RIT Comes Back Again For Tie

For the second straight night, the RIT men's hockey team (17-10-5, 14-6-5 AHA) and Robert Morris (14-13-5, 12-8-5 AHA) skated to a 2-2 draw in front of a sellout crowd at Ritter Arena on Saturday evening. RIT rallied from a 2-0 deficit to move back into sole possession of second place in the AHA standings.

Trevor Eckenswiller (Lions Head, Ontario) and Ben Lynch (Blaine, MN) scored for the Tigers, who extended its season-long unbeaten streak at Ritter Arena against AHA foes to 13 games (8-0-5). The Tigers are 33-2-9 against AHA foes at Ritter since the start of the 2009-10 season.

RIT out-shot Robert Morris, 42-39, including 18-10 in the third period. RIT goaltender Shane Madolora (Salinas, CA) stopped 37 shots in the tie. Robert Morris Goaltender Brooks Ostergard was also strong, stopping 40 shots.

Brendan Jamison and Adam Brace scored for the Colonials, while Cody Crichton assisted on both goals.

Lynch tied the game with 11 minutes to go in the third period on a tremendous individual effort, getting the puck at the left wing boards, sweeping around the net then coming back around to beat Ostergard to the left post and wrap the puck in for his third goal of the season and first since December 30.

Both teams had to kill off a penalty in the final five minutes of regulation. With 2:15 left in regulation, Trevor Lewis came in on a shorthanded breakaway and tried to beat Madolora between the legs, but the RIT goaltender came up with his best and most crucial save of the game to keep the game tied at 2.

Robert Morris received a power-play in overtime, but the Tigers were able to kill it off.

Robert Morris was 1-for-5 with the man-advantage, while RIT was 0-for-5.

RIT Head Coach Wayne Wilson thought his team played a very strong weekend, despite not getting a victory.

"This tie felt a lot better than last night's," said Wilson. "What a weekend, two great games against two very evenly matched teams, and it makes next (the final) weekend very interesting.  Getting the first round bye is really significant, and there couldn't be a more exciting final weekend coming up."

The Colonials jumped on RIT early, taking a 2-0 lead after one period of play, despite the shots being even at 10-10.

The Colonials jumped on the board at the 4:19 mark, as Jamison took a feed from Crichton in the neutral zone, sped into the RIT zone and fired a harmless shot that Madolora stopped, but the Tiger goaltender could not control the rebound, as it came right back to Jamison in the slot. Jamison followed by beating Madolora low to the blocker side to make it 1-0 Robert Morris.

Robert Morris made it 2-0 at the 13:51 mark, as Brace fired a low hard shot from the left faceoff area past Madolora just inside the far post on the power-play. Crichton took a hard shot from the opposite side that Scott Knowles (Riverside, Ontario) block, while dropping to the ice with an apparent injury.  The puck ricocheted to Cody Cartier behind the net, who found Brace at the circle. The goal was Brace's ninth of the year.

RIT thought they had cut Robert Morris' lead in half late in the period, as Greg Noyes (Lucan, Ontario) cut to the net from the corner and looked to have Ostergard beat to the short side, but the puck went off the crossbar and then off Ostergard's back and somehow stayed out of the net.

Both teams carried play for times in the second period, but RIT scored the only goal of the second period, cutting the Robert Morris lead to 2-1 after 40 minutes of play.

Lynch and Mike Colavecchia (Maple, Ontario) both had great chances in the first minute of the period, both from identical spots. Lynch was open down low and cut to the net and tried to go wide around Ostergard, but somehow the goaltender kept the puck out of the net. Colavecchia tried the same move from nearly an identical spot, but this time, Ostergard poked the shot attempt away with his stick.

Robert Morris had a handful of chances to go up 3-0 on RIT, but Madolora was strong in goal, keeping several chances out, as the Colonials had 12 of the first 16 shots in the period.

The Tigers finally got on the board at the 11:19 mark, as Eckenswiller was the beneficiary of an unbelievable individual effort by Colavecchia to score his first goal of the season and second of his career. Colavecchia received the puck in the neutral zone, skated in and deked three separate Robert Morris players before cutting to the middle and giving a pass back across to the grain to Eckenswiller, who was all alone at the left side of the net. Eckenswiller was able to deposit the puck into the open net for the goal.

The goal was Eckenswiller's first since January 22, 2009 at Canisius.

Just 20 seconds later, the Tigers were awarded a full two minutes of a 5-on-3 power-play, as Robert Morris took two cross checking penalties. Unfortunately for RIT, they could not convert, as Ostergard made three saves and the Colonials defense did a great job clearing the middle of the ice.

Tonight's game was the third and final regular season meeting between the two schools this season. On Dec. 17, the Colonials shutout RIT, 4-0 at the RMU Island Center, as Ostergard stopped 32 shots. Brace scored a pair of goals, while Crichton recorded three assists. Last night, Ostergard stopped 44 shots, while Scott Jacklin and Ron Cramer scored for the Colonials. Noyes and Cameron Burt (Detroit, MI) scored for RIT, who held a 46-23 edge in shots.

RIT is now 2-3-3 all-time against the Colonials. All three games ever played between RIT and Robert Morris at Ritter Arena have gone to overtime at 2-2.

The Tigers return to action on Friday, as they make the short trip to face AHA foe Niagara at 7:05 p.m.

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