NEVILLE ISLAND, Pa. — Robert Morris finished off its season series with Bemidji State in convincing fashion, handing College Hockey America’s first-place team a 4-1 loss Saturday night at the RMU Island Sports Center.
The Colonials took the season series, 3-1, and improve to 13-13-1 and 9-7-0 in CHA play following their team-record fifth consecutive victory.
The Colonials need just one point in their last four conference games to clinch a first-round bye in the CHA Tournament. With four points against Bemidji State (13-11-4, 8-4-4 CHA) this weekend, Robert Morris is trails Niagara (19 points) and the Beavers (20 points) in the conference standings.
Junior Ryan Cruthers had two goals Saturday for a total of three in the two-game series. Junior goaltender Christian Boucher continued his recent streak of the hot play, allowing just one goal while making 35 saves. He has given up just four goals in his last three starts.
Robert Morris broke open a scoreless tie just seconds after killing off a five-on-three Bemidji State power play. Senior Aaron Clarke picked up a loose puck behind the net after a shot by junior Brett Hopfe from the left circle, carried the puck along the goal line and found Cruthers streaking down the slot. Cruthers beat Matt Climie glove-side to put RMU up 1:59 into the middle stanza.
Junior Sean Berkstresser put a bookend on the period, carrying the puck end-to-end and beating four Beavers along the way. The junior broke in on Climie alone and again beat the junior netminder high over the glove, pushing the Colonials’ lead to 2-0 with the four-on-four score.
The Colonials pushed the margin to 3-1 just 96 seconds into the final period when Cruthers scored his second of the game and 11th of the season. Set loose down the left wing by junior Joel Gasper, Cruthers again beat Climie high on the glove side.
Bemidji State made it a game at 8:31 of the third period as Blaine Jarvis beat Boucher five-hole from in-between the circles. Rob Sirianni forced a RMU turnover just inside the blue line and Jarvis picked up the puck to skate in all alone.
Junior Logan Bittle put the game away, however, at 11:51 of the third period. The junior forward got credit for a deflected shot from the point by junior Jeff Gilbert, with freshman Kyle Frieday also picking the assist.
Climie finished the game with 24 saves while both teams failed to score on five power-play chances.