Tigers' Long Streak Snapped By Niagara

The RIT men?s hockey team (16-10-7, 15-5-6 AHA) had its 18-game home unbeaten streak against Atlantic Hockey Association foes snapped by visiting Niagara (18-12-3, 15-10-1 AHA), 5-2 in front of a sellout crowd at Ritter Arena on Friday evening. Niagara scored three unanswered goals to break a 2-2 tie.

The contest was nationally televised by CBS College Sports. It was RIT?s first nationally televised regular season game at the Division I level.

RIT had not lost a home game against AHA competition, since losing to Bentley, 5-4, on Jan. 30, 2010.  RIT had gone 14-0-4 during the streak.

Ryan Rashid scored the game-winning goal for the Purple Eagles with 3:22 left in the second period. Niagara tacked on two third period goals, a breakaway by Ryan Murphy 7:56 into the period, and an empty-net tally by Paul Zanette with 1:22 left.

Zanette continued his mastery of RIT with a pair of goals. He now has five goals in two games against the Tigers this season, and eight in five career contests. He now has 27 goals to move into a tie for the Division I lead with teammate Brian Haczyk. Scott Arnold added a goal and an assist.

Niagara goaltender Cody Campbell stopped 38 shots to pick up the win. He was named the game?s first star. Campbell made several brilliant saves in the contest.

Michael Colavecchia (Maple, Ontario) and Chris Saracino (St. Louis, MO) scored for RIT. Andrew Favot (King City, Ontario) dished an out an assist, moving into a tie for second all-time at RIT with former Tiger Dan Ringwald (Oakville, Ontario). Both players have 125 career points at the Division I level.

Tiger goaltender Shane Madolora (Salinas, CA) took the loss, stopping 27 shots. He has now lost two straight after opening the season with a 20-game unbeaten streak.

Just six total penalties were called in the game. RIT was 1-for-2 with the power-play, while Niagara was 1-for-1. RIT out-shot Niagara, 40-32.

RIT Head Coach Wayne Wilson thought his team played well at times, but not for 60 minutes.

?I thought they (Niagara) competed better and won a lot of 1-on-1 battles. We didn?t capitalize early on our chances, and that was the difference,? said Wilson. ?We need to improve our compete level for tomorrow night?s game.?

The Tigers came out flying in the first period, but were unable to solve Campbell, as the Niagara goaltender stopped 18 shots over the first 20 minutes.

Campbell made several big saves, including two great glove saves on Chris Haltigin (Oakville, Ontario) and Mitchell. Campbell made a great save in front on Favot, but the puck slid past towards the goal line. Ryan Annesley swept the puck off the line and out, keeping the game scoreless.

Greg Noyes (Lucan, Ontario) made a nifty play to break up a Niagara 2-on-1 later in the period, knocking away a centering pass.

For what the first period lacked in the way of goal scoring, the second period more than made up for, as the two teams combined for five tallies, with Niagara heading into the locker room up 3-2 after 40 minutes of play.

Colavecchia opened the scoring just 1:48 into the period, on the power-play, as he redirected a rebound past Campbell for his sixth goal of the season. Mitchell walked out of the corner and fired a shot that was stopped by Campbell, the rebound came to Colavecchia who was crashing the net. The puck glanced off Colavecchia?s skate and in with just one second left on the power-play. Cameron Burt (Detroit, MI) also assisted on the goal.

Just 32 seconds later, Zanette tied the game at 1-1, as he got behind the Tigers defense and slid a backhander past Madolora for his 26th goal of the season. Derek Foam attempted a long stretch pass that deflected off a Tiger defenseman in the neutral zone and found Zanette alone.

Niagara took a 2-1 lead on a power-play at the 10:20 mark of the period, as Arnold tipped a point shot by C.J. Chartrain past Madolora for his 15th goal of the year. Niagara enjoyed tremendous puck movement on that power-play, resulting in the goal.

Moments later, Niagara had a golden chance to make it 3-1, as Arnold was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked by Nolan Descoteaux (Dallas, TX) on a breakaway. Arnold came in and tried to beat Madolora high to the blocker side, the RIT goaltender held his ground and used his blocker to keep the puck out of the net.

Saracino tied the game for RIT at the 16:10 mark, burying a shot from the right face-off circle off a feed from Lynch for his fifth goal of the year. Favot fed Lynch behind the net, who found Saracino creeping in from his point position.

Once again, Niagara answered back just 28 seconds later, as Rashid took a nifty feed from Patrick Divjak, stuffing the shot past Madolora from in tight for his 13th goal of the year. Madolora never saw the shot, as he thought Divjak was going to circle the net.

Tonight?s game was the second 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.

RIT and Niagara were ECAC West foes in the 1990?s when both were Division III teams. The Tigers are 2-8-3 all-time against the Purple Eagles and are 0-5-1 since moving to Division I in 2005. RIT now has a 10-game winless streak against Niagara, and have not defeated the Purple Eagles overall since Feb. 8, 1997.

Tonight?s game was the eighth straight sellout of the season for RIT, and 12th in 15 games this season.
Before the game, RIT honored its Class of 2011, playing in its final regular season home game. RIT honored Favot, Tyler Brenner (Linwood, Ontario), Sean Murphy (Owatonna, MN), Mike Janda (Glen Ellyn, IL), and Jan Ropponen (Espoo, Finland).

The two teams will conclude the regular season on Saturday at Dwyer Arena. The puck will drop at 7:05 p.m.

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