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MOON TWP., Pa. — Robert Morris came into the weekend series looking for 60 minutes of consistent hockey following their slow start in a loss to Dartmouth last Sunday. They got 50 according to head coach Derek Schooley, and it was enough to collect a 4-2 win in their opening night of a weekend series with visiting Sacred Heart Friday night at 84 Lumber Arena.
“We got better as the game went along,” Schooley said. ” I thought our special teams were outstanding. Our power play that had been struggling was very good. Not only did we score goals but we had some good looks. It was a hard fought game, they played well They’re a tough team to play against. and we had good goal tending. We’ve got to play 60 and tonight we played 50.”
Most of the 50 minutes came after a disastrous start to the game that saw the Pioneers take the lead just 21 seconds into the contest as Sacred Heart forward Jordan Minello’s shot found a way past starting Robert Morris goaltender Francis Marotte. Just 16 seconds later, freshman Luke Lynch was sent to the penalty box for holding. But the Colonials would rise to the occasion on the ensuing penalty kill, a unit that staved off nine penalties on the evening which was a huge factor in the outcome.
Marotte stood tall when counted upon, turning away 41 of 43 shots en route to collecting his sixth victory of his freshman season that has seen him turn in an amazing early start to his career with at 1.83 goals against average and a .944 save percentage. It was a bounce back performance for him following last Sunday’s performance.
“I didn’t really think about it,” Marotte said regarding Minotte’s early goal. “There’s 60 minutes to a game so you kind of forget about it and go from there,” I worked this week on rebounds and not keeping the close and freezing them. And they guys did a great job of sweeping pucks away when the got close to me tonight.”
It was the sort of performance that his coach has come to expect, one that demonstrated confidence under pressure, while at the same time displaying a willingness to work to improve areas of his game that could be better.
“I don’t know if he’s got a pulse,” Schooley said. “He looks just so calm and cool back there, nothing seems to rattle him. It was a good bounce back game for him after the Dartmouth game where he wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t at his best. He was disappointed in himself with the rebounds and the way he played.”
Another huge factor in the early season success for the Colonials has been the performance of it’s top line, led by junior Brady Ferguson alongside senior Daniel Leavens and sophomore Alex Tonge. The line has played a part in every victory and has pumped in a great share of the goals so far, and it was firing on all cylinders on Friday night, led by Tonge.
The Kingston, Ontario native got the Colonials on the board at 13:32 of the first frame with a rising shot from between the circles that beat Pioneer net minder Brett Magnus, then put the eventual game winner in the net at 10:26 of the second period. Tonge figured in on all four Colonial goals adding two assists on the night. Meanwhile, Leavens would end up with three assists and Ferguson chipped in a goal and an assist as the top line once again produced in mass quantity.
“I think we all enjoy playing with each other, we’ve just been clicking,” Tonge said regarding his success with his line mates early in the season. “We definitely need to have a better start tomorrow.”
Atlantic Hockey roundup
Army West Point 1, American International 0
Army’s Ian Mansfield beat goaltender Alex Murray at 10:47 of the final frame to break open a scoreless tie as Army held on to defeat American International to move their record to 7-5-1 on the year. Senior goaltender Parker Gahagen stopped 25 in the shutout effort for the Black Knights.
Canisius 4, Bentley 3
Canisius forward Jeff Murray scored the eventual game winning goal late in the second period as the Golden Griffins won a back and forth game with the visiting Bentely Falcons on Friday night. Canisius goaltender Charles Williams turned aside 25 of 28 shots to collect the win as the Griffins moved to 6-8-2 on the season.
Air Force 2, Holy Cross 2 (OT)
Air Force forward Jordan Himley’s power play goal at 1:48 of the second period capped the scoring for the night as the Falcons and the Holy Cross Crusaders battled to a 2-2 tie on Friday night. Crusader net minder Paul Barrafato stopped 24 out of 26 shots to preserve the tie as the Falcons were out shot 26-15 on the evening.
RIT 7, Niagara 1
Niagara surrendered seven goals to the visiting RIT Tigers as starting goaltender Jordan Teichroeb was chased after allowing five goals, including four in the second frame. Ryan Kruper led the way for the Tigers with two goals while Mike Rotolo stopped 21 of 22 shots in the victory.