This Week in the CHA: Jan. 14, 2010

Maybe Pittsburgh should change its moniker from the Steel City to Upset City.

Seriously.

Just ask the Miami RedHawks, who waltzed into Mellon Arena last Friday night to play Robert Morris in the Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase as the No. 1 team in the country.

Final score: Robert Morris 3, Miami 1.

Seriously.

But wait, it gets better.

Robert Morris ventured to Oxford, Ohio, Sunday afternoon to play Miami on its home turf. No home-ice advantage for Miami as RMU walked out 2-1 winners.

Colonials goaltender Brooks Ostergard won both games between the pipes. He’d been struggling so far this year, but picked a heck of a time to bust out, wouldn’t you say?

Still, Ostergard deflected any attention heaped on him in a mature team-first display of attitude.

“I think this game gives our whole team a sense of confidence and belief that we can skate with any team in the country,” Ostergard said on Friday night. “This game wouldn’t have been possible without the play of our defenseman and forwards. It was a whole team effort.”

Miami coach Enrico Blasi took a philosophical approach during the postgame news conference.

“Give Robert Morris a lot of credit — they did a really good job of executing on all their chances,” Blasi said. “The name of the game is execution. They did and we didn’t.”

Chris Kushneriuk scored a shorthanded goal late in the first period by burning two Miami defenders in the process.
 
“The first thought that was in my head was just to get my feet moving so I could get some separation ahead,” Kushneriuk said. “I knew exactly what I was going to do and I was just able to flip it by him.”
 
At 5:02 of the third period, J.C. Velasquez finished a 2-on-1 break with Cody Crichton and then Stefan Salituro scored at 6:13, giving the Colonials insurance.

After winning again Sunday, Colonials coach Derek Schooley was beaming.

“I have been saying that I like our team and we were so close to putting it all together,” Schooley said. “This weekend, we put it together and now the challenge is to sustain it.”

Sunday, Nathan Longpre and Denny Urban scored to steal the Colonials’ second straight win over the seemingly invincible RedHawks.

Ostergard made 38 saves — a solid follow-up to his 39 stops on Friday night.

“I think we all believed since day one that we were a very good hockey team and it was only a matter of time before we got the result we got [last] weekend,” Ostergard said to rmucolonials.com. “It came from the coaching staff and the captains telling us to stay focused and be patient and it’ll come.”
 
Robert Morris became the second CHA team to defeat Miami this season following Bemidji State’s 3-2 victory on Nov. 27. The wins also gave the Colonials their second and third wins against a ranked opponent this season and the program’s first upset of a No. 1 team.

Now the big question: Can RMU follow last weekend’s performance with two more wins this weekend and make last weekend look legit? This writer believes the Colonials are just that — legit.

“[Alabama-Huntsville] is a team that came into our building in December and tied us on Friday and beat us on Saturday,” Schooley said to NHL.com. “We have to be focused and be ready to play. We have to build off the momentum because they are a good hockey team.”

Too, if this team gets on a roll, what can stand in its way? The crane stranded at center ice Friday night tried, but to no avail. Can we take that as foreshadowing?

Check back next week in this space where we’ll detail how the military played a role in Robert Morris’ sweep. It’s a good story and just one we didn’t get to in time this week. Stay tuned.

UAH Gets Point at Clarkson

Alabama-Huntsville played Clarkson for the first time last weekend and had to settle for a single point on the road after a 3-3 tie Saturday night.

Clarkson won on Friday evening, 3-1.

Sebastian Geoffrion scored first Friday night and Cameron Talbot made 31 saves.

The next night, UAH gave up three goals in a 3½-minute span in the third period to trail 3-2. Talbot went to the bench in the final minute and Keenan Desmet scored to gain the point.

Brandon Roshko and Kevin Morrison also scored for the Chargers and Talbot finished with 44 stops.

Niagara Does Splits With St. Lawrence

Niagara didn’t take its 7-2 loss at home to St. Lawrence Friday night well, and redeemed itself with a 4-3 win the following night.

Bryan Haczyk, Tyler Gotto scored in the first game, while Chris Noonan started in goal and made 16 saves on 21 shots before Andrew Hare came in at the 11:33 mark of the second period and stopped 15 of 17 the rest of the way.

“We took a step backward tonight and what stings about it is the way that it happened,” Niagara coach Dave Burkholder said. “St. Lawrence out-worked us and out-hustled us tonight, plain and simple.”

Former Wayne State defenseman Jeff Caister had an assist for the Saints.

A late goal by Haczyk was the difference Saturday night.

With Niagara holding onto a 3-2 lead as the third period began, Haczyk ripped a shot from the right faceoff circle for the 4-2 lead. The Saints would come to within one on a shorthanded goal by Caister, but the Purple Eagles blocked a handful of shots in the final minutes to get the “W.”

“To respond the way we did tonight was one of the prouder moments of our season so far,” Burkholder said. “What we did tonight says a lot about our locker room and who is in it.”

David Ross, Jeff Hannan and Gotto were the other Niagara goal scorers.

Noonan made 29 saves in earning his first career home victory, coming against the same team in which he earned his first career start against back on Oct. 17. 

The Purps are back at Dwyer Arena this weekend to host No. 11 Bemidji State.

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