MOON TOWNSHIP, Penn. — On the strength of Nathan Longpre’s two point night and goaltender Eric Levine’s 37 saves, the Robert Morris defeated the Connecticut Huskies 3-1 in the first meeting ever between the two schools.
In a contest that saw plenty of hard hits and end-to-end action, the teams accumulated a combined 81 shots for the night with the Colonials outshooting the Huskies by a 43-38 margin, and both goaltenders wound up keeping their teams in the game all night long with tremendous saves at critical times.
“It was a good college hockey game,” said Huskies head coach Bruce Marshall. “We had lots of good scoring chances and had some opportunities to tie it up or take the lead. I think we improved as a team today, we got better but now we want points.”
From the drop of the puck, nobody on the ice was to be considered off limits as the boards rattled and the players tumbled from the hard contact on every shift. Even the officials weren’t spared as one striped shirt went falling to the ice after the other in bizarre fashion.
The Colonials found a way to keep more consistent pressure in the Husky end from the outset, but the Huskies kept finding ways to use the counter attack to produce scoring chances at will. For much of the game, the teams kept attempting to force their preferred style onto the other.
After a scoreless first period, the Huskies got the scoring started. After having been robbed by Levine between the circles just a few seconds earlier, Husky forward Billy Latta found a pass sent from the right wing boards and put it past the Colonial goaltender at the 1:58 mark, with assists going to Cole Schneider and Jordan Sims.
The Colonials responded quickly though on a play that saw Husky defender Grant Scott miss a check on Longpre that allowed for an instant 2 on 0 in the Connecticut zone that forward Adam Brace converted perfectly, taking Longpre’s pass and burying it past Bartus from the right circle at 5:19 of the second. Less than a minute later, Longpre netted the eventual game winner with a nifty backhander at 5:59.
The Colonial lead almost doubled at the 9:15 mark when Longpre appeared to have his second goal and third point of the night on the second Colonial power play of the night. However, the goal was waved off as officials ruled that the Bartus was interfered with. The disallowed goal gave life to the Huskies and they came up with some strong scoring chances for the remainder of the second period, but Levine kept Connecticut off the scoreboard for the rest of the night.
With time winding down in the third, the critical point of the game was taking place, a time when a goal either way tips the balance of the game. That moment came at 12:23 of the third frame when Colonial defenseman James Lyle slammed home a rebound with assists going to Cody Crichton and Colin South. It was Lyle’s third goal of the season and it put the Colonials in good shape, or so it seemed.
The Huskies wouldn’t go away, but they couldn’t find a way past Levine, even with two power play chances in the final five minutes Levine, the game’s second star, made one save after another to help the Colonials hold on for the important conference victory.
“It was an up and down hockey game that’s for sure” Colonial head coach Derek Schooley said. “Connecticut worked hard and blocked a lot of shots, they’re a good hockey team. I thought Eric Levine was solid for us in net tonight.
The Huskies and Colonials face off again tomorrow night at 7:05 at the Island Sports Center.