RIT, Niagara Tie in the Snow
CHN Staff Report
On the one hand, snow just adds to the picturesque nature and charm of an outdoor hockey game. On the other hand, snow and wind can make for some treacherous playing conditions.
Amid that atmosphere, 4,760 watched RIT and Niagara play to a 2-2 tie at Rochester's Frontier Field on Saturday, the first-ever outdoor game for either program. The tie extended RIT's unbeaten streak to six.
Earlier in the day, RIT's women's team lost to Clarkson, 6-2, outdoors.
The snow and wind was a major factor all evening, as neither team could generate a ton of quality chances in the inclement weather. The temperature was 16 degrees at the opening puck drop, with several inches of snow falling over the first two periods.
"I thought it was a very hard fought, kind of a fitting end for this game, especially with the conditions over the first two periods," RIT coach Wayne Wilson said. "It was a great event for our players, our school, and the Rochester community. The weather definitely made for some tough play, but both teams adjusted well."
With RIT leading 2-1 in the third period, Niagara's Ryan Rashid snapped a shot past RIT goaltender Mike Rotolo with 8:15 left in regulation to force overtime.
In the overtime, Rotolo was excellent, turning aside all six shots he faced, including two big saves from point-blank range to preserve the tie.
"When conditions are the way they were, it comes down to who can win the rebound game and RIT got a pair of rebound goals in the second period which put us behind," Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. "I think we responded in the third though, and in overtime we were taking the play to them, but just couldn't find the game winner.
"It was great that the Ryan Rashid, Michael Benedict and Dan Kolenda line got rewarded because they were our best line all night. They played hard all game and kept it simple. That was a great game for all three of them."
After a scoreless first period, play opened up as conditions improved in the second period, and RIT took a 2-1 lead.
RIT had to kill off 1:07 of a 5-on-3 early in the second period and were successful, as the driving snow slowed Niagara's attack. The Tigers then killed off the final 3:53 of a five-minute major for hitting from behind, given to Brandon Thompson.
It was the 18th outdoor game in NCAA men's hockey history, and first of 12 throughout college hockey this season.