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RIT gets win #2, 6-4 over St. Lawrence

ROCHESTER, NY It was a night of several firsts, as the RIT men's hockey team (2-7-2) scored four second period goals and held two four goal leads before hanging on to defeat St. Lawrence University, (7-5-2) 6-4 in a non-conference contest in front of 1,633 fans at Ritter Arena on a blustery, snowy Saturday evening.

Junior Brandon Thompson (Vancouver, British Columbia/Handsworth) and freshman Danny Smith (Edmonton, Alberta/Ross Sheppard) scored their first collegiate goals. Freshman goaltender Mike Rotolo (Rochester, NY/Greece Athena) made his collegiate debut and picked up his first win, stopping 26 shots. It was also RIT's first non-conference win and first home victory of the season. RIT also scored a season-high six goals.

Sophomore forward Dan Schuler (Webster, NY/Powell River Kings) scored a pair of goals and was plus-3, while junior Brad McGowan (Langley, British Columbia/Surrey Eagles) scored a goal and added two assists, recording a plus-2 rating. Mike Colavecchia (Maple, Ontario/Lindsay Muskies) added a goal and an assist. Sophomore defenseman Alexander Kuqali (Pittsburgh, PA/Sioux City Musketeers) was on the ice for all six RIT goals and was a RIT Division I single-game record plus-6. He added an assist. Freshman defenseman Dustin Fostvelt (Edmonton, Alberta/St. Francis Xavier) was plus-3.

Rotolo needed to make just five first period saves, but stopped 12 second period shots, and nine in the final period to garner the victory. Jordan Ruby (Tavistock, Ontario/Wellington Dukes) had played RIT's first 10 games this season.

Jeremy Wick had a goal and two assists to lead the Saints. Greg Carey and Justin Baker had a goal and an assist apiece, while Ross McMullan also scored. In goal, Matt Weninger allowed four goals on nine shots before being pulled 9:19 into the second period when RIT bult a 4-0 lead. Kyle McDonald made eight shots on nine saves, but took the loss.

RIT led 1-0 after one period of play, then scored four goals, including a Division I team record two in nine seconds in a wild second period to lead 5-2 after two periods of play. St. Lawrence would score twice in 17 seconds late in the third period to cut RIT's lead to 5-4 before Schuler would tally an empty-netter with 10 seconds left.

The Saints out-shot RIT, 30-19. St. Lawrence was 2-for-7 with the man-advantage, while RIT was 0-for-4.

RIT Head Coach Wayne Wilson thought his team capitalized on its chances tonight.

"We scored when we had our chances and that was the difference tonight," said Wilson. "I thought we were more agressive tonight and I was happy we got a win over a very good team. Overall, we were solid in our own end and it was good that a few different guys got some goals. It was good for (Mike) Rotolo to get his first win in net, he was pretty poised."

RIT scored the only goal in an incredibly quick first period that featured just 13 faceoffs and eight combined shots on goal, fewest in RIT's Division I era.

McGowan got RIT on the board at the 6:15 mark, as he was in the right place to put home a rebound off the back boards for his second goal of the season. Ben Lynch (Blaine, MN/Lincoln Stars) dug a loose puck out of the corner and fed Kuqali at the left point. Kuqali's shot went wide off the back boards but right to McGowan who was at the side of the net. Weninger was out of position and McGowan had an open net for the goal.

Rotolo had to come up big on a RIT power-play, as Patrick Doherty broke in on a shorthanded 2-on-1. He faked the pass and fired a shot from the left faceoff circle that Rotolo calmly gobbled up.

The Tigers exploded for a season-high tying four second goals, while St. Lawrence got two back to make it a 5-2 game after 40 minutes of play.

Smith opened the onslaught 3:58 into the period, when he put home a rebound off a shot from Colavecchia past Weninger for his first collegiate goal. Greg Noyes (Lucan, Ontario/Salmon Arm Silverbacks) also assisted on the goal.

Just nine seconds later, Colavecchia redirected a centering feed from McGowan past Weninger for his team best sixth goal of the season.

At the 9:19 mark, Thompson scored his first collegiate goal, beating everyone down the ice after a St. Lawrence shot that went way wide and around the boards. Thompson picked up the loose puck at the Saints blueline, came in and beat Weninger with a backhand to make it 4-0 Tigers.

That goal chased Weninger, who was replaced by MacDonald.

The Saints got on the board at the 11:35 mark, as Greg Carey went through three Tigers in the slot and fired a hard, low wrister past Rotolo for his ninth goal of the season, making it 4-1 RIT.

Just 37 seconds later, Todd Skirving (Thunder Bay, Ontario/St. Patrick Catholic) fired a long pass to Schuler, who got behind the defense. Schuler would skate in on the breakaway and beat MacDonald for his fourth goal of the year.

Baker fired a shot thorugh a screen with 27 seconds left in the second period to cut the RIT lead to 5-2.

Wick beat Rotolo from point blank range on the left side on a power-play with 3:57 to cut the RIT lead to 5-3. Just 17 seconds later, McMullan launched a rocket of a slap shot from the right point that eluded Rotolo off the crossbar and in to make it a one-goal game.

With MacDonald pulled for the extra attacker, McGowan would make a great defensive play in the final seconds, knocking a loose puck from a Saints player, springing Schuler into the neutral zone. Schuler would make no mistake in hitting the empty net for his fifth goal in the last three games, securing the win for RIT.

Last night, the Saints scored three power-play goals en route to a 5-3 win. Skirving had a career-best three points on a goal and two assists for the Tigers.

The Saints lead the all-time series between the two schools, 9-4-0 and hold a 6-4-0 against RIT since the Tigers moved to Division I in 2005. Last season, the Tigers and Saints split a pair of one-goal games at St. Lawrence, with both games ending 4-3. On Oct. 28, 2005, former RIT goaltender Jocelyn Guimond (Quebec City, PQ/Williams Lake) set a  Division I single-game record for saves in a regulation game with 66, as the Tigers knocked off nationally-ranked St. Lawrence, 3-2. Two years ago, Adam Mitchell (Crofton, MD/Baystate Breakers) scored 14 seconds into overtime to give the Tigers a wild 6-5 win over Saints at Blue Cross Arena.

RIT will play its final 23 regular season games against Atlantic Hockey Association foes. The Tigers finished 1-4-2 against non-conference foes in the regular season.

The Tigers return to action on Friday and Saturday with a pair of games at Atlantic Hockey foe Sacred Heart. Friday's contest starts at 4:05 p.m., while Saturday's game begins at 3:05 p.m.

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Washington Times