it up.
Phil Di Giuseppe scored twice and Evan Allen got the game-winner in the last minute of the second period from a near impossible angle.
“I liked the start of the game and I liked the end of the game; I didn’t like the middle part, obviously,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “The puck went in too easy for us. I knew they would come back. They are a well-coached team. I knew their team was better than that. They weren’t that bad in the first period. The score made them look bad.”
“I thought we had a good first period; I thought we made four mistakes, and they got four goals,” RIT coach Wayne Wilson said. “The game is made of mistakes. Tonight, every time we made a mistake, it was in the back of the net.”
Di Giuseppe got things going on the first power play of the game, going from his forehand to his backhand at 2:25. Two minutes later, Derek DeBlois fired a wrister from the high slot past Jordan Ruby.
The enthusiastic crowd at the start had quieted down. They got even quieter at 8:48 when Di Giuseppe notched his second of the night. Left alone in front, he made one deke after another until Ruby was frozen.
“I thought we were really clicking,” Di Giuseppe said.
Cristoval Nieves finished off a three-on-one at 13:22. It appeared a blowout was in the making.
“We weren’t going to look at the scoreboard and just work on playing well,” Wilson said about his team coming out for the second period.
Mike Colavecchia got things going on the power play with a single-handed rush, culminating with a move between the legs of a Michigan defender before beating Steve Racine at 5:38.
“I think any goal when you have a building of 10,500 on your side, then all of a sudden you have a little swagger in your step,” Wilson said. “He got us going.”
“Once that puck went in, they got going,” Berenson said.
Three minutes later, Ben Lynch from the top of the crease fired in a pass from behind the net. A minute later, Matt Garbowsky cut the lead to one.
At 15:12, the sellout orange clad crowd got to celebrate again.
During another power play, Nolan Descoteaux batted in a rebound from the side of the net. Suddenly, the impending blowout became a major upset in the making.
“We took penalties,” Berenson said. “We were on the wrong side of the puck. We weren’t playing as hard and as smart and as defensive as we should have. And our penalty killing struggled with their power plays.”
Michigan got a key goal, and ultimately the game-winner, with 56 seconds left in the second when Allen shot it from the right side boards nearly below the circle and it somehow managed to sail past Ruby.
“I don’t know what happened,” Wilson said. “I’ll have to see that on video to see what happened. It looks like he wasn’t ready for a shot from there. When the puck crosses that redline, you always have to be ready.”
Things settled down in the third period as RIT looked to once again find the equalizer. They thought they had it early, but the puck went off the post and into the back of Racine.
Michigan finally got the insurance goal at 15:05 when Tyler Motte swiped in a rebound. Andrew Copp got an empty-netter to seal it.
“I had confidence in our team,” Berenson said. “I just didn’t like the way we were competing and the way we were playing defensively.”
Despite the score, it was another successful Brick City game for the Rochester college hockey community.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with what this game has taken on,” Wilson said. “We got Boston College next year.”
“It’s good for Rochester,” Berenson said.
RIT (0-2) next travels to the North Country with a pair of games at Clarkson. Michigan (2-0) travels to New England with a pair at New Hampshire.