In a game that was dominated by good goaltending and near-misses, the Robert Morris Colonials used a third-period power-play goal to tie a determined American International squad Sunday at the Island Sports Center.
The puck was everywhere in this one, lying in the crease, clanking off posts and crossbars, and rolling off stick blades all night long.
That is, it was everywhere but in the net very often for either side. However, it was not for the lack of trying. Yellow Jacket netminder Dan Ramirez stopped 35 of 36 shots on the night, and RMU coach Derek Schooley was impressed by his performance.
“He was very good today. He was the goalie we victimized for 10 last year; hats off to him, he played a very good hockey game.”
On the other side of the coin, Wes Russell picked up where he left off Saturday night, stopping 27 of 28 American International shots, including a breakaway from AIC forward Nielsson Arcibal at the 7:55 mark of the second period.
The first period offered little in the way of scoring chances, although the Yellow Jackets put up 11 shots on net to the Colonials’ five and pressed the attack for most of the stanza.
“They took it to us in the first period — they were the better hockey team.” said Schooley.
In the second frame, the Colonials sprang back to life, keeping the puck deep in the Yellow Jacket zone and creating prime scoring chances which Ramirez kept out of the net. However, at 15:50 of the period, Yellow Jacket forward Tom Mele put his team on its second lead of the weekend with an outstanding effort.
Coming through neutral ice with the puck, Mele turned Colonial defenseman Jake Obermeyer around with a dazzling move, then found himself all alone in on net where he beat Russell to put the Jackets up 1-0. For Mele, it was his second goal of the weekend and seventh on the year, and his contribution to his team has been noticed by its coach.
“Tom can be a pretty dynamic player, he’s got great speed and the ability to take it to the net. I thought he was a pretty prominent player this weekend.” said Yellow Jacket coach Gary Wright.
The Colonials kept the pressure on the Yellow Jacket defense in the third, but still couldn’t produce the desired result. It almost seemed as if Ramirez was going to will his team to a victory for a few moments, but with Yellow Jacket forward Chad Richardson in the box for hooking, the Colonial power play managed to find the back of the net.
RMU forward Scott Kobialko tied the game at 9:33 of the third on a low shot from the right circle with assists from Kyle Burton and Josh Jones.
American International had a golden opportunity to take back the lead when RMU forward Chris Margott was sent to the box for interference at the 10:17 mark, but the Yellow Jackets never got completely set up on the ensuing power play and didn’t manage to get a shot off.
The overtime saw a few chances for either team, the closest of which occurred when AIC forward Chris Campanale’s shot from the right circle clanked off the far post at :46, drawing an enormous sigh of relief from the 794 fans in attendance. Wright seemed disappointed with the single point on the evening, but was happy with his team’s overall performance on the weekend.
“Dan made a couple of big saves with the game on the line for us. He’s a really fine goalie and he gave us a chance tonight. These were two highly-contested hockey games this weekend. I was happy with our effort even if I wasn’t always happy with our execution. We’re hoping this weekend could be a big springboard for us for the rest of the way.”
The Colonials will return to College Hockey America conference play next Friday and Saturday when they visit Alabama-Huntsville.