While it wasn’t necessarily a win that the Mass.-Lowell River Hawks will look back fondly upon, it was a win nonetheless, as they defeated the RIT Tigers 6-3 on Saturday afternoon at Tsongas Arena. Despite never trailing, a hat trick from Scott Campbell, and four assists from Mike Potacco, the game was never quite as out of reach as the final score might otherwise indicate.
“We were fortunate to have a couple of pucks jump in the net for us,” said UML coach Blaise MacDonald. “I really thought the score and the shots weren’t indicative of how the game was really played. I thought, essentially, RIT dominated us in almost every area. Scott Campbell I thought played well and I thought Nevin [Hamilton] played fine, and Nick Schaus was okay on ‘D,’ but after that, we had a lot of passengers.”
“Our general play was sloppy, but we were fortunate enough to get the win,” said Campbell. “It was a constant battle through adversity. We knew we were playing sloppy, and we were trying not to get down on ourselves.
“We got some fortunate bounces, and Nev [Hamilton] made some big kicks and we just made plays when we needed to, and fortunately tonight that was enough.”
“We took too many penalties, and I thought we took some lazy penalties,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “We gave up opportunities tonight, we gave up big opportunities, and we were relying on our goalie to make some big saves.”
Saturday’s match-up between the two teams was their first meeting in over 25 years, and their first ever meeting at the Division I level. The last time the two teams met was on March 18, 1983, in the NCAA Division II Tournament semifinals. RIT won that game 4-1 with the help of then-sophomore defenseman Blaise MacDonald, who won national championships with RIT in 1983 and 1985.
Early in the first period, after the Tigers were called for too many men on the ice at 2:50, when play resumed, the penalty clock did not start. After a stoppage of play at 3:33, referee Jeff Bunyon had conversations with both head coaches, and play then resumed, with the penalty clock still stopped. As a result of the penalty clock malfunction, Anton Kharin, who served the penalty for RIT, was released from the penalty box approximately 25 seconds early.
The River Hawks drew first blood at 8:15 in the first when Kory Falite netted a two-on-one goal with the help of Campbell. Campbell hit Falite with a pass that allowed him to get around the defender, get a clean shot on Tigers’ goaltender Louis Menard and put the River Hawks on top, 1-0.
Campbell scored his first goal of the game at 15:45 in the first to put the River Hawks up 2-0. It was a similar two-on-one goal, with Mike Potacco giving Campbell the assist.
With time winding down in the first period, Matt Crowell got the Tigers on the board at 19:08. Positioned in front of the right dot, Jesse Newman got him the puck, and Crowell sent a laser past River Hawks’ goaltender Nevin Hamilton.
Just 17 seconds into the second stanza, Campbell got his second goal of the game to put the River Hawks back up by two goals. Skating into the offensive zone, Campbell hit Schaus at the right dot. Campbell then skated through the defense and got the puck back from Schuas at the left door step to chip it up past Menard.
Later in the period, both teams exchanged five-on-three goals. Crowell scored his second of the afternoon at 7:51 in the period from the right door step on a crisp, tic-tac-toe, power-play goal from Newman and Cameron Burt. At 16:50 in the period, Campbell completed his hat trick to make the score 4-2 at the second intermission.
Sammy D’Agostino added an even strength goal at 11:23 in the third, and David Vallorani added a power-play goal at 14:13 in the period to put the River Hawks up comfortably, at 6-2. However, the Tigers would not go down easily, scoring with just 1:39 to play, right after River Hawk Tim Corcoran’s penalty expired.
RIT returns to Atlantic Hockey action next weekend with a two-game set at Air Force. Mass.-Lowell will also return to league action next weekend with a home-and-home against New Hampshire.