MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Robert Morris finished a crucial weekend sweep of conference foe Canisius with a 6-3 victory at 84 Lumber Arena on Saturday night.
The win moved the Colonials into a tie for the fourth and final first-round bye position in the Atlantic Hockey standings and also tied a school record for most wins in a season.
The Golden Griffins, losers of five consecutive conference games, outshot Robert Morris 43-23 for the game. However, the Colonials and starting goaltender Eric Levine improved their record to an unbelievable 7-1-1 when surrendering more than 40 shots.
“We did what we needed to do to get the job done, but we’ve still got some things to clean up.” said Colonials coach Derek Schooley. “It was an ugly sweep, but they all count the same. Canisius is a tough team to play against. They do such a good job of packing it in and being good around the net. We tried to expose that by moving our feet down low and putting pucks in. They were chasing in the third and Eric came up big for us.
“It’s the Colonial way, I guess. We tend to make things harder for ourselves than they need to be when we have a big lead.”
The Colonials were paced offensively by former Griffins’ forward Adam Brace, who transferred from Canisius following his freshman season, and sophomore forward Cody Wydo, who both netted two goals on the night.
Robert Morris got on the board early in the contest at 1:48 of the first when forward Colin South tipped in an Even Renwick shot past Canisius goalie Tony Capobianco for his career-best 11th goal of the season.
Capobianco kept the Colonials off the scoreboard for the rest of the period, but was much less busy than his counterpart as Levine stopped 14 shots with many coming from close range. The Griffins applied the offensive pressure for most of the opening frame with a relentless forecheck that forced Colonials’ turnovers most of the period and the game.
When the Colonials did get chances offensively, they buried them and that proved to be the difference in the game.
Robert Morris managed to put four pucks past Capobianco in the second period, the first of which came at 8:19 when Matt Cope redirected defenseman Tyler Hinds’ shot from just inside the blue line.
Canisius answered right back when Tyler Wiseman put the Griffins on the board with a hard shot from between the circles to pull Canisius back to within one.
Then Brace went to work with two goals less than a minute apart at 12:42 when he put a Hinds pass in the top right corner and again at 13:41 when he skated from behind center red with the puck and took it all the way to the net through the Griffins’ defense while beating Capobianco with a deflection off a Canisius defenseman.
Wydo then put Robert Morris up 5-1 at 18:10 when he blasted in a Scott Jacklin rebound. However, the Griffins’ leading scorer, Kyle Gibbons, returned the favor with just 18 seconds left when he sent Cody Freeman’s shot past Levine to give Canisius some life going into the locker room.
The third period saw the Griffins play with desperation as they out shot the Colonials 18-5, but they could not find the goal to get them back into the contest until it was too late.
Patrick Sullivan scored with the extra attacker preceding a Canisius power play at 16:45.
The Colonials’ penalty kill and Levine could easily be given the bulk of the credit for closing out the Griffins as they killed off four power plays over the last 20 minutes.
Wydo sealed the win with his empty-net goal at the 19-minute mark.
“I was proud of our effort, [but] We needed a little more puck luck tonight,” said Canisius coach Dave Smith. “I thought we had a lot of chances. I though we played with controlled desperation on the power play and we got better as the night went on. The urgency with which we’re playing with right now is excellent. We’ve got to correct a few mistakes, but I believe we can beat anybody in this league on any given night. We just have to tighten up a few areas and play with the desperation with which we played tonight.”