The Rutgers University Ice Knights (D1) opened up conference play this past weekend against Cortland State and split the season series.
Your Rutgers University Ice Knights opened up conference play against NECHL rival Cortland State this weekend and split the season series. The Red Dragons stole a win Friday night with a controversial goal in overtime while the Ice Knights piled on nine goals in Saturday afternoon’s rematch.
These two teams last met during the 2010-11 season with Rutgers winning both games (a 9-0 shutout and a 3-2 overtime win).
Friday night, the team got off to a sluggish start and allowed the Red Dragons to score a pair of goals on six shots. However, the two-goal lead lasted only a minute when the Ice Knights’ leading scorer Josh Kim tallied an unassisted goal to cut Cortland’s lead in half. They would score again in the second to go up 3-1 heading into the second intermission.
In the third, with 12:34 remaining in regulation, sophomore Ian Zyvith scored to get Rutgers within one with an Eddie Accetta assist and Captain Griffin Privitera would score his third of the season to tie things up at three goals apiece just two minutes later. Sean Murphy and Joe DeLandro had the assists on Privitera’s goal.
Both teams pushed in regulation in hopes of scoring the game-winning goal and with 1:06 left, the Red Dragons took a roughing penalty and Rutgers headed to the power play but could not score.
Goaltender Brandon Schellin made 14 saves in regulation but left with an injury; Chris Fiorillo took over in net for overtime. Matthew Conroy scored 1:19 in overtime right in front of the net to give Cortland the win.
The team’s slow start forced them to crawl back the entire game and they could not complete the comeback, and they know they need to step it up.
Privitera said, “The start yesterday was unacceptable. The effort the whole game was unacceptable. I think some guys were just complacent with last weekend but all these teams are gonna give it their all every day so we just gotta start working hard and can never be complacent and always gotta push.”
He continues, “I think after yesterday, all the boys knew they had to play differently today… I think everyone understood the effort level wasn’t there. It had to be better today. I mean it wasn’t much better but it was good enough to get two points.”
Yesterday, the team also got off to a sluggish start, allowing Cortland to score within the first half of the first period. This time, however, Rutgers responded almost immediately. Freshman Jake Goldstein scored his first goal of the season, assisted by DeLandro and Zyvith, to even the score. A minute and a half later, the Ice Knights would take the lead. Cole Asroff scored his first goal of the season, assisted by Tyler Allen and Alex Hoshino.
Two minutes after, DeLandro would score his third goal of the season to give Rutgers a two-goal lead; Privitera and Kim picked up the assists. But the lead would not hold for long. They would allow two Cortland goals within a little over a minute but again, the Ice Knights would respond. This time, Allen put the team back on top with an unassisted goal and they went into the first intermission with a 4-3 lead.
A minute into the second frame, Privitera would score to put Rutgers back up by two with assists from Kim and Tyler Gutierrez. Late in the second, they would add to their lead when Kim scored on a breakaway for his seventh goal of the season, assisted by Privitera.
Heading into the third with a three-goal lead, the team knew they would have to continue to push because Cortland was not going down without a fight. Kim scored on a shorthanded breakaway, unassisted, to put Rutgers up by four.
The third period would prove to be a back-and-forth affair. Cortland would get a goal back about 40 seconds later. Goldstein scored his second of the game and second of the season to put Rutgers back up by four but Cortland would score again. Then Kim would score on yet another breakaway, another shorthanded goal, for the hat trick. This was his second hat trick of the season. Privitera and Asroff assisted the goal. They would allow another goal but would come out on top, 9-6.
Starting goaltender Chris Fiorillo made 43 saves in net. Kim had a five-point night, Privitera had four, and a handful of players had two each.
When asked about his stellar play so far this season after the game, Kim says, “To be honest, I feel like we’re getting a lot of opportunities through power plays, penalty kills, and that’s where most of my goals come from especially playing with the captain, Priv. He gives me those opportunities, those simple chips that lead me to get on a quick break and a quick shot on goal. Honestly, that’s where I get all my points from. Not too many even-strength goals but I’m hoping to work on that throughout the season.”
And when asked if breakaways are his favorite type of goal, he responds: “They’re nice. It’s just a one-on-one with the goalie. I would prefer breakaways, honestly.”
The chemistry with Privitera and DeLandro is palpable. Privitera said, “I think me and Josh work really together. He finds the open spots and I get him the puck and we move the puck pretty well and I think it’s gonna be a good year if I keep finding him, he’s gonna keep burying ‘em and we’re gonna be a top line and we’ll be able to produce.”
However, due to injury, the three did not play together on the top line this weekend. Privitera stepped up to play defense Friday night while DeLandro took the role Saturday afternoon and DeLandro had a big night.
Head Coach Joe Dickson said, “I was very happy with Joe DeLandro today. He did exactly what I asked him to do which was go back and help stabilize our defense. When you’re plus five, you didn’t have a good game. You had a great game. He stepped up to the plate big time for us and really helped calm everything down in the back. Friday night was a little bit of a fire drill. Today was much, much calmer back there. They weren’t taking liberties with our goaltender today. The puck was out of our zone quickly and going the other way when he was on the ice.”
And although the team won Saturday and the effort level was better, they are struggling to play a full, consistent 60 minutes. Assistant Captain Mathew Sanchez says, “I think this was an eye opener, this weekend, because we came into it a little too confident. We know how good we are and I think that’s why we did do that but now we know there are good teams in the league and we are gonna have to work hard every night to get two points.”
Fellow Assistant Captain Tyler Gutierrez also notes, “That’s not just the young guys. That’s everyone. We should never come in comfortable because that was just the first weekend. We have a long way to go so that’s just on everyone and mental preparation before the game because we have to take every game the same and as hard as the last one and never be settled where you’re at.”
With another conference matchup next weekend against Oswego and with the rest of the season to go, the team will have to play with a much better effort and more consistently. Guys will have to step up in the face of injuries while the newcomers continue to adjust to the higher level of play.
Puck drops are scheduled for 8:30PM Friday night and 3:30PM Saturday afternoon at ProSkate Ice Arena.