ERIE, PA – Erik Brown (Keene, Ontario/Kemptville 73’s) scored with 49.9 seconds left in regulation to break a 3-3 tie and lift the RIT men’s hockey team (6-7-1, 6-5-0 Atlantic Hockey) to its third straight win, 4-3 over host Mercyhurst University (4-8-0, 4-5-0 Atlantic Hockey) at the Mercyhurst Ice Center on Wednesday evening. With the win, RIT moves into a tie for first in the Atlantic Hockey standings.
Tied 2-2 heading into the third period, Myles Powell (Courtenay, British Columbia/Cowichan Valley Capitals) scored his second goal of the game just 10 seconds into the frame to give RIT the lead. Mercyhurst would tie the game with just 2:29 left, as Nathan Ferriero fired a shot that went off a RIT player and past goaltender Mike Rotolo (Rochester, NY/Cedar Rapids Roughriders) to tie the game.
With under a minute left, Mercyhurst had possession in the RIT zone, with the puck squirting out to Darren Brady (Lake Orion, MI/New Jersey Titans) in front. Brady chipped a pass to Brown, who took the puck through the neutral zone, went to the middle and cut outside before ripping a shot past Brandon Wildung over the shoulder on the short side for his team-best eighth goal of the season with 49.9 seconds left.
Rotolo and the RIT defense was able to preserve the win. The senior goaltender made 30 saves for his sixth victory of the season and improve to 6-1-0 all-time against Mercyhurst. Powell scored twice, his sixth and seventh goals of the season, while Adam Brubacher (Elmira, Ontario/Powell River Kings) added a power-play goal. Gabe Valenzuela (Brampton, Ontario/North York Rangers) dished out two assists.
Lester Lancaster, Michael Verboom, and Ferriero scored for the Lakers, while Jack Riley had two assists. In net, Wildung made 28 saves.
Mercyhurst out-shot RIT, 33-32. RIT was 2-for-5 with the man-advantage, while Mercyhurst went 0-for-6.
“I thought it was a good, hard-fought win for us,” said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson. “Both our power-play and penalty killing was strong for us tonight, as we fought for a key two points.”
Both teams scored once in a first pace that had plenty of pace and good chances.
Rotolo was called upon to make a save on an odd-man rush in the first 20 seconds and made his best stop of the period on Jonathan Charbonneau off a rebound in front about seven minutes in.
RIT would get on the board first with 4:55 left in the first period, as Powell ripped in a shot from the left circle over the shoulder of Wildung to the far side. Chase Norrish (Strongfield, Saskatchewan/Yorkton Terriers) ripped a one-timer that was stopped by Wildung, with the rebound coming right to Valenzuela at the side of the net. Valenzuela collected the puck and fed Powell for the goal, his sixth of the season.
Mercyhurst would even the game just over two minutes later, as Lancaster took a feed from Kyle Dutra as the trailer on a 3-on-2 rush, came into the slot and beat Rotolo with a well placed shot inside the right post for his third goal of the season.
The Tigers would have the better of the chances in the second period, out-shooting Mercyhurst 15-8, but once again, both teams would score once, as the game was tied 2-2 after 40 minutes of play.
RIT would get its second power-play of the game with 5:25 left in the period, as Brubacher would take a feed from Matt Abt (Leduc, Alberta/Whitecourt Wolverines ) on the power-play and fire a hard, low shot past Wildung for his fourth goal of the season. Valenzuela also assisted on the goal.
Once again, Mercyhurst would tie the game late in the period, as Verboom was parked in the slot and tipped in a point shot from Jeremy Wu through a screen for his second tally of the season.
RIT leads the all-time series between the two schools, 38-20-6, including a 22-11-3 mark since moving to Division I in 2005. Both teams were also members of the ECAC West in the 1990s. RIT and Mercyhurst will also meet to close out the regular season at the Mercyhurst Ice Center on Feb. 25, 2017.
The Tigers are back in action next weekend, as they head to Niagara University for a pair of league games. Both games from Dwyer Arena get underway at 7:05 p.m.