Goaltender Louis Menard made 30 saves, only allowing a goal with less than two minutes remaining, to lead the RIT Tigers (4-5-2) over the Bentley Falcons (5-5-1) by a 5-1 score.
The RIT penalty-killing unit kept the Bentley power play off the scoreboard for all five opportunities, blanking them during the 13 power plays that the Falcons had on the weekend.
“There is more pressure on the home team after losing the first night,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “We showed a little grit with the win tonight.”
With the Tigers’ win, RIT and Bentley split the series as the Falcons won in overtime Saturday.
“We didn’t bury the chances we had last night, but were able to get it back tonight,” said RIT junior Simon Lambert.
Lambert chipped in two goals and an assist to lead the RIT scorers Saturday.
The first period saw end-to-end action as players from both teams swept up and down the ice surface in rapid succession.
The Tigers opened the scoring 4:08 into the period on their first power play of the game. Steve Pinizzotto dished the puck off to Matt Smith skating unmarked down the Falcons slot. Smith got off a good wrist shot that Bentley goaltender Ray Jean saved off his pads, but RIT’s Simon Lambert followed up quickly and chipped the puck over Jean to give RIT the 1-0 lead.
Bentley apparently tied the game at the 12:15 mark when Dain Prewitt tucked a wrist shot just barely inside the upper corner of the far side of the net. However the referee was screened in the play, and the goal judge never turned on the red light, and play continued as the apparent goal was not counted. The game continued with RIT holding a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers extended their lead at 14:57 with an even strength goal by Smith, who took a drop pass from Jesse Newman at the top of the left faceoff circle and blasted it past Jean for the goal.
“It was important to get two goals in the first [period],” said Wilson. “The second goal eased our minds a little bit.”
Both teams had several more scoring opportunities as the period wound down, but the goaltenders stopped them all to keep the score 2-0 with RIT leading at the first intermission.
RIT got in to penalty trouble early in the second period, giving Bentley a 5-on-3 power play for a 1:19 span. The Falcons were able to put sustained pressure on the Tigers net, getting off two great scoring chances during the advantage, but couldn’t score.
“Some of penalty killing is luck, some is goaltending,” said Wilson. “We have some players learning their roles. They have been great at accepting their role.”
Just as the Bentley power play ended, RIT broke out of its own zone and tore up ice. Four seconds later, Lambert threw a backhanded shot past Jean to stake the Tigers to a 3-0 lead at 7:19.
Shots on goal were relatively even for the period, with RIT holding a slight 10-9 advantage, and that mirrored the even play of the second stanza. The end to end action continued throughout the period but RIT goaltender Louis Menard bested Jean to keep the 3-0 Tigers lead at the second intermission.
The Tigers extended their lead just 1:39 in to the third period. Lambert took the puck off a Bentley stick and found Anton Kharin alone on the weak side of the net. Kharin one timed the puck to the back of the net before Jean could get over to make the score 4-0.
The Falcons almost broke on to the scoreboard at the 6:58 mark when a broken RIT stick sprung Jeff Gumaer on a clean breakaway. Gumaer streaked in to the RIT zone and tried to slide the puck just inside the near post but Menard smothered the puck to end the play.
Bentley showed a little frustration at 8:22 when a pair of players took minor penalties, one for charging and one for hitting from behind. But the Falcons penalty killing unit packed it in and limited the Tigers to only a single shot on goal during the ensuing power play.
Bentley coach Ryan Soderquist made a goaltender switch at 10:32, putting sophomore Nick Moise in net to see his first game action in his career.
Moise made two great saves, and two easy saves, before RIT solved him to score its fifth goal of the game. After sustained pressure in the zone, Pinizzotto finally wound the puck around Moise for the goal at 17:20.
The RIT defense finally cracked at 18:06, to ruin the shutout bid for Menard. Tiger defenseman got caught in no-man’s-land at the RIT blueline, making a lunge at a pass that skipped over his stick. Falcon Paul Scalici caught the pass, however, carried it across the RIT slot all alone and slid it past a sprawled Menard for the Bentley goal to make the score 5-1.