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College Hockey:
Fit to be Tied: Colonials and Chargers Deadlock at Two

— So far this season, the Robert Morris Colonials had been outshot in virtually every game, sometimes by wide margins.

On Friday, they dominated the shot total but couldn’t come away with a conference win against the visiting Alabama-Huntsville Chargers, who rallied from a two goal deficit to finish in a 2-2 draw in an exciting and physical game.

Charger goaltender Cameron Talbot stopped 46 of 48 shots on the night, and kept his team in the lead throughout most of the game with one great save after another, earning the game’s third star. However, it wasn’t enough to overcome nine penalties which took their toll on the Chargers as the game went on.

The game opened up with both teams shaking off some expected rust, then settled into a great rhythm, with chances at both ends and plenty of open ice.

Then at 6:20 of the first, the first huge moment of the game took place as Charger forward Kevin Morrison skated hard with the puck through the Colonial defense and drew two penalties on his way to the net. Less than 20 seconds into the 5-on-3 power play, the Chargers went on top as junior defenseman Davide Nicholetti lit the lamp on a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circles.

Less than a minute later, working on the second man advantage, Nicholetti picked a perfect time to send a puck to the front of the net with plenty of traffic in front. Junior Andrew Coburn drove home the rebound from Nicholetti’s shot at 7:05, putting the Chargers firmly in control with a two goal first period lead.

The Colonials cut that lead in half on their second power play of the game when Nathan Longpre beat Talbot clean with a blast from the right circle, scoring his seventh goal of the season at 18:13 with assists from Scott Kobialko and Trevor Lewis.

And then in a bizarre second period, the Chargers found themselves shorthanded for nine minutes.

Junior Neil Ruffini was sent to the box at 3:36 of the period on an elbowing major, which could have the perfect time for the Colonials to take control of the game. However, after a minute and a half of the ensuing penalty kill, the Colonials were barely able to set up, as one entry attempt after another was thwarted by the Chargers, who got to nearly every loose puck first and made the Colonials go 180 feet for the puck too many times.

The Colonials received two more power plays in the next five minutes and watched an incredibly similar penalty killing efforts by the Chargers, who allowed a mere six shots on the four Robert Morris power plays that occurred in the second period.

“Being shorthanded 17 minutes of a game is not a great way to play, and I think it took its toll on us a little bit, said Chargers coach Danton Cole. If you give those guys, (Urban, Longpre and Kushneriuk) that much time they’re going to get some good chances; I thought Talbot made some great saves too. We didn’t win the faceoff battle tonight and we didnt win a lot of battles in the corners. I wasn’t displeased with our effort in the defensive end, we just have to win some more battles to get some things done on offense.”

In the third stanza, the Colonials seemed to get their legs underneath them and earned prime scoring chance after chance, outshooting the Chargers 15-3 for the period. The score was evened at two at the 9:44 mark when junior forward Scott Kobialko buried a power play chance, driving home a rebound with plenty of traffic in front, netting his sixth goal of the season.

The teams still continued to trade some chances in the final five minutes of the third period, with both Ostergard and Talbot making key saves to keep their teams in the hunt for a much needed conference point or two.

The overtime saw one golden chance for either team, and two great saves.

With Talbot’s coming at the 1:01 mark when an innocent looking puck from the left wing boards got away from him and ended up in loose in the crease. Brooks Ostergard also stopped Chargers forward Justin Cseter, who was all alone in the slot with the game winning shot on his stick.

“I thought we played very well quite honestly, Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley said. I thought defensively we were very good, I thought Cameron Talbot was very good for them. I’m not disappointed with this tie, we came back and we had plenty of chances.”

The Colonials (3-9-2 overall, 1-3-2 in College Hockey America) outshot the Chargers (3-9-1, 0-4-1) 48-to-23 and went 2-for-9 with the man advantage while the Chargers tallied twice in five opportunities.

The teams play Saturday night at the Island Sports Center with another 7:05 p.m. faceoff.

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