With 15 new players, there are going to be some growing pains. The losing streak is extended to five after Rutgers drops both games to RIT this past weekend.
Photo Credit: Steven Wojtowicz
Your Rutgers University Ice Knights faced another conference opponent this past weekend and lost twice on home ice. They were outscored 10-5 and goaltender Brandon Schellin started both games. This was the first meeting between these two teams (RIT joined the ACHA 11 years ago).
Friday night, Rutgers got off to a very quick start with Captain Griffin Privitera opening the scoring 44 seconds in; Tyler Gutierrez and Josh Kim assisted on his fifth goal of the season. They would further extend the lead on goals from freshman Jake Goldstein, his fourth of the season (unassisted), and Gutierrez (assisted by Privitera and Cole Asroff), and went into the first intermission with a three-goal lead.
However, the game quickly got out of hand in the second. About seven minutes in, RIT scored to get on the board and less than a minute later, they scored again to cut the deficit to one. Three minutes after that, they would tie the game and the score would remain tied heading into the second intermission.
During the third, RIT scored seven minutes in to give them the lead and Nicholas Washco completed his hat trick with an empty net goal 13 seconds remaining in regulation. Rutgers had a couple power play opportunities in the third but failed to score.
Looking to split the series with a win on Saturday, Schellin remained the starting goaltender. Rutgers had another two opportunities on the man advantage in the first but neither team could break through. In the second, the team went on the penalty kill and gave up a goal ten seconds in to give RIT the lead.
In the third, Jacob Wexler received a major penalty and game misconduct for head contact on freshman defenseman Ryan Bagley. It took Rutgers three minutes to break through to the tie the game on a shot from Privitera, unassisted. After the game, he said, “I saw the lane, held it, faked the pass, waited for the guy to give me the lane, and that’s it, shot it."
Head Coach Joe Dickson said, “He’s the Captain. It’s his job. It’s as simple as that. It’s his job. He scored a goal in a situation where I needed him to get the puck on net and he did what I asked him to do. That’s why he’s the Captain of the team.”
Shortly thereafter, they allowed a goal and RIT regained the lead and then they scored again to extend it to two. Rutgers did respond: freshman Mason Jenne scored his first goal of the season assisted by Tyler Allen but it would not be enough. Final score was 5-2.
When asked about the game, Dickson stated, “Today was very disappointing. We battled back in the third period to tie the game and then within a minute and a half, we gave the lead back again. Big thing we preach on the bench is after scoring goals, big next shift and make sure you take care of the defensive zone and don’t let them score.”
Holding onto a lead and momentum was an issue all weekend. Friday night, the team gave up a three-goal lead and allowed five unanswered goals (one an empty netter). Saturday afternoon, they allowed RIT to score within minutes of their tying goal and the momentum dissipated. The team had plenty of opportunities but couldn’t finish and that’s been a commonality over the past several weekends with the team on a five-game losing streak.
Dickson says, “We’re not getting a couple of bounces here and there but that’s part of the game. We need to start getting these bounces. They’ll come our way eventually. May not be next week, may not be the week after, but it will balance itself out. Right now, we’re not getting it and that’s unfortunate for us.”
The team will have a week to turn things around as they face Niagara this weekend for their first full road trip of the season. Privitera says, “I think it’s a big week of practice. Next weekend is a huge statement weekend. They’re one of the best teams in the league so I think we gotta go up there and try to at least get a split out of the weekend.”
He continues, “I think it’s time for everyone to start maturing and play their role and we gotta start executing the game plan and it’s just not there. Effort’s not there. We’re not executing. I think that’s really what has to change and everyone has to worry about playing their role.”
Last season, the team played better on the road than they did at home so this road trip could be just what they need to get back on track but in order for the team to earn wins, they’ll need bigger contributions from their veteran players and improvements from the top down.