RIT Burned By Special Teams

The RIT men?s hockey team (4-6-1, 3-2-0 AHA) had its two-game winning streak snapped, falling to Niagara University (6-3-2, 5-1-0 AHA) 4-1 at a packed Dwyer Arena on Friday. Niagara?s Paul Zanette had the natural hat-trick, scoring the game?s final three goals.

Niagara scored twice on the power-play and once shorthanded.

Zanette scored the eventual game-winning goal and gave Niagara the 2-1 lead at 14:11 the second period on the power-play. Ryan Annesely took a shot from the slot that was deflected past RIT goaltender Jan Ropponen (Espoo, Finland), but hit the post and bounced back between the goaltender?s pads. The goal judge immediately signaled goal without the puck ever in the net. With Niagara celebrating, and the referee never blowing the play dead, the puck trickled off Ropponen and into the net. Zanette was credited with the goal, his 10th of the year.

Zanette put the game away with two goals in 2:11 midway through the final stanza.

RIT did a great job killing off a five-minute major to Adam Mitchell (Crofton, MD) for hitting from behind early in the period. As that penalty expired, Niagara?s Jason Beattie was a given a five-minute major for contact to the head, giving RIT a golden chance to tie the game at 2.

RIT took a penalty less than a minute into the major power-play, and Zanette struck for his second of the game not long after, lifting the stick of a Tiger defenseman in front of the net and sliding a shot between the pads of RIT goaltender #Jan Ropponen to make it 3-1 Purple Eagles.

Zanette put the game away with 9:33 left, slipping a rebound off a shot from Bryan Haczyk from in tight past Ropponen. It was a shorthanded goal, the first RIT has allowed this season.

Niagara out-shot RIT, 37-21. Ropponen made 33 saves in defeat for the Tigers, while Carsen Chubak stopped 20 shots for the Purple Eagles.

RIT had its streak of five straight games with a power-play goal snapped at five, going 0-for-5 with the man-advantage. Niagara was 2-for-6 with the power-play.

Mitchell scored RIT?s lone goal, his fifth of the season, and fifth in five AHA games.

RIT Head Coach Wayne Wilson thought that special teams were the difference tonight.

?I thought some lines played well at times, especially 5-on-5,? said Wilson. ?Our power-play was not good and did not get the job done. Our penalty-kill was not very good. We did catch a few bad breaks, but in the end just did not get the job done tonight.?

Both teams scored once in an evenly played first period.

RIT almost put themselves in a hold 30 seconds in, as Paul Zanette wristed a high shot from the left wing that Ropponen juggled. The rebound came right in front, but the referee blew the whistle, claiming he lost sight of the puck.

Niagara got on the board first, at the 6:20 mark, on the power-play, as busted coverage in front left Ryan Rashid all alone in front of the net. He deked Ropponen twice, slipping a shot from the doorstep in on the blocker side.

RIT netted the equalizer eight minutes later, as Michael Colavecchia (Maple, Ontario) and Mitchell broke in on a 2-on-1. Colavecchia feathered a perfect pass on the tape of Mitchell?s stick, and the first-year forward made no mistake, slipping the shot past a diving Chubak from in tight for his fifth goal of the season in five AHA games. Taylor McReynolds (Sherwood Park, Alberta) also assisted on the goal.

Colavecchia now has a four-game point-scoring streak with six points during that span.

Both goaltenders were stellar in the second period.

Ropponen made a handful of huge saves in one sequence, robbing Ryan Murphy twice from in tight.
Chubak made two big saves for the Purple Eagles in the period, robbing Tyler Brenner (Linwood, Ontario) off a rebound from in tight, then making a big glove save on Ben Lynch (Blaine, MN) from point-blank range as he went around a defenseman.

The Tigers have never won at Dwyer Arena, falling to 0-4-1.  Niagara now leads the all-time series between the two schools, 7-2-3. RIT?s last win over Niagara was on Feb. 8, 1997.

RIT and Niagara were ECAC West rivals from 1996-98, when both teams played at the Division III level. Niagara made the jump to Division I in 1998.

RIT returns to action next Friday and Saturday, Nov. 26-27, as they host Sacred Heart at Ritter Arena. Both games get underway at 7:05 p.m.

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