RIT led 2-1 heading into the third period before American International's Jon Puskar intercepted an errant clearing pass at the RIT blue-line, streaked in on RIT goaltender Mike Rotolo (Rochester, NY/Cedar Rapids Roughriders) and ripped a shot in for his fifth goal of the season to knot the game, 2-2 with 12:28 left in regulation.
Just over four minutes later, Caleb Cameron (Sunridge, Ontario/Listowel Cyclones) worked the puck down low to Dan Schuler (Webster, NY/Powell River Kings), who came around the Yellow Jackets net and gave a quick pass to Skirving, who was parked in front, just to the left of the goal. Skirving quickly dragged and put the shot past sliding goaltender Hunter Leisner for his second goal of the game and fifth of the year to give RIT the lead.
Rotolo had to come up huge moments later, while RIT was on the power-play, as Nathan Sliwinski stole a clearing attempt and walked in on a breakaway. Sliwinski tried to go to the backhand and beat Rotolo through the legs, but the RIT goaltender stood his ground and made the huge save.
RIT would hold off the Yellow Jackets down the stretch and earn its fourth straight win, and move over .500 in AHA play for the first time this season.
Skirving scored a pair of goals to lead RIT and be named the game's No. 1 star. He now has 11 points on five goals and six assists in his last seven games. Schuler dished out a pair of assists to extend his point-scoring streak to six games. He has 10 points (6-4-10) over that span. Cameron also recorded a pair of assists for his first multi-point game. Brad McGowan (Langley, British Columbia/Surrey Eagles) also tallied a power-play goal
In goal, Rotolo stopped 30 of 32 shots to earn his fourth straight win, improving to 4-0-0 in his collegiate career. He made 10 saves in all three periods and is the first RIT goaltender since Jamie Morris '99 to win his first four starts.
Alexander MacMillan and Puskar scored for the Yellow Jackets, who have now lost six straight contests. In goal, Leisner made 32 saves on 35 shots.
RIT out-shot American International, 35-32. The Tigers were 1-for-4 with the man-advantage, while AIC was 1-for-3.
"I was disappointed in our play tonight, but it's nice to play poorly and have it go our way," said RIT Head Coach Wayne Wilson. "Hopefully we learn from it and move on with a much better effort tomorrow night. We got off to a good start, but thought we played sloppy as the game went on."
RIT played a strong first period, jumping out to a 2-0 lead.
Skirving opened the scoring 5:46 into the contest, as he scooped up a loose puck on the rush and flipped a shot over Leisner for his fourth goal of the season. Cameron fed Schuler at the AIC blue line, Schuler came into the zone and lost the puck, but fortunately for RIT, it went right to Schuler in front, who was able to get the goal.
McGowan slammed in a rebound off his own centering pass on a power-play with 2:53 left in the period to make it a 2-0 game. Nolan Descoteaux (Dallas, TX/South Shore Kings) made a pass to Ben Lynch (Blaine, MN/Lincoln Stars) at the top of the circle. Lynch then cycled the puck to McGowan down low. McGowan had a centering pass blocked, but he collected the carom and put the puck between the legs of Leisner for his fourth goal of the year.
American International scored the lone goal in a sloppy second period.
Rotolo made a tremendous save on Blake Peake as the Yellow Jackets forward was able to walk in from the slot. With 4:26 left in the period, MacMillan was able to solve Rotolo, with a wrist shot from the slot on a power-play to cut the RIT lead in half.
RIT is 23-3-2 all-time against the Yellow Jackets, including a 20-3-1 mark since the 2005-06 season. The Tigers now have a nine-game unbeaten streak against American International dating back to the 2011-12 season. RIT is 14-1-1 all-time against American International at Ritter Arena and finished 3-0-1 against the Yellow Jackets in 2012-13.
The two teams wrap up their regular season series on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at Ritter Arena.
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