Courtesy of RITAthletics.com
PRINCETON, N.J. – RIT senior defenseman Dan Willett scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with 4:13 left in regulation and was also credited with two assists in Friday’s 5-4 victory at Princeton.
RIT got on the board with 11:45 left in the first period off a Princeton turnover in the RIT zone. Junior forward Elijah Gonsalves sent a pass from the point to senior forward Jake Hamacher, who was open outside the right post for a short one-timer to open the scoring.
Princeton tied the game with 3:26 left in the first after Matt Kellenberger lobbed a puck on the RIT goal from the right half boards that found its way through traffic and past RIT junior goaltender Kolby Matthews.
Kellenberger finished a cross-ice feed inside the right post to push Princeton to a 2-1 lead 18 seconds into the second period.
RIT took advantage of a five-minute major called on Princeton’s Finn Evans for boarding with 17:38 on the clock. Senior forward Kobe Walker re-directed a shot from the point taken by freshman forward Carter Wilkie at 15:14 before senior Nick Bruce flipped a short back-hander from outside the right post for a 3-2 RIT lead with 14:17 on the clock.
Wilkie was hit with an interference penalty at 10:23 before Princeton evened the score, 3-3, with 8:35 on the clock on a one-timer by Corey Andonovski from the left wing that glanced off Matthews’ right shoulder.
RIT notched another power play goal following a Princeton hooking penalty. Senior forward Will Calverley tucked a wrist shot from the left face-off circle inside the left post with 2:33 on the clock for a 4-3 lead into the third period.
Princeton once again evened the score, 4-4, with 15:23 left in the third on a shot through traffic from the right point by Pito Walton.
Both teams were hit with a penalty with 5:18 remaining in the period, including an embellishment call on Princeton’s Ian Murphy and a slash on RIT junior forward Caleb Moretz. Skating 4-on-4, Willett finished a flurry in front of the Princeton crease, burying his own rebound from the low slot for the deciding tally.
RIT finished with a season-high three power-play goals (all in the second period) on seven attempts. RIT finished with a 40-32 edge in shots, finishing one short of the season-high 41 taken during its 3-2 OT victory at AIC (Nov. 7).
Willett notched his first goal of the season and now has a team-high seven assists. Hamacher’s goal was his 90th career point. Also credited with an assist on Bruce’s goal, he leads all of Atlantic Hockey with 91 career points (37 goals, 54 assists).
Wilkie totaled two assists for his third multi-point game of the season, while Gonsalves was credited with two assists for his first multi-point game of the campaign. Matthews finished the game with 28 saves to improve to 8-3-2 this year.
Willett also blocked three shots. Entering the week second nationally in the category, he currently has blocked 41 shots this season.
RIT improved to 3-2 in non-league games this season. Friday’s game was the first ever meeting between RIT and Princeton in men’s hockey. Head coach Wayne Wilson improved his career record to 399-279-75 in 23 seasons on the RIT bench and is one win short of becoming the 49th coach in NCAA men’s hockey history to accumulate 400 victories.
RIT looks to complete the two-game road sweep of Princeton on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.