MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The Robert Morris Colonials have already developed a reputation as a good third period team this season. The Colonials have seen their share dramatic comebacks and thrilling finishes, and tonight’s game against the visiting Sacred Heart Pioneers was no exception.
However, the late game heroics are not something coach Derek Schooley wants his team to keep having to resort to. The Colonials used three power-play goals and a late extra-attacker game-tying tally from junior forward Trevor Lewis to erase a two-goal deficit and earn a hard fought conference point against a very determined Sacred Heart team coming off its first win of the season.
“I’m proud of our resiliency, but I’ve got mixed feelings because we continually put ourselves in a hole,” coach Schooley said referring to his team’s performance. “You can’t keep expecting to come back all the time. I’m happy that we got a point out of the deal, but it was a bad start for us.”
Coming into tonight’s contest, the Colonials were the second least-penalized team in the nation. However, they committed three first period penalties that the Pioneers used to build a two-goal lead.
The scoring opened at 5:09 of the first when Chad Filteau scored his first career goal on a power play with assists coming from Chris Brown and Eric Delong. Filteau found a rebound that he put past starting Colonials goaltender Brooks Ostergard to give the Pioneers the early lead.
It would not last long though. The Colonials struck on their first power play as well when Nathan Longpre took a pass from a scrum along the boards and rifled the puck past Pioneers goaltender Steven Legatto to tie the game at 9:10 of the first.
The Pioneers then scored twice in the last minute of the first to open up a two-goal lead. The first came at 19:18 when defensemen Mitchell Stretch buried a low shot from the left circle, and the second at 19:46 when Reid MacLeod finished a perfect play at the side of the net.
The second period saw a change of goaltender for the Colonials, as junior Eric Levine saw his first playing time of the season.
“Brooks got hung out to dry in the first period on those three goals and that was not his fault whatsoever; I just wanted to spark the team and wake them up.” Schooley said of the change.
Levine, who became the goaltender of record for the Colonials, stopped 19 of 20 shots in his 45 minutes of work as the team responded to Schooley’s wake-up call. Still, the Colonials found themselves in the recently familiar position of having to play catch up.
Robert Morris’ junior forward Furman South brought the Colonials back to within one at 12:37 of the second period, his third goal in his last three games, as he found a puck between the circles and had time to pick his spot to shoot on Logatto, with assists going to Nick Chiavetta and Brandon Blandina.
The Pioneers roared right back, responding almost instantly at 13:52 of the second when David Berube beat a down and out Levine, putting a rebound past the sprawled Colonials goaltender.
The third period opened with the Colonials on the power play, which turned into a two-man advantage for 43 seconds, but the Pioneers and Logatto held firm and kept the Colonials off the scoreboard. With the second Pioneers penalty winding down, a golden opportunity for Robert Morris to slash the margin seemed to be slipping away when senior defenseman Denny Urban found the back of the cage from the side of the net at 1:53 of the final period, the Colonials second power-play tally of the night.
The remainder of the third saw the Pioneers struggling to keep Robert Morris out of their end, as wave after wave of Coloniala attackers kept producing one scoring chance after another. Logatto kept making save after save following the third Robert Morris goal though, and with the seconds winding down, the Colonials had to be wondering if there was anything left in their comeback repertoire.
With almost two minutes left, Pioneers forward Kyle Verbeek was called for hooking during an extended Robert Morris cycle, setting the stage for an extra-attacker tying goal from junior forward Trevor Lewis at the 19:32 mark. The goal turned out to be the first Robert Morris extra-attacker tying goal in school history.
In the ensuing overtime, the Pioneers worked extremely hard, tightening their defense and blocking shots in an effort to preserve the tie, despite being outshot in the five minute overtime by a seven-to-one margin.
In post game interviews, Pioneers coach CJ Marottolo indicated that he wasn’t completely disappointed with the tie.
“I like how our team battled tonight and how our power play produced some goals. We did take some costly penalties tonight down the stretch against a good Robert Morris team, but overall, I think we came a long way as a young team tonight. Logatto played very well and made some key saves at key moments of the game.”
The two teams square off again tomorrow night at the Island Sports Center at 7:05 p.m.