NEVILLE ISLAND, Pa. — The Robert Morris Colonials opened their home schedule on the wrong side of a near-perfectly played shutout at the hands of the No. 18 Quinnipiac Bobcats tonight.
The Colonials surrendered three goals on the first nine Bobcats’ shots of the game, and never fully recovered the rest of the night.
“They were better than us, much better; hats off to them, they came in here and took it from us ,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley remarked, referring to the stellar Quinnipiac performance.
The Bobcats opened the scoring just 3:04 into the first period when Yuri Bouharevich beat Colonials’ goaltender Brooks Ostergard from just inside the left circle on assists from Mike Atkinson and Jeremy Langlois.
Although the Colonials actually started out with a very strong first few shifts, creating a few early chances, the first Bobcats’ goal seemed to halt the Colonials momentum.
Quinnipiac notched their second tally of the first when Greg Holt sent a rocket just inside the right post at the 10:46 mark, and then seized complete control of the game with their third goal less than a minute later when Jean-Mark Beaudoin scored on almost an identical shot at 11:32.
Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold was very happy with his team’s start, coming off a two week layoff.
“We were hungry tonight, we hadn’t played in two weeks and there’s no question that we were flying in that first period; we were fortunate to get out to that early lead because Robert Morris had a much better second period and played hard in the third.”
The Colonials were better in the second, playing almost even in terms of shots. However, they failed to take advantage of two critical power plays in the second period that could have put them right back in the contest.
The Quinnipiac penalty kill completely shut down the Colonials’ attack at the blue line, and Robert Morris was forced to retreat too many times to restart breakouts, never really getting a firm setup in the Bobcats’ zone.
The Bobcats thwarted any Colonials’ attempt at re-establishing their attack, forcing turnovers at will, and not allowing the Robert Morris puck carriers time to breathe, let alone time to make a clean pass to open teammates.
“I’m not happy with the turnovers tonight; we’re just trying to do way too much right now,” Schooley said, in reference to the Colonials’ problems with puck possession.
The third period saw the Bobcats tack on two more goals, the first at 3:48 during a furious Quinnipiac forechecking effort.
Brett Dickson punched home a rebound with assists to Mike Atkinson and Brandon Wong to increase the lead to four.
The final Bobcats’ tally came at 10:30 when Scott Zurevinski drilled a shot into the top right corner.
The win pushed the Bobcats record to 4-0-0, while the loss took the Colonials to 1-4-0 on the season.
After the game, Pecknold made it clear that he expected the Colonials to come out with a much better effort tomorrow night.
“Robert Morris has a really high-powered offense and a great power play. Coach Schooley does a good job of getting his kids ready to play hard and they’re not happy losing at home. They’re going to come out and play hard and we have to be ready to answer that.”
Schooley replaced starting goaltender Brooks Ostergard with freshman Eric Levine, who stopped 29 of 31 shots. Quinnipiac netminder Eric Hartzell stopped all 20 Colonials’ shots to earn the shutout.
The Bobcats outshot the Colonials 42-20 for the game, and neither team scored with the man advantage.
The two teams meet again tomorrow night at 7:05 in the Island Sports Center.