ROCHESTER, N.Y. — After a dominant second period by American International and a goal by Jon Puskar in the third to tie the game 2-2, the Rochester Institute of Technology needed to come up clutch to lock up its first four-game win streak since the 2011-12 season.
And “Mr. Clutch” was none other than freshmen forward and November’s Atlantic Hockey rookie of the month, Todd Skirving, who scored at 11:48 of the third period to break the tie and give RIT a 3-2 win.
However, the victory tonight at Ritter Arena may not have been possible without the duo of Skirving and AHA goaltender of the week, Mike Rotolo.
Skirving scored a pair of goals (including his second goal that proved to be the game-winner) and now has 11 points on five goals and six assists in his last seven games.
Rotolo stopped 30 of 32 shots to earn his fourth straight win, improving to 4-0-0 in his collegiate career. He made 10 saves in all three periods and is the first RIT goaltender since Jamie Morris to win his first four starts.
That said, Skirving and Rotolo also received distinguishable help from four key players – Dan Schuler, Danny Smith, Ben Lynch and Brad McGowan.
Schuler had an assist to Skirving on each of his two goals, while Smith and Lynch had a combined 25 total faceoff wins. Additionally, McGowan capitalized on a power-play opportunity in the first period.
Moreover, the Tigers, as a whole, were extremely effective in intercepting the Yellow Jackets’ passes tonight. With a combination of numerous faceoff victories and several interceptions, RIT controlled the puck quite often in the victory.
The Tigers were 1-for-4 (five total shots) on power-play opportunities, while the Yellow Jackets were 1-for-3 (four total shots). Before tonight’s game, RIT had a 25.8 percent success rate in power-play opportunities, while AIC had a 23.8 percent success rate on the season.
“I was disappointed in our play tonight, but it’s nice to play poorly and have it go our way,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “Hopefully, we learn from it and move on with a much better effort tomorrow night. We got off to a good start, but thought we played sloppy as the game went on.”
“I think we got ourselves, obviously, in a little bit of a hole, down 2-0,” American International coach Gary Wright said. “We lost the game, but by the same token, I was really happy with our effort.”
Before tonight’s game, RIT was averaging 30.8 shots on goal per game this season, while allowing 33.2. American International was averaging 24.1 shots per game, while allowing 40.3 per contest.
RIT is 23-3-2 all-time against the Yellow Jackets, including a 20-3-1 mark since the 2005-06 season. The Tigers now have a nine-game unbeaten streak against American International dating back to the 2011-12 season. RIT is 14-1-1 all-time against AIC at Ritter Arena and finished 3-0-1 against the Yellow Jackets in 2012-13.