NEVILLE ISLAND, Pa. — In yet another hotly contested conference showdown, the Robert Morris Colonials managed to get four pucks past Alabama-Huntsville goaltender Cameron Talbot en route to a 4-2 win, completing a weekend conference sweep for the first time since February 2009.
The Colonials used two point nights apiece from their top scorers, forwards Chris Kushneriuk, Nathan Longpre and Trevor Lewis. Colonials’ goaltender Brooks Ostergard continued his stellar play with 18 saves on 20 Chargers’ shots.
The game started out in a completely different manner than Friday night’s contest, with the Colonials garnering the bulk of the first period scoring chances. Robert Morris used their speed to their advantage and consistently were the first team on the puck throughout the first frame, earning three power play chances in the period.
The Chargers however, used a textbook perfect penalty kill, clogging shooting and passing lanes left and right, and their best penalty killer, Talbot, was very much in the game early on, stopping all 14 Colonials’ shots.
The second period started off in bizarre fashion when, at the :44 second mark, Chargers’ forward Sebastian Geoffrion laid a bone crunching check on Colonials’ captain Dave Cowan, shattering a pane of glass near the penalty boxes, causing a delay of nearly 35 minutes. When the dust had settled and play resumed, the Colonials seemed to be the different team.
At the 4:08 mark of the second period, Kushneriuk finished off a three-on-two rush, unleashing a shot which managed to get behind Talbot, putting the Colonials in the driver’s seat with assists from Longpre and Zach Hervato. The Chargers almost evened the score during a Colonials’ power play just moments later when Matt Baxter was stoned on a short-handed breakaway by Ostergard near the six minute mark of the second.
From that moment on, the Chargers tilted the ice in their favor, finding all sorts of prime scoring chances and outworking the Colonials. Their fortunes looked bright when they were awarded a five-on-three man advantage for 37 seconds at 17:01. when Colonials’ defenseman James Lyle was sent to the box for roughing. However, they could not dent the twine. as Ostergard made a spectacular glove save on Chargers’ forward Matti Jarvinen from close range, stopping the best scoring chance for Alabama-Huntsville during the power play.
The Colonials seemed to be in the driver’s seat going into the third period for the second night in a row until Chargers’ forward Keenen Desmet netted his second goal on the weekend, putting in a rebound at 19:09 of the second, giving the Chargers an extra lift going into the final stanza, and setting the stage for yet another thrilling finish.
The Colonials however, had other ideas. Just 20 seconds into the third, Longpre found a loose puck in neutral ice which he converted into a breakaway, beating Talbot with a shot at the last possible moment, giving his team the lead back.
Robert Morris then took to dominating the rest of the game, spending an eternity in the Chargers’ end, not giving their opponent even the slimmest amount of time with the puck.
Colonials’ freshman Andrew Blazek gave his side some much needed insurance at 7:49 of the third, finishing off a hard working shift and beating Talbot with a low shot from close in to put the Colonials in front by two with less than 13 minutes to play. Ron Cramer added another tally at 17:09 with assists from Denny Urban and Brandon Blandina.
The Chargers made the score closer when forward Chris Fairbanks beat Ostergard on a rebound at 19:42, but it was too little too late for Alabama-Huntsville, who fell to the College Hockey America basement with the loss.
“That was a pretty complete hockey game on our part,” said Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley. “That third period might have been our best period of the year; we kept getting pucks deep and they couldn’t get anything going. I’m just really pleased with this weekend; we couldn’t have written a better script, It’s been an emotional two weeks.”
The Colonials travel to Hamilton, N.Y. next weekend for a series with Colgate while Huntsville will enjoy their first home weekend series since November, as they entertain conference foe Niagara.