RIT led 4-2 heading into the third period, before the Falcons came roaring back. John Kruse made it 4-3 just 1:19 into the period, as he took a long stretch pass from Brad Sellers, got behind the Tiger defense and ripped a shot over the blocker of RIT goaltender Shane Madolora (Salinas, CA).
Jacques Lamoureux tied the game at 4-4 with 10:07 left on a power-play, spinning around in front and backhanding a shot through the legs of Madolora.
RIT came right back just 1:23 later, as Adam Hartley (West Vancouver, British Columbia) converted a perfect 2-on-1 with Cameron Burt (Detroit, MI) slamming a shot from in tight off the perfect pass over the leg of Air Force goaltender Stephen Caple for his 11th of the season. Sean Murphy (Owatonna, MN) set up the 2-on-1 with a nice interception of a pass in the neutral zone.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, Air Force would get one more power-play and convert, as a shot from Tim Kirby would deflect off of Lamoureux and right to Kyle DeLaurell at the side of the net. DeLaurell was able to scoop a shot over Madolora to tie the game.
RIT had two great chances in the final minute of overtime, but Caple would shut the door, with saves on Ben Lynch (Blaine, MN) and Greg Noyes (Lucan, Ontario).
RIT is now unbeaten in nine straight games overall (4-0-5), and has a 13-game unbeaten streak in AHA play (8-0-5). RIT also has a 17-game unbeaten streak at Ritter Arena against AHA foes (13-0-4), dating back to last season.
The Tigers are now 2-0-7 in overtime this season. It is the fourth straight Saturday that RIT has played to a draw. The seven ties are a program record.
Jeff Smith (Spokane, WA), Ben Lynch (Blaine, MN), Mike Janda (Glen Ellyn, IL), Chris Saracino (St. Louis, MO), and Hartley scored for RIT. Andrew Favot (King City, Ontario) and Murphy tallied two assists apiece for the Tigers.
Lamoureux and DeLaurell recorded a goal and two assists apiece for the Falcons. John Kruse, Adam McKenzie, and Scott Mathis also scored for the Falcons.
Air Force out-shot RIT, 32-27, including 14-6 in the third period. Air Force goaltender Jason Torf started, but lasted just 9:25, allowing three goals on seven shots before being pulled. Caple came on in relief and stopped 18-of-20 shots to earn the tie.
Madolora extended his season-long unbeaten streak to 18 games, at 12-0-6, but allowed a season-high five goals, stopping 27 shots.
Air Force went 3-for-6 on the power-play, while RIT was 1-for-4. RIT allowed three power-play goals in a game for the sixth time this season.
RIT Head Coach Wayne Wilson said his team needed to play the full 60 minutes tonight.
?Unfortunately for us, it?s a 60-minute game, not a 20-minute game,? said Wilson. ?Once again, it was another exciting game between these two teams. Overall, I am happy to get another three-point weekend. We are in a great spot, being in first place right now, and we keep getting points.?
Smith gave RIT a 1-0 lead just 2:48 into the contest, as Sean Murphy (Owatonna, MN) broke up a pass in the neutral zone that caromed to Smith at the Air Force blueline. Smith came in, gave Torf a shoulder fake and wristed a shot inside the left post on the short side for his third goal of the season.
Lynch gave RIT a 2-0 lead at the 7:19 mark from nearly the same spot as Smith, as he took a feed from Favot in the neutral zone, sped in, and slipped a shot to the far side past Torf for his fourth goal of the year. Trevor Eckenswiller (Lions Head, Ontario) also assisted on the goal.
Just 2:06 later, Janda crashed the net off a face-off win and tipped in a cross-ice feed from Taylor McReynolds (Sherwood Park, Alberta) past Torf for his ninth goal of the season. Michael Colavecchia (Maple, Ontario) also assisted on the goal.
Promptly, Torf was replaced by Caple.
Saarcino made it 4-0 Tigers on the power-play at the 11:40 mark of the period, firing a shot through traffic past Caple, who never saw the shot. Favot and Lynch assisted on the goal, Saracino?s third of the season.
Lynch nearly made it 5-0 after being slashed on a partial breakaway. He had Caple beat, but could not slide the puck in the open side.
Air Force got back into the game in the second period, scoring twice in the final half of the frame to cut the Tiger lead in half, 4-2 after 40 minutes of play.
Mathis made it 4-1 Tigers at the tail end of a 5-on-3 power-play. He took a shot from the point that went through a screen and eluded Madolora. Jacques Lamoureux and Kyle DeLaurell assisted on the goal.
With just 2:24 left in the period, Scott Kozlak won a faceoff back to McKenzie, who was able to find the back of the net and beat Madolora for his fourth goal of the season, quieting the capacity crowd.
Tonight?s meeting was the third of three between the two schools this season, with the season series knotted at 1-1-1. Air Force rallied with three third period goals to defeat RIT, 4-3 in the first meeting at Colorado Springs on Nov. 7. Last night, Hartley scored 2:07 into overtime to lift the Tigers to a 1-0 win in the lowest scoring game in the history of the men?s hockey team.
The all-time series between the two schools is knotted at 13-13-3. Since the start of the 2005-06 season, RIT is 10-11-3 against Air Force. An astounding 15 of the last 24 meetings between the two schools have been a tie or decided by one goal.
The two teams have combined to win the last four AHA Championships. Air Force won three straight from 2007-09, while RIT took the 2010 title.
The Tigers return to action on Friday, as they host Canisius in AHA action at 7:05 p.m.
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