On senior Night at RIT’s Ritter Arena, the Tigers finished their first Division I season by hosting the U.S. Under-18 team. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Team USA proved to be difficult guests, jumping on top just a minute into the contest when Bill Sweatt scored.
RIT tied the game midway through the second period, but a pair of USA goals allowed them to take a 3-1 exhibition victory.
“I was very happy with our effort tonight,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “It was strange to know that tonight was the ending. I was proud of the commitment of the seniors to the program.”
Very similar to last night’s game, the USA team dominated play territorially early in the first period. But unlike last night, the pressure paid dividends for Team USA and they were able to take a 1-0 lead just a minute into the contest.
James O’Brien held the puck along the boards in the left side of the zone, and then spotted linemate Bill Sweatt near the slot. Sweatt chipped the puck high over RIT goaltender George Eliopoulos on the first shot of the game for the USA goal.
Team USA continued to dominate play after that, preventing any RIT rush from getting close to their net. RIT didn’t manage its first shot on goal of the game until the 12:27 mark while on its first power play of the game. The Tigers managed to throw four of their six shots on goal of the period during that power play, but USA netminder Brett Bennett stopped them all to maintain the 1-0 USA lead.
The first period enjoyed very little flow, mainly because of RIT garnering on offside call after another.
RIT climbed back into the game midway through the second period scoring on a power play at 8:27. The Tigers were able to control the perimeter of the USA zone. After working the puck around, Tony Bifulco got the puck near the top of the slot. He passed the puck down low to Darren Doherty, who pushed it over to Darrell Draper just off the top of the crease. Draper made a nifty spin move and flipped the puck high into the top left corner of the net to tie the game 1-1.
Despite RIT playing a relatively even second period of hockey, Team USA was able to re-exert its territorial dominance during the last few minutes of the period. The pressure paid off with just under a minute remaining when Team USA sprinted into the RIT zone with an odd man rush.
The games was delayed for a few moment at the 12:20 when Chris Atkinson was injured. It appeared that either an errant skate or stick caught Atkinson under the chin and nicked his carotid artery. Both the RIT and USA training staffs immediately got Atkinson off the ice and an RIT ambulance that was standing by whisked him to a nearby hospital. No update on Atkinson’s condition was available by the end of the game.
Blake Geoffrey slid a goal mouth pass over to Ryan Flynn who finished the play with a goal at 19:08 to conclude the period with USA up 2-1. Team USA outshot RIT 13-8 in the second period.
Team USA extended their lead to 3-1 at 14:28 of the third period Michael Carmen chipped in a power play goal. The USA players had been applying pressure in the RIT zone, and Carmen corralled the second rebound to finally score the goal.
RIT got a 6-on-4 advantage with 1:28 remaining after Jamie McBain was tagged with a crosschecking penalty and the Tigers pulled goaltender Eliopoulos.
The Tigers managed two good shots on net during the advantage but couldn’t get anything past Bennett. Team USA won the game 3-1.