By PETER MANCUSO
HENRIETTA, N.Y. — RIT entered its weekend series with Canisius ranked fourth nationally among Division I hockey programs on the power play, scoring at nearly a 29 percent clip (14 for 50). And 15 seconds into the Friday night tilt at the Gene Polisseni Center on the campus of RIT, the Golden Griffins took an early penalty to put the Tigers a man up. It looked like RIT would jump out to an early lead, but Canisius goalie Jacob Barczewski had other ideas, quickly turning away some early RIT scoring chances en route to a 35-save night and a 2-1 overtime victory.
The win marked Barczewski’s third straight between the pipes for the Golden Griffins.
After a scoreless first period, Canisius got on the board first with a power play goal by David Melaragni, his second of the season, with assists from Simon Gravel and Nick Bowman. The Golden Griffins power play came as a result of a delayed penalty review that eventually sent RIT winger Elijah Gonsalves off for a five-minute spearing penalty (and a game misconduct). Shortly after, a RIT interference penalty gave Canisius a 5-on-3 power play and the golden opportunity for its first goal of the game.
“I thought we had a real good game tonight,” RIT Head Coach Wayne Wilson remarked. “Tonight we were good and it didn’t happen for us. I am disappointed with our penalties (in the second and third period). You can’t take a five-minute major and then another (penalty) down a man. In the third (period) we are about to go on the power play (with less then eight minutes left in the game) and we take a retaliation penalty … those are the plays I was disappointed with.”
Wilson’s comment about the retaliation penalty referred to a play where Canisius winger Keaton Mastrodonato was going to be called for a hooking penalty and at the whistle, Simon Isabelle got his stick up high and was whistled off as well. That negated the potential RIT power play and came at a time when the Tigers were buzzing Barczewski in goal for the go-ahead score.
RIT did tie the game in the second period on Kobe Walker’s sixth of the season, a power play goal that snapped an 0-for-9 stretch for the Tigers with the man advantage. Walker took a pass from Carter Wilkie, circled back around the end line to nearly the face-off dot and fired a shot past Barczewski on the short side. Gianfranco Cassaro picked up the other assist on Walker’s tally. After the tying goal, RIT seemed to take their offense up a notch and finished the first two periods with a decisive 18-9 shots on goal advantage, but just had a 1-1 tie to show for it.
Despite another huge shots on goal advantage in the third period (RIT 16-9), the Tigers couldn’t get the go-ahead goal past Barczewski and the game headed to the five-minute, three-on-three overtime period.
“Our defense and forwards did a really good job in our D zone boxing out RIT tonight – they kept those shots on the outside,” recalled Barczewski after the game. “Neither team was able to get in front of the net. Good job by my guys in front of me today keeping them on the perimeter and letting me see the puck.”
The three on three overtime five minute period keeps fans, players and coaches oohing and aahing the entire stanza. And Friday was no different.
“Overtime definitely gets the heart beating faster. It is fun to be out there as a goalie and a very exciting time; anything can happen,” commented Barczewski who made two overtime saves for Canisius. “You have to be on your toes and ready for anything.”
“I thought we played it (overtime) pretty well. I don’t think we forced things and thought we controlled the puck for a large portion of the period,” Coach Wilson explained.
With less than a minute to go in the overtime period, Canisius winger Mastrodonato picked up a pass from teammate Jackson Decker behind his own net and skated the length of the ice into the Tigers zone. Once there, he circled around to the left of RIT goalie Tommy Scarfone before making a quick cross ice pass to an open Ryan Miotto, who one-timed it home passed a sprawling Scarfone for the game winner with 20 seconds remaining in overtime.
It was Miotto’s sixth goal of the season and his second game winner. The loss is only Scarfone’s second on the season for the Tigers and snaps his ten game win streak.
“I got a little piece of the puck – I would like to have it back,” Scarfone noted after the game. “We turn the page and go out and win tomorrow.”
RIT will travel to LECOM Harborcenter in Buffalo, NY on Saturday for a 7 p.m. rematch with the Golden Griffins.
-Tonight was the last home game for RIT until December 30 vs Penn State
-Both RIT and Canisius plan to ring in the New Year with a victory as they will both be in action on New Year’s Eve
-Canisius Coach Daniel Paille is in his second season as a full-time assistant for the Golden Griffins and fourth year on the staff … Paille is a former First Round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2002 (20th overall) and played 195 games for Buffalo over five seasons, scoring 35 goals; in all, he played in 582 career NHL regular season games … He began his professional career with the Rochester Americans (AHL), netting 35 goals in 153 games
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