OMAHA, Neb. — Robert Morris salvaged a third-place finish in this season’s Maverick Stampede tournament, defeating Mercyhurst 2-1 in Saturday’s third-place game at CenturyLink Center.
RMU first got on the scoreboard halfway through the second period before doubling its lead 59 seconds into the third. The Lakers pulled a goal back later on and clawed back into the game, but the Colonials shut their Atlantic Hockey rivals down in the final minutes.
Colonials goaltender Eric Levine was the star of the show, making 29 saves and working with the RMU defense to keep the Lakers’ scoring chances at a premium.
“Mercyhurst had a very good second half of the first period and beginning of the second, but I thought we got better as the game went on,” RMU coach Derek Schooley said. “We had our best period of the weekend in the third today, where we extended our lead and played pretty well with it.
“We had a very solid team effort. We came in here and gave up four goals in two games, and that’s pretty good at the start of the year.”
Saturday’s first goal finally came just before the halfway point of the game. RMU forward Zach Hervato opened the scoring, firing from inside the right circle in the Lakers’ zone, and beating MC goaltender Max Strang high glove-side at 9:55.
The Colonials took their lead into the third period and doubled their advantage quickly after coming back onto the ice. Forward Adam Brace bagged his first goal of the season, firing a bomb from the right circle that, like Hervato’s goal, beat Strang high glove.
Mercyhurst forward Trent Frey halved RMU’s lead at 13:20 of the period. The Lakers then got another boost when RMU forward Cody Cartier went off for a slashing penalty. The Colonials penalty kill was up to the challenge however, and RMU held onto its slimmed-down lead until the final horn.
“Our penalty kill was excellent all weekend, and nobody scored any power-play goals on us,” Schooley said. “We have six senior forwards and a few experienced defensemen who have been killing penalties for us for four years, so we expected that to be one of our strengths this season.
“We didn’t allow Mercyhurst to get much. We clogged lanes, we blocked shots, and we made them shoot off the backhand wide. I couldn’t be happier for our guys.”
Lakers coach Rick Gotkin said that this weekend’s play was part of the process of transforming his team into a more efficient one as the season rolls along.
“We’re disappointed that we weren’t successful here,” Gotkin said. “Much like last night, we did some good things, but not enough of them. We had chances to score some goals at some key times, but we didn’t do that.
“There’s no excuse for it, but we’re a very young team, and we’re a work in progress. We knew we’d have work to do this weekend, and we still have work to do going forward.”
Mercyhurst (0-2-0) is on the road again next weekend, taking part in the Alaska Goal Rush tournament. RMU (1-1-0) is also on the road next weekend, facing Air Force on Oct. 16.