ROCHESTER, NY – The RIT men’s hockey (15-8-2, 12-4-2 AHA) moved into sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Hockey Association Standings by extending its winning streak to five games after a 5-1 win over Mercyhurtst (14-10-3, 11-4-3 AHA) in front of a sellout crowd of 2,100 fans at Ritter Arena on Friday evening.
RIT dominated play throughout, out-shooting the Lakers 44-22. Mike Colavecchia (Maple, Ontario) led the way offensively with a goal and an assist. Jeff Smith (Spokane, WA), Brad McGowan (Langley, British Columbia/Walnut Grove), Cameron Burt (Detroit, MI), and Adam Mitchell (Crofton, MD) also scored for the Tigers, who now have 26 points in league play, one ahead of Mercyhurst.
The defensive unit played great once again, allowing just 22 shots on goal. Offensively, Chris Haltigin (Oakville, Ontario) and Greg Noyes (Lucan, Ontario) dished out two assists apiece. Daniel Spivak (Thornhill, Ontario), Trevor Eckenswiller (Lions Head, Ontario), Eliot Raibl (Vancouver, British Columbia), and Nolan Descoteaux (Dallas, TX) did a great job blocking shots and frustrating the Mercyhurst offense, which came in as the highest scoring team in league play.
RIT goaltender Shane Madolora (Salinas, CA) made 21 saves to earn his fifth straight win and improve to 13-4-1 this season. Madolora and the Tiger defense have allowed just two goals over the last five games. The RIT goaltender lowered his goals against average on the season to 1.78 this season.
Zac Frischmon scored for the Lakers, while Max Strang made 22 saves over the first two periods in the loss. Jordan Tibbett stopped 17 of 18 shots in the final period.
RIT went 3-for-7 on the power-play, while holding Mercyhurst scoreless in six attempts with the man-advantage. The Tigers have now killed off 33 of their last 34 shorthanded attempts.
RIT Head Coach Wayne Wilson thought his team’s quick start was the difference tonight.
“We got off to a great start, which put them (Mercyhurst) on their heels and I thought overall, we came out with a very consistent effort tonight,” said Wilson. “We have to be smart and physical and play with an edge tomorrow. We know Mercyhurst will come out hard.”
The Tigers came out and controlled play over the opening 20 minutes, scoring twice to hold a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers opened the scoring 5:49 mark, as McGowan centered a pass from behind the net that went off a Mercyhurst defender’s skate and past Strang for his eighth goal of the season. Taylor McReynolds (Sherwood Park, Alberta) found McGowan behind the net, who attempted a quick pass to a streaking Mark Cornacchia (Unionville, Ontario), but the puck deflected in.
Smith made it 2-0 at the 11:20 mark, as he stripped a Mercyhurst player of the puck in the neutral zone and came in on a 2-on-1 with Colavecchia. Smith put a good head fake on Strang put on a deke and beat him high on the short-side for his fourth tally of the year.
RIT just missed making it 3-0 later in the period, as Matt Garbowsky (St. George, Ontario/St. John's Collegiate) fed a goal mouth pass to McReynolds on a 2-on-1, but a sliding Strang stuck his left pad out to make a huge stop.
Madolora made his best save in the final minute of the frame, as he stuck the left glove hand out to rob Matthew Zay from point -blank range.
RIT continued its strong play in the middle stanza with two power-play goals, taking a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes of play.
Colavecchia gave RIT a 3-0 lead 3:51 into the period, as he took a feed from Noyes on a give-and-go in the slot and blasted a shot past Strang, just inside the left goal post for his team-leading 11th goal of the season.
RIT continued its pressure and made it 4-0 on a power-play at the 10:53 mark, as Mitchell tipped in a hard point shot from Haltigin past Strang for his seventh tally of the year. Colavecchia dove to tip a pass just past a Mercyhurst player to Haltigin at the point. Haltigin’s shot went off Mitchell, who was tied up with a defenseman.
RIT held Mercyhurst without a shot for the first 13 minutes of the second period.
Strang made a huge shorthanded glove save on a streaking Garbowsky late in the period.
The Lakers got on the board with 2:37 left in the period, as Frischmon took a feed from Zay in close and put a shot over Madolora’s shoulder to make it 4-1 Tigers.
Burt added an insurance marker on the power-play late in the third period, as he snuck in a loose puck in tight after a shot from Haltigin deflected off Noyes. That goal moves Burt into a tie with former Tiger Dan Ringwald (Oakville, Ontario) for third all-time in career scoring at the Division I level with 125 points.
RIT has now sold out six home games this season.
Tonight’s contest was the second of third meetings between the two schools this season, as Mercyhurst defeated RIT 2-1 at the Mercyhurst Ice Arena behind 49 saves from Strang on October 28. RIT is 28-14-5 all-time against the Lakers and are 12-5-2 against Mercyhurst since moving to Division I in 2005.
Tonight’s game was the first at Ritter Arena in 48 days, dating back to Dec. 10. RIT played nine straight contests away from Ritter Arena and went 6-3 during that span.
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