It has been a record-setting start for Robert Morris, which is 4-0 for the first time in school history. The Colonials defeated Ohio State and Air Force last weekend to stay perfect and are off to a 3-0 start in Atlantic Hockey play.
“We’re obviously happy with our start,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. “Having an older veteran team helps early in the season. We have five seniors and 10 juniors. We’ve gotten big contributions from all of our seniors and our junior line scored a key goal to get us back in the game [in Saturday's 3-2 come-from-behind win over Air Force].”
The winning goal was on a great individual effort by senior Nathan Longpre, who’s already staking his claim as one of Atlantic Hockey’s premier players.
“He’s an all-league [CHA] player who already has 100 points just into his senior year,” Schooley said. “That’s a pretty good career already. He’s a good player and good players make good plays.
“We’ve been getting contributions from everyone. [Defenseman] Denny Urban has been outstanding. [Forward] Chris Kushneriuk, [goaltender] Brooks Ostergard — all have had big games for us so far.”
The Colonials are off this weekend before traveling to Rochester Institute of Technology and Niagara next weekend. Schooley doesn’t think that the off weekend will interrupt his team’s momentum.
“We’re going to use [the weekend off] to our advantage and work on some things,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of traveling and we have some big games coming up at RIT and Niagara. We’ve never been to RIT but it’s a tough environment to play in. Both [RIT and Niagara are] good teams. We’ll see what we’re made of.”
Game(s) of the week
Each week in this space I’ll be focusing on an intriguing upcoming game or series. This weekend, Canisius travels to Sacred Heart for a pair of games. The Golden Griffins are 2-1, including Tuesday’s convincing 5-2 win at Mercyhurst. The Lakers did a good job of keeping the dynamic duo of Cory Cohacher and Vincent Scarcella off the scoreboard (Conacher picked up a lone assist) but the Griffs showed that they have plenty of other players that can step up and score.
The host Pioneers are coming off an idle weekend after getting outclassed by Union in a pair of games to open the season on Oct. 8 and 9, dropping them by a combined score of 16-3.
“In hindsight, having this week off was the best thing possible,” Sacred Heart coach C.J. Marottolo said. “We needed to practice. We have a lot of young kids in new roles. The only way to remedy that is practice.
“[The 16 goals allowed] was a team effort. We didn’t play well at all, especially the first night [a 9-0 loss]. The second night we showed some resilience, coming back. We clawed back and had a goal called back that was a big momentum swing. I liked the way we fought and competed.”
Marottolo is glad to be back at home, where the Pioneers were 12-2-2 last season.
“Canisius has a lot of fire power up front, so we have to be ready,” he said. “But we need to play our game, which is hard and fast hockey.
“We’re going to learn from those games [at Union] and put it behind us. Our goal is to improve our game, and we will. We’re not going to panic.”
Quote of the week
“We are plenty good enough to lose games close all year.” — Air Force coach Frank Serratore after a tough 3-2 loss at Robert Morris.
Help from a pro
This week Niagara announced that NHL veteran Jay McKee has joined the staff as a volunteer assistant. McKee played 13 years in the NHL, including nine with the Buffalo Sabres. He’s still looking to hook up with a new team, but in the meantime he’ll be working with the Purple Eagles blueliners.
“I’m excited about Jay helping us for as long as he can,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said in a press release. “He is still talking with various teams about continuing his career, but having him help our young defensive group is a real asset.”
USCHO covers Atlantic Hockey all week long on the Atlantic Hockey Blog, with weekend recaps on Monday, picks on Friday, and updates during the week.