PITTSBURGH — A six-minute barrage to start the third period proved to be too much to overcome as the Robert Morris Colonials defeated the visiting Canisius Golden Griffins, 4-1.
Through the first 40 minutes, it appeared to be an unlikely ending, as the Griffins controlled large stretches of play, but anchored by another strong performance from goaltender Terry Shafer, the Colonials found a way to keep the game within reach until they were able to put their offense to work.
“Canisius did a good job of not letting us get to the net and keeping us to the outside,” said Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley. “But we came out with a lot more intensity in the third and capitalized on our opportunities. It’s on the guys in the room to get it done. They decided they wanted to play and whether I had to give them a little bit of a wake up call, so be it. I thought Terry came up big for us when it was 3-1.
The first period opened up with a flurry of brilliant saves from both Shafer and Golden Griffins netminder Tony Capobianco. The shots remained fairly even between the two sides, with Canisius holding a 13-12 edge in the first period, but the higher quality chances went to the Golden Griffins, who also kept the Colonials outside of the prime scoring areas.
Canisius took the lead at 9:32 of the second period when forward Braedan Rigney sent a backhander from the slot past Shafer, with assists going to Logan Roe and Ryan Bohrer.
The goal didn’t seem to incite the expected sense of desperation from the Colonials however, as the Golden Griffins stuck to their game plan, which involved taking away the Robert Morris scoring attack by clogging passing lanes and making zone entry difficult, if not sometimes impossible.
However, Canisius got out of its game to open the third period and it cost them. Robert Morris rattled off three goals in the blink of an eye.
The first came at the :35 mark when defenseman Tyson Wilson picked up a rebound of a Scott Jacklin chance which he put past Capobianco for his third goal of the season.
Just 1:06 later, forward Jeff Jones stripped the puck from a Canisius defenseman in his own end and moved in on Capobianco one-on-one, beating him to put the Colonials up 2-1.
To finish the onslaught, forward Zac Lynch took a perfect pass from Cody Wydo and buried it for his 16th goal of the campaign.
Canisius then went to work with doubled intensity in the Colonials end, and had it not been for several standout saves from Shafer, may very well have climbed back into the contest, but Shafer kept several golden chances out of the net while Colonials forward Greg Gibson finished the scoring at 18:06 with an empty-net tally.
The win put the Colonials in a position to give themselves a bye for the first round of the Atlantic Hockey tournament, but according to Schooley, the smaller picture remains the bigger focus.
“We got the help that we needed tonight from the other games tonight, but now we’ve got to worry about ourselves,” said Schooley. “The minute this team starts looking at the big picture, we get in trouble. We have to look at tomorrow night as a big game.”
“I thought we played really well for 54 minutes,” Canisius coach Dave Smith said. “They get three goals in six minutes at the start of the third period and I didn’t have the guys ready to play. For the first 40 minutes, we controlled play, we were hard to play against and we played with one system as a team. But we weren’t prepared as a group to begin the third period and it cost us the game.”