ROCHESTER, N.Y. — RIT rode an overwhelmingly dominating first period to eke out a 3-2 victory over American International on Saturday night.
Tigers coach Wayne Wilson was succinct after the game.
“I thought we played great,” Wilson said. “Fifty-four shots. I would have liked to see more goals for, but limiting their chances to 15 shots, one in the first, five over two periods is pretty darn good. But you spend a lot of energy working that hard.”
The Tigers’ offense letting loose coupled with a smothering defense allowed them to jump out to a 3-0 lead. The Yellow Jackets didn’t even get their first shot on net until the last seconds of the first period.
“The first period, we literally couldn’t get out of our own end,” AIC coach Gary Wright said. “They came out ready to play.”
The onslaught began with the outstanding play of a flubbed shot.
Josh Mitchell received a pass from Myles Powell on a two-on-one with an open net staring him down. He then almost completely whiffed on the shot. However, the puck did have some forward momentum as it ever so slowly bounced at just the right time to “leap” over the outstretched goalie stick of Alex Murray to trickle into the net at 12:09.
Three minutes later with a two-man advantage, Liam Kerins fired a wrist shot from the slot, beating Murray stick side.
Powell scored with 57 seconds left in the initial stanza by following up his own rebound in the crease.
At the time of that goal, RIT had 20 shots while AIC had none.
AIC broke the shutout late in the second period with each team a man down. A two-on-one was created because Brad Shumway fell and Johno May received the pass from Johnny Mueller and blasted a one-timer near side at 17:01.
Once again, RIT registered 20 shots in a period, while this time, AIC registered four.
AIC finally produced some shots on goal in the third period with 10, double its first two-period output.
“We smoothed things over in the last two periods and made it a bit of a game there in the third period,” Wright said. “And our goalie, again, was tremendous out there.”
May scored again to cut the lead to one at 6:27. He skated straight down the middle, firing it before the hash marks easily past Nick Amato.
“He’s been scoring some big goals for us,” Wright said of May.
“A lot more exciting than I would have liked,” Wilson said of the tight finish.
AIC pulled their goalie for the last minute, and Amato faced his toughest test of the night, withstanding some rapid-fire shots.
No doubt, Amato was the story of the weekend, going from the club team to a varsity backup practice goalie to an unlikely collegiate start to a Division I winning goaltender.
However, Wilson was a bit more pragmatic.
“He’s a goalie; he’s supposed to stop some pucks,” Wilson said. “Our expectations for him is to stop the puck at a high rate. You’re on the team, the expectations are the same [for everyone].”
With the win, RIT wins the alphabet soup season series against AIC, 3-1. More importantly, since everyone around them in the standings also split the weekend, the Tigers’ position remains the same — third place, one point ahead of Holy Cross, one point behind Air Force and four points behind first-place Robert Morris.