ST. CLOUD, Minn. — As a program in only its second year, Robert Morris is still experiencing a number of firsts. St. Cloud State made sure that the Colonials’ first-ever matchup against a WCHA team was somewhat less than memorable.
Joe Jensen and Gary Houseman scored two goals each, and Brock Hooton, Konrad Reeder, and Nate Dey added a goal and an assist each to lead St. Cloud State over Robert Morris 7-0 on Saturday night in front of a crowd of 5,782 at the National Hockey Center.
“The important thing tonight was to keep interest in the game,” said SCSU head coach Bob Motzko. “It’s easy to lose your focus when you take the lead the way we did.”
St. Cloud State grabbed the lead early in the first period while on the man-advantage. Just 2:40 into the game, Jensen found the puck while navigating traffic in front of Robert Morris netminder Christian Boucher and poked it just to the right of Boucher’s pad for the first tally of the game.
Jensen struck again for St. Cloud minutes later, when a shot by junior Justin Fletcher bounced hard off of Boucher’s pads directly into the slot, where Jensen was waiting to fire the puck home for his 11th goal of the season, making the score 2-0.
After a fairly-even first part of the second period, SCSU sophomore Nate Dey one-timed a pass from Brock Hooton in the left faceoff circle, beating Boucher on his stick side, putting the Huskies up 3-0. The goal was Dey’s second in as many games, and also his second goal of the 2005-06 campaign.
Minutes later, it was Hooton doing the deed, this time on the power play. As St. Cloud cycled the puck around the outside of the zone, Hooton casually skated with the puck into the top of the slot and rifled a shot that hit the roof of the net for his second goal of the season, giving SCSU a comfortable four-goal cushion.
Robert Morris had an excellent opportunity to score with four minutes remaining in the second period, and would have had its first goal of the game if not for a great play by St. Cloud goalie Bobby Goepfert.
RMU junior Doug Conley managed to sneak himself behind the St. Cloud State defense while on the power play and positioned himself in front of the crease on the left side of the net. A perfect pass from the opposite side of the ice found the tape, but Goepfert managed to slide across the goalmouth and stone Conley’s point-blank shot to keep the Colonials off the board.
Things only got worse for Robert Morris in the third period as St. Cloud boosted the lead to five. Only seconds after the Colonials successfully killed a penalty, SCSU junior Gary Houseman scored his first goal of the season, taking a pass in front of the crease from behind the net. Houseman took a few hacks at the puck, finally getting it past RMU goaltender Joe Tuset, who started the third period in place of Boucher.
St. Cloud’s sixth goal of the evening was also scored by Houseman. A shot by Nate Dey was saved by Tuset, but left him out of position as the rebound fell directly to Houseman, who easily put the puck into the empty net.
“We had a great week in practice,” said Houseman. “We were scoring goals in practice and as a result of that hard work ethic the guys showed in practice we were able to come out strong tonight.”
A late redirection from Matt Hartman with just over a minute to play concluded the scoring.
Goepfert made 13 saves in net for his third shutout of the season, equaling his shutout total from the first two years of his collegiate career at Providence in only half a season with St. Cloud.
“This might have been too much for us to handle at this point,” said RMU head coach Derek Schooley. “They were a step faster, a step quicker, they skated well — we were skating in quicksand. The experience of playing St. Cloud will help us in the long run even if it’s not a lot of fun in the short term.”
The Huskies have now won four times on the first game of a weekend series on the season, but are still seeking their first sweep of the season, with a record of 0-3-1 in the second game.
“We’ve played some really good [second-night] games,” said Motzko. “It’s difficult to sweep in college hockey because teams bounce back after you have a good night, and then they have a good night of their own. Winning tomorrow will put us back to .500 and send us into the break strong, and that’s our goal.”
Both teams are back in action Sunday night at the National Hockey Center.