WORCESTER, MA – Host Holy Cross (11-14-5, 10-9-5 AHC) scored three second period goals in a span of 7:58 to erase a 1-0 deficit and defeat the RIT men’s hockey team (11-13-5, 10-8-5 CHA), 3-1 from the Hart Center on Friday evening. The two teams are now tied for fifth place in the league standings with 25 points.
Brandon Thompson (Vancouver, British Columbia/Handsworth) scored RIT’s lone goal 5:46 into the first period on assists from defensemen Matt Abt (Leduc, Alberta/Whitecourt Wolverines ) and Greg Amlong (O’Fallon, MO/UMass Lowell). In goal, Mike Rotolo (Rochester, NY/Cedar Rapids Roughriders) made 23 saves.
RIT out-shot Holy Cross 36-26, including 24-13 over the first and third periods. Holy Cross goaltender Matt Ginn continued his mastery over the Tigers, stopping 35 of 36 shots.
Scott Pooley and Danny Lopez each had a goal and an assist to lead the Crusaders. Karl Beckman added two assists, while Tim Driscoll also scored.
Both teams were 0-for-5 with the man-advantage. The Tigers fired at least 30 shots on goal for the 10th time in the last 11 games.
“The second period was the difference, as we were sloppy and Holy Cross outworked us,” said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson. “After the first period, we thought it would be easy and let off the gas. Holy Cross is a hard-working team with great goaltending and that was the difference tonight.”
RIT came out strong, scoring the lone goal and out-shooting Holy Cross 12-5 over the opening 20 minutes of play.
Just after coming out of the penalty box, Thompson netted his third goal of the season at the 5:46 mark to open the scoring. Caleb Cameron (Sunridge, Ontario/Listowel Cyclones) won a face-off back to Amlong at the right point, who fired a pass across to his defensive partner, Abt. Abt fired a shot that Ginn stopped, but Thompson beat his defender to the loose puck in front and buried the rebound to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
RIT would continue its strong play, hemming the Crusaders in their own zone for several instances later in the period, but were unable to make it 2-0 before the buzzer sounded to end the opening frame.
Just 24 seconds into the second period, Brady Norrish (Strongfield, Saskatchewan/Yorkton Terriers) wired a shot from the high slot on a shorthanded rush that was destined for the top corner, but Ginn made a fantastic glove save to keep it 1-0 Tigers.
The Crusaders would score three times in a span of 7:58 in the second period to go up 3-1 after two periods of play and shift the momentum.
Pooley would be the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce off the back boards after a shot from Lopez went wide to tie the game 8:52 into the period.
Lopez would give the Crusaders the lead at the 12:28 mark, taking a feed from Pooley on a 2-on-1 rush and wiring a wrist shot over the glove of Rotolo. Just over four minutes later, Driscoll took a feed from Karl Beckman, came in on a breakaway and beat Rotolo to make it 3-1.
Holy Cross had 1:47 of a 5-on-3 power-play late in the second period, lloking to extend the lead, but RIT’s excellent penalty-killing kept them at bay. Immediately after, the Tigers had a long 5-on-3 to end the second period and start the third, but could not solve Ginn.
Matt Garbowsky (St. George, Ontario/Powell River Kings), going for his 100th career point, had a great chance 25 seconds into the third period, with a wide open net from the right side on the 5-on-3, but fired his shot wide and out of the zone.
RIT would hold a territorial edge in the final period and received two power-plays later in the frame, but could not get anything past Ginn and the swarming Holy Cross defense.
Tonight was the third of four regular season meetings between the two schools this season, as Holy Cross holds a 2-0-1 edge. The two teams met earlier this season at the Gene Polisseni Center on Nov. 7-8. The teams skated to a 3-3 tie the first night, as Garbowsky scored with the goaltender pulled with 1:09 left in regulation. The next night, Ginn stopped 21 shots and Beckman scored the game-winning power-play goal 4:57 into the third period, as Holy Cross earned a 2-1 win.
RIT is 23-12-5 all-time against Holy Cross and 19-7-5 at the Division I level. RIT was 18-1-2 against Holy Cross from 2006-12, but just 1-6-3 against them in the previous 10 meetings since the start of the 2012-13 season.
The Tigers and Crusaders wrap up the regular season series from the Hart Center on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. The game is still scheduled for that time despite a snow storm that is scheduled to hit that area.
“We need to be a lot more determined tomorrow night and get a very big two points,” said Wilson.