RIT Hockey rolls Niagara with 8-4 win
ROCHESTER, NY – The RIT men's hockey team (7-8-1, 5-6-1 AHA) scored a season-high eight goals, rolling to an 8-4 win over Niagara University (8-9-1, 7-4-1 AHA) from the Gene Polisseni Center Saturday night to wrap up the opening semester.
RIT scored eight goals in a game for the first time since Feb. 27, 2015, while tallying three empty-net goals and two shorthanded tallies. In addition, RIT snapped a five-game losing streak.
Seven different Tigers scored goals and 12 players had at least a point. Jake Hamacher (Corona, CA/Dubuque Fighting Saints) led the way with two goals and an assist, while Abbott Girduckis (Belleville, Ontario/Wellington Dukes) had a goal and two assists. Gabe Valenzuela (Brampton, Ontario/North York Rangers) and Will Calverley (Scarborough, Ontario/Chilliwack Chiefs) each tallied a goal and an assist, Erik Brown (Keene, Ontario/Kemptville 73's), Alden Dupuis (Edmonton, Alberta/Bonnyville Pontiacs) and Andrew Petrucci (Toronto, Ontario/Toronto Patriots) also scored. Petrucci's goal was the first of his collegiate career. In goal, Christian Short (Vaughan, Ontario/Surrey Eagles) made his first start of the season and earned the win, stopping 27 of 31 shots.
Nick Farmer, Alex Truscott, Niko Kovachis and Ludwig Stenlund scored for Niagara. Goaltender Brian Wilson made 30 saves on 35 shots.
RIT out-shot Niagara, 38-31. Both teams combined for 73 penalty minutes. The Tigers were 1-for-6 on the power-play, while Niagara was 1-for-5. RIT added two more shorthanded goals, giving them six on the season, which leads the nation.
"I thought we had all four lines going," said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson. "I thought we played a great first period, but was a tight game and were able to respond well in the third period. Our guys responded well for being in exams this week."
RIT out-shot Niagara, 20-6 and dominated play for most of the opening period, but went to the first intermission against the Purple Eagles knotted at 2-2.
Hamacher opened the scoring just 1:29 in, redirecting a shot by Chris McKay (Edmonton, Alberta/Sherwood Park Crusaders) past Wilson for his fifth goal of the season. McKay intercepted a clearing pass at the line a fired a shot to the net that Hamacher got a piece of that eluded Wilson for the goal.
RIT kept coming, dominating play for long stretches but Wilson kept the Purple Eagles in the game with a handful of big saves.
The Purple Eagles tied the game at 1-1 with 4:24 left in the period, as Zach Mills intercepted a clearing attempt by Short at the right face-off circle and pushed a pass just ahead to Farmer, who roofed a shot over the sprawling RIT goaltender for his third goal of the season.
Just 15 seconds later, Hamacher would score his second goal of the game and sixth of the season, one-timing a clean face-off win from Gabe Valenzuela (Brampton, Ontario/North York Rangers) past a screened Wilson to make it 2-1 Tigers.
Once again, Niagara would answer, this time shorthanded, as Truscott took a drop feed from Chris Harpur and fired a shot from the high slot off the rush that Short got a piece of, before it trickled the line to tie the game with 1:54 left in the period.
RIT would score twice in a span of 1:11 early in the second period to grab a 4-2 lead. Petrucci would tally his first collegiate goal 3:36 into the period, as he was the beneficiary of a giveaway by Wilson. Wilson came out to play a long clearing pass and fired the puck right on to the stick of Calverley. Calverley spotted Petrucci all alone in front with a wide open net and the freshman forward fired it in for the goal to make it 3-2 RIT.
Girduckis would score on the power-play 1:11 later, as a shot by Adam Brubacher (Elmira, Ontario/Powell River Kings) ricocheted off a Niagara defender right to him in the slot. Girduckis slid the puck between the legs of Wilson for his sixth goal of the year.
Niagara would answer back just before the midway point of the period on a 5-on-3 power-play, as Stenlud ripped a one-timer from Noah Delmas past Short to cut the RIT lead to 4-3.
The Tigers were awarded a five-minute power-play after a major by Niagara with 5:34 left in the period, but could not convert.
RIT would score a key insurance goal with 7:09 left, as Valenzuela finished off a brilliant passing play for his fifth goal of the season to make it 5-3 Tigers. Valenzuela caused a turnover inside the Niagara line, with the puck going to Shawn Cameron (Sherbrooke, Quebec/Cumberland Grads). Cameron spun and sent a pass to Hamacher, who in turn made a nifty pass to Valenzuela, who was all alone at the side of the net for a tap-in goal.
Brown made it 6-3 with 5:36 left, scoring his team-best seventh goal of the year and 59th of his career, as Niagara pulled Wilson for the extra attacker.
Just 18 seconds later, Kovachis cut the RIT lead to 6-4, sliding in a pass from Ryan Cox.
The Purple Eagles would get a power-play with 5:06 left and pull Wilson once again for the sixth attacker. RIT would take advantage, scoring a pair of shorthanded, empty-netters 1:17 apart to put the game away.
Dupuis made it 7-4 with his third shorthanded tally of the year, taking a feed from Girduckis with 4:44 left. Calverley would score his first shorthanded goal with 3:27 remaining, intercepting a pass in the neutral zone and from the defensive side of center ice, fired a shot into the open net to complete the scoring.
The Tigers finished up a stretch of playing eight of nine games at the Polisseni Center. RIT went 4-4-0 during the homestand.
Niagara leads the all-time series between the two schools, 18-11-13. The Tigers are 8-4-3 against the Purple Eagles since the start of the 2014-15 season.
The Tigers and Purple Eagles will meet once again for two games after the semester break, a home-and-home series on Jan. 4-5, 2019. The game on Friday, Jan. 4 will be at Niagara's Dwyer Arena, while the two teams shift to the Polisseni Center the following night.