DETROIT — Robert Morris came out strong, but Wayne State finished strong and the host Warriors took a 7-4 conference win over the Colonials Saturday night inside the frigid Michigan State Fairgrounds Coliseum.
“I have nothing good to say,” RMU head coach Derek Schooley said. “We were bad defensively, got outworked and (WSU) wanted it more. If we play like this tomorrow, we’re in for a long night.”
The game, played before a sparse crowd of what looked to be no more than 200 fans, was deadlocked at 3-all heading into the third period when Wayne State junior Tylor Michel, who entered the game with just two goals, popped a natural hat trick to put away the Colonials.
“I’m finally finding the net,” said Michel. “But this win was something we needed as a team. It seems like we always head into the third either tied or down a goal and after the second, we talked in the room about how we had to win the third.”
Aaron Clarke started the scoring for RMU 2:59 into the game when Joel Gasper won a faceoff in the WSU zone back to Clarke, who one-timed a shot over the glove of Warriors’ goalie Brett Bothwell.
At 9:19, Jake Obermeyer walked into a shot and again beat Bothwell high for a two-goal advantage.
Jared Katz pulled WSU to within a goal when he scored off a scramble in front of Robert Morris goaltender Christian Boucher at 11:25.
“I’m not doing anything special out there,” quipped Katz. “I just go to the net and the puck’s been finding my stick.”
Playing 5-on-3, Derek Bachynski tied the game at 5:46 of the middle period. Mark Nebus fed Bachynski at the left dot and Bachynski walked into the slot and beat Boucher over the shoulder with a quick snap shot.
RMU stayed in the game when Chris Margott’s wraparound shot somehow scooted past Bothwell almost four minutes later just after a WSU penalty expired.
But at 14:08, just 17 ticks into a Robert Morris penalty, Katz made a nice play to the right of Boucher and hit Jon Grabarek with a backdoor pass at the bottom of the right circle and Grabarek went top shelf on Boucher to again tie the game.
“There was no panic those first two periods,” WSU head coach Bill Wilkinson said. “There was no yelling on the bench and we knew we had time to come back. We cycled well and kept our feet moving. Our cycle was great tonight and we scored two goals off the cycle. Katz is generally an energy guy for us, but what a play to get the puck over to Grabarek.”
WSU co-captain Jason Bloomingburg gave the Warriors the lead for good 4:46 into the third when he banged away at a loose puck to Boucher’s right.
Michel’s first goal came when Boucher stopped a Dan Iliakis shot, but the rebound came to the top of the crease and Michel crashed the net to knock home the puck.
Joe Tuset relieved Boucher after the goal at 9:56 and was initiated by Michel at 12:33.
Michel took the puck in the neutral zone and looked to dump the puck. Instead, he undressed defenseman Chris Kaufman at the blue line and wired a shot past Tuset.
“I had my wheels going and didn’t even look up,” Michel said. “I didn’t even see the defenseman.”
“Tylor came in on his off wing and I think he creates better chances when he does that,” said Wilkinson. “He was rewarded tonight.”
Gasper scored a meaningless goal at 19:19 on a power play, but not before Michel completed his three-goal outburst with an empty-net goal at 17:53.
After the game, Wilkinson was diplomatic in assessing the game.
“It was good to score and to consistently score from beginning to end,” said Wilkinson. “Bothwell wasn’t great, but he played well enough and when you score seven goals, you should win. It was also good to see Tylor score.
“As for how we keep it going, well, I wish I knew so I could bottle it.”
Bothwell finished with 25 saves for the Warriors (6-17-0, 2-7-0 CHA). Boucher made 24 stops for RMU (8-12-1, 5-6-0 CHA) and Tuset just a single save on two shots.
The two teams conclude their weekend series tomorrow night. When asked how his team will prepare, Schooley said “I don’t know.
“It’s a do or die game for us. If we don’t win, then shame on us.”
The puck drops Saturday at 7:05 p.m.