By KEVIN OKLOBZIJA
The flu bug, or some ailment, has taken a toll on the RIT men’s hockey team this week.
Not everyone could play in Friday’s game against Canisius. And not everyone who did play skated with the tank on full.
So of course the Tigers ended up playing 10 minutes of overtime, and then went to a shootout.
“We’re pretty sick right now collectively as a team,” Tigers coach Wayne Wilson said. “To be sick and then to extend the game as long as you can, that’s the last thing we needed.”
Jake Joffe, however, provided the perfect elixir. After scoring the only goal in regulation time — way back at 4:59 of the first period — the sophomore winger scored the only goal in the three-round shootout as RIT defeated the Golden Griffins 2-1.
RIT goalie Logan Drackett stopped the first three shooters for Canisius, and Jake Hamacher and Shawn Cameron were denied by Jacob Barcewski in the first two rounds.
Joffe made it look easy. He angled in through the left-wing circle, waited to find an opening, then zipped a low shot past the left leg of Barczewski.
“According to (assistant coach) Dave Insalacco, he would have had him (Joffe) going first in the shootout,” Wilson joked afterward.
The shootout win gave RIT (10-6-3, 7-5-3) the extra point in the Atlantic Hockey standings. The teams play again Saturday at 7:35 p.m. in downtown Buffalo, a time change from 4 p.m. because of the Buffalo Bills playoff game and Buffalo Sabres home game.
“That 3 1/2 hours is going to be critical for us,” Wilson said. “Once it (illness) hits a team, you can try to separate the water bottles but by then it’s too late.”
Joffe said he was slowed but the bug, although scoring the game-winner made him feel a whole lot better.
He had history on his side in the shootout. When he scored in the first period, electing to shoot instead of pass to linemate Jordan Peacock on a two-on-one fast break, he chose the short side on his wrister from the left circle.
In the shootout, from nearly the same spot, he fired far side.
“I thought maybe he thought since I shot short side earlier I might again,” Joffe said. “I knew I beat him low before so I tried to beat him low again.”
The one thing he definitely knew he would do: shoot. He didn’t think deking and then attempting to maintain control of the puck on the chopped up ice would work out well.
Drackett didn’t need to do much in the first two periods as RIT controlled play. But he was terrific in the third period and overtime, robbing Matt Hoover twice and Nick Hutchison once.
He also had the only assist for RIT, making a 70-foot outlet pass to spring Joffe on the first-period two-on-one.
Wilson did have one major complaint. The Tigers took more foolish penalties, including four in the offensive zone. Freshman forward Elijah Gonsalves was ejected in the third period for boarding.
“It’s brutal, we’re not learning,” Wilson said of the team’s propensity to take penalties.