MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — To anyone who might believe that even-strength goals are overrated, tonight’s contest between Robert Morris and Rochester Institute of Technology must have seemed like a perfectly-played, hard-fought conference battle.
Yet, it was the game’s only even-strength marker midway through the final period that proved decisive as the Tigers downed the homestanding Colonials 4-3. The teams combined for six power-play tallies on a night when almost everything that could have been called was whistled for a penalty.
“We played hard tonight, but we didn’t convert our chances when we needed to,” Colonials’ coach Derek Schooley said. “I thought we looked tired in the last 10 minutes, but give RIT credit. They won that third period. Their goalie found his groove as the game went on.”
The Colonials came out on fire to start the game, employing a good mix of cycling in the Tigers’ end and bringing odd-man rushes over the blue line, keeping the Tigers’ defense on its heels for most of the first frame.
Robert Morris got on the board first at 12:15 when defenseman Jimmy Geerin scored his first goal of the season on the Colonials’ second power play of the night. Geerin sent a shot from the right point that looked as if it may have hit an RIT penalty killer before going in past RIT netminder Jordan Ruby.
But momentum would be hard to come by for either side in the second period, thanks to eight shorthanded situations between the teams.
Robert Morris forward Colin South capitalized on two power-play chances with goals less than three minutes apart. First, at 13:17, he beat Ruby with a low shot from the top of the right circle and then at 15:52 with assists coming from Zac Lynch and Cody Wydo.
However, sandwiched in between those goals was Tigers’ forward Mike Colavecchia’s blast from between the top of the circles to keep RIT within reach.
At 18:01, the Tigers drew even closer when Adam Hartley redirected a puck at the front of crease just over the line and past RMU goaltender Eric Levine. The Tigers went to the dressing room down just one goal and with a new lease on life headed into the final frame.
And they took advantage of that.
Ruby made a flurry of huge saves to start the third period to keep the Tigers close and then the visitors simply took the game over.
At 8:10, Greg Noyes used the backdoor on the power play, taking a pass from Colavecchia which he buried past Levine to knot the score at three. Then at 11:04, it was Dan Schuler who scored the game’s only even-strength goal, finishing a three-on-one with a wrister past Levine as Colevecchia earned his third point on the night with his second assist.
The Colonials had no answer the rest of the way as they failed to maintain any offensive pressure while the Tigers simply outworked what appeared to be a fatigued Colonials team playing their fifth game in nine days. There was no way through the Tigers’ defense for Robert Morris in the final few minutes and Levine had to make some crucial saves down the stretch to keep the lead from expanding.
“They really took it to us in the first tonight and we had to respond even with all the special-team play going on in the second,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “I think our fourth goal just took some steam out of them [and] they really didn’t have any push back after that. We showed some good resiliency tonight.”