For the first time this season, the RIT Tigers overcame a deficit entering the third period to defeat the Air Force Falcons by a 5-4 score. Senior Brad Harris swatted in a rebound at 16:54 of the final stanza to give RIT the victory.
“We have a good team, and just because we are down doesn’t mean we are out of the game,” said RIT junior Ricky Walton. “We always believe we can come back in a game.”
RIT (18-9-2) opened the scoring early in the first period. Jesse Newman took a wrist shot from the slot that Air Force goaltender Ben Worker directed to the back boards. Tiger Brad Harris collected the puck there, and fed it back out to Newman who one timed it home at 2:30 for the 1-0 lead.
Air Force (13-13-5) and RIT exchanged opportunities through the middle of the period until Eric Ehn tallied at 13:54 for the Falcons to tie the score 1-1. Ehn skated out from behind the RIT net, collected a loose puck in the slot, and wristed it in to the net for the goal.
The Falcons took the lead just thirty three seconds later when Josh Frider carried the puck down the right slot and beat RIT goaltender Jocelyn Guimond with a quick wristshot tucked just inside the far corner of the net.
“I thought we controlled things in the first period but for thirty seconds, fell asleep,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson.
Air Force had two more good scoring opportunities immediately after taking the lead, but Guimond regrouped and kept the Falcons from building their lead further. RIT struck back when two Air Force players were escorted to the penalty box to give RIT a 5-on-3 power play.
Simon Lambert set up shop for the Tigers on the power play behind the Falcons net and spotted defenseman Al Mazur pinching in from the blue line. Mazur one timed the puck past Worker for the goal at 17:32 to tie the game 2-2.
Air Force retook the lead quickly as the second period opened. Ehn tallied his second goal of the night with a lightening wrist shot that beat Guimond high glove side just thirty nine seconds in to the period.
The Falcons extended their lead at the 4:55 mark when a sloppy RIT turnover at its own blue line sent Air Force racing in to the zone with a 2-on-0 breakaway. Jeff Hajner finished the play again, over Guimond’s glove, at 4:55 for the 4-2 lead.
That was enough for RIT coach Wayne Wilson, who called his timeout and also replaced Guimond with goaltender Louis Menard.
“We have three strong goaltenders,” said Wilson. “Jocelyn [Guimond] was fighting the puck , and Louis [Menard] got it done.”
Just under a minute later, RIT started to dig itself out of the hole on the scoreboard. Bobby Raymond put a shot from the top of the left faceoff dot in to the chest of goaltender. But the puck climbed over Worker’s shoulder and trickled over the goal line at 5:54 to cut Air Force’s lead to 4-3.
The teams jockeyed for position for the remainder of the period, trading power play opportunities, but neither team could score again as the Falcons held on to a 4-3 at the second intermission.
The Tigers tied the game 1:51 in to the third period when a strong forecheck forced a turnover deep in the Air Force zone. Anton Kharin collected the puck near the left corner, carried it behind the Falcons net, and spotted linemate Darrell Draper at the near post. Draper stuffed the puck home for the goal.
RIT played a much more physical style of play in the third period, taking Air Force off of its game a bit. The Falcons didn’t manage their first shot on goal in the period until almost the seven minute mark of the period.
“[RIT] had a lot of energy and was the best team we have played in a while,” said Air Force coach Frank Serratore. “Most of the game we were reacting to them.”
The Tigers’ fourth scored the game winner at 16:54 when Brad Harris swatted home a rebound of a shot by Jesse Newman.
Air Force coach Frank Serratore called his timeout at 17:47, and pulled goaltender Ben Worker on the ensuing face off. The Tigers were able to hold on against the extra Falcon attacker for the victory.