ROCHESTER, NY – The RIT men’s hockey team (6-6-1, 4-4-1 AHA) fell on home ice for the second consecutive evening, 3-0 to Air Force Academy (8-6-0, 8-4-0 AHA) in front of 2,231 fans at the Gene Polisseni Center Saturday.
Air Force goaltender Billy Christopoulos turned aside all 31 shots he faced for the shutout, his first of the season. He made several key saves throughout the evening, as RIT had many great chances.
Evan Feno scored two goals and added an assist for the Falcons, while Evan Giesler also scored.
Logan Drackett (Calgary, Alberta/Calgary Canucks) made 21 saves in the loss for RIT.
RIT out-shot Air Force, 31-24. Air Force was 1-for-4 on the power-play, while holding RIT scoreless in five chances with the man-advantage.
“I thought their goalie came up with some huge saves and we couldn’t capitalize on our chances tonight,” said RIT head coach Wayne Wilson. “I thought we deserved a better fate, but we needed to do a better job finishing our opportunities.”
RIT who mustered just 19 shots on goal in last night’s loss, came out flying in the opening period tonight, out-shooting the Falcons, 14-6.
The Tigers best chance came late in a power-play, as RIT intentionally fired a long pass into the Falcons zone and behind the defenders who were sitting in the neutral zone to beat out an icing. Shawn Cameron (Sherbrooke, Quebec/Cumberland Grads) fired a goal mouth pass to an open Alden Dupuis (Edmonton, Alberta/Bonnyville Pontiacs), but the puck hopped over his stick at the last second.
RIT continued to put ample pressure on the Falcons in the second period, but Christopoulos made several tremendous saves to keep the Tigers off the board.
First, he sprawled across to rob Bryson Traptow (Calgary, Alberta/Camrose Kodiaks) with his left pad early in the second period. Midway through the period, Abbott Girduckis (Belleville, Ontario/Wellington Dukes) found himself all alone with the Air Force goaltender on a shorthanded rush. Girduckis tried to deke to the backhand, but Christopoulos stayed with him the whole way to make the save. Christopoulos’ best save of the period came with 2:28 left, after a giveaway. Kobe Walker (Lloydminster, Alberta/Lloydminster Bobcats) forced a turnover and slipped a pass to Will Calverley (Scarborough, Ontario/Chilliwack Chiefs), who in turn found Ryan Kruper (Sherwood Park, Alberta/Sherwood Park Crusaders) all alone in front. Christopoulos recovered to make a sensational glove save on Kruper from in tight.
Air Force would get on the board 8:43 into the second period, as Keegan Montaro made a slick diagonal feed to Feno, who was left alone to the side of Drackett. Feno one-timed the pass, which Drackett slid over on to make a sensational save. Unfortunately, the rebound came right back to Feno, who was able to tuck the puck around Drackett for his second goal in two nights and seventh of the year.
RIT came out flying early in the third period and looked to have a sure goal when a loose puck came to Shawn Cameron (Sherbrooke, Quebec/Cumberland Grads) who was all alone at the left side of net with Christopoulos out of position. Cameron corralled the puck and looked to slide it into the empty net before Air Force’s Trevor Stone dove to knock it away before it crossed the line.
Moments later, Traptow had a point-blank chance in the slot off a scramble that was corralled by Christopoulos.
The Falcons would score a key insurance goal 4:53 into the period, on the power-play, as Giesler tucked home a rebound from in close after Brady Tomlak had a shot blocked in close. Feno put the game away for good with 1:02 left, scoring from his own blueline into the empty net after RIT pulled Drackett for the extra attacker.
Air Force won the opening game of the weekend series last night by a score of 3-1. Dan Willett (Bayville, NY/Bloomington Thunder) scored RIT’s lone goal. This marks the only regular season meetings between the two schools in 2018-19.
RIT continues its homestand next weekend, as Sacred Heart comes to town for a pair of games on Dec. 7-8. Friday’s game from the Polisseni Center begins at 7:05 p.m., while Saturday’s starts at 5:05 p.m. After Saturday’s game, RIT will hold its annual Skate With the Tigers event.