Season ends in disappointment for RIT, as Tigers fall 2-0 to Sacred Heart


ROCHESTER, NY – The No. 6 RIT men's hockey team (15-20-2) had its 2017-18 season come an end, falling to No. 11 Sacred Heart University (13-20-4) by a score of 2-0 in game three of the Atlantic Hockey First Round Series from the Gene Polisseni Center Sunday night. Sacred wins the best-of-three series, 2-1 and will travel to No. 1 Mercyhurst for a best-of-three quarterfinal series, starting March 9.

The Pioneers would score twice in the opening period and hold on the rest of the way. Mike Crocock and Austin McIlMurray scored goals, while Zach Tsekos added two assists. Goaltender Brett Magnus stopped all 32 shots he faced, including 18 in the third period for the shutout.

Logan Drackett (Calgary, Alberta/Calgary Canucks) made 23 saves in the loss for RIT. Chase Norrish (Strongfield, Saskatchewan/Yorkton Terriers) led the Tigers with five shots on goal. RIT out-shot Sacred Heart, 18-6 in the third period, put could not get one past Magnus. RIT's best chance came with 11 minutes left, as Myles Powell (Courtenay, British Columbia/Cowichan Valley Capitals) rang a shot off the right post after Magnus made the initial save on Adam Brubacher (Elmira, Ontario/Powell River Kings), while RIT was on a power-play.

RIT out-shot Sacred Heart, 32-25. The Pioneers were 1-for-5 on the power-play, while RIT was 0-for-6.

"Sacred Heart was the better team tonight," said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson. "They were quicker and on top of us the whole game."

RIT had a great chance to open the scoring three minutes in, as Nick Bruce (Fall River, Nova Scotia/Johnstown Tomahawks) collected a loose puck in the slot and fired a wrist shot that Magnus just got a piece of.

Drackett made a handful of saves later in the period, as the Pioneers seized the momentum. Sacred Heart would get on the board with 7:54 left in the frame, as Crocock circled the net and beat Drackett to the far side on a wrap around for his third goal of the season.

Abbott Girduckis (Belleville, Ontario/Wellington Dukes) just missed tying the game three minutes later, as he took a feed from Gabe Valenzuela (Brampton, Ontario/North York Rangers) and fired a shot from the slot that eluded Magnus, but went off the crossbar and out.

RIT ran into penalty problems late in the period, going down two men and Sacred Heart made them pay, as McIlmurray one-timed a feed from Josh Allan past Drackett for his 13th goal of the year to make it 2-0 Pioneers with 33.6 seconds left.

RIT's penalty-killing unit came up big in the second period, killing off a five-minute major and a minor nearly in succession, while allowing just two shots on goal.

The Tigers had two great chances late in the period on a power-play of their own, as nifty passing led to a point-blank opportunity by Adam Brubacher (Elmira, Ontario/Powell River Kings) from the right circle with Magnus out of position. Unfortunately, the shot went just over the net. Right as the power-play was ending, Matt Abt (Leduc, Alberta/Whitecourt Wolverines) whirled into the zone on an end-to-end rush and fired a shot from the slot that Magnus corralled.

RIT pressured in the third period, firing 18 shots, including six on three power-plays, but were unable to solve Magnus

Sacred Heart won the 2017-18 season series, 3-2, while RIT holds a 24-9-2 edge in the all-time series. Friday night, Girduckis scored 23 seconds into overtime to lift RIT to a 5-4 win in game one. Last night, Jackson Barliant scored two goals, including the game-winner 2:19 into the third overtime to give Sacred Heart a 4-3 win and even the series at 1-1.

The Tigers are 30-17 in the postseason at the Division I level, while appearing in their 11th Atlantic Hockey Tournament and 2-3 in winner take-all game three situations.

Tonight marked the final game for RIT's senior class. The group of Matt Abt (Leduc, Alberta/Whitecourt Wolverines), Liam Kerins (Caledon, Ontario/North York Rangers), Max Mikowski (Cheekotwaga, NY/Buffalo Jr. Sabres), Brady Norrish (Strongfield, Saskatchewan/Yorkton Terriers), Chase Norrish (Strongfield, Saskatchewan/Yorkton Terriers) and Myles Powell (Courtenay, British Columbia/Cowichan Valley Capitals) led RIT to two Atlantic Hockey Championships and two berths in the NCAA Tournament.

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