NEVILLE ISLAND, Pa. — The Lake Superior State Lakers ended up needing all seven of their goals tonight at the Island Sports Center against Robert Morris, fending off a furious Colonials’ comeback en route to a 7-6 victory.
The Lakers seemingly put every Colonials’ mistake into the back of the net and used a three-for-four effort on the power play, as well as a three-point night from freshman winger Ben Power, to defeat the Colonials, who have now gone winless in their last eight games.
“We played hard, we competed and we did some good things, but they went three-for-four on the power play,” said Colonials’ coach Derek Schooley. “We need to do some things better on the penalty kill; hopefully, we come ready to play tomorrow night, because being close all the time is getting old.”
From the drop of the puck, the Colonials looked like the hungrier team. Scott Kobialko punched home a loose puck in the crease just :48 into the game to give the Colonials the early lead.
The early moments of the contest saw Robert Morris win the majority of the battles, creating Lakers’ turnovers that were turned into good scoring chances. However, the momentum was halted at 8:41 of the first when Zach Trotman launched a one-timer from the right circle on the power play to even the score.
Denny Urban answered for the Colonials on the second power play chance of the game when he snuck into the left circle and sent a shot through the five-hole of Lakers’ netminder Brian Mahoney-Wilson at 11:25. The Lakers then turned their intensity up a notch, creating scoring opportunities and drawing penalties in the Colonials’ zone.
With Urban in the box for hooking, the Lakers’ power play once again went to work, and at 19:25 Ben Power found himself in a good position in the left circle with virtually no challenge from an opponent and ample time to pick his spot on Colonials’ goalkeeper Eric Levine. Power’s goal tied the score at two, and the Lakers took the tie and the momentum to the dressing room.
The Lakers came out skating strong in the second period, and the hard work paid off. as they scored four consecutive goals, two of which could have been considered lucky goals resulting from hard work, and two which the Colonials’ goalkeepers would have liked to have back.
Starter Eric Levine was pulled to start the second in favor of sophomore Brooks Ostergard. who after two goals against in the second was yanked for senior Joe Ziemainski. Coach Derek Schooley employed all three netminders in the second period alone in what could be described as one of the most bizarre goaltender shuffles in recent memory.
When the dust settled, the Colonials found themselves down 6-2 and Ostergard had shuffled back between the pipes. The Colonials gave themselves one glimmer of hope when Urban notched his second of the game, launching a wrister that beat Mahoney-Wilson up high at 17:29 of the second to cut the Lakers’ lead to three goals.
Robert Morris shaved one more goal off their deficit at :51 of the third when freshman forward Stefan Salituro scored his first career goal, knocking home Ron Cramer’s original shot at even strength.
However, the Lakers decided to put an end to the comeback effort at 4:51 when Fred Cassiani’s shot hit the crossbar and fell in behind Ostergard, putting themselves back in the drivers seat with a three-goal third period lead.
The Colonials refused to quit however. Junior forward Chris Kushneriuk sparked his teammates with two goals in the final three minutes, the second coming with the extra attacker at the 19:00 mark to slash the Lakers’ lead to one goal. However, Mahoney-Wilson and the Lakers held off the last minute Colonials’ attack to preserve the win.
“We have to make some saves; I’m disappointed in our penalty killing and our lack of shot blocking,” said Schooley following the game. “We’re sick of losing and finding ways to lose; we played hard and we didn’t quit but we just have to find a way to stop teams when they’re on the power play.”
The weekend series will wrap up Sunday with a 5:05 start time at the Island Sports Center.