Erik Brown would not be denied. After having a goal reversed after a video review, the Rochester Institute of Technology sophomore made the next one count, scoring the game-winner with 7:07 to play in a 3-1 Tigers win over visiting Sacred Heart in an Atlantic Hockey series opener.
Brown also put the game away with an empty-net goal with 41 seconds left on a shot that glanced off the stick of a Sacred Heart defender for his team-leading 11th tally of the season.
“I’m expected to go to the dirty areas,” said Brown of his game-winner, using his reach to swat a rebound home from in close. “Get to the front of the net and tip the puck and get rebounds. On that play, (Darren Brady) was able to get the puck to the net and I was able to do what I do.”
Brown thought he had broken a 1-1 tie with two seconds left in the second period, redirecting a shot from the point past Sacred Heart goalie Nathan Perry. But the call on the ice was reversed after video review.
“I wasn’t sure,” said Brown. “It was 50-50 in my eyes. I just tried to get my stick on it. I wasn’t sure if it was above the crossbar.”
RIT came into the game on a 13-1-1 run against Sacred Heart, but the Pioneers’ lone win had been during their previous visit to the Polisseni Center, back in 2014.
Pioneers’ coach CJ Marottolo broke up his top line of seniors Jordan Minello, Justin Danforth and Even Jasper, who came into the contest scoring 21 of Sacred Heart’s 44 goals so far. The trio was distributed over SHU’s first three lines.
“We were prepared all week to match up against their top line, but it probably gives them more balance,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “They have some good young players.”
Wilson said he wasn’t happy with his team’s performance despite getting the two points.
“I don’t think it was one of our better games,” he said. “We were sloppy, lethargic … but we were able to grind it out.
“We have to play much better. I don’t think our play tonight makes us overconfident for tomorrow.”
RIT’s power play got the Tigers on the board in the first period, when Caleb Cameron set up Liam Kerins for a one-timer from the slot. It was Kerins’ eighth of the season and staked the Tigers to a 1-0 lead.
Minello evened things up with four minutes to play in the second period, going bar-down on a feed from Zach Tsekos to make it 1-1.
Brown thought he gave RIT the lead back in the closing seconds of the second period, but after the disallowed goal, Sacred Heart carried the play early in the third period, with Tigers goaltender Mike Rotolo able to keep the Pioneers off the board for his ninth win of the season.
RIT doubled up Sacred Heart in shots on goal, 42-21, including 18-5 in the third period.
The same two teams will meet Saturday at the Polisseni Center.
“In our league, splits seem to be the norm,” said Wilson. “We’re going to have to play much better to get four points.”
Army 5, at Bentley 5
Bentley scored three goals in the final 9:17 of the third period to earn a tie and take three of four points after a 3-1 win at Fenway Park on Thursday. Brendan Soucie had a pair of goals for the Black Knights.
Holy Cross 3, Niagara 1
Danny Lopez scored the eventual game-winner with one second to play in the first period. Caleb Boman drew the visiting Purple Eagles to within a goal midway through the contest with his first collegiate tally, but the Crusaders added an insurance goal by Peter Crinella with 11:45 to play.
Air Force 3, at Mercyhurst 1
The visiting Falcons opened a 3-0 lead on a pair of goals by Trevor Stone and one from Jordan Himley. Mercyhurst, which outshot Air Force 31-19, cut into the lead with 2:41 to play, but Air Force goaltender Shane Starett made 30 saves for the win.
Robert Morris 3, American International 1
RMU goaltender Francis Marotte stopped all 22 shots for his third shutout of the season. Daniel Leavens led the way for the host Colonials with a goal and an assist.
Canisius 3, No. 16 St. Lawrence 3
Canisius erased a 3-1 SLU lead with a pair of second period goals. Daniel Urbani made 26 saves for the Golden Griffins, who outshot the Saints 30-29.