MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — For the first three games of this season, goals had been hard to come by for Robert Morris.
Friday night, the offensive demons were exorcised as the Colonials found the back of the net five times in a wild 5-4 win versus visiting Quinnipiac.
Tyson Wilson and Cody Cartier each scored their first career goals, Colin South tallied three points on the night and goaltender Eric Levine made critical saves when called upon to keep his team ahead.
The Bobcats came into the evening winners of five in a row, putting up an astounding 5.2 goals per game during the stretch. However, the Colonials matched the Bobcats’ speed stride for stride, providing for an entertaining game to say the least.
“I thought we took a lot of shortcuts in the first two periods.” said Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold. “We’ve played a lot of games already, so we may have been mentally tired, but we just lost too many races and battles tonight. I think Robert Morris outworked us for two periods tonight. They had a good game plan and the executed it.”
Through the first few minutes of the opening period, the feeling-out process quickly evaporated and settled into a back-and-forth affair with each team creating chances at either end. The first big save of the night came courtesy of Levine, who stepped up to make a save on a breakaway attempt by Yuri Bouharevich at around the five-minute mark.
The Bobcats opened up the scoring just a few minutes later when they capitalized on a Colonial turnover behind their own net. Spencer Heichman found Clay Harvey’s pass from the corner, which was laying perfectly teed up in the slot and threw it past Levine at 12:02 to give the Bobcats their only lead of the night.
The Colonials responded very quickly. While on their first power play of the night, RMU got the equalizer when South beat Eric Hartzell with a shot from between the circles at 14:59, a play which was made possible by a desperate keep-in at the point by Wilson, who was a defensive presence the entire 60 minutes.
The offensive onslaught the Colonials had been looking for in the early part of the season then finally came through within a few critical minutes of the second frame.
The Colonials seemingly took control of the game with the goals. Cartier put the Colonials in the lead at 11:43 with a sharp angle shot from the left circle. Next, Brandon Blandina punched home a rebound from a South shot at 16:08 and then Wilson gave Robert Morris a three-goal cushion, taking a smooth pass from Zach Hervato while coming down the slot at 18:19.
Quinnipiac would not go away quietly and brought themselves back into the game with two quick goals to start the third period. The first coming at just 23 seconds when Matthew Peca beat Levine with a shot that just barely trickled over the goal line.
The Bobcats then made it a one-goal contest when Mike Dalhuisen sent a blast from just inside the blue line that beat Levine clean at 1:42.
Quinnipiac maintained pressure for most of the third period, but the Colonials refused to go into a defensive shell, and tilted the ice back to a level state midway through the final stanza with some hard forechecking and cycling.
The fruits of the labor were realized at 12:22 of the third when Brendan Jamison kept a forecheck going on a great individual effort at the right point. He then slid the puck to James Lyle, who sent a long-range wrister past Dan Clarke, who had replaced Hartzell to start the third period.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy (tonight),” said RMU coach Derek Schooley. “This was a great teaching moment for us. We played fabulous for 53 minutes and 30 seconds, but we have to be more hungry. That’s a talented team (Quinnipiac) and they weren’t going to quit.”
The Bobcats did manage an empty-net tally at 18:56, but would ultimately come up short for the second time this season as their record fell to 5-2-0 on the year.
The Colonials, now 2-2-0, successfully killed all five Bobcat power plays on the night and have yet to give up a goal when down a man so far this year.