MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — In one of their most complete efforts of the season, the Robert Morris Colonials used a recipe they’d like to replicate for the rest of the year. The Colonials used some good defensive zone coverage with some brilliant playmaking and added solid goaltending and special teams play to the mix in their 5-1 victory over the Sacred Heart Pioneers.
Colonials forward Nathan Longpre paced the offense with four assists on the night, becoming the Colonials all time assist leader in the process, and goaltender Brooks Ostergard added a stellar performance stopping 30 of 31 shots.
“I didn’t think we competed very hard tonight in any of the zones, and the better team obviously won the game tonight” remarked Pioneers coach C.J. Marottolo. “There’s some positives from Friday night’s game we can take from here, but we’ll go back and watch the tape from tonight and come up with a better game plan for Holy Cross.”
In stark contrast to Friday night’s contest, the Colonials clearly came out with a much sharper first period, amassing 24 attempted shots. However the Pioneers came prepared for the assualt with defenders giving up the body, blocking one shot after another. At the same time, the Pioneers defended the slot area with a purpose, holding the Colonials to a mere five shots for the period.
After a scoreless first period, the Colonials had to be wondering if they were in for another night of frustration, but the team stayed the course and kept to the plan.
Colonials defenseman James Lyle opened the scoring on a power play at 5:46 of the second when he buried a shot past Pioneers goaltender Steven Legatto from the left circle on the power play with assists going to Trevor Lewis and Ron Cramer.
Longpre then took it upon himself to start dishing assists to any Colonials player who wanted them, his first coming at the 10:23 mark when he sent a nice pass from the boards to Colin South, who was stationed in the slot area. South sent the puck past Legatto, wasting no time after receiving Longpre’s pass, tallying his second goal of the year.
Colonials defenseman Denny Urban then joined in on the fun at 14:46 of the second when he took another Longpre pass and one-timed it past Legatto to put Robert Morris in a firm 3-0 lead.
Sacred Heart climbed back into the contest with a late period goal coming from defenseman R.J. Boyd who sent a shot which may have deflected and at one point looked to be harmlessly going wide of the net, but the puck just barely trickled past Ostergard on a direction change.
The old adage dictates that the two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey, and the Colonials kept the scoring chances coming in the third frame trying to widen the gap.
With the Pioneers pressing the attack in an attempt to get the margin back to one goal, Urban found a few Pioneers trapped behind him with the puck in transition and rifled a terrific headman pass to Longpre, who almost had a breakaway. When the Pioneer defense thwarted that maneuver, Longpre moved the puck through a maze of sticks and legs to forward Zach Hervato, who managed to get off a shot while falling on his back that beat Legatto at the 6:54 mark to put the Colonials up 4-1.
Adam Brace then finished a perfect tic-tac-toe passing play across the Pioneers crease at 10:48 to finish the scoring and Longpre’s four-assist evening.
“I thought we were very good the whole game,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said of his team’s performance. “We were up 3-1 in the third, we’d been in this situation before and let teams back into the game and tonight we did not. I can’t be more pleased with how we responded after last night’s game.”
Robert Morris (7-2-1) will host Mercyhurst next Friday evening at the Island Sports Center while Sacred Heart (1-6-2) will host Holy Cross next Friday.