First place was on the line at CONSOL Energy Center Thursday afternoon as No. 18 Robert Morris battled RIT for Atlantic Hockey Association supremacy.
The game looked destined for a tie, but RIT’s Tyler Brenner scored with just 1:16 remaining in the third period to lift the Tigers over the Colonials, 4-3.
RIT goaltender Shane Madolora remained undefeated (8-0-1) on the season by stopping 32 of the 35 shots that the Colonials threw his way.
The Tigers (10-7-2, 9-3-1 AHA) scored two early goals, but the Colonials’ defense – and especially the penalty kill – buckled down. Robert Morris (12-5-2, 7-5-2 AHA) then took advantage of a few opportunities with a couple power-play goals and a Joseph Harcharik tip-in.
With RIT leading 2-1, it looked like the Tigers opened up another two-goal lead with 2:22 remaining in the first period. The puck bounced into the net behind RMU goaltender Brooks Ostergard, but the referee immediately waved it off because a high stick tipped the biscuit in the basket.
The Colonials took advantage of the non-goal just a few seconds after the ensuing faceoff. The Colonials rushed up the ice, and Mike Colavecchia blasted a slapper from the right point. Harcharik was waiting in the low slot and tipped the puck to even up the score, 2-2.
Against the protests of Madolora, the referee ruled that Harcharik’s stick was below the crossbar.
After RIT once again took the lead, the Colonials scored just 24 seconds into the final frame to tie things up.
The tie held up until Brenner’s game-winner late in the frame. His wrister from the right circle gave him his second goal of the game.
Tyler Brenner (RIT)
With the game tied for most of the third period, it was only a matter of time before someone stepped up to become the hero of the game.
Those heroics would come with 1:19 left as Tyler Brenner sneaked a wrister from the low right side past Brooks Ostergard.
It was the second time he lit the lamp in the game. In the first period, teammate Andrew Favot deked around a Colonial defender to slip the puck into the slot, where Brenner smacked home the score.
Brenner finished with two goals on four shots and a plus-two rating.
The game looked destined for overtime after RMU’s Trevor Lewis took advantage of a power-play opportunity, as he tipped in a rebound past Madolora. And with the clock winding down, it looked like his game-tying goal might stand up.
But as the timer ticked away, Brenner skated with the puck through the left circle. He was looking for a pass, but a teammate yelled at him to shoot.
By looking for the pass, he drew the defenders away from him, so he listened to his teammate. He punched the slapper in for the win.
Tyler Brenner’s goal with 1:19 remaining in the game lifted the RIT men’s ice hockey team past Robert Morris, 4-3, at CONSOL Energy Center on Thursday.
The game was part of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic events in Pittsburgh, and the Tigers gained a three-point lead over the Colonials in the race for first place in the Atlantic Hockey Association.
Brenner scored two goals in the game, including the winner, while RIT goaltender Shane Madolora remained undefeated with an 8-0-1 record, stopping 32 of 35 shots.
• Thursday’s game marked the second time RMU played at CONSOL Energy Center this season. In both games, the Colonials battled back from early two-goal deficits. They defeated Air Force 3-2 thanks to a Nathan Longpre tally with 2:11 remaining in the game on Oct. 17.
• With an assist, Longpre extended his scoring streak to seven games, tallying 11 points (3G-8A) in that stretch. The streak is a career long for the senior who leads the team in goals (9) and points (27).
• The Colonials are currently having their best season in school history. Their 12-5-2 record puts them in second place in the AHA with a 7-5-2 conference record, and a No. 18 national ranking. Three points behind RIT, the Colonials are eying their first-ever bid to the NCAA tournament.
• RIT goalie Madolora has yet to lose a game all season, posting an 8-0-1 record. He has a .924 save percentage on the year.
• The loss ended Robert Morris’ six-game unbeaten streak, going 5-0-1 heading into CONSOL Energy Center. The streak included five wins in a row that matched a school record, but the unbeaten streak fell one game short of tying the team’s record.
• The loss marked the first time RIT won in Pittsburgh, with Robert Morris going 1-0-1 in the previous two contests.