men’s hockey Pioneers eliminated by RIT
BRIDGEPORT — After two games, two periods and nearly 18 minutes of hockey, this Atlantic Hockey quarterfinal series came down to a fumbled puck.
RIT recovered the Sacred Heart University turnover behind the SHU goal with 2:20 remaining in the third period and Jake Hamacher knocked it past SHU goalie Brett Magnus for the game-winner.
Hamacher added an empty net goal with 20 seconds remaining and RIT left Webster Bank Arena with a 3-1 victory in the third and deciding game of the series.
“It was a good hockey game, but RIT was opportunistic and we weren’t,” SHU coach C.J. Marottolo said after the season ended for the fourth-seeded Pioneers (16-17-4).
With the score tied at 1 and the visiting Tigers pressing, the puck went behind the goal and to Magnus’ right as two SHU defenders and RIT’s Shawn Cameron converged on it. Suddenly the puck popped out front where Hamacher was waiting and he found the back of the net.
“It’s a tough way to lose, but hockey is the ultimate team sport and you win or lose as a group,” Marottolo said of the turnover. “That goal and this loss falls on all of us.”
Magnus was the surprise starter after relieving SHU’s No. 1 goalie Josh Benson in the first period Thursday when RIT (17-16-4) scored three goals on five shots on its way to a 7-3 victory that tied the series (SHU won the opener Wednesday 9-4). Magnus saw plenty of action last season, but the senior had played in just 14 of the Pioneers 36 previous games.
“I was a little surprised I got the start,” Magnus said. “But I just treated it like any other game.”
Magnus was also a little surprised the puck came out in front of the net on the deciding play.
“I thought (Cameron) was caught in the net behind the goal and didn’t realize (Hamacher) was waiting in the slot,” Magnus said. “I saw our D-men back there and I went for the poke check. But it was a fumbled puck and RIT put it out front and scored.”
It was a tough loss for the Pioneers, who outshot RIT 79-40 in the last two games (32-21 Friday). However, RIT goalie Logan Drackett, who had 31 saves after recording 44 on Thursday, was terrific again.
“Goaltending can make a difference and (Drackett) played great again,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “SHU’s goalie played well, too. SHU was good and probably deserved better, but we showed resiliency and character. I think the (loss in Game 1) hardened us.”
James Cotton had given the Pioneers a 1-0 lead just 2:15 into the opening period before Erik Brown’s second-period power play goal tied it.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jake Hamacher scored the game-winner with 2:20 left in the game, but once against the star was RIT goalie Logan Drackett, who had 31 saves and 75 over the last two games.
“RIT hadn’t seen (goalie Brett) Magnus aside from the little bit in Game 2, and he has been there before, playing a lot last year, so I was comfortable starting Mags tonight,” — SHU coach C.J. Matottolo, on starting Magnus over No. 1 goalie Josh Benson Friday.
RIT 3, SHU 1
ROCHESTER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY 0 1 2 — 3
SACRED HEART 1 0 0 — 1
First period: SHU — Jason Cotton (Matt Tugnett, Todd Goehring) 2:15. Second period: RIT — Erik Brown (Dan Willett, Adam Brubacher) 5:39. Third period: RIT — Jake Hamacher (Shawn Cameron) 17:40; RIT — Hamacher (Cameron) empty net 19:40.
Goalie saves: RIT — Logan Drackett 31; SHU — Brett Magnus 18. Records: RIT 17-16-4, SHU 16-17-4