PITTSBURGH, Pa. — The Atlantic Hockey showdown between the Robert Morris Colonials and the Niagara Purple Eagles tonight at the Island Sports Center seemed more like a late February battle for the last remaining bye than a mid-October conference opener.
“That was a tough, hard-fought, emotional game tonight,” said Colonials coach Derek Schooley. “With only one game on the weekend, both teams sold out and got what they deserved. I don’t think we deserved not to get a point, and I don’t think Niagara deserved not to get a point.”
Niagara drew first blood at 5:35 of the first when freshman Brock Edwards scored his first career goal by taking a pass from Phil Nasca from the right corner and tapping past starting Colonials netminder Terry Shafer.
Colonials standout Scott Jacklin, who wound up with three assists and the game’s number one star, won a puck battle at 8:15 of the first and threaded a perfect pass to forward Cody Wydo while working a two-on-one. Wydo put the disc in the upper right corner of the net past Eagles goaltender Adrian Ignagni to knot the game at one apiece.
In the second frame, it seemed neither team could seize any momentum at even strength, so both sides put their power plays to work.
With Eagles forward Mike Conderman in the box for interference, Colonials freshman Ben Robillard scored his first career goal at 10:10 with assists coming from Jacklin and Zac Lynch, to stake his team to a 2-1 lead.
Niagara equalized with a last minute power-play tally of its own with just :43 seconds left in the period when Tyler Akeson put a rising shot past Shafer from the left circle.
Niagara’s Hugo Turcotte took his first of two consecutive slashing penalties at 6:42 of the third period and the Colonials needed only seven seconds of the power play to get the go-ahead goal from sophomore David Friedman, who found a loose puck in the slot and buried it past Ignagni.
The lead was be short-lived though, as Eagles forward Issac Kohls tipped a shot past Shafer at 11:45 to tie the game at three.
“Our penalty killers and our goaltender bailed us out tonight,” said Schooley. “We have to be able to find ways to finish games off, but we were resilient tonight.”
Neither team could find the net for the game-winner in the ensuing overtime. The Colonials earned their first point of the season, taking their record to 0-2-1 on the year, while the Eagles moved to 1-2-1.
“On the road, we’ll take the point and run,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said of his team’s effort. “I thought at times Robert Morris overwhelmed us with their tenacity and their forecheck. But it was a pretty even game overall, a classic Robert Morris/Niagara matchup from the old days.”