League Struggles Against Nonconference Opponents
Manhattanville and Elmira both struggled in nonleague play this week, each losing two close, hard-fought games, all of them by two-goal margins. RIT was the only bright spot in nonconference action, as the Tigers swept through the Faceoff Classic.
RIT: RIT traveled up to Maine last weekend for the Faceoff Classic. Opening night was at Bowdoin, and RIT got tested early. The Polar Bears ripped off two power-play goals in the first ten minutes of the game to put RIT into a hole, but the Tigers dug in and answered, with power-play tallies of their own by Peter Bournazakis and Jerry Galway before the first period ended to knot the score.
“Bowdoin was a real good test for us,” said coach Wayne Wilson. “The big difference was coming back strong at the end of the first.”
All but one goal in this game was scored on special teams, and with RIT’s power play still running at the .500 mark (27 for 54), that played right into the Tiger strength. Josh Faulkner notched the only even strength goal of the game 1:43 into the second period to give RIT the lead. Derek Hahn and Mike Bournazakis added two more power-play goals by early in the third period to extend RIT’s lead to 5-2. Bowdoin notched a shorthanded goal midway through the third period to narrow the margin, but Galway answered on the same power play to make the final score 6-3.
RIT traveled to nearby Colby for the second game in the tourney, and found itself in a tough first period struggle.
“Our first period is always our toughest against every opponent,” said Wilson. “And then we need to wear teams down over the remainder of the game, either with speed or physically or some other way.”
Colby got on the board first, but Mike Bournazakis answered before the end of the first period to tie the game. RIT then ripped off a string of goals to take control of the game and win 8-2 going away. Derek Hahn led RIT with two goals and one assist. The Tiger power play went 3 for 6, again keeping up the blistering pace they have all season.
“[The power play] is something that we do practice an awful lot. The key is balance, but to be honest I just stay out of the way,” said Wilson. “The players are just making great decisions on their own.”
RIT takes on the U.S. National Under-18 development team in a pair of games at home this weekend. This development team is composed of the top young players in the country, most of whom are headed to D-I teams next season and many to the pro ranks soon after that.
ELMIRA: Picture this scenario: A third of the way into the season, and your team has a 3-6 record, you have a losing record at home for the first time in years, and you have gone 0-fer in four games against top western opponents. Most coaches would be lowering their post-season expectations for the season, or be making drastic changes, or at least having regrets about making such a tough schedule. But not coach Glenn Thomaris.
“We have played six games against top 10 teams in the country. It is all a learning experience for our young team,” said Thomaris. “I’m not looking at six losses as a problem.”
The Soaring Eagles hung tough against Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the opener of the Elmira Invitational Tournament on Friday. Jason Silverthorn scored 1:21 after a Stevens Point goal midway through the first period to tie the score 1-1. Lawne Snyder answered another Point tally with just 19 seconds left in the first to keep it knotted 2-2. And Adam Godfrey tallied at 12:19 of the second to keep the score 3-3.
Elmira then jumped into the 4-3 lead when Ryan Baker scored at 13:39. This time Point answered late in the second period to pull even at 4-4. Point retook the lead 2:26 into the third period.
“Their [Point’s] experience showed up in the long run,” said Thomaris, “particularly when they got the lead.”
Elmira put strong pressure on the Pointer net late in the game in a bid to tie it up, but Point got a goal in the final minute of the game to seal the 6-4 win.
St. Thomas came out flying against Elmira in the game on Sunday and scored three goals in the opening 4:01 of the contest.
“You can’t take a team who was the runnerup nationally last year, spot them three goals in the first four minutes, and expect anything but an uphill battle,” said Thomaris.
Ryan Baker put a stop to the Tommie onslaught with an Elmira goal at the 5:46 mark of the first period. Play evened out a little after that, and Mike Hulbig chipped away another goal at 2:05 to open the second period. A late period tally by Lawne Snyder and Elmira was back even with St. Thomas at the end of two periods.
A bench minor on Elmira 59 seconds into the third put St. Thomas on the 4-on-3 power play. But 15 seconds into the penalty kill, Steve Kaye notched a shorthanded goal to give Elmira the lead. Unfortunately for the Soaring Eagles, St. Thomas answered on the same power play to re-establish the tie at 4-4. A mistake in the offensive zone late in the game cost Elmira dearly.
“We made a mistake with a minute and a half to go. Our defenseman decided to jump into the fray and St. Thomas broke out 2-on-1,” said Thomaris.
The goal at 18:20 put St. Thomas up 5-4 and proved to be the game-winner, as the Tommies chipped in a goal with just one second remaining to get to the 6-4 final score.
Elmira travels to Hamilton on Tuesday, and then takes a well deserved weekend off from competition, its first weekend off since mid October when the season began.
MANHANTTANVILLE: Manhattanville opened the week against Wesleyan, continuing its six-game homestand. Wesleyan got on the board early in the first period, but Sean Keane answered for the Valiants midway through the period to tie it up.
The real turning point against Manhattanville came in a 1:05 stretch midway through the second period. Wesleyan scored two goals in that span to take a 3-1 lead, and Manhattanville never was able to close the gap. Aaron Gauthier scored late in the second period to get the Valiants back to a one-goal deficit, but Wesleyan answered just over a minute later. Again, Manhattanville narrowed the margin on an early third period goal by Tommy Prate, but Wesleyan closed the door. The final score was 5-3 in Wesleyan’s favor.
The Valiants continued their string of narrow losses against Geneseo on Saturday. Dave Schmalenberg got Manhattanville on the board in the first period, but Geneseo tied it up under two minutes later. An early goal by Tommy Prate in the second period once again put the Valiants in the lead. But they just couldn’t get any distance between themselves and the Knights, and Geneseo answered late in the second period.
The third period went back and forth, back and forth, until Geneseo notched the game-winner at the 18:21 mark. The Knights got an empty-net tally for the final goal as Manhattanville came up just short in another close contest.
Manhattanville netminder Jon Peckza stood on his head, stopping 44 of 46 shots through the first two periods, and 56 of 60 shots in the game.
Manhattanville continues its home stint this weekend, hosting both Plymouth State and Neumann.
HOBART: The Statesmen took the holiday weekend off. Next up for Hobart is hosting Geneseo on Tuesday.
Game of the Week
Manhattanville has reached a critical juncture in its season. The Valiants were disappointed in only getting a split against Buffalo State two weeks ago, and coach Keith Levinthal isn’t happy about losing both games over the holiday weekend. Manhattanville needs a sweep out of this weekend’s games in order to build momentum for crunch time early next year.