PITTSBURGH — The Robert Morris Colonials once again defeated a ranked opponent in the championship game of the annual Three Rivers Classic tournament on Friday night at PPG Paints Arena. The Colonials managed to turn the momentum of the game with a pair of crucial penalty kills early in the second period, some outstanding goaltending from tournament MVP Francis Marotte, and a pair of timely goals in the second frame to make their way past the No. 14 Quinnipiac Bobcats for their third tournament victory in five years.
“I thought we played really well, in the second and third period,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. “I thought in the first period we stood around and watched. I wouldn’t say we were in awe, but we didn’t play our game. But we had some bounce back shifts at the end of the first and that kind of propelled us at the start of the second, and when we got that first goal, I thought we were starting to believe in what we were trying to accomplish and we got better as the game went along. It helps when you get a few goals from some different people. Hopefully, this propels us to continue to grow as a hockey program.”
The Bobcats outshot the Colonials by a 45-27 margin, and were clearly the better team early on. Quinnipiac forward Chase Priskie got his side off and running at 2:27 when he took a behind-the-back pass from Thomas Aldworth and beat Marotte to give the Bobcats the early advantage. For the remainder of the period, Quinnipiac seemingly won every loose puck battle and turned many of them into prime scoring chances, which Marotte was equal to.
The Colonials then turned the tide with a pair of penalty kills early in the second period, and got on the board when forward Alex Tongue beat starting Bobcats netminder Chase Truehl near side to tie the score at one. Colonials captain Rob Mann then gave the Colonials the lead with a goal in the final minute of the period on a power play when his shot from just inside the blue line missed the traffic in front of the net and hit the back of the net.
“After we talked in the room for a bit in the first intermission, we came out and played our game and started to take it to them,” Mann said. “Once we tied it up, you could see the energy we were producing there, the mentality on the bench changed a little bit.”
Perhaps the back-breaker for the Bobcats happened in the third period when forward Spencer Dorowicz beat Truehl with a backhander from the slot through traffic to give Robert Morris the two-goal lead with just over 15 minutes left to play. Then for good measure, Timmy Moore scored twice in less than six minutes, including a short-handed empty-netter at the 14:16 mark, as the Bobcats started running out of time to mount a comeback.
Quinnipiac added a late power-play goal from Aldworth, but fell short as their effort failed to resemble the one they enjoyed the previous night in their semifinal victory over Boston College.
“I just want to congratulate Robert Morris tonight; they battled and competed,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “Their goalie was by far the best player on the ice tonight; he was excellent. I thought we had some really good chances on our power plays and just weren’t finishing and taking shots when we needed to. We have an identity as a program that we compete and battle and our effort is usually off the charts and tonight it wasn’t. We have to get our buy-in level back to 100 percent, which is what it was last year when we had the season we had and right now that buy in level is at 75 to 80 percent. I keep using the term ‘Frozen Four hangover;’ we kind of expect things to go our way and we tend to forget that things went our way last year because our effort was off the charts, everyone bought in, and we just don’t have that right now.”
In a weekend that saw some fantastic goaltending performances, Marotte’s stood out perhaps the most. He stopped 74 of 75 shots for the weekend, and kept the Bobcats from gaining separation earlier in the game.
“It’s more of a team thing,” Marotte said. “I stepped in here and I didn’t expect too much, I just expected to work hard and deserve my time on the ice and that’s what I’ve been striving to do all year and the team has been so good in front of me, they’ve been making my job a whole lot easier. It’s not just me, it’s everyone.”
The Colonials, who now move to 11-6-3 on the year, will host American International next weekend, while Quinnipiac travels to Harvard on Friday and Dartmouth on Saturday.
No. 6 Boston College 1, Ferris State 1
Justin Kapelmaster made 57 saves as Ferris State earned a tie with No. 6 Boston College. Corey Mackin put Ferris State up just 14 seconds into the game. While Boston College fired a lot of shots, so too did Ferris State, which had 37.
“We gave up two goals on the weekend, we just have to find a way to score two goals in a game and we’ll be just fine,” said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels. “We were a little bit off I thought, but for the most part we battled and played hard and I was pretty happy with our performance tonight.”
Michael Kim tied the game for BC with less than five minutes to play, and in a shootout to determine third and fourth place in the tournament, BC’s JD Dudek got the only goal as BC finished third.
“I thought tonight we were much more effective, playing the way we like to play,” said BC coach Jerry York. “We skated, we moved pucks, and we ran into an outstanding goaltender. He made some terrific saves, especially the one he made on (Chris) Brown with five seconds left which could have won it for us. Ryan Edquist, who’s been our backup goaltender this year, really shined for us. It was nice to win the shootout. It doesn’t really determine anything, but it’s nice for the kids.”