It took a little bit of help from the officials, and a lot of help from goalie Jordan Ruby, but RIT, 38th nationally in the Pairwise coming into the tournament pulled off the biggest upset by seeding in NCAA Tournament history by upsetting #1 Minnesota State in the first round of the Midwest Regional.
Minnesota State controlled the puck most of the game, attempting 96 shots to RIT's 45, but the Mavericks could only sneak one puck past Ruby on a tipped shot by CJ Franklin on the power play in the second period.
That set up a tight 1-1 third period, which again, Minnesota State controlled, but it was RIT that managed to get the bounce when Josh Mitchell scored with 5:51 remaining against a down-and-out Stephon Williams.
RIT advance to tomorrow's regional final to face the winner of Nebraska-Omaha and Harvard. The Tigers will be looking to make their second appearance at the Frozen Four after winning their regional in 2010, also as a fourth seed.
Shots on Goal: MSU: 10-9-13-33 RIT: 7-6-5-18
Total shot attempts: MSU: 35-20-41-96 RIT: 11-18-14-45
Prime scoring area attempts: MSU: 8-5- RIT: 4-5-
What do the numbers tell us?
Minnesota State dominated puck possession in this game, but RIT really packed it in in front of their own net which limited quality opportunities for the Mavericks.
-So: The Goal. We pretty much covered it here. I'll let you decide how well the officials first explanation, and the NCAA's subsequent official explanation after the game hold water.
-It was a rough start for Minnesota State, who was called for an early penalty. They killed off the penalty, but the early momentum for RIT helped them build a 1-0 lead when Alex Kuqali walked out of the corner and buried a backhand. It was a defenseman that finished the play, but credit RIT's MGM line for creating havoc in the corner with a devastating forecheck. RIT didn't really generate much outside of that first line, but that first line was very good all night.
-RIT did a tremendous job protecting the front of their own net. They gave up some space along the perimeter which led to a lot of shot attempts, but RIT goalie Jordan Ruby gave a lot of credit to his teammates for getting into shooting lanes and taking away options for Minnesota State. The Mavericks attempted 96 shots today, but 26 were blocked and 28 shots missed the net.
That was pretty much exactly the way RIT needed to play to pull off this upset. They made the game as low-scoring as possible and just had to hope they got a lucky break at the end. They may have been ranked 38th in the country in the Pairwise for the whole season, but they certainly didn't have the 38th-best goalie tonight, and that's all it really takes in a one-and-done format like that.
-A tough break for Minnesota State. They were the top overall seed in the tournament, but didn't get much for it this year. As BC Interruption pointed out earlier this week, since 2008, #1 seeds are 7-10(now 7-11) when they have to fly to a regional as Minnesota State did.
4:30 Alexander Kuqali from Matt Garbowsky and Josh Mitchell 1-0 RIT
Kuqali brought the puck out of the left corner to the front of the net where he backhanded a shot that beat Williams to the glove side
10:52 CJ Franklin from Teddy Blueger and Jon Jutzi (power play) 1-1 tie
Jutzi passed the puck from the top of the point to Blueger at the top of the right circle. Blueger one-timer a slap shot that Franklin tipped which beat Ruby low to the far side.
14:09 Josh Mitchell from Brad McGowan 2-1 RIT
Mitchell picked up the puck at the top of the right circle. A Minnesota State defenseman was pushed back into Williams causing Williams to fall down, leaving the net wide open for Mitchell. The goal was initially waved off on the ice, but was overturned on video review.