PITTSBURGH, Pa. — If there were any questions about the Robert Morris Colonials and their state of mind coming off their lopsided 8-1 loss to Mercyhurst on Tuesday evening, they were answered tonight at the 84 Lumber Arena with a focused and determined effort against the visiting RIT Tigers.
Starting Colonials netminder Eric Levine recorded his fourth shutout of the season in a 3-0 victory, a win which saw the Colonials get better as the game went on.
“I thought we started out slow tonight, and that’s to be expected playing this many games in this stretch that we’re in,” said Colonials coach Derek Schooley. “But, I thought in the second and third, our want level was off the charts. We wanted to win the battles, we wanted to win the races, and we did that. That was a really good effort tonight, a real big bounce back after the disappointing Mercyhurst game. Eric Levine was very focused tonight.”
Early on, the Tigers looked like the more eager side though, as Levine was tested with quality scoring chances from every angle. The Tigers kept the Colonials hemmed in their own end for large stretches of the first 10 minutes, peppering Levine with 16 first period shots.
At 12:33, Levine kept the Tigers from opening the scoring with a brilliant glove save on forward Mike Colavecchia, who sent a hard shot from between the top of the circles that seemed destined for the back of the net. After the save, the Colonials played one shift at a time for the remainder of the first frame, getting a few chances of their own which Tigers goaltender Jordan Ruby turned aside, including a point-blank stop from in front on Jeff Jones.
The scoring opened at 7:37 of the second period when defenseman Evan Moore found a Tigers clearing attempt just inside the blue line which he passed to forward Cody Wydo, who was all alone in the slot. Wydo used a few dekes and finished for his team-leading 13th goal of the season to put the Colonials in the lead.
After Tigers forward Ben Lynch was given a five-minute major for contact to the head and a game misconduct at 9:41 of the second, the Colonials found themselves with a chance to widen the gap on the scoreboard, but the ensuing power play had a hard time setting up in the RIT end, and when it did get some chances through to the net, Ruby came up with huge saves.
Ultimately, the Colonials power play failed to produce any additional breathing room. Many times, one team kills off a major penalty and suddenly has new life, but the Tigers failed to produce any kind of consistent pressure following their penalty kill and Robert Morris ended up with a 22-6 edge in shots for the period.
At times during the season, Robert Morris had let frustration get the better of them. With all the focus, hard work, and loose puck battle wins, the Colonials still found themselves only up 1-0. However, instead of allowing a momentary lapse take away from the effort, Robert Morris played as if it were bent on scoring the next goal. That marker arrived at 14:34 of the third when freshman David Friedman bolted down the left wing boards on an odd-man break and sent a rising snap shot over Ruby’s blocker on the short side to double the Colonials lead.
The Tigers got one last golden opportunity to climb back into the contest when they found themselves recipients of a five-on-three power play with just 3:38 to go, but the Colonials kept the Tigers to the perimeter, and when they did get a chance though to the net, Levine made the saves.
“We had a really good first period, but then we just totally relaxed,” RIT coach Wayne Wilson said. “Our second period is what did us in here tonight. I don’t know if we thought it was going to be easy or what, but we really put ourselves behind the eight ball with that second. We got really solid goaltending from Ruby, but we didn’t work hard enough to get any goals. I was really disappointed in our concentration level tonight.”
The two teams finish their weekend set Saturday night at 7:05.