RIT’s special teams were rolling in the first period with five goals against Utica, and the Tigers held the lead for the rest of the game on the way to an 8-3 win.
RIT opened the scoring 4:55 into the contest with a shorthanded tally. Mike Tarantino intercepted a cross-ice pass across the Pioneer slot and dished off to linemate David Bagley. Bagley beat Utica netminder Jake Miskovic off a backhand for the goal.
Utica spiraled down the hole of one penalty after another during the remainder of the first period. That was a mistake given RIT’s potent power play, and the Tigers took advantage of the situation. RIT rattled off four consecutive power-play goals to take control of the game.
“We were totally off our game plan,” said Utica coach Gary Heenan. “We put them on the power play, where they wanted to be. We didn’t give RIT the war we wanted to.”
Sam Hill tallied at 7:25, Jason Chafe added a goal at 9:59, Roberto Orofiamma notched another at 15:34, and Ryan Franke pitched in a goal of his own at 19:06. Utica was on its heels heading into the first intermission.
“We are a rough and tumble team,” said Heenan. “If the refs are going to call it tight, that doesn’t benefit us.”
Heenan did a good job of settling his team down during the break, and the Pioneers figured out how tight the referee was calling the game.
Just 24 seconds into the second period, Utica scored a power-play goal to gain some momentum. The Pioneers were able to keep the puck low in the Tiger zone, before cycling it out in front of the net. Jimmy Sokol picked up the puck there and slid it past RIT netminder Tyler Euverman for the goal.
It was RIT parading to the box in the second period, giving Utica four power plays. However, the Pioneers were unable to convert on any of their chances. The second period ended with RIT holding a 5-1 lead.
“The second period was played off our game plan,” said Heenan. “I wasn’t yelling and screaming after the first period. Instead I was just calm and got the guys back on the plan.”
Utica played with more discipline in the second period and most of the way through the third. However, a handful of penalties in the last five minutes of the game gave RIT three more power-play goals. Hill and Bagley each tallied their second of the evening, while Marc Hyman scored his first.
Utica scored twice in the waning moments of the game. Travis Doan and Ed Mullen tallied the goals.