College Hockey:
Ostergard stops 32 as Robert Morris blanks RIT

— The Robert Morris Colonials extended their current unbeaten streak to eight with a 4-0 home shutout of the visiting Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers. Colonials goaltender Brooks Ostergard stopped 32 shots en route to his third career shutout, and the Colonials got two goals from senior forward Adam Brace, as well as goals from freshman Scott Jacklin and Cody Wydo.  The win pushed the Colonials into a tie for third place in the Atlantic Hockey standings heading into the holiday break.

“It was a complete game; we did everything we needed to do to be successful tonight,” said Colonials coach Derek Schooley. “I thought our guys did well getting pucks out and pucks in when the game was still up for grabs.”

From the first puck drop, the Tigers seemed intent on dictating the pace of the game by keeping the Colonials pinned in their own end and putting the cycle to work, but the Colonials found ways to create turnovers and capitalize on them in all three periods of the game.

Robert Morris opened the scoring at 5:08 of the first period when defenseman James Lyle intercepted a puck at the blue line and threw a near perfect pass to forward Cody Crichton. Crichton’s shot rung off the post and behind Tigers goalie Shane Madalora, but Brace was there for the easy tap in to give the Colonials the early lead. For the rest of the period, the Colonials simply looked to take what the Tigers were giving, as they turned several Tiger miscues into odd man breaks and scoring chances, while at the other end of the rink, Ostergard turned away all 13 Tigers shots.

The second frame started badly for Robert Morris, as the Colonials found themselves facing a five-on-three short-handed situation for 54 seconds, but the nation’s top-ranked penalty kill was up to the challenge. Led by some fantastic saves and some timely clearing attempts, the Colonials kept RIT off the scoreboard.

The Tigers looked ready to seize control of the game again following the missed power-play opportunity, as they put even more pressure on the Colonials defense, outworking Robert Morris to loose pucks on several occasions, but the Tigers couldn’t convert the work into goals, something noticed by their coach Wayne Wilson. “Our third and fourth line guys had some nice opportunities, but our skilled guys weren’t working hard enough tonight.” said Wilson following the game. “We got caught up ice a few times and they capitalized on those chances; we really weren’t patient enough.”

Brace then put the Colonials up by two when he buried a two-on-one at 7:55, with the assist coming to Crichton, who had three assists on the night and started the scoring play with some hard work in the Colonials end that was rewarded when Brace finished, tipping his shot past Madalora for his sixth goal of the season. The Tigers then mounted a more furious challenge that Ostergard responded to.

“He made some key saves when he had to; he was just as solid as he’s been lately.” said Schooley, pointing to Ostergard’s current 5-0-2 streak.

During a power play with less than a minute left in the second period,  the Colonials capitalized on yet another RIT turnover when freshman forward Scott Jacklin picked up the puck in neutral ice and slid a pass to senior Nick Chiavetta. Madalora made the initial save on Chiavetta’s shot, but Jacklin kept at the front of the net and was there to bang home the rebound at  the 19:12 mark to give the Colonials a three-goal lead going into the final period.

The stage was set for the Tigers to come roaring back in the third period, but the Colonials played like a team that had no idea it was ahead, constantly and confidently pushing the play toward the RIT zone while still creating chances and not retreating to their own end. The work paid off when freshman Cody Wydo took a behind the net feed from Crichton and easily beat Madalora to push the lead to 4-0.

In all, Ostergard stopped 32 shots on the night, earning the game’s number one star. The Colonials improved to 7-2-2 in Atlantic Hockey conference play and ran their current unbeaten streak to 6-0-2, while the Tigers fell to 7-5-2 in the league. The game was the final game for both teams before the holiday break. Robert Morris next hosts the Ohio State Buckeyes on December 30 in the Pittsburgh College Hockey Classic. Meanwhile, the Tigers will next take part in the Catamount Cup December 29-30.

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