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RIT closes Ritter Arena era with 3-1 win

ROCHESTER, NY The RIT men's hockey team (11-18-5, 10-14-3 AHA) closed out Ritter Arena and the 2013-14 regular season by defeating Atlantic Hockey Association rival Canisius (12-19-3, 11-13-3 AHA) by score of 3-1 in front of a sellout crowd on Saturday. RIT finishes ninth in the AHA standings and will travel to face eighth-seed Holy Cross in a best-of-three first round series next weekend.

Brandon Thompson (Vancouver, British Columbia/Handsworth) scored a goal and added an assist, while Adam Mitchell (Crofton, MD/Baystate Breakers) and Dan Schuler (Webster, NY/Powell River Kings) also scored for the Tigers, who have won three straight contests. Danny Smith (Edmonton, Alberta/Sherwood Park Crusaders) dished out a pair of assists to help the Tigers snap a seven-game winless streak at home.

In net, Mike Rotolo (Rochester, NY/Cedar Rapids Roughriders) was excellent, stopping 26 shots to pick up his eighth win of the season. He made eight stops in the first period, 10 in the second, and eight in the third to earn the game's first star.

Ryan Bohrer scored the lone Canisius goal, while Keegan Asmundson made 31 saves. The Golden Griffins finish seventh in the league standings and will host tenth-seed Sacred Heart in a first round series next weekend.

RIT's penalty-killing was excellent, killing off all five Canisius power-play attempts, holding the Golden Griffins to just three shots with the man-advantage. RIT has now killed off 60 of its opponents last 65 attempts with the man-advantage over the last 14 games. The Tigers were 0-for-2 with the extra man.

Before the game, RIT honored seniors Nolan Descoteaux (Dallas, TX/South Shore Kings), Mike Colavecchia (Maple, Ontario/Lindsay Muskies), Eliot Raibl (Vancouver, British Columbia/Quesnel Millionaires), Ben Lynch (Blaine, MN/Lincoln Stars), Adam Mitchell (Crofton, MD/Baystate Breakers), and Greg Noyes (Lucan, Ontario/Salmon Arm Silverbacks).

"I thought we were really sound tonight, and did not give up much defensively," said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson. "It was a hard fought win, nothing came easy tonight. We are playing pretty well right now heading into the postseason. We need to keep our focus and get ready for Holy Cross next weekend."

RIT played a strong first period, scoring the lone goal, while carrying a 15-8 edge in shots.

Adam Mitchell (Crofton, MD/Baystate Breakers) scored his third goal of the season at the 8:21 mark, sweeping in a loose puck from in close after a wrap around attempt from Danny Smith (Edmonton, Alberta/Sherwood Park Crusaders) came right to him. Brandon Thompson (Vancouver, British Columbia/Handsworth) did good work behind the net, getting the puck to Smith for the second assist on the goal.

That line struck for the only goal in last night's 1-0 win over Canisius, with Smith getting the tally.

Schuler nearly made it 2-0 in the final minute of the period, coming down the right wing with Brad McGowan (Langley, British Columbia/Surrey Eagles) on a 2-on-1. Schuler waited out Asmundson, but fired his shot from in close off the right post.

Both teams scored once in an action packed second period which saw a lot of physical play.

RIT appeared to make it 2-0, as Thompson slammed home a pass from Smith in front after a save by Asmundson, but an inadvertent whistle blew before Smith dug the puck free, as the referee lost sight of the puck, thinking the puck was covered.
Physical play reigned supreme, with several skirmishes after various whistles during the period.

Canisius would tie the game at 1-1 at the 11:21 mark, as Bohrer redirected a pass from Jack Hidi past Rotolo from the doorstep. Logan Roe also assisted on the goal.

Thompson would give RIT its lead back at the 14:48 mark of the period, slamming home a rebound off a shot from Raibl for his second goal of the season. Adam Mitchell (Crofton, MD/Baystate Breakers) took a shot that Asmundson steered to the corner. Smith chased down the loose puck and fed Raibl at the right point. Raibl fired a hard shot that Asmundson stopped, but Thompson crashed the net and buried the rebound for the goal.

Rotolo had to come up big late in the period, stopping Braden Rigney on the rush with a shoulder save.

Schuler made it 3-1 Tigers 6:29 into the third period, taking a perfect feed from Brad McGowan (Langley, British Columbia/Surrey Eagles) to get behind the Canisius defense and come in all alone on Asmundson. With a Canisius defender draped all over him, Schuler was able to roof a shot over the Canisius goaltender for his 12th goal of the season.

RIT and Canisius have enjoyed a long rivalry, as both members of the ECAC West Conference and as AHA schools. RIT is 57-19-1 all-time against the Golden Griffins and 18-9-0 since the start of the 2005-06 season. RIT won the season series between the two schools, 2-1-0. Last night, Rotolo made 29 saves to record his second shutout of the season in a 1-0 win over the Golden Griffins.

Tonight's contest was the final RIT men's hockey game at historic Ritter Arena, as the team moves into the Gene Polisseni Center in time for the 2014-15 season. Since moving to Division I in 2005, RIT is 86-47-18 at the 2,100-seat arena and 69-25-15 against AHA foes at home. Ritter Arena has been the home of the Tigers for 46 years and was the site of countless ECAC West Championship games, AHA Quarterfinal games, and the 1989 and 2001 NCAA Division III National Championship games. Overall, RIT finished 434-165-1 at Ritter Arena in 46 seasons.

RIT will head to Holy Cross for a best of three first round series next weekend. The Tigers went 0-1-1 against the Crusaders this season, skating to a 2-2 draw at Ritter Arena on Jan. 31, and falling 4-2 the next night. Game times will be announced on Monday.

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Washington Times