NEVILLE ISLAND, Pa. — The Robert Morris Colonials used a combination of two Nathan Longpre goals, some timely shot blocking and persistence, and two great individual efforts by forwards Trevor Lewis and Stefan Salituro to extend the Niagara winless streak to ten games.
“That was a good college hockey game tonight, with both teams going back and forth with chances,” said coach Derek Schooley, commenting on his team’s resilient effort. “We could have put this one on the back burner tonight and let them take it over, but we got that late goal in the second, and put ourselves in a position to win the hockey game in the third.”
The first period was a classic example of the types of games the two squads have come to expect from each other, with both teams exchanging chances at will and creating lots of flow. The game’s first great chance came around the 18:00 mark of the first when Bryan Haczyk came down the right wing boards on a short-handed rush and put a hard shot directly on the net which was stopped by Colonials’ goaltender Brooks Ostergard.
Longpre opened the scoring at :59 of the second, burying a wide shot from Chris Kushneriuk past Niagara netminder Adam Avramenko for his seventh goal of the season.
Then the bounces finally started going in for Niagara.
The Purple Eagles scored three goals in less than four minutes, stunning the Colonials, who had to be wondering if this was the night that Niagara would suddenly break out of their early season misfortunes.
Niagara forward Brendan Sheehan got the Eagles rolling with his first goal of the season at 4:44 of the second, finding and sending home a loose puck in front of the crease to beat Ostergard. Then, with Colonials’ forward Furman South in the box for delay of game, senior Egor Mironov knocked in a perfectly threaded pass from Ryan Olidis for the power-play tally, giving Niagara a 2-1 lead.
The Eagles added one more in the four minute onslaught when forward Paul Zanette was the lucky recipient of a bounce off a Colonials’ defenseman that went directly behind Ostergard at the 7:59 mark, putting the Eagles up 3-1.
The luck would run out though, as the Colonials crept back into the contest with Longpre’s second goal of the night, scoring with his team on the man advantage at 16:56 of the second.
Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley had said that he needed his team to come out and just win one period before his team came out of the dressing room for the final stanza, and they did just that.
The Colonials almost made Adam Avramenko stand on his head through the first 16 minutes of the third, getting prime scoring chances and shooting the puck at will, and Avramenko stood tall, making save after save, some of which were spectacular, until two Colonials teamed up on the game-tying goal.
Playing in his first game of his college career, Colonials’ forward Stefan Salituro had the puck in his own end and had just enough time to make a perfect pass to sophomore Trevor Lewis in the neutral zone, taking a hard body check for the effort, and Lewis displayed some speed down the left wing boards, finally releasing a hard shot from the left circle that beat Avramenko at the 16:05 mark to knot the game at three.
The overtime produced one more great chance for the Colonials when Scott Kobialko barely missed the game-winner on a point blank deflection of a Trevor Lewis pass at 1:30 of the extra period. For the game, the Eagles outshot the Colonials 38-34 and went one-for-four on the power play while the Colonials were one-for-three with the man advantage for the night.
“We showed a lot of character tonight, to come back from two goals down showed a little bit of character, and I liked that,” said Schooley. “We’ve been focusing on being better defensively and winning battles and everybody from top to bottom had a good weekend.”
The Colonials visit Colorado College next weekend for two games while the Purple Eagles entertain RPI next Wednesday.