OT Thriller Keeps RIT's Season Alive

Cameron Burt (Detroit, MI) scored 1:23 into the second overtime to lift the RIT men's hockey team (18-12-6) to a wild 5-4 win over Bentley (16-14-8) in game two of the Atlantic Hockey Association Quarterfinal series in front of 1,564 fans on Saturday evening at Ritter Arena. The Tigers keep their season alive and force the decisive game three, Sunday at 7:05 p.m.

Tonight's game was the longest at RIT in the Division I era at 81:23. The Tigers squandered a 4-1 second period lead before Burt's heroics.

Burt scooped up a loose puck in the Bentley zone and fed Jeff Smith (Spokane, WA) who fired a shot that was deflected on goal off of goaltender Brandon Komm. The rebound came to Burt, who chipped the puck over the goaltender for his eighth goal of the season, sending the Ritter Arena crowd into a frenzy.

Burt scored a goal and added two assists, while Smith and Matt Garbowsky (St. George, Ontario/St. John's Collegiate) added a goal and an assist. Chris Haltigin (Oakville, Ontario) and Adam Mitchell (Crofton, MD) also scored for RIT. Garbowsky added an assist.

Dan Koudys, Alex Grieve, Brett Switzer, and Brett Hartung scored for the Falcons. Matt Maher had two assists.

The Tigers fired a Division I program record 63 shots, out-shooting the Falcons, 63-45. Shane Madolora (Salinas, CA) picked up the win, stopping 41 shots, while Komm took the tough loss for Bentley, stopping 58 shots.

RIT was 2-for-5 with the man-advantage, while Bentley was 1-for-6.

RIT Head Coach Wayne Wilson was relieved to get the win and keep the season alive.

"I thought it was a gutty effort on our part," said Wilson. "We stuck with it, our plan wasn't overly complicated, get the puck deep, forecheck, and play hard. It was a hard fought game, great to get the win and move forward tomorrow night. I thought we played harder in general tonight as opposed to last night. Our power-play was pretty good, all four lines were rolling."

The Tigers came out with much more of a purpose and scored two first period power-play goals to take a 2-0 lead over Bentley after one period of play.

Haltigin gave RIT the 1-0 lead at the nine minute mark of the period, taking a cross-crease feed from Burt and firing a shot past Komm for his fifth goal of the season. Mike Colavecchia (Maple, Ontario) got the puck at the right half wall and fired the pass to Burt down low. Burt then fired the pass to Haltigin, who snuck in from his defensive position.

Mitchell tallied his eighth goal of the season and first since Jan. 27, as he completed a great four-way passing play with Brad McGowan (Langley, British Columbia/Walnut Grove), Ben Lynch (Blaine, MN), and Garbowsky to make it 2-0 on the power-play at the 16:09 mark. McGowan fed Lynch at the side wall, found Garbowsky down low, who found Mitchell all alone in the slot. Mitchell made no mistake, one-timing the pass past Komm.

Madolora made a big save late in the period on Brett Switzer, sliding his pad out, as the forward tried to sweep the puck in from in tight.

Both teams scored twice in a wild second period, in which the two teams combined to fire 36 shots on goal, including a season-best tying 23 by RIT.

Smith gave RIT a 3-0 lead at the 11:02 mark of the period, firing in a shot from the slot on a second effort off a Bentley defenseman and in past Komm for his seventh goal of the season. He completed some great cycling down low from Burt and Colavecchia.

Just 25 seconds later, Koudys cut the RIT lead to 3-1, slipping a shot past Madolora at the side of the net after a turnover in the Tiger zone. Jared Rickord and Alex Kubiak set up Koudys for the goal.

Garbowsky gave RIT its three-goal lead back at the 14:41 mark, shorthanded, as he broke up a Bentley clearing attempt at the blue line and sent Taylor McReynolds (Sherwood Park, Alberta) in on a partial breakaway. Komm made the initial save, but Garbowsky followed up and slammed the rebound home for his eighth goal of the season.

Grieve scored a big goal with 51 seconds left in the period after Madolora left a juicy rebound in front off a shot from Matt Maher.
Grieve's night would end 40 seconds later, as he was ejected for face masking during a skirmish behind the Bentley net.

The Falcons sent the game to overtime with a pair of third period goals.

Switzer got his 14th goal of the season on a power-play with 11:44 left, swatting a loose puck out of midair behind Madolora after the original shot by Maher was stopped.

Just three minutes later, Hartung tied the game, tipping in a pass from Micah Williams after Jamie Nudy was able to force a turnover at the RIT blue line. Williams fired a pass towards the net that Hartung tipped past Madolora.

RIT amped up its pressure and had a few good chances late in regulation. Smith was robbed by Komm off a faceoff with two minutes left, as Burt won a draw forward and Smith went to the net and slipped to the backhand and looked to have the goaltender beat, but Komm swept the puck away with his arm.

RIT fired 50 shots in regulation, out-shooting the Falcons 50-29 through 60 minutes of play.

Both teams had several great chances to score in the first overtime, as Bentley held a 16-10 edge in shots. Ben Lynch (Blaine, MN) tipped a point shot past Komm, but somehow the puck skittered just wide past the post. Mitchell had a glorious chance, coming out in front and sweeping the puck past Komm, but the puck went just wide.

Switzer found himself wide open in front, but Madolora made a great save to keep the game tied. Madolora made a pair of big saves on Steve Weinstein, then robbed Aaron Stonacek in the slot.
RIT is now 9-2 all-time in AHA quarterfinal contests, all at home, since becoming eligible for the league's postseason in 2007-08. The two previous losses came in game one to Holy Cross in 2009 and game one against Bentley on Friday. RIT came back to win the Holy Cross series in three games.

The Tigers are 14-5-2 all-time against the Falcons, including 12-4-2 at the Division I level.  This is the first time the two teams have met in the postseason. RIT is now 3-1 against Bentley this season.

Last night, Brett Gensler scored two goals and Komm made 47 saves, as Bentley defeated RIT in game one, 4-1, snapping the Tigers 16-game home unbeaten streak against AHA teams. Colavecchia scored RIT's lone goal, while Burt became the team's all-time leading scorer at the Division I level.

The two teams will meet again for the decisive game three on Sunday, once again at 7:05 p.m.

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