Tigers Close Regular Season With Tie

The RIT men?s hockey team (16-10-8, 15-5-7 AHA) finished the 2010-11 regular season with an entertaining 3-3 tie at AHA foe Niagara University (18-12-4, 15-10-2 AHA) at Dwyer Arena on Saturday evening. Senior forward Andrew Favot (King City, Ontario) moved into sole possession of second place among RIT Division I players in career points with 127.

Favot dished out two assists, giving him 127 career points, moving him past Dan Ringwald (Oakville, Ontario) and into second place all-time in scoring among Division I players at RIT. Tyler Brenner (Linwood, Ontario) recorded a goal and an assist, giving him 99 career points. He needs one more to become the fifth Tiger to record 100 points since moving to Division I in 2005.

Ben Lynch (Blaine, MN) and Sean Murphy (Owatonna, MN) also scored for RIT, who snapped a four-game losing streak to Niagara. Murphy was a force all night for the Tigers, drawing two penalties and generating several great scoring chances.

Niagara?s Paul Zanette scored two goals for the second straight game, giving him seven in three games against RIT this season, and 10 in six career games against the Tigers. He takes over the national goal scoring lead with 29. Ryan Rashid also scored for the Purple Eagles. Brian Haczyk had two assists.

Niagara out-shot RIT, 30-29. RIT goaltender Shane Madolora (Salinas, CA) was strong in net, stopping 27 shots. Chris Noonan stopped 26 shots for the Purple Eagles.

Down 3-2 heading into the third period, Murphy had a strong rush past a defenseman and tried to go five-hole on Noonan, but was denied in the opening minute. The rebound came right to Cameron Burt (Detroit, MI) who rang a shot off the post from the slot.

RIT would tie the game moments later, while the teams were skating 4-on-4. Brenner took a feed from Favot in tight and beat Noonan low for his team-best 24th goal of the season.

Neither team could generate anything of major significance in the overtime session.

Tonight was RIT?s 10th overtime game of the season. RIT is now 2-0-8 in the extra session.

Niagara was 1-for-6 with the man-advantage, while RIT was 0-for-6.

RIT Head Coach Wayne Wilson thought his team responded well to adversity faced heading into the final period.

?We played a much better third period tonight, and responded to a big challenge, coming back and getting a tie,? said Wilson. ?This weekend has prepared us well for the playoff run, in regards to physical play and hard work. Tonight?s tie was a step forward. If we meet (Niagara) in the playoffs we have to take the next step and get the win.?

The Tigers played a controlled, strong defensive first period, scoring twice to take a 2-0 lead.

RIT got on the board just 59 seconds in, as Murphy, on a 1-on-1 rush, fired a bullet of a wrist shot through a screen and past Noonan from the high slot for his fourth goal of the year. Trevor Eckenswiller (Lions Head, Ontario) and Bryan Potts (Niagara Falls, Ontario) assisted on the goal, Murphy?s fourth of the year.

Just past the halfway point of the period, Lynch gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead with his fifth goal of the season, firing a shot from in tight over the shoulder of Noonan. Brenner fed Favot, who came into the zone playing the give and go with Lynch. Favot circled behind the net and fed Lynch at the right wing boards. Lynch was given ample room to walk right in and fire a shot just under the crossbar for the goal.

Madolora was strong in the opening period, coming up with his best save, as Haczyk came in with a full head of steam and tried to go far side, but the Tiger goaltender made a great arm save to keep the puck out of the net.

Niagara came out and dominated the second period, out-shooting RIT, 16-6, scoring three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.

Zanette scored the first of his two goals 3:18 into the second period on the power-play, as a shot by Ryan Rashid was blocked right to Haczyk. The puck caromed to a wide open Zanette at the side of the net, and he buried into the open side past Madolora, who had no chance.

A little less than three minutes later, Zanette swatted in a rebound in midair, crashing the net off a shot by Giancarlo Iuorio.

Madolora had to come up huge several more times in the period, as Niagara dominated play throughout the middle stanza. Iuorio had a point-blank chance on a 3-on-2 that Madolora made a strong glove save on.

With 38.4 seconds left in the period, Rashid gave Niagara its first lead of the game, deflecting a shot by Kevin Ryan past Madolora for the goal.

?We were caught flat-footed and they completely dominated that period,? said Wilson.

Tonight?s game was the third of three regular season meetings between the two schools this season, who are located just 80 miles apart. On Nov. 19, Zanette scored three straight goals to break a 1-1 tie and give the Purple Eagles a 4-1 win over RIT. Last night, Zanette scored two more goals, as Niagara once again scored three unanswered tallies to defeat RIT, 5-2 in front of a sellout crowd at Ritter Arena.

RIT and Niagara were ECAC West foes in the 1990?s when both were Division III teams. The Tigers are 2-8-4 all-time against the Purple Eagles and are 0-5-2 since moving to Division I in 2005. RIT now has an 11-game winless streak against Niagara, and have not defeated the Purple Eagles overall since Feb. 8, 1997.

RIT, winners of their third straight and fourth Atlantic Hockey Association title in five years, gets a first round bye in the upcoming playoffs. The Tigers will return to action on Friday, March 11, as they host a yet-to-be determined opponent in game one of the best-of-three Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals at 7:05 p.m.

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