MADISON, WI – The RIT men’s hockey team put up a valiant effort, out-shooting the University of Wisconsin 22-19, but fell short, 2-1 in front of 12,453 fans at the Kohl Center on Saturday evening. Defenseman Jake McCabe scored the game-winner for the Badgers on the power-play early in the third period to snap a 1-1 tie.
The Tigers had to kill off 1:22 of a Wisconsin 5-on-3 early in the third period, the latter penalty, a five-minute major. About 15 seconds after RIT killed off the 5-on-3, McCabe fired a shot through a screen in front that went off the crossbar and past RIT goaltender Jordan Ruby (Tavistock, Ontario/Huron Park), who never saw the shot.
From there, RIT killed off the remaining three minutes of the major penalty, and made a strong charge. The Tigers received a power-play with 6:58 left and generated a few good chances, the best coming on a stuff-in attempt from Adam Hartley (West Vancouver, British Columbia) in front, but Wisconsin goaltender Joel Rumpel kept the puck out of the net.
With just under four minutes left, Brad McGowan (Langley, British Columbia/Walnut Grove) came through the neutral zone with a head of speed and went around a defenseman on the right side. He cut to the net and tried to deke Rumpel, but the goaltender was able to barely poke the puck off his stick as he cut to the net.
RIT’s best chance came with 1:45 left, as Cameron Burt (Detroit, MI) backhanded a loose puck in the slot past Rumpel, but off the right post. The Tigers pulled Ruby with just under a minute left for the extra skater, but the Badgers defense strengthened and kept the Tigers from creating a quality scoring chance.
McCabe and Joseph Labate scored for the Badgers, who have now won two straight to kick off 2012. Rochester native Mark Zengerle assisted on both Badgers goals, extending his point-scoring streak to 19 games. Rumpel was strong in net, stopping 21 shots for his sixth win of the season.
Chris Saracino (St. Louis, MO) scored RIT’s lone goal, a power-play marker 6:42 into the third period off assists from Greg Noyes (Lucan, Ontario) and Burt. Ruby played well in net for the Tigers, stopping 17 shots, including several big saves during the first period to keep the game scoreless.
Overall, RIT out-shot Wisconsin, 22-19, including 17-10 over the final 40 minutes of play. The Tigers were 1-for-5 with the man-advantage, while Wisconsin was 1-for-4.
RIT Head Coach Wayne Wilson thought it was a well played game by both teams tonight.
“I thought both teams played much more of a defensive style, but overall, it was a good, hard fought game,” said Wilson. “Once again, it came down to getting a big goal on special teams. They were able to in a big spot and that proved to be the difference. Overall, I was very happy with the way we played tonight. We competed and were physical all game.”
Ruby was strong over the opening 20 minutes making a handful of tough saves, as the Tigers and Badgers finished the opening period scoreless, with Wisconsin holding a 9-6 edge in shots.
Zengerle had a great chance the Ruby stopped with his mask early on, followed a by a point-blank chance by Schultz that bounced off the goaltender’s shoulder. Ruby’s best save of the period came on a Wisconsin power-play, as Zengerle found Michael Mersch in the slot for a one-timer, but the RIT goaltender stuck his glove out to deflect the hard shot into the corner.
The Tigers dominated the second period firing 26 shots towards the Wisconsin goal to just four for the Badgers, but the period was knotted at 1-1, as the Badgers did a great job blocking shots. Overall, the Tigers held the Badgers to a season-low two shots on goal in the period.
Right after a RIT power-play to open the period, Wisconsin came into the zone on a rush, as Zengerle fed Tyler Barnes, who circled to find Joseph Labate in front of the net. Labate was well defended but fanned on the shot and sent a centering attempt that unfortunately deflected off the skate of a Tiger defenseman and past Ruby, who had no chance on the goal at the 2:18 mark.
The Tigers would get a goal of their own off a defenseman’s skate a little more than four minutes later, as Saracino walked around a player and fired a shot that caromed past Rumpel for his second goal of the season, on the power-play, to tie the game at 1-1. Hartley set a nice screen in front, as Noyes and Burt assisted on the goal.
RIT kept buzzing and had several great chances on a power-play late in the period, but were unable to get the go-ahead goal. The Badgers blocked five or six good shots from the blue-line, with Rumpel making three more big saves. RIT’s best chance came when Chris Haltigin (Oakville, Ontario) fired a cross-ice pass to Mike Colavecchia (Maple, Ontario), who looked to have the open side from the right face-off circle, but the shot narrowly missed the net.
For the second straight night, RIT played in front of a regular season record crowd. Last night, the Tigers played in front of an announced crowd of 11,741 fans, breaking the previous record of 10,556 fans set in 2010 and 2011 at Blue Cross Arena.
Last night, defenseman Justin Schultz scored two goals and added two assists to lead the Badgers to a 6-3 win over the Tigers. Matt Garbowsky (St. George, Ontario/St. John's Collegiate), Adam Mitchell (Crofton, MD), and Hartley scored for RIT, who had its two-game winning streak snapped.
The Tigers are now 0-3 all-time against the Badgers. Wisconsin won the Frozen Four Semifinal, 8-1 on April 8, 2010 in Detroit. Twelve current Tigers and six Badgers played in that contest.
Tonight’s game was the fifth out of nine straight contests away from Ritter Arena, as RIT does not play at home again until January 27. So far, RIT is 2-3 on its road swing. The Tigers play their final 14 regular season games against Atlantic Hockey Association opponents.
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