MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Perfection was achieved at the 84 Lumber Arena as the Robert Morris Colonials scored on every one of their four power-play opportunities en route to a decisive 7-4 victory over the visiting Sacred Heart Pioneers.
The Colonials’ power play, which entered the game clicking at a very modest 8.4 percent rate, came to life in the second period, scoring three times in three chances to propel them to the win and weekend sweep that moved Robert Morris into the middle of the ever-tightening Atlantic Hockey race.
“I think there were a lot of momentum shifts in this hockey game tonight,” said Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley. “They weren’t gonna quit, they’re desperate and they have nothing to lose. I thought we had an excellent third period. I thought we really came out and took it to them in the third. ”
From the drop of the puck, the game bore an eerie resemblance to the previous night’s game that saw lots of open ice and skill on display.
The Colonials struck first when Zac Lynch found a rebound off Pioneers’ goaltender Andrew Bodnarchuk on his stick which he threw into an open net at 5:14 for his second tally of the season. The play was made possible by the smooth skating of David Friedman, who seemingly had the puck on a string. Friedman then threaded the needle with a pass to a waiting David Rigatti, who put the original shot on the net.
But like the night before, the Pioneers had an answer and this time, they weren’t in a two-goal hole.
Sacred Heard forward Ben Ketchum tied the score at 13:19 when he drove to the slot area and received a pass from Brian Sheehan, who had just stripped Rigatti behind the Colonials’ net.
Robert Morris then started asserting itself in the Pioneers’ end, generating chances and carrying the play for the rest of the first period.
The hard work paid off when Adam Brace found a loose puck in the neutral zone and finished a two-on-one with forward Cody Wydo by elevating a well-placed shot up high on Bodnarchuk with less than a minute left in the first.
With Robert Morris defenseman Chase Golightly in the box for tripping, Sacred Heart captain Eric Delong tied the score 4:48 into the second with a wrister that beat starting RMU netminder Eric Levine high on the glove side.
But the Colonials forged ahead with three power-play goals in a 6:20 span. The first coming from Wydo, who knocked in a loose puck in the slot at 7:54. Less than two minutes later, Colin South netted his sixth goal of the season when he finished an odd-man rush with a shot from the right circle and then Wydo struck again at 14:14 from the left side, taking a perfect pass from Brace who at the same time, notched his 100th career point.
As frustrated as the Pioneers were, they kept working and showed tremendous heart, coming back with two quick goals, the first on a tremendous individual effort from Ryan Stanimir who circled the net with the disc and snapped a shot past Levine at 17:50.
Then Ketchum scored his second of the night on the power play with less than 30 seconds left in the period. The Colonials, who looked as if they might have put the game away a few minutes earlier, found themselves on the ropes in the waning moments of the second frame.
The third period saw the Colonials not wishing to simply put the game away with any kind of lockdown-style defense. Instead, they came out firing on all cylinders, completely dominating the final period with 16 shots while giving away no more power-play opportunities until the game was completely out of reach.
Colonials’ forwards Zach Hervato and Scott Jacklin each scored to help shut the door on the Pioneers, who are still searching for their first win of the season.
“It’s frustrating – we just can’t get over the hump,” said Sacred Heart coach CJ Marottolo. “Robert Morris really exposed us on the power play tonight and that was the difference in the game. We took some very stupid penalties and they came back to bite us. This was a very hard game to take.”