After RIT built a big lead and Elmira rallied furiously to tie the game at the end of regulation, the result Saturday night was logical.
Both teams had chances in overtime — Elmira the better ones — and with 1:44 remaining in the extra stanza, RIT was called for too many men on the ice. Elmira tried but couldn’t convert with the extra skater, and the game ended in a 5-5 tie.
“It was another typical RIT vs. Elmira game, with lots of swings both ways,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson.
RIT swept out to a 3-0 lead, then saw that lead evaporate during the second and third periods. After Elmira tied the game, it was a nip-and-tuck affair as the teams traded goals and sent the game into overtime.
“We showed a lot of character coming back, and had some good chances in overtime,” said Elmira coach Tim Ceglarski. “We played well and showed a lot of heart. College hockey is a game of momentum, ebb and flow, and this game really showed that.”
A power play for Elmira carried over into the start of the third period, and the Soaring Eagles converted to cut into RIT’s 3-1 lead. Justin Siebold shot from the left side, and the rebound came out to the right of RIT netminder Tyler Euverman. Brandon Rose was there to blast the rebound just inside the right post for the goal at the 1:02 mark.
Momentum was firmly on Elmira’s side of the ice. Just two minutes later, Elmira scored again to knot the game 3-3. As Siebold and Dean Jackson streaked into the RIT zone, they caught the Tiger defenders backing in. Jackson passed across to Siebold who was able to redirect the puck past Euverman for the goal at the 3:04 mark.
After climbing back from a 3-0 deficit, Elmira wasn’t about to be denied and the Soaring Eagles took the lead 8:13 into the third period. Andrew Morris put a slapshot on the RIT net, more just to dump it into the zone than anything else. But the puck eluded Euverman and went into the back of the net to give Elmira the 4-3 lead.
RIT wasn’t done though. After Elmira had carried play since midway through the second period, all of the sudden the RIT offense woke up. Following the Soaring Eagles’ fourth goal, RIT kept the puck in the Elmira zone for an extended time — almost like an RIT power play. The work paid off when Ryan Fairbarn wristed the puck past Elmira goaltender Greg Fargo to tie the game 4-4 at the 9:57 mark.
The tie was short-lived, however. Elmira took advantage of a defensive breakdown by RIT to retake the lead 11:55 into the period. Rivard and Siebold played catch down the Tiger slot, as the RIT defenders were carried over to the boards. Siebold finished off the play, sliding the puck into a wide open net for the goal.
Trading goals continued as time wound down in the third period. Fairbarn scored a power-play goal for RIT off a blast from the top of the slot to re-tie the game 5-5 and send it into overtime.
The scoring floodgates opened briefly in the opening three minutes of the second period. Just seven seconds into the second stanza, Mike Tarantino, forechecking behind the Elmira net, caused a Soaring Eagle defender to cough up the puck. It squirted out towards the right faceoff dot, where Tiger Sam Hill was waiting. Hill blasted the puck past Fargo into the back of the net to give RIT the 2-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later, RIT struck again. The puck squirted out of the RIT zone and Jared Conlon picked it up along the left boards. Conlon streaked into the zone on a clean breakaway as linemate Jason Chafe jumped in from the right side. Conlon didn’t make any fancy moves and simply wristed the puck past Fargo’s glove for RIT’s third goal 1:47 into the period.
“When we got that third goal, Elmira’s heads were down, but we didn’t capitalize on that,” said Wilson.
Elmira wasn’t done, though, and jumped right back into the contest. Off a scramble in front of the RIT net, it was Soaring Eagle Craig MacDonald who was able to swat the puck past Euverman. Elmira was on the board at the 2:43 mark, only down 3-1.
Elmira was flying around the ice after the Soaring Eagle goal, and this time it was RIT back on its heals. The Tigers got in penalty trouble during the later half of the second period, giving Elmira a string of four straight power plays. Despite repeated pressure, the Soaring Eagles weren’t able to convert on any of them to cut the margin of RIT’s lead.
“We did take some penalties in the second period, and for that we need to take some responsibility,” said Wilson. “Tyler [Euverman] really saved us. My main concern at the time was how much we were wearing out our special team guys killing all those penalties.”
The Soaring Eagles did have several great chances to score, though, during those power plays. Pierre Rivard had two top quality opportunities. His first came at the twelve minute mark, when Rivard broke into the RIT zone all alone. Rivard whistled the shot wide left of the RIT net.
With less than two minutes remaining in the period, Rivard had another great chance. A scramble ensued in front of the RIT net, Euverman was down and out, but managed to barely get the blade of his stick in front of the puck to block Rivard as he swatted at the puck.
Euverman was the hero of the second period for RIT as he made several spectacular saves to maintain RIT’s 3-1 lead.
Opening up the first period, RIT threw a strong forecheck at Elmira and it put the Soaring Eagles back on their heals. The pressure caused several turnovers deep in the Elmira zone, but Fargo was able to turn the shots aside.
“We had kind of a carry over from last night for about half of the first period,” said Ceglarski. “Then we settled down and got our legs under us.”
Craig MacDonald had the best scoring chance for Elmira during the early going. MacDonald skated in on a semi-breakaway and tried to deke around Euverman. The puck slid through Euverman’s pads and trickled wide of the net by mere inches.
RIT scored the only goal in the first period on the power play at the 12:32 mark. Mike Bournazakis got the puck along the right hand boards and had time to skate towards the net unmarked. He made a move to pass to a linemate waiting at the top of the crease, but pulled back and steered the puck around Fargo for the goal.
“We wanted to control the emotion of the first period, and that worked pretty well,” said Wilson.