"Today we showed tremendous heart. I'm real proud of who the boys are. I know they're the kind of team that can win given any circumstance, but they have to play four quarters," said BBA coach Jason Pergament. "They have to come out with fire from the moment the ball drops. What I'm proud of is that the boys never stopped giving it their best."
The play of the Bulldogs was not something that was lost on Rice coach Rich Ranaldo either.
"I was really impressed with their heart, their ability to battle back and they battled for that entire second half and they really wanted this game," he said. "They never gave up and I commend them for that,"
BBA (5-4) had several opportunities throughout the game, but were unable to capitalize in part because of the outstanding play of Rice goalie Jamie Cruickshank who had 10 saves on the day - several of them coming on hard shots from BBA's Ben Alexopoulos.
"I would give game ball to their goalie. He just made great saves today. We've struggled with shot selection in the past couple of games, but I felt like that wasn't the issue today," Pergament said. "We had a couple hit off the pipe. We had a couple off the crossbar up top. That game was within reach. [We just] started off slow and we didn't get a couple of the breaks that we needed today."
Rice (5-2) got on the board early, scoring about a minute and a half into the game when Emerson Prager - who led all scorers with four goals - fired a shot over his shoulder in front of the goal.
The goal was the first of five the Green Knights scored in the first quarter as the BBA defense struggled to find a way to contain them.
After Rice's Max Moran opened the second quarter with a goal to put Rice up 6-0, Carter Vickers put BBA on the board.
Following a dual 30 second penalty on both teams, the Green Knights scored again with 6:15 left on the clock before adding another three and half minutes later to take an 8-1 lead into halftime.
But the Bulldogs showed heart and determination in the second half - shutting down the Green Knight offense and giving themselves an opportunity to climb back in the game.
Early in the third a penalty on BBA goalie Mike Sztorc caused some problems. With backup goalie Nate Eisenman out with a concussion, there was some question as to whether BBA would have to forfeith the game as they did have another keeper dressed. But instead of forfeiting the game, Tim Swinarton - a senior who last played the position in middle school - filled the hole for the one minute duration that Sztorc was out of the game.
After a mishandled possession by Rice a little later in the quarter, Alexopoulos scored the team's second goal. The next play, Alexopoulos came up with the ball on the faceoff and carried the ball downfield headed for the goal. But at the last minute he lobbed a pass across field to teammate Tom Morgantini for the Bulldogs' third score.
The following play BBA won the faceoff and quickly raced up field, scoring again - or at least so it seemed. The goal, though, was disallowed as Rice had a man down on the field - one of several throughout the game.
"That was questionable," said Pergament. "It's the ref's discretion. I'm not going to blame it on the refs, but there were a couple of bad breaks in that game that I think hurt."
Max Pagnucco - who had one goal and three assists in the game - Elliot Buckley and Jacob Bazyk all scored in the fourth as the Bulldogs tried to mount a comeback.
Sztorc had three saves for BBA. Eric Morin, David Boreman, Max Moran, and Spencer Beattie had a goal each for the Green Knights.