PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley had the pleasure to suit up for Bill Wilkinson when the latter was head coach at Western Michigan during the early 1990s. He even played a part in one or two of the veteran coach’s career milestones.
“I was on the team when he got his 200th win” Schooley said prior to Friday night’s tilt between the Colonials and Wayne State. “Obviously I don’t want to be a part of his 400th win this way.”
Unfortunately for Schooley, the teacher got the better of the pupil on this occasion, as Wilkinson picked up career victory 400 with a 3-2 Wayne State win. The Warriors improved to 6-3-0 on the season and 1-0-0 in CHA play, while Robert Morris fell to 2-6-0 overall and 0-3-0 in the conference.
“We’re just pleased that we accomplished  the first night and don’t have to wait for the Saturday night game for it,” said Wilkinson, who became just the 23rd coach in college history to reach the mark. “Now we can take care of business for tomorrow.”
If the Saturday tilt is anything like the opener, look for plenty of bodies to be flying. The Colonials came out strong, taking the physical play to the more experienced visitors and giving the Warriors all they could handle.
“I’m extremely proud of our guys, as proud as you can be in a loss,” said Schooley. “That was our best game we played all year, the breaks just didn’t go our way.”
That was certainly the case in the opening frame, as the home team had two apparent goals called back. Pucks crossed the line at 6:37 and 9:13, but both were waived off due to the net being dislodged.
“I didn’t see the first one, but everybody tells me that one of the two definitely counted,” Schooley said. “But that’s the breaks.”
The Colonials finally got one to count when Chris Kaufman blasted a one-timer off a Jace Buzek pass, beating Matt Kelly during Robert Morris’ third power play of the night. Matt Hopfe picked up the second assist on the tally at 14:28 of the opening frame.
The goal was Kaufman’s first collegiate point, and gave Robert Morris its sixth power play tally in 66 tries on the season.
It looked like the home squad would carry a 1-0 lead into the locker room until John May picked up a loose puck at the hash marks and wristed a shot through traffic that beat Christian Boucher short side with just 17.6 left in the frame. Stavros Paskaris picked up a helper on the tally, extending his point streak to seven games in the process.
Paskaris picked up in the second right where he left off in the first. The freshman scoring sensation hammered home a pass from May for his fifth of the season during the Warriors’ first power play of the night just 2:02 into the middle frame.
“He made that one move there, it was from his forehand to his backhand and shot it off the move,” Wilkinson gawked. “I don’t know where he got that, it wasn’t from me, I didn’t teach him that move.”
Matt Kelly made a pair of spectacular saves on David Boguslawski and Joe Federoff during odd-man rushes late in the second period, allowing Wayne State to take a 2-1 lead into the third period.
“Matt was strong in the net, I thought he played a very solid game,” Wilkinson said of his goaltender, who turned aside 26 shots on the night.
Adam Krug upped the lead to 3-1 with his second of the season less than six minutes into the final frame, a goal that turned out to be pivotal when Kurt Wright netted his team-leading fourth goal of the year with the goalie pulled and just five seconds left on the board.
The teams will face off again Saturday night at 7:35p.m.