Rutgers (5-5-2-0) ended their five-game skid this past weekend against conference opponent Niagara and split the regular season series with a 6-4 win Friday and an overtime loss Saturday.
Photo: Katherine Schellin
Rutgers (5-5-2-0) got right back on track this past weekend against a tough conference opponent in the Niagara Purple Eagles. They split the road trip with a 6-4 win Friday night and an overtime loss Saturday afternoon despite being outshot in both games; goaltender Chris Fiorillo started each game in net.
Friday night, freshman Josh Kim broke the ice with his team-leading 11th goal of the season, followed four minutes later by junior Joe DeLandro tallying his fourth. Both goals were assisted by sophomore Cole Asroff, who now has six assists on the season. Niagara’s Captain David Hazelet would bring the Purple Eagles within one.
During the second, Tyler Gutierrez would put Rutgers up by two goals, making the score 3-1. His fifth of the season was assisted by DeLandro and Tyler Allen. Five minutes later, freshman Nick Lioudakis would put the good guys up by three with his first goal of the season and as an Ice Knight. His goal was unassisted.
But you know what they say: a three-goal lead is one of the most dangerous in hockey. The Knights were able to hold on to their lead for a short while until Niagara pushed back for a second goal, tallied by Ryan Peters. Rutgers held a 4-2 lead heading into the second intermission.
In the third, the teams traded chances and Rutgers had to kill a 5-on-3 Niagara power play but they allowed Niagara to tie the game with a pair of goals from Frank Vecchio. The Knights pushed back this time. With 2:22 remaining in regulation, Tyler Allen broke the tie with his third of the season, assisted by Mason Jenne and Sean Lippincott (in his first game back from injury). They were able to secure the win with an empty net goal from Asroff (Gutierrez and Griffin Privitera got the assists)
The final score was 6-4: Fiorillo made 37 saves and Asroff had a three-point night!
Saturday afternoon, the team stayed hot, scoring twice in the opening period. Lippincott got the Knights on the board first with his first goal of the season, assisted by Lioudakis and Alex Hoshino. Towards the end of the first frame, Rutgers would go on the penalty kill after Liam Wynne went off for interference. The Knights wouldn’t just kill the penalty; they scored shorthanded! Privitera’s eighth tally of the season put Rutgers up by two heading into the first intermission; his goal was assisted by Domenic DiFonzo and Mathew Sanchez.
Five minutes into the second, Rutgers went on a four-minute power play after Patrick Romano received slashing and unsportsmanlike conduct minors. They were able to score on the man advantage, courtesy of DeLandro; Lippincott and Privitera picked up the assists.
For the second game in a row, the Knights held a three-goal lead and again, they let it slip away. They relinquished the goal that allowed Niagara to get on the board in the second. The Knights held on for most of the frame but at the 16:21 mark, they allowed Niagara to pull within one. And then with 12 seconds remaining in regulation, they allowed the game-tying goal. They headed to 3-on-3 overtime but the Purple Eagles scored the game-winner with 44 seconds left. Fiorillo made 28 saves; Privitera and Lippincott had two-point nights.
Overall, it was a good weekend for the Knights. After losing five straight games, this past weekend was huge for them. Would they be able to get out of the rut they’ve been in? They did but they’re having some difficulty holding on to multiple goal leads. There are things to clean up and work on, and there is plenty of room for improvement.
Things to note: in his first two games back from injury, Lippincott tallied one goal and a pair of assists, and now has five points on the season. Privitera is riding a six-game point streak; in that span, he has three goals and five assists, and leads the team in scoring with 19 points. He is followed by Kim, who has 17 points.
The team will have plenty of time to regroup before they take on Cornell in two weeks for another big conference matchup.