Air Force coach Frank Serratore’s description of the crowd at last year’s Atlantic Hockey finals between Air Force and Rochester Institute of Technology at the Blue Cross Arena in downtown Rochester was “a pumpkin convention” thanks to the 3,400 fans in attendance, the vast majority clad in orange.
That effect was amplified on Saturday, when RIT tied its record for a regular season game by selling out all 10,556 seats in the arena. The Tigers also maxed out the building for a game last season against Massachusetts-Lowell.
The fans got their money’s worth, as the Tigers won a dramatic 6-5 contest that saw five lead changes, with RIT’s Adam Hartley tying the game with just nine seconds to play and then Adam Mitchell getting the winner just 23 seconds later, 14 seconds into overtime.
Things had looked bleak for RIT, down by a goal and facing a five-minute major penalty with nine minutes to play.
“A game like this does a lot of things positively, mentally,” RIT coach Wayne Wilson said after the game. “One, surviving a five-minute major. Two, scoring that last-minute goal. And then winning it.”
Four different players had two goals each in the contest. Kyle Flanagan and Patrick Doherty had two goals each for St. Lawrence, while Bryan Potts and Cameron Burt each had a pair for the Tigers.
Video highlights of the game can be found below:
[youtube_sc url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAe_jkUTLnI width=500]
RIT’s Cameron Burt had five points in the win over St. Lawrence, tying a record he already shared for most points in a game. Burt had five points in the 2009 AHA title game, also at Blue Cross Arena.
The senior from Detroit had an off year last season, scoring just six goals after accumulating 29 his first two seasons.
“I didn’t have the year I wanted to have last year,” Burt said after the game on Saturday. “I worked hard over the summer. I just wanted to come back and be a better team player and do what I have to do for the team to win it.”
Huskies picking up where they left off
Connecticut had a breakout season last year and good things are expected again this season. The Huskies return almost intact from a 2010-11 season that saw them reach the league semifinals.
UConn is off to a 2-1-1 start after a loss and a tie and Bowling Green and wins over Army and Massachusetts-Lowell.
“It’s early,” coach Bruce Marshall said when told his team was one of only two in the league over .500. “It’s not like we’re 12-0. We have a long way to go.”
UConn’s 5-0 win over Army on Friday was its first shutout in 118 games. Junior goalie Garrett Bartus stopped all 47 shots he faced. He made 39 stops in Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime win at Lowell.
“It seems we get outshot every game,” said Marshall. “It’s certainly something we want to improve on but it’s not like we were being peppered [in the Army game]. Most of the shots were from the perimeter and Garrett made some key saves when he had to. He made some huge saves in the Army game and stopped a breakaway against Lowell.”
The Huskies’ top line of Cole Schneider, Sean Ambrosie and Brant Harris combined for seven points in the Army game and have 18 points overall, including five goals already for Harris.
“Obviously, that one line has been pretty potent and has a lot of talent, but we’re balancing things out,” said Marshall. “We’re starting to grow and seeing contributions from everywhere.”
UConn has a game at Merrimack on Saturday before getting into conference play in earnest.
“It’s nice to win [some non-conference games] but in the long run conference games mean more,” said Marshall. “We try not to get overly pumped up for the non-conference games and realize which are more important. Points in October are just as important as the ones in February.”
Signs of life
After Atlantic Hockey teams combined to go 0-13-1 in non-conference games to open the season, last week’s results were slightly better, with Connecticut and RIT picking up non-league wins. The league went 2-9, to make it a still-disappointing 2-24-1 so far.
All but two of those games, however, were played on the road. AHA teams are 1-1 on home ice. This week, Niagara, Robert Morris and RIT all host non-conference games.
Players of the week
Atlantic Hockey player of the week for Oct. 17:
Cameron Burt, RIT
The senior tied his career and school record with five points (two goals, three assists) in the Tigers’ 6-5 over St. Lawrence. Burt scored RIT’s first two goals and then assisted on the final three, including the tying and winning goals.
Atlantic Hockey goalie of the week for Oct. 17:
Garrett Bartus, Connecticut
Bartus recorded his first career shutout, stopping all 47 shots he faced, in a 5-0 blanking of Army. He has a .954 save percentage so far this season.
Atlantic Hockey rookie of the week for Oct. 17:
Cole Gunner, Air Force
The freshman from Richfield, Minn., is the top scoring rookie in the conference with five points. He picked up three last weekend, including an assist on the overtime winner against Niagara.
Starting off on the right foot
Three freshman saw their first action of the season last week, and got off to impressive starts:
• Holy Cross goaltender Matt Ginn made 53 saves in his first two starts, going 1-1. He stopped 39 in a 5-3 loss to Quinnipiac and then made 14 saves on 15 shots to pick up his first career win, 2-1 over American International.
• RIT’s Brad McGowan’s picked up two assists in his first collegiate game, including a nifty pass to Adam Mitchell on the overtime winner against St. Lawrence.
• Army goalie Rob Tadazak made 37 saves on 40 shots in a tough 3-2 loss at No. 13 Merrimack.
Caple is more than capable
With Air Force goaltender Jason Torf out of the lineup indefinitely due to injury, senior Stephen Caple made his first starts of the season and came away with two wins. He stopped 39 of 43 shots as the Falcons defeated Niagara and Robert Morris.
For his career, Caple has played in 15 contests, posting a 2.28 goals against average and a .903 save percentage.
Tweet of the week
— RIT goalie Shane Madolora after the Tigers’ comeback win on Saturday. Follow him @smadolora.