The RIT Tigers (6-5-2) scored a pair of goals in the first five minutes of each of the first and second periods on the way to defeating the Holy Cross Crusaders (7-8-1) by a score of 5-1.
“This was the most complete weekend we have had,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “We played against a great Holy Cross team. Goaltending and special teams were great all weekend and that was the difference.”
The Holy Cross power play entered the weekend ranked No. 1 in the nation, but RIT used a stifling penalty kill to keep the Crusaders off the board across all nine power plays during the game.
“We didn’t move the puck and had too many guys holding on and trying to do it all themselves,” said Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl. “When you have five and they have four, the idea is to move it and not hang on to it. We didn’t do that for some reason. We have been doing it all year, and this weekend we just didn’t.”
RIT jumped out to a quick lead in the first period, tallying twice in the opening five minutes of the game. The Tigers opened the scoring at 3:02 with a four-on-three power play goal when Al Mazur took a pass and wristed it just under the shoulder of Holy Cross goaltender Ian Dams.
Less than two minutes later, RIT scored the first even strength goal by either team of the weekend. The Tigers setup in the Crusaders zone and Bobby Raymond let fly a shot from the blue line. The shot was blocked by a mass of players in front of the net, but the puck dropped onto Matt Crowell’s stick who quickly flipped it in to the back of the net to give RIT a 2-0 lead at 4:59.
“If you are the home team and able to get up early, it makes it a little harder for the road team,” said Wilson.
Holy Cross slowly gained momentum as the period went on, and by mid-period was outshooting RIT by a narrow margin. The Crusaders got several big rushes up ice during the latter half of the period, but Tiger goaltender Louis Menard made each of the saves to keep the RIT lead at 2-0 by the end of the period.
“I thought that RIT took it to us tonight, and then they did they got their goals,” said Pearl. “We made a couple of mistakes in our own zone and they got two goals off it.”
The Tigers started the second period just like the first by scoring two goals in the opening five minutes of the stanza, again with a power play goal and an even strength goal. Steve Pinizzotto got the Tigers going just 2:32 into the second period when he ripped a shot from the left faceoff dot that beat netminder Dams shortside.
“When we are moving around on the power play, we do well,” said RIT’s Steve Pinizzotto. “We stayed composed on special teams all night.”
RIT extended the lead to 4-0 at 4:52 when Dan Ringwald took a quick pass from Simon Lambert and wristed it in for the goal.
Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl took his timeout after the goal and it paid immediate dividends as his team came out with much more of a jump. Just over a minute later, the Crusaders transformed a strong forecheck in to a goal to put a dent in the RIT lead. Brian Kolb chipped the puck in from in close at 6:04 make the score 4-1.
“We called the timeout to get everyone’s eyes focused back on what we were trying to do,” said Pearl. “We wanted to make sure the guys knew there was still a long game ahead.”
The Crusaders played better defensively for the remainder of the period, but RIT continued to control play, outshooting Holy Cross 14-4 in the period and holding on to the 4-1 lead as the period wound to a close.
Holy Cross was able to hold the line to open the third period, keeping RIT from scoring and getting a handful of good opportunities of its own. The Crusaders were able to keep RIT without a shot for the first ten minutes of the period, outshooting the Tigers 8-0 in that timeframe.
However, the RIT defense kept Holy Cross off the board during that span, setting up the offense to extend the Tigers lead to 5-1 at the 12:07 mark. While RIT was killing a penalty, Lambert caught a long clearing pass from defender Dan Ringwald near center ice and streaked in to the Crusaders zone all alone. Lambert put a deke on goaltender Dams and then steered the puck around his sprawled left legpad to score the shorthanded goal.
The shorthanded tally took the wind out of the sails of the Crusaders and the remainder of the game was relatively listless. Holy Cross outshot the Tigers 10-4 during the third period.