ROCHESTER, NY – The RIT men’s hockey team out-shot Penn State 40-22, including 33-10 over the final two periods, but fell to the Nittany Lions, 3-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 10,556 fans at Blue Cross Arena in downtown Rochester on Saturday evening. The game was the focal point of Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend.
Down 3-1 late in the third period, Jeff Smith (Spokane, WA)
crashed the net and scored on a rebound to cut the Penn State lead to 3-2 with 5:10 left in regulation. Just 57 seconds later, Penn State’s George Saad was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting Anthony Hamburg (Phoenix, AZ/Millard North)
violently from behind into the boards. Hamburg walked off the ice under his own power.
RIT played the final 4:13 with a power-play, but could not convert. RIT had 11 shots over the final power-play, but Penn State goaltender P.J. Musico kept the Tigers off the scoreboard, making a few key saves. The Penn State penalty-killing unit did a good job keeping a lot of RIT shots to the outside.
The Tigers pulled goaltender Josh Watson (Lititz, PA)
for the extra attacker with 1:24 left, but could not get the tying goal.Ben Lynch (Blaine, MN)
scored a goal and added an assist for RIT. Watson made 19 saves in the loss. RIT was 0-for-4 with the man-advantage.
Curtis Loik, Casey Bailey, and Max Gardiner scored for the Nittany Lions. Musico was stellar in the win, stopping 40-of-42 shots to be named the game’s third star. Penn State was 1-for-2 on the power-play.
RIT Head Coach Wayne Wilson
was not happy with how his team competed tonight.
“We played with no edge and no sense of urgency until the third period,” said Wilson. “We allowed Penn State to get comfortable and they took advantage. We need to play much better.”
Penn State scored the lone goal in a hard-hitting first period of play, which saw the Nittany Lions out-shoot RIT 12-9.
Penn State had the first four shots of the game, but RIT received a power-play early on and did everything but score. Musico made a great save on a shot by Brad McGowan (Langley, British Columbia/Walnut Grove)
with the rebound going to Adam Mitchell (Crofton, MD)
who looked to have a wide open net in front, but Penn State defenseman Nate Jensen dove across to knock the puck away at the last second before it crossed the line.
Later in the frame, Mitchell took a perfect feed on the rush from Smith, but just put the shot wide. Hamburg had two great chances foiled by Musico, the second going off a defenseman’s skate and nearly in.
Penn State got on the board in the final seconds of the period, taking advantage of miscommunication between Watson and a defenseman. The puck came harmlessly to Watson at the right post and he looked to cover the puck, but it was knocked away by Kenny Brooks. David Glen quickly found Loik all alone at the doorstep and Loik was able to hammer the puck into the open net for the 1-0 lead. It was Loik’s first collegiate goal.
Both teams scored a goal in the second period, as RIT held a 13-5 edge in shots and started to carry the play.
Lynch tallied his first goal of the season just 1:59 into the period to tie the game at 1-1. Mitchell crunched a Penn State player with a clean, devastating check into the boards behind the net, forcing a turnover. He then stole the loose puck and fed Lynch who was all alone in front. Lynch made no mistake, rocketing a shot over the shoulder of Musico for the goal.
RIT carried play for the next few minutes, peppering the Penn State net, but Musico was solid in turning away a few big shots.
Penn State re-took its 2-1 lead at the 8:06 mark, taking advantage of a Tiger defenseman who fell in his own zone while attempting to break out. Michael McDonagh stole the puck and tipped a pass to Max Gardner, who fed Bailey, who was all alone on Watson. Watson made the first save, as Bailey tried to go between the legs, but the rebound came back to Bailey, who swatted it out of midair to tally his second goal of the year.
RIT kept the pressure up later in the period and nearly had the game tied, when Greg Noyes (Lucan, Ontario)
walked around a Penn State player along the boards and fed Dan Schuler (Webster, NY/Choate Rosemary Hall)
who looked to have an open net. Schuler was cross checked by Rich O’Brien, drawing a penalty, but the tip went just wide.
Schuler was stopped by Musico in tight late in the period.
Penn State scored the eventual game-winning goal, on the power-play at the 6:53 mark, as Gardiner fired a shot past Watson from the slot after a shot by Joseph Lordo was blocked. Jonathan Milley won the faceoff back to Lordo, whose shot went off a RIT defenseman. The rebound went right to Gardiner who fired a low shot past Watson from point blank range for his third goal of the year.
The Nittany Lions nearly put the game out of reach moments later, as Milley came in on a breakaway and made a great move that had Watson beat, but the puck went off the post and out.
Smith made the game tight with his third goal in the last two games at the 14:50 mark. Lynch carried the puck into the zone and fired a shot from the right side boards which Musico stopped. The rebound came to Brad Reid (Delta, British Columbia/South Delta)
who tipped a pass to Smith crashing the net. Smith corralled the puck with his skate and flipped a shot over Musico for the goal.
RIT is now 6-8-1 all-time at Blue Cross Arena and 2-3-1 there for the annual Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend game. It is the third straight season that the Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend game has sold out. This year, the game sold out on Tuesday at 12 p.m., 103 hours before the start, a new record.
Tonight’s contest was the first between RIT and Penn State. Penn State is playing in its first season as a Division I program.
The Tigers return to action on Thursday, as they play their first Atlantic Hockey Association contest of the season against Robert Morris at Ritter Arena. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m.