RIT played like the 11th best team in the country in the second period, scoring four in a row to tie.
However, Michigan is actually number 11 in the nation. They proved it in the end, answering RIT's rally with three more goals and finishing a 7-4 win in front of a sold out crowd of 10,556 fans at Blue Cross Arena Saturday evening.
The game was the focus of homecoming weekend for RIT.
Michigan jumped in front thanks to a Phil DiGiuseppe power play goal. Derek DeBlois made it 2-0 on a one-timer two minutes later and DiGiuseppe scored a second goal on a pretty stop and shoot goal from the top of the crease four minutes after that. Cristoval Nieves capped the outburst and the Wolverines had a 4-0 lead less than 14 minutes into the game.
The Tigers came roaring back in the second period, scoring four goals in a span of 9:34 to tie the game at 4-4. Michigan would re-take the lead with a late second period goal and put the contest away with two goals in the final 4:55 to hand RIT the loss.
RIT out-shot the Wolverines 46-27, holding the edge in all three periods of play. The Tigers were 2-for-8 with the man-advantage, while Michigan was 1-for-2.
Phil Di Guiseppe led the Wolverines with three points on two goals and an assist. Kevin Clare was plus-3 with three assists, while Cristoval Nieves and Andrew Copp had a goal and an assist apiece for the Wolverines. Tyler Motte, Evan Allen, and Derek DeBlois also scored.
In net, Steve Racine stopped 42-of-46 shots to pick up the victory.
Ben Lynch (Blaine, MN/Lincoln Stars) led the Tigers with a goal and an assist. Mike Colavecchia (Maple, Ontario/Lindsay Muskies), Nolan Descoteaux (Dallas, TX/South Shore Kings), and Matt Garbowsky (St. George, Ontario/Powell River Kings) also scored for the Tigers, who are now 6-9-1 all-time at Blue Cross Arena.
RIT goaltender Jorday Ruby (Tavistock, Ontario/Wellington Dukes) made 20 saves in the loss.
Despite the loss, RIT Head Coach Wayne Wilson was happy with his team's effort.
"After Thursday (a 4-1 home loss to Colgate), I was wondering what type of team we were, as we showed little in the way of effort" said Wilson. "Tonight, I loved our effort. We drove the puck much better, were hungrier and made a great effort overall. (Mike) Colavecchia got us going with that big first goal and we went from there."
Despite RIT holding a 16-11 edge in shots after the opening period, Michigan stormed out to a commanding 4-0 lead, scoring all four goals in a span of 11:07.
Di Guiseppe tallied for the first time on the power-play, just 2:25 in, as he sprinted towards the net and took a perfect feed from Alex Guptill and put a backhander past Ruby from in tight.
Just 2:08 later, DeBlios wired a shot from the slot off a pass from Guptill to make it 2-0. Di Giuseppe made it 3-0 8:48 in, taking a feed from Zach Hyman and beating Ruby from in close. Nieves completed the onslaught at the 13:32 mark off a feed from Hyman, quieting the capacity crowd.
RIT played perhaps one of its finest periods in nine seasons of Division I play, roaring back to score four unanswered goals in the second stanza to tie the game at 4-4 before Michigan tallied in the final minute of the period to hold a 5-4 edge after 40 minutes of play.
Garbowsky hit the post in the opening minute off a Michigan turnover in front.
At the 5:38 mark, Colavecchia got RIT on the board and energized the sellout sea of orange, with an incredible individual effort, skating through all four Michigan players with a dazzling display of stickhandling and dekes before roofing a shot in close over the shoulder of Racine.
Just over three minutes later, Lynch cut the Michigan lead to 4-2 jamming in a loose just after a Tiger power-play ended. Josh Mitchell (Osoyoos, British Columbia/Alberni Valley Bulldogs) and Brandon Thompson (Vancouver, British Columbia/Handsworth) worked the forecheck down low to perfection, with Thompson feeding a pass in front right to Lynch who swatted it in for his second goal in two games.
Garbowsky made it 4-3 at the 10:03 mark, spinning around and beating Racine after a great pass from Brad McGowan (Langley, British Columbia/Surrey Eagles) while the two teams were playing 4-on-4. The two Tigers came in on a 2-on-2, McGowan beat a defender to the outside and fed Garbowsky who was there to crash the net and bury the shot.
Descoteaux tied the game at 4-4 on the power-play with 4:48 left in the period, swatting home a rebound in midair from the side of the net after a shot by Lynch was stopped. Brad Shumway (Lafayette, CO/Chicago Steel) also assisted on the goal.
Michigan would get the lead back with 56 seconds left in the period, as Allen fired a bad angle shot from the right wing boards that eluded Ruby. Ruby got tangled up with his own defenseman and seemed to lose sight of the puck.
Just 30 seconds into the third period, RIT thought they had tied the game, as a shot from Lynch un the slot beat Racine, but the puck bounced off the right post and back into the pads of the Michigan netminder. The goal light went on, but it was determined that the puck never crossed the goal line.
Both teams tightened up defensively over the next 14 minutes, with very little in the way of great offensive chances.
With just 4:55 left, Motte slammed in a rebound in tight after Luke Moffat streaked down the right wing and fired a shot that Ruby stopped. Motte slipped behind the RIT defense to tuck in a loose puck to make it 6-4 Wolverines.
With 19 seconds left and Ruby pulled for the extra attacker, Clare fired a clearing attempt off the boards that Copp corralled in the neutral zone and fired into the empty RIT net to finish the scoring.
Michigan now leads the all-time series between the two schools, 2-1-0. Last season, the two teams split a season-opening series in Ann Arbor. RIT stunned then No. 3 Michigan in the opener, 5-4 in overtime, while Michigan rebounded with a 7-2 win the next night.
Tonight's game was the fourth straight sellout RIT has enjoyed at Blue Cross Arena for its annual Brick City Homecoming and Family Weekend contest. Next year, RIT hosts Boston College in the annual game at Blue Cross Arena.
The Tigers are right back in action next Friday and Saturday with a pair of road games against Clarkson University.