RIT earns tie at Niagara thanks to a pair of late goals
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, NY – Erik Brown (Keene, Ontario/Kemptville 73's) and Adam Brubacher (Elmira, Ontario/Powell River Kings) scored goals in the final 4:54 of regulation to help the RIT men's hockey team (8-8-2, 7-4-1 Atlantic Hockey) rally for a 2-2 tie versus Atlantic Hockey foe Niagara University (10-9-2, 9-4-2 Atlantic Hockey) at Dwyer Arena on Saturday night.
Niagara led 1-0 going into the third period and upped its lead to 2-0 on a goal by Niko Kovachis just 1:41 into the period.
RIT struggled to get much going until the final five minutes. With 4:54 left, Brown took a cross ice feed from Matt Abt (Leduc, Alberta/Whitecourt Wolverines) in close after Abbott Girduckis (Belleville, Ontario/Wellington Dukes) kept in a clearing attempt and ripped a wrist shot over Niagara goaltender Brian Wilson for his team-leading 12th goal of the season to make it a 2-1 game.
The Tigers pulled goaltender Logan Drackett (Calgary, Alberta/Calgary Canucks) with 1:30 left in regulation and were awarded a power-play with 18 seconds left. Myles Powell (Courtenay, British Columbia/Cowichan Valley Capitals) won the ensuing face-off to Gabe Valenzuela (Brampton, Ontario/North York Rangers), who fed a pass back to Brubacher at the right point. Brubacher and sent a pass to defensive partner Matt Abt (Leduc, Alberta/Whitecourt Wolverines) who sent the pass right back to him. With bodies in front, Brubacher whistled a wrist shot through traffic and past a screened Wilson for his fourth goal of the season with 10.7 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 2-2.
In the overtime, Myles Powell (Courtenay, British Columbia/Cowichan Valley Capitals) had three tremendous chances to win the game in the final minute, but had two point-blank chances denied by Wilson and one blocked by a Niagara defender.
Both goaltenders were strong in net, as Drackett made 26 saves for the Tigers and Wilson stopped 29 shots for Niagara.
RIT out-shot Niagara, 31-28, including 12-7 over the third period and overtime. Both teams were 1-for-4 with the man-advantage.
"I thought it was a hard-fought game all the way through with two good teams going at it," said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson. "It was good for us to come back, especially after last night (a 4-3 loss). Every weekend is going to be a grind from here on out."
Neither team scored in the opening period, as both goaltenders were called upon to make some big saves. Niagara's Derian Plouffe rang a shot off the left post on a power-play four minutes in and Drackett made a big save on a tip-in attempt by Ben Sokay midway through the frame and then one on Tanner Lomsnes in close during the final minute.
Brown was robbed by Wilson in close midway through the frame and moments later Mark Logan (Calgary, Alberta/Brooks Bandits) had a great chance on the backhand in tight denied by Wilson after a turnover created by Liam Kerins (Caledon, Ontario/North York Rangers).
The Purple Eagles would get on the board 1:55 into the second period on the power-play, as Lomsnes tucked in a loose puck in front after Drackett made the initial save on Plouffe. Noah Delmas also assisted on the goal.
RIT had several great chances to tie the game later in the period but could not solve Wilson. Kerins rang a shot off the left post on a RIT power-play seven minutes into the period and right before, Brown had a puck slid between the pads of Wilson from the side of the net, but it laid in the crease before a Purple Eagles player pushed it away.
Kerins and Ryan Kruper (Sherwood Park, Alberta/Sherwood Park Crusaders) were denied in front by Wilson on two-point chances. Valenzuela was denied on the rush later in the period from the slot.
Niagara leads the all-time series between the two schools, 18-10-3. Last night, the Purple Eagles rallied from a three-goal deficit to defeat the Tigers, 4-3. Valenzuela scored a first period power-play goal, while Kruper and Jake Hamacher (Corona, CA/Dubuque Fighting Saints) scored second period goals. Plouffe scored a pair of goals for Niagara, including the game-winning power-play tally with 4:58 left in regulation.
The Tigers return home to play their first home games in six weeks next Friday and Saturday, Jan. 12-13 versus Air Force Academy from the Gene Polisseni Center. Both games get underway at 7:05 p.m.